Being a lawyer is only a cool job if A) you went to a good law school and work at a top firm or B) you play one on TV. For the other 99% of law graduates, the legal profession can be pretty unforgiving, especially with Sallie Mae breathing down your neck every day. When it comes to the legal workplace, there really isn’t a guidebook on the do’s and don’ts, so I thought I’d give you some tips that will make working at a law firm slightly more tolerable. These are some Day 1 tips for those of you who made the piss poor decision to become a lawyer.
1. Find a co-worker to have sex with.
Yeah, yeah, the HR lady just told you NOT to do this, but let’s face it, you’re gonna be stuck spending most of your time doing something you hate, which can be painfully boring and tedious. If you’re gonna spend 14 hours a day reading credit agreements trying to spot missing commas, you should at least enjoy four minute coitus breaks in the copy room. You will desperately just want to go home and crank one out, but you can’t because any minute now the client may be sending the redline of their changes. And I have yet to find an office that doesn’t censor every decent porn site, so choking one out at your desk is hardly an option (unless you can get off on tiny cell phone porn).
So do yourself a favor, find a mediocre sex partner (because let’s face it, no one is HOT in your law office anyway), and initiate a drunken fling after drinks on your first day (I assume you will be drinking on your first day). It may take more than a day to seal the deal, but opportunities will arise: late night Seamless web ordering, farewell drinks for someone you met one time, the summer golf outing. Who knows, you might end up meeting your future spouse (doubtful), but you won’t know unless you have sex with them. I believe the expression is “we always regret the coworkers we didn’t sleep with.”
2. Don’t end the relationship poorly (see above).
If you kiss and tell or are a bridge burning a-hole, you may A) get fired, or worse B) get shunned by everyone in the office. So if it ends, try to transition it into the friends zone with the option to have sex at the Christmas party.
3. Find a partner to take you under his wing.
The law firm is like prison. If you don’t join a gang, you will get messed with by every partner and associate at the firm. So find a partner that you think is tolerable and do all of your work for him, and I mean all of your work. The worst thing you can do is be owned by two different gang leaders. So when some other partner tries to dump work on you at 8pm on a Saturday, you can tell him that you are “Bob’s associate” and you only answer to “Bob.” As long as this partner isn’t senior to Bob, he will have to find another 1st year to take a dump on. You may not actually get mentored by Bob, but he will be saving you from a world of hurt.
4. Arrange for a new chair.
Trust me, I’m in my 30s, which means life is basically agonizing-daily-lower-back-pain-hell. I blame this on my 4 years chained to my desk at a big law firm. They basically start you with a salvation army chair that may or may not have been defecated on by a homeless man and leave it to you to man up and request an upgrade. It’s a pure cost saving move for them, so don’t wait till you start feeling shooting pains up your spine. Dropping a hundred bucks on a new chair is a helluva lot cheaper for them than paying for a back pain pill prescription for 25 years and the subsequent rehabs you’ll have to go to due to back pain pill addiction. You are going to get fat and your ass is going to be shaped like a chair, these are facts you must accept as a newly minted attorney. Once you finish the orientation, make your first call to the office supply people and tell them you have chronic back pain and you need the top of the line Aeron. The firm doesn’t want to shell out on disability so they’ll probably say yes. Your office mate will be burning with jealousy and eventually you’ll be laughing at him when he makes that first call to the acupuncturist before age 30.
5. Use your retirement plan.
What the hell is a 401k or a Roth IRA? We know, it sounds like a Jewish-Irish rebel alliance, but it’s actually probably one of the best perks of working a “real job.” When people brag about their benefits plan, they usually mean the 401k. We still don’t really know why, but there are quite a few companies that will match dollar for dollar what you put away in savings, but even if your company doesn’t match, it’s a smart play. Most 20-something lawyers spend all their money on booze, fancy dinners, hookers and blow, and regret not having anything to show for grinding away as an associate by the time they reach 30. So maybe do a little less blow. In 10 years (even though it’s impossible to see that far ahead), you may have a nice little nest egg for a mortgage…or 10 visits to the Diamond Club. Make it rain.
6. Grab the window seat if you have an office mate.
This is sort of like a variation on the prison rule of always taking the top bunk. The window seat will keep hope alive once you realize your job and your life is probably at a dead end. Glancing out the window and seeing birds and trees and window washers squeegie-ing might keep you going for a few more months or even years. Pick the other seat and you’re stuck flinching every single time the goddamn door opens! Also, you get an obstructed view of life through your office mate’s mug which you will very quickly grow to hate. And if you are in the hellish world of document review and aren’t even provided a window, then take the seat closest to the door, so you can A) sneak out easier and B) be the last person to catch the swine flu when it inevitably sweeps through your office.
7. Tip your secretary well.
Even though she probably isn’t the best speller and lets all the wrong people through on the phone (recruiters, parents, creditors), this high school graduate can make or break you. If she likes you, she can cover for you when you are “out sick” and she can tell your boss casually what a great job you’re doing. So when bonus season comes around, give her double whatever you were planning on giving. Also, when you tip her that well, it feels more acceptable to lash out at her every once in a while for her gross incompetence.