Monday, January 15, 2024

Return to the Firm - The First Year

Two years ago, while I was working at a great (but somewhat boring) in-house job, I heard from a friend that the star senior associate in her practice group was in dire need of a dedicated, reliable lieutenant. Said star associate was running a sizable client relationship on behalf of an equity partner that had disengaged from the day-to-day as he neared retirement. It was working out well for her except that other associates staffed on her deals were frequently prioritizing other work that they received directly from partners and missing deadlines on her deals as a result. The idea was that I would join as her dedicated associate, free up some of her time to work on client development and, frankly, give her time to sleep a bit or maybe even take a vacation.

I thought about it, met with the senior associate in question to confirm that she lived up to the hype and decided that this was my chance to be the change I wanted to see in this little corner of private practice.

So I resigned, took a severe class year cut and started at this law firm working for star senior associate. We got off to a great start, finishing deals quickly and efficiently, working around the clock, keeping the client happy and collecting at each closing. I saw a grand total of about ten emails from the equity partner during that time--he just wasn't involved. 

Then, at the end of the first year, star senior associate hears from the equity partner that the book will not be passed to her when he retires after all. Instead, the book was going to a male junior partner, but could she and I please continue working as if nothing had changed? (As you can imagine, there are many painful, frustrating details around this that cannot be shared publicly.)

Did star senior associate make partner as planned? No.

Did I blow my billable target out of the water? Yes.
Did I get great reviews and an above-market bonus at the end of that first year? Yes.
Did I achieve what I had set out to accomplish? No.

It was the worst great year I've ever had at a law firm.


LL said...

I hate this. I love hearing from you again and am glad you're sharing your experience, but I hate this happened to you and the senior associate.

Tanvi said...

Its so good to have you back on the blog- I have been an avid reader since your mba times & was hoping you had not abandoned this blog :)

Kathryn K. said...

That sucks to say the least. Are you going to stay at the firm? Or is there any way you and star senior associate lawyer could hijack the client for yourselves or otherwise go hang your own shingle?