One thing that I promised myself and my wife in law school was that, no matter how much money was waived in my face, I would never be a number. There are law firms that treat you like a human being, no matter how low on the totem pole you are, and there are law firms that expect you to shut up, do as you’re told, and salivate every time the word “bonus” is mentioned. Take your golden handcuffs and shove it, Biglaw.
I’m terribly lucky to work not only in a city and in a field where I love (most of) my clients, but in an office where people are willing to hear you out if they think you’ve got an interesting idea. Over the past month I’ve managed to get our leading partners to have our practice group trial various services and processes to bring some efficiency to the practice of startup law – very exciting developments in the near future. At most firms, the thought of a 1st-year associate making a technology proposal to the firm would be laughable. I’ve made four.
Being a corporate attorney is never easy, no matter how awesome your clients are. But I’m lucky to work with people who respect everyone in the hierarchy, and who won’t infantilize a stubborn techie with some real thoughts on how to better serve clients. You learn the most about people and institutions by observing how they treat those at the bottom.
On that note, I’ll point you to the below link from Bill Gurley, which I think explains well why, in a world where innovation and competitiveness is increasingly important, marginalizing the youth in your organization is exactly the reverse of what you should be doing: