I've Been Admitted to Law School. The Question is...Can I Survive?

Narkoleptomania

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Generation Next

In an attempt to keep my loyal readers (two or three?) from registering complete and utter dismay at the complete pointlessness of my last few posts, I will, as promised in an attempt to have a relevant post, throw in the Narkoleptomaniac view of the recent article in The National Law Journal about "Generation Y" lawyers being disloyal slackers. Commentary abounds in the blogosphere so I doubt I add anything new, however, I will come out and say it: while I hope to grab that "cushy" BIGLAW job, I'm probably going to end up being a "slacker".

Here's why:

While I may indeed accept the fact that I need to pull 16 hour days for a few years to get those law school loans off my head, trust that I don't pull those hours because of a deep love of monotonous paperwork or because the art work on the walls of the office so thrill me that I want to spend as much time as I can in the office. I do so because I want to pay off my student loans and because I like that I can have a meal somewhere other than White Castle after paying my loans and my rent. (Yes, the $500 cabbage soup entree sounds fabulous! May I have two?) I will, more than likely bail in a heartbeat if I'm offered a higher paying job or one with equal salary and less hours.

Disloyal? Perhaps.

Having worked at a firm though, I'm quite aware that the firm is no more loyal to its employees than they supposedly are to it. I've seen the spate of senior associates who flood the HR office with resumes because they were denied the partnership they were assured was in the bag. I also know that if God forbid an associate fails the bar, he's out the door. If an associate opts to take the "family friendly" route you advertise they are virtually assured of not making partner. I also know that you the senior partner stays at work until 9:00pm every night - having reached the zenith of your profession you still spend the same, if not more, hours in the office as the associate (note the distinction between spending the same hours in the office and actually working the same hours.) Is it because after so many years of being loyal to the job, you have no idea what to do outside of the office? If that's the case, that's really really sad. If it's not...dude...go home.

It's clear that according to today's standards, a loyal, motivated worker should have very little life outside of the office. I'm willing to pay my dues, but if, as I've said before, I can't make some sort of compromise between paying those dues and having even the semblance of normal life (read: not indentured servitude - I've heard it whispered that some lawyers make it work), then hell yeah, expect me to be disloyal. Hell, call me a slacker. I'm "Gen Y" after all, it's inherent. Isn't it?

Update: I was writing a response to Janine's comment on this post and then it got long so I decided to tack it on this post:

I haven't really thought this through so bear with me but...I'm beginning to think that a large part of this may have to do with the fact that more women are working outside the home and men are trying to become more than just the breadwinner and part-time family man. Back in the day men were probably more willing to leave the raising of a family to the women and spend all their time in the office - they were the breadwinners after all and so it was easy for them to remain loyal to work and family. Stay the extra hours and make the boss happy and bring the extra bucks home and make the wife happy.

Now, we have more women in the work force and more men trying to play active roles in their families which doesn't create such an easy dichotomy between work and family anymore. This then creates a shift from workplace loyalty to family loyalty in the sense that apparently it is difficult to be loyal to both. There are no clear-cut breadwinners any more since both significant others' often work and since there's no longer the guarantee that one parent will be a full-time parent (or pet caretaker, whatever), it turns out the job will get the supposed shaft since it's become only a source of income and a way to pass the time you'd rather be spending with family.