« Duke upsets Notre Dame, 38-35. In South Bend. | Main | Emma Goldman: On Voting. »

September 26, 2016

Best of Partner Emeritus: On the Sanctity of Associate Lawyer Privacy Rights.

If you work for a peer firm, you will encounter me or someone very much like me. I or some form of my embodiment will exist to make your existence as uncomfortable and unpleasant as it can be.

-- Partner Emeritus, New York City, September 3, 2009

avatar92 (1) PE.jpg

I've loved practicing law. After three years of working on Capitol Hill, I became one of two associates in the small DC branch office of a now-defunct Pennsylvania firm. They gave me a wonderfully eclectic mix of work to do: environmental litigation, energy law, U.S. Supreme Court practice and lobbying for coal companies and banks. In two years the DC office merged with a bigger DC-based firm. We went from 10 to 35 lawyers. And I went from a window office on Eye and 15th, N.W. off McPherson Square to a smaller no-window office three blocks down the street at International Square. I was a 4th or 5th year associate. I didn't complain. I drew a picture of a sun and posted it on the wall.

Meanwhile, up in New York City, and at about the same time, Partner Emeritus' white shoe firm was negotiating a lease renewal--and the Great Man would have gone one step further:

Back in the early '80s when my firm negotiated its lease renewal, I ardently advocated to take less space as I thought placing associates in offices was a waste of resources. Offices are for closers and relevant playmakers who need personalized space to entertain clients. Given that young associates are not permitted to directly interact with clients, there is simply no need for them to have offices.

One of my pet peeves when I was at the firm was the contumacious habit of associates who closed their doors. Whenever I saw an associate's door closed, I assumed he/she was doing one of the following: 1) taking a nap; 2) checking their private email account (e.g., Ashley Madison, etc.); 3) masturbating; 4) engaging in personal phone calls; or, 5) watching internet porn.

As far as I am concerned, associates do not require privacy unless they are on the commode. I personally took a note of all the associates who closed their doors and would often reprimand them or make a notation on their annual review. If it were up to me, I would have had the building maintenance crew remove the doors off of the hinges but I was outvoted on the matter.

I prefer that associates and non-equity partners share the window cubicles. This way, the partners and staff can easily monitor how busy associates are. Moreover, the window cubicles will keep associates on their toes and prevent them from slacking off.

And please spare me the argument that window cubicles dehumanizes associates by making them feel like zoo animals on display. Unlike the animals in the zoo, trust me, no one wants to waste time watching troglodytes push paper.

--Comment by Partner Emeritus to an article by my friend boy wonder David Lat on August 28, 2015 at Above the Law entitled "More Bad News For Biglaw Associates?"


Jacob Riss.jpg
3rd year associates share 'premium' window cubicle in 1987 (J. Riis).

Copyright 2015 J. Daniel Hull, Ellen Jane Bry, ____ Doe. Best of Partner Emeritus (#6)

Posted by JD Hull at September 26, 2016 11:16 PM

Comments

Post a comment




Remember Me?