There's a thread on the Princeton Review law school discussion board -- which is usually not a particularly helpful source of information, but occasionally lets me know whether people have gotten their grades in the mail yet, or similar stuff like that -- where a corporate litigator at an unnamed New York firm is taking questions. Or someone is pretending to be a corporate litigator -- I assume it's for real, but who knows. Anyway, I thought this Q&A was worth sharing, without comment -- this is just this one guy's answer, of course, and I'm sure perspectives vary, among firms and among partners at firms, but it was interesting enough to me, just to hear what appears to be one person's honest perspective, that I thought I'd cut and paste:
Assume an associate wanted to leave by 6:30 one weekday evening each week for a scheduled family event. How flexible would the firm be... ?
It takes a very special person to successfully balance being a young associate here, on the partnership track, and also be a good partner at home and a good parent. I have seen it done and I am seeing it done and it is rare. Very rare. Usually, something gives and that something is the relationship or the work. I do not know for sure but I have my intuit as to how well the parenting holds up, too, and my opinion is that the children suffer, as well. Personally, I didn't have a successful long term relationship until I was a senior associate. If you want to say I sold my soul for this life, I will argue some with you but I do acknowledge that there were huge holes because of the course I chose. Because I was truly committed to my career, the women I dated "made way" for me, my Saturday nights at the office, my breaking of dates due to meetings and last minute motions, etc., if they wanted to go out with me. Thankfully, I had no kids at that age as I sure I would have ignored them, too. It is "a good thing", to borrow our new felon's phrase, that I didn't fall in love, marry and started having children until I was a senior associate and partnership was within reach.... No, leaving one weeknight a week at 6:30 won't get it done here. First, there will be plenty of times when you will have to stay well past that hour and I don't want to hear that you have to go home because it is the usual "mommy" or "daddy" time. Neither will the clients, who are paying substantial money to have the best lawyers work 24/7/365 and a quarter for them. This life isn't for everyone.... Second, the other associates will just bloody crucify you. For example, I have found that the female associates in our group - and they are wonderful, tough lawyers - really give it to the women lawyers who have to leave early for hubby or the children. For several reasons, I have had some heart-to-hearts with some of the more vociferous objectors and they tell me that every time a women in my group doesnt't pull her full weight, it reflects on all women and they can't have that, since they have worked, are working and will work too hard for anyone to hold them back or diminish them because of their sex. My associates are carnivours and they will devour anyone on our team who will not deliver and who will not work as long and as hard and as well as they. And on that note, and entirely coincidentally, I have a 6:30 meeting to attend and there isn't anyone who won't be there because they have to be home.