Jeremy's Weblog

I recently graduated from Harvard Law School. This is my weblog. It tries to be funny. E-mail me if you like it. For an index of what's lurking in the archives, sorted by category, click here.

Saturday, June 19, 2004

I find it hard to believe I've been a summer associate for five weeks already. That's 24 work days (we were off for Memorial Day). Approximately 192 hours in the office. Except for the 80 or so of those when I've been at lunch. Possibly as many as 3 or 4 hours of work they can bill to clients. :) No, I'm kidding. It's been a nice balance of work, lunch, and waiting for each of them. I really, honestly, absolutely have a much better sense of what lawyers do at places like these than I did before. Which should be obvious. But still, it's definitely given me a much more real picture, beyond just the stories people tell. And I've gotten a nice variety of assignments -- I've done research, written some memos, learned how to use some online databases, watched stuff happen in court, sat in on conference calls, been to meetings where partners talk about stuff, and watched someone sign a will. Other people have done other things -- drafted contract language or sections of briefs, I'm sure other things I don't know about. Nothing extraordinary but all perfectly reasonable things that it seems like real associates do, and definitely give a sense -- although a limited sense, since we're working on discrete, manageable assignments, since that's really all we can do at this point -- of what a young lawyer does. So all of that is fine.

What's interesting, sort of, and it might just be the work they give to summer associates, and may not hold true in every kind of law, and may not even hold true more broadly than just the work that I happen to have been given, or the perception that I happen to have had so far -- or, actually, this probably isn't specific to the law at all, and holds true for all sorts of jobs -- but, well, despite being around people all day, it's kind of lonely job. You're sitting at a computer and researching stuff, or reading stuff, or writing stuff, and you're checking in with people to see how you're doing, and you're going to meetings, and there's tons of people around... I expect that as people get more and more senior there's more brainstorming, more engagement with other people, thinking around a table, throwing ideas out, working together, being part of a team... at a lower level, I'm not sure when that kicks in. Certainly it can't at a summer associate level -- we have no background, we have no experience -- but I don't know that I've gotten a sense of whether a junior associate has a much different experience or not; whether it's most of the day at your desk doing something by yourself, or if there's a substantial component of real interaction and thinking and working together and feeling involved, not just feeling like you're completing tasks in a vacuum. I imagine this would have something to do with job satisfaction -- and that people who feel engaged and involved and part of a team are more satisfied than people who feel like they sit at their desk doing research all day... but obviously the research has to get done... and before you can be useful in a brainstorming session you need to have some idea what the parameters and rules are... I just don't know that I know when that kicks in -- year 1, year 5, or year 25.

Maybe this doesn't make any sense, and, honestly, this post has turned a lot more work-related than I intended to write. The post I thought I was going to write was that sometimes you're around all of these people and you have nothing to talk about, and so it can feel a little lonely despite being surrounded by smart, decent people. This post may be more interesting as it's turned out though. I'm not really sure. I'm just rambling I guess. Oh well.