With more than 4,000 responses from Big Law midlevel associates to sift through, we had to paraphrase most of the insight we received to put together our annual report. But we felt the most thoughtful, surprising and emblematic responses deserved to be seen by all, so we put together a list of quotable midlevels who refused to go silent on the most important issues to them.
What most surprised you about working at your current firm?
“I used to think that I was the most money-hungry person out there, but working at Kirkland has made me realize that, as much as I love money, there are A LOT of people that apparently love it more than I do.” —Kirkland & Ellis
“How hard it is to get fired.” —Alston & Bird
“The open hypocrisy of corporate America, the double speak. I am literally at the best law firm at this level of macro economics, and I am disgusted.” —Alston & Bird
“How no day is safe from work. Weekends are not safe from work phone calls.” —Jackson Walker
“I was surprised at how much responsibility I was given.” —Jenner & Block
“‘Above market’ bonuses were not as high as hyped to be” —Kirkland & Ellis
“The most intelligent associates don’t make partner, they go in-house.” —Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton
“I don’t hate it (everyone talks about big law like you’re supposed to hate it).” —Latham & Watkins
What could your firm do better in order to retain associates?
“More incentives to stay at the firm (i.e., swag, social events to up morale, encourage vacation days by allowing some to count for hour goal).” —Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Door
“According to Am Law 100, Shearman had the highest increase in revenue per lawyer last year, but Shearman never leads the market in announcing bonuses. I feel like Shearman could announce a special bonus first, to indicate to the market and its associates that it appreciates their value — as opposed to waiting weeks after.” —Shearman & Sterling
What do you think needs to change about the legal profession to improve the mental health and well-being of its members?
“They need to stop working us all to death.” —Covington & Burling
“I generally sense that the older generation in this profession is unwilling to pass the torch to the younger generation, which is particularly inappropriate with older legal professionals that are making the bare minimal contribution necessary to retain their current status.” —Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr
“I don’t see mental health concerns from my view in the legal profession. I came to the legal profession from the K-12 teaching profession where mental health of professionals is way more of a concern. So, due to my background, I think lawyers do not appreciate how good they have it. Maybe give them a day in the shoes of a public school teacher and that can show them what stress and burn-out really looks like.” —Thompson & Coburn
What would you change about your firm?
“The furniture.” —Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough
If you could tell the managing partner of your firm just one thing, it would be:
“Hire an in-house therapist!” —Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton
“Promote more women and people of color to partner.” —Simpson, Thacher & Bartlett
“Lawyers need to stop being insecure about their position as service providers and stop being sad they’re not bankers or consultants.” —Cooley
“You are an inspiration and a great role model for my daughter.” —Morgan, Lewis & Bockius
“Republicans buy sneakers, too” —DLA Piper
“Have a firm-wide retreat. Bring all the offices together in person. Do some professional development, hold a talent show, do whatever to bring us all together in person. That’s the best way to build trust and transparency.” —Buckley
“Is this all there is to life?” —Hogan Lovells
“Don’t take sides on big political issues. We all look up to you for guidance/mentorship, even if only observing you from afar. Be a role model for all, not just the loudest voices.” —Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe
“It’s time to officially let us wear jeans.” —Covington & Burling