Likelihood of Success

Ron Coleman’s pretty good blog

The trouble with old lawyers

Posted by Ron Coleman on July 31, 2007

Anonymous Lawyer explains the darned good reasons why big law firms have no use for second-career types — or anyone who catches on too fast:

It’s not my fault, or the fault of any of my colleagues, that you decided to go to law school. It’s not our fault you got into debt. It’s not our fault you want a job you can’t get. Baseball players can’t get jobs after age 40 either. It’s the same thing here. Your skills may or may not deteriorate (I can argue both sides of that), but your stamina certainly does. Your energy does. Your drive does. If you’re just starting out at age 40, you know you’re never going to get to the top, so why even try. You’re complacent. Not because you’re choosing to be, but because you’re too old and experienced in life not to be. Young people don’t have perspective. They don’t understand that the kinds of things we demand from them are pointless and not worth getting all worked up about. They don’t get that we’re not going to fire them. They don’t get that most of the pressure they feel to stay here all night is pressure they’re putting on themselves and that the consequences for living a normal life are all in their head. But older associates know it’s all a bit of a game. Older associates know I don’t really have the power to behead an associate in the guillotine I stole from the Studio 60 soundstage when we took the summer associates on a tour. But the kids don’t. They think it’s going to really happen. They think we’re really going to kill them if they don’t finish the document review by 6AM tomorrow morning. And that’s why we like them.

Maybe you’re willing to work hard. But you’re probably not willing to be humiliated, and honestly it’s a lot less fun to humiliate a 40-year-old, with 2 kids and 3 ex-wives and a mortgage and a limp than it is to humiliate a 25-year-old without any responsibilities except to the firm.

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