August 21, 2019
This lengthy article in The Atlantic (“How Life Became an Endless, Terrible Competition: Meritocracy prizes achievement over all else, making everyone — even the rich — miserable”) is worth a read.
This particular passage stood out for me:
“In 1962, when many elite lawyers earned roughly a third of what they do today, the American Bar Association could confidently declare, ‘There are … approximately 1,300 fee-earning hours per year’ available to the normal lawyer. In 2000, by contrast, a major law firm pronounced with equal confidence that a quota of 2,400 billable hours, ‘if properly managed,’ was ‘not unreasonable,’ which is a euphemism for ‘necessary for having a hope of making partner.’ Because not all the hours a lawyer works are billable, billing 2,400 hours could easily require working from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. six days a week, every week of the year, without vacation or sick days. When he was the dean of Stanford Law School, Larry Kramer warned graduates that lawyers at top firms are caught in a seemingly endless cycle: Higher salaries require more billable hours to support them, and longer hours require yet higher salaries to justify them. Whose interests, he lamented, does this system serve? Does anyone really want it?”
There are many advantages to practicing law in a tiny firm in a small town in a rural area….