April 27, 2005

Redefining Fun

by PG

Sometimes I feel like law firms talk down to potential hires. This may be logical, considering that the average age of people already working at a given firm is about two decades older than the average age of law students (even in these days of second careers and Older & Wiser clubs). Nonetheless, it occasionally comes off as peculiar, because the language of teenybopper cheer is juxtaposed against the reality of competitive hard work.

For example, one firm forwarded what it describes as "brochure detailing fun facts." Even a charitable definition of "fun" couldn't include information about the size of the firm, America Lawyer's Corporate Scorecard, influential lawyer or top litigator lists. And these are the facts given first, while points about the catering department and free lunch, full service gym and personal trainer, vacation time and training retreat are put at the bottom.

Knowledge about fields of practice, mentoring, pro-bono commitment and billable hours requirement genuinely is useful to students who are considering a firm, but even that I'd categorize as practical rather than fun. And neither giving nor accepting an offer based on the employee's fondness for minor benefits makes sense. As much as law students appreciate the receptions, study breaks, lunches and swag, those who are likely to make the best long-term assets for a firm (unless it wants to be in a constant arms race with other employers for the best catering and most vacation) are going to be more attracted by the solid factors necessary to career fulfillment than by a shallow conception of "fun." The firms that have impressed me most, in my limited interaction with them, have been the ones whose employees seemed to enjoy their work, not their perks.

April 27, 2005 02:52 PM | TrackBack
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