Over the past generation, it's undeniable that the practice of law at large corporate firms like ours has become all-encompassing. Associates feel pressure to bill more and more hours merely to keep pace, and if the ultimate goal is to make partner, it can be hard to justify vacations, weekends off, or even sleep. Technological advances have made it possible for lawyers to stay in touch with the office twenty-four hours a day, and at many firms, that kind of commitment is expected.
In an intense atmosphere like this, where associates are forced to sacrifice other aspects of their lives in order to fulfill their responsibilities at work, we have seen an uptick in our attrition rates, with upwards of 80% of associates leaving the Firm each year. To combat the growing attrition, in 2006 the Firm formed a task force on Issues of Work-Life Balance and commissioned a comprehesive study of the matter.
What we discovered was startling. Our proprietary investigative techniques uncovered that nearly all of the associates who leave the Firm find themselves less satisfied, both personally and professionally, more prone to depression, and almost laughably poorer than those who remain. By a 77-to-1 margin, they say that leaving the firm was the biggest mistake of their lives, and that they never felt more internal fulfillment and reward than when they were working ninety-hour weeks performing mundane legal research tasks for supervisors they felt were less intelligent and less capable than themselves.
Our study has revealed, among other findings, that the meaning of life is hard work, performed without rest and without complaint, for purposes often vague and unclear, in concert with people you neither trust nor respect. And that those who seek meaning elsewhere are simply misguided, and in line for a life of failure and disappointment.
In addition, our study revealed that the most productive hours of the day, when young minds are at their peak ability to do the kinds of work a law firm job demands, are late nights and weekends, especially three-day weekends surrounding a holiday. Associates are cheating themselves out of some of the best working hours of the year if they choose to stay home on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the Fourth of July.
Other statistically significant findings:
Associates who divorce their spouses see an immediate boost in productivity, salary, mental health, and the chances of being assigned to do the kinds of intellectually stimulating legal work that brought them to the firm in the first place. These benefits are tripled in cases where the associate chooses to forego visitation with his or her children.
The most satisfied associates reported that they receive an average of 2-3 hours of sleep per night, while associates who reported an average of 7 or more hours of sleep per night found themselves most likely to receive additional assignments in the weeks following the study questionnaire.
Associates who eat take-out meals for dinner at least 6 times per week, ordered through the corporate intranet, showed significant progress toward self-actualization and an afterlife spent in nirvana.