I ask my friends if I am missing something here. They all agree with me. What I have been saying is to take ownership of projects, show responsibility, don't complain, be a reliable go to person that senior attorneys and clients will want to go to again. These are basic principles -- and in today's legal environment - the heavy hand of the layoff ax, the salary cuts, the shifting of attorneys from practice areas - this is the time to show what you are made of - to show you are a team player and can be trusted and relied upon. So, you might have to stay past dinner. STAY. So, you might need to skip a meal. Big deal. SUCK IT UP. Be happy you have a job and do not give anyone a reason to take the ax to you.
Let me add a couple of things:
1. It wasn't easier for me or my generation. I got out of school in difficult economic times. Many in my summer class did not get offers. I worked hard as a summer associate - staying late, working weekends when needed, even came in on a day we were given off because I was staffed on a a big project. As an associate, I stayed late, weekends, holidays too. I sacrificed. Yes, I survived layoffs. Why? Because I kept busy, had protectors (who I did solid work for and watched their backs so they kept mine). I had a young family and had to try to balance the needs of that family with the needs of the firm.
2. No one said this is fair. Big Law firms can be nasty places. Some of these people would turn on their mothers. That said, if you want to retain a job there, you need to accept that it is a totem pole and you are the low person on it. That is the deal. Eventually you may move up the pole but there will always be someone above you on the pole. It is not meant to be a fair game.
3. You might ask, well why then? Well, some of you folks were making $160,000 out of school. That is incredible money people. Do you think that is 9 to 5 money? NOOOO. That is money that essentially buys you. Accept it.
4. Why stay? I've had top notch training. I've worked on highly sophisticated matters. I am privileged to work with terrific clients and smart colleagues. I generally don't have to hound people to pay me. It is a job that requires a lot of sacrifice, but it is still a tremendous job. Do not take it for granted.