Law Firms Becoming More Humane?

It's been a great day, hearing from so many of my blog readers! Here's another one that just came in:

Ms. Ivey,

I'm sure you've probably been emailed this recent article from the New York Times  ["Who's Cuddly? Law Firms"] multiple times today, but I felt compelled to share.

I read it, breathed a sigh of relief, and thought you could post your thoughts on the situation to your blog. It seems everything I'm hearing lately about law school is grossly negative, and this makes me feel better about having to choose between enjoying my life or my career.

I also wanted to take a minute to share my appreciation for your Guide to Law School Admissions. I find myself reflecting often on its messages, and though I find the admissions process daunting, at least I now have expert and candid advice to approach it. Thank you so much, and if you're still available, I'll be sending you my stats and information for my applications next fall.

Thanks again and keep up the good work!

First of all, I'm so utterly charmed when people call me "Ms. Ivey," but seriously, you can call me "Anna."

Second, I have the nicest readers, ever. Thank you.

And finally, to answer your actual question: I remain pretty skeptical. (Another blogger recently decided I'm a pessimist, but I prefer to think of myself as a realist.)

I think these are wonderful experiments, largely driven by PR, but the fundamentals of the law firm business model have not changed, and until they do, I think all these wonderful law firm life-balance initiatives look great on paper but are probably a bunch of hooey.

It's a really nice idea that some firms are letting people bill fewer hours and still be on the partnership track, but until those people actually start making partner... well, I'll believe it when I see it. (Not that partners have such a great life either. They work tremendously hard, and as one law firm partner friend of mine put it, "It's like winning a pie eating contest, where the prize is... more pie.")

See here ("Law Firm Brain Drain") for a longer discussion I posted about the law firm business model and why it's likely to outlive you, me, cockroaches, and Twinkies. (I know, I know. Twinkies don't last forever. It's just a turn of phrase.)

I realize all this might seem weird coming from someone who, among other things, helps people get into law school, but my mission is to help people make informed decisions, and the reality of law firm life is something they need to grasp. And the day I become some ambulance chaser pushing people into law school, that's the day I hang up my shingle and go do something else. (In case you were wondering why I keep writing these pessimistic/realistic articles...)

And if I'm wrong, and law firms are indeed becoming "cuddly," I'll be the first to celebrate and do a happy dance!