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WHAT WE’RE WATCHING
BRAGGARTS, BILLABLES AND BURNOUT - Lawyers around the world agree: no one wants to hear you brag about how busy you are. Well, almost no one. The truth is Big Law was built by attorneys who, prior to becoming rainmakers and influential GCs, were often most well-known by their colleagues and superiors for working virtually nonstop. And many of them expect nothing less from the next generation. It’s a vicious cycle, perpetuated by law firms’ tendency to reward, rather than discourage, what some are calling “performative busyness”—i.e. incessantly and obnoxiously calling attention to how hard you’re working (or supposedly are working). Critics say this behavior is largely driven by Big Law’s obsession with the billable hour and that it sends the wrong message to young lawyers, creates anxiety in colleagues and ultimately leads to burnout. But, as anyone who’s ever tried to train a puppy knows, destructive behavior is not likely to change until it stops garnering positive reinforcement. In this week’s Law.com Trendspotter column, we examine why and how legal industry leaders should set healthier expectations for young lawyers.
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