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Dear BigLaw: We need to talk. Yes, those are dreaded words nobody in a serious relationship wants to hear, but while we have had some amazing times, there is no doubt we’ve been struggling. I’ve done a lot of thinking lately and have decided that we need to confront some harsh realities. To be blunt, we need to break up. Looking back, I warmly recall those magical two summers during law school when we tried each other out to see if we wanted to make a permanent commitment. You went out of your way to make me feel special. You never let me work past 5 p.m. or on the weekends. Days were filled with nonurgent memos and three-hour lunches, where even partners joined for an afternoon beer. This profession is soooo laid back, I thought! Nothing like what I have been told! We went to softball games, wine tasting, cooking lessons, even an amusement park. Remember driving to Lake Tahoe and the office Balderdash tournament? Good times. I realized that the initial spark between us couldn’t last forever, but boy did we have something remarkable. When you asked me to go steady at a big firm in New York, I was giddy. Sure, friends and family cautioned against rushing into this whole firm thing too fast. Maybe I should have slowed down, taken a clerkship or played the field. But as I purchased five Ann Taylor pant/skirt suit combinations in a fashionably neutral color scheme along with the perfect not-too-high heels in preparation for my first big day, I thought I was completely prepared. The BlackBerry! The secretary! The paycheck! Cases discussed in the Wall Street Journal! This relationship wasn’t happening too fast-it wasn’t happening fast enough. Unfortunately, once our permanent arrangement started, things changed. You became very possessive. Everything was about billable hours, 7:30 a.m. training seminars, all-nighters finishing briefs and weekends of document review. You were so jealous of everything else in my life-working out, seeing my fianc�, even visiting my parents. Clearly, you wanted to be the most important thing in my life. After the umpteenth day of eating takeout dinner at the same desk where I ate breakfast and lunch, I wondered if our relationship might be a tad unhealthy. Relationship in a rut Things started to get routine after a few years, so I switched firms to spice things up. While the new firm added some sparkle, I quickly realized that a law firm is still a law firm. There were still billable-hours requirements, limitless research questions, and two-hour conference calls to memorialize in a summary that nobody would read. The last-minute, Friday afternoon assignments to draft preliminary injunction motions kept things interesting, but also completely exhausting. Even another change, from New York to San Francisco, failed to improve the situation. You kept demanding more from me while I was figuring how to do less. Let’s face it-we were in a rut. To make matters worse, after more than five years together, everybody started wondering if I was really serious about you. My mind raced with questions: Did I need to seek out more responsibility? Should I be writing legal articles? Were those happy hours with colleagues mandatory? And what was I supposed to make of the fact that when anybody mentioned the big P word, I contemplated jumping from the nearest window? The idea of long-term commitment terrified me. For the sake of honesty, I must confess I developed a wandering eye. Don’t worry-I was never unfaithful. But I started to think about other professions. Maybe I could go in-house or the DA’s office? Teacher or Burger King franchise owner? I even started downloading applications for Survivor, a frequent escape route if the number of castaways sporting a J.D. is any indication. I didn’t take these options seriously, but knew my lingering thoughts of them were a problem. Based on the number of articles lately analyzing why women are leaving law firms in droves, I feel as though I owe you further explanation, especially since the gist of these articles often is that the women who leave you are selling themselves short. But let’s be candid: When I write my goals for the next 10 years and not one involves you, I am not selling myself short. I am leaving because not breaking up with you would be selling myself short. It’s me, not you, darling-so don’t take this so personally. Please know that even though I’m leaving you now, I hope we can still be friends. Eventually, when the pain subsides, I hope you can remember our time together fondly. I know that I will. Love, Me. Lara Glasgow Corey was, until recently, an associate at a San Francisco law firm. She is taking a sabbatical from the profession to finish a novel. She lives with her husband, a former attorney now working in finance, in the Bay Area.

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