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The other day, I got an email from a headhunter with Alchemy Legal. It was full of nuggets like: “If you’ve thought about making a change next year, I’d like to give you something else to think about. “I just doubled the income of an attorney in New York and he’s not increasing his billables by one hour. He’s happy to verify this, if you want a reference. “[Y]ou would have virtually no competition for the best jobs in the country. “I researched you in Martindale-Hubble. Give me a call whenever it’s convenient for you and we’ll talk.” You’ve got to love this approach. It’s got everything: impressive promises and vague allusions to New York (power) attorneys. But in the end, the burden is on me. This guy never had to pick up the phone. My favorite part is the name — Alchemy Legal. Alchemy is “any magical power or process of transmuting a common substance, usually of little value, into a substance of great value.” You know, lead into gold. So wait a minute, who is lead? Am I lead? I’m not lead. If I am, how is he planning to turn me into gold? I should have asked him for his ambiguous New York attorney reference. Instead, I started thinking about my first headhunter. I never thought it would actually happen, but when it did, I knew I’d arrived. Finally, some one other than a partner or senior associate was actually calling me on the phone. And this phone call wasn’t to ask me to stay late. It was to tell me how much other law firms would just love to get the chance to employ me. “I can’t promise anything, but this firm would probably even give you a signing bonus of somewhere in the neighborhood of, oh, $45,000. Why don’t you just let me send them your resume?” It felt good to finally arrive. Just like Derek Jeter or Manny Ramirez, big corporate entities were dying to pay me lots of money so they could brag to all their rival corporate entities that I worked for them. I couldn’t believe it was actually happening. Older attorneys told me it would happen. That it was just a matter of time. But I never believed anything so wonderful could actually happen to a schlep like me. Yes indeed, there isn’t much better in life, for an attorney anyway, than to have a headhunter call and smother you with love, affection, and a lot of smoke blowing. They laugh at your jokes. They tell you how good looking you are. They tell you how unappreciated you are at your current firm. And it all rings true. “Doggone it,” you find yourself saying, “I am good looking. I am smart. I am funny. And I am unappreciated.” (That last one rings particularly true in a barely lit office with nothing but boxes of incomprehensible documents and a leaky air mattress under the similarly ailing custodian’s sink in the corner.) “Absolutely,” I just about yelled while trying not to seem too eager, “send them my resume.” But even sycophants get annoying. All of a sudden I had headhunters calling me at least twice a day. I didn’t know what to do. I was constantly revising my resume, scheduling interviews, and getting grooming hints from people that already said I was handsome. It had to stop. But how? I’d already gone too far. I was on a first name basis with these guys. They were all my best friends. I was totally ensnared. I couldn’t just start avoiding their phone calls. That would be mean. I couldn’t start lying to them and telling them I liked where I was. That would be too transparent. What could I do? Then I got it. There was more truth to tell them. Sure, I hated where I was practicing, I hated what I was doing, I wasn’t making enough. All of that was true. But what I wasn’t saying was that I didn’t believe any place was better. Why would I give up my predictable hell for an unpredictable hell? So I added a new line to my headhunter conversation. “I’m looking for a place that will pay me more money.” “We got it,” they would all interrupt. “For fewer hours,” I continued. They weren’t expecting that. But I pressed forward mercilessly. “If you can get me that, it’s a done deal.” It’s like showing a lion freshly killed meat and telling him it’s his if he will just moo like a cow. It’s impossible. And the headhunters know it. Instantly, my pool of friends diminished. But even that didn’t faze them all. I was down to 2 or 3 phone calls a week. Much more manageable. And this time, they were promising me the impossible. More money, fewer hours. Are you kidding me? That’s paradise. Done. So I set up the interviews. I wore my suit. I combed my hair. I was charming.Then I waited for the good news from the headhunters. It didn’t take long. “What were you thinking?” they screamed at me. “You told them you wanted lifestyle?” “Was that wrong?” I asked. Click. My phone is wonderfully silent. Except for those annoying partners and senior associates. How can I get rid of those? Adam Anderson is an associate at Beus Gilbert PLLC in Scottsdale, AZ.

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