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A recent poll of hundreds of lawyers around the world uncovered an incredible piece of data — the focus of many budding barristers born after 1978 is on “doing something other than practic[ing] law.” Moreover, the poll notes that to many associates “partnership is akin to winning a pie-eating contest where the prize is more pie.” I am not exactly sure what that means. But imagine your favorite partner chowing down on some blueberry pie face first; that’ll bring a smile to your oft-disenchanted face. Selfishly, associates ranked time for personal life, professional growth, advancement (to partnership) and security as their top four motivators, in that order. What happened to billing 3,000 hours and earning your first ulcer within six months of passing the bar? Slackers! Friends, what this poll tells a shrewd satirical newshound like me is that today’s junior associates have too much time on their hands. Back in my day, we did not have time for fancy polls and we only gave our opinions to someone when they asked for it in a memo. But now everyone just sits around answering surveys, surfing the Internet and drinking Jamba Juice for a measly starting salary of $125,000. As you can imagine, the management at law firms worldwide are extremely concerned about the happiness of the youngest among them. They have tried paying ridiculous salaries, increasing vacation time to five weeks and offering monthlong sabbaticals, but nothing is working. Hang in there, people — help is on the way. Here are a few new programs that partners may want to implement. They are sure to enhance associate satisfaction at work and will certainly address the motivating factors raised in the survey. PERSONAL LIFE Paid annual leave. That’s right; give each associate born after 1978 an entire year off with full pay. I understand that this may raise a few eyebrows, but let’s face it, these associates have worked for over a year, maybe even 18 months, at the firm and, well, they are just plain tired. Associates’ car. For recreational purposes and sometimes even business development, many firms purchase season tickets to sporting events that are occasionally offered to associates. Perhaps along the same lines, the firm can lease a luxury car for the associates to share on the weekends. PROFESSIONAL GROWTH Exotic conferences. While to many in the field there is nothing more satisfying than attending a two-day seminar on the nuts and bolts of Sarbanes-Oxley compliance, for example, in a bustling metropolis like Jackson, Miss., associates are looking for something more. Firms may want to consider allowing associates to attend rock-climbing “conferences” in Joshua Tree National Park or deep-sea “seminars” in the Cayman Islands. These events will stress team-building and sacrifice. And your staff will ultimately return with a renewed vigor for that next massive document-review project. Mock lawsuits. Start allowing associates to sue one another. Not only will this create a sense of excitement around the office, it will really make your new lawyers invested and engaged in the process. And just imagine the billable potential. Rename the work. Instead of calling document analysis for a merger “due diligence,” firms should call the project “beach party.” “Draft motion” could be “write a novel,” and “analyze statute” could be “kick back and read Rolling Stone.” ADVANCEMENT Class-year pins. Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts have pins on their uniforms that indicate how many years of service they have given to their respective organizations. Associates should have the same system, except that as the number of years increases, so should the size of the pin. By the sixth year, that pin should be so big the firm will have to make you partner or risk having a client see you. Bull-riding machine. Each firm should purchase one of those bull-riding machines that they have in rural Texas bars and use that as the great equalizer of advancement. High-quality work and commitment to the firm’s mission are apparently outdated criteria — I’m thinking that grabbing the bull by the horns is sure to get the job done. SECURITY Promise. This is a tough one for firms because associates are notoriously insecure. In “The Wizard of Oz,” the lion believed he had courage because he wore a medal and the scarecrow thought he had brains because of a certificate, so perhaps the associates at the firm will feel secure if you send them a letter sincerely promising not to fire them. Of course, if that doesn’t work, the annual sabbatical and the free car will surely go a long way toward keeping your associates happy. The Disassociate is an anonymous, irreverent look at the humorous side of life as a law firm associate.

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