David* has just completed his first year as a qualified lawyer at Emerson Cresswell, and he’s flying. Since his first month, he’s been working closely with a partner who took a shine to him, and has found himself staffed on some major private equity deals, sometimes from inception to close. Billing above target and exposed to plenty of high-level work, David’s peers have started jokingly referring to him as “the chosen one.”

One of those peers is Aisha, who started at the same time as David after graduating top of the class from a prestigious law school. She’s not envious of David; she thinks he’s great, and anyway, she’s not sure she wants to bill at 112% right now. She’s billing at 74%, mostly on one-off assignments and usually on the diligence phase, but her involvement in the firm’s diversity, equity and inclusion groups means she’s highly regarded. Aisha’s been trying to network with partners in fashion and entertainment; in the meantime, she figures, it’s normal to sometimes have an empty in tray.