It’s that time of year again. I’m donning the velvet cape, snapping on the gypsy earrings and taking out my crystal ball to see what lies ahead for the legal profession. Here are my divinations for the new year:
Law firm recruiting will emphasize “authenticity” in new hires. In years past, firms wanted recruits who were “team players.” Then “disrupters” became the fad. Now the craze is about hiring people who aren’t afraid to be themselves in all aspects of their lives.
If you want to get hired and have a shot at partnership, showing your true self won’t get you there. Do the tried and true: Be agreeable and brown-nose—and you’ll be fine.
Trump will keep lawyers busy. The Donald will not forget those who aggrieved him during the election: women, media companies, bloggers and those Big Law partners and elite academics who dissed him. (That means you, Ted Boutrous and Laurence Tribe.)
Given Trump’s record of stiffing lawyers (and everyone else), what crazy firm will represent him? He’ll shift the cost to taxpayers and create a new governmental agency dedicated to settling his grievances.
Plastic surgery for female lawyers will surge. In the new Trump world order, women will be promoted based on their legal talents, rainmaking skills and, of course, looks. Remember, Trump says you cannot be a “10″ unless you have big boobs, so maybe you should book your breast augmentation surgery before you come up for partnership.
Firms will offer lavish perks for new lawyer-moms. Now that Proskauer Rose allows primary caregivers to work part-time for full pay after maternity leave, the arms race for the top package of parental perks is officially on. Some suggestions: Spa-like lactation rooms, facials on demand, life-work balance coaches and unlimited SAT tutoring for the offspring.
Six-month paid paternity leaves will be the latest must-have benefit. To show that their parental leave policies aren’t sexist, superprogressive, P.R. savvy firms will offer paternity leaves as generous as ones afforded to new moms. This will generate a ton of goodwill, and cost nothing. Remember, real men don’t take real paternity leaves.
Awards for female lawyers will proliferate. Already, there are “best” female lawyer awards in virtually every state and city for every type of practice. Why not include every county, town and school district in the nation? Arguably, these women-only awards are patronizing, suggesting that women can’t compete against the Big Boys. But hey, that’s better than not getting recognized at all, right?
Private offices will shrink and eventually disappear. Already, partners at some firms make do with an office not much bigger than the closet-size ones that house a pair of first-year associates. The next step is putting everyone in cubes like the rest of America. This will either have a democratizing effect, erasing the hierarchy between partners or associates, or result in people working from home. Either way, traditional law firm culture is doomed.
Firms will rent out their spaces on Airbnb. If no one is coming to the office anyway, why let that big, beautiful, expensive space go to waste? Law firms can be venues for motivational conferences, religious revivals, weddings, bar mitzvahs, etc. Think extra income!
No, it’s still not dead. Despite more chatter about the inevitable demise of the billable hour, not only is it alive and well, but partners’ billing rates will keep rising. Only problem: Clients won’t pay retail; they will bargain you down and slap you around like a used Toyota salesman.
Megyn Kelly won’t regret her move from Jones Day. She’s negotiating for a pay package with Fox News that’s reportedly north of $20 million. Eat your heart out, Big Law partners!