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It’s been a long time since my last post. 508 days to be precise as Thomson “without a P as in Venezuela” might say.

508 misery-filled, back-breaking days spent hunched over my keyboard at Bradbury and Laithrose churning out meaningless documents which no-one ever reads.

Part of the reason why I’ve been so busy is we’ve lost almost half of our mergers and acquisitions team in the last year. Which is what got me thinking of why these people left.

I’ve come up with a few reasons (and as is my wont I’ve thrown in the Beatles to make things a sound less grim).

Eight Days a Week (1964, Beatles for Sale, Lennon and McCartney)

This is probably the most common reason why associates quit (and probably the most done to death so I’ll try and give this a short shrift).

Most good law firms pay associates large-ish amounts of money. Law firms are paid even larger amounts of money by clients. Clients expect results from law firms.

This roughly translates into wretchedness all-round. Subject to every whim and fancy of the client, associates treat leaving the office at 4 am as the norm. An 11 pm exit is not just to be enjoyed, but is something to be savoured. While firms in the UK might be slightly better in terms of professionalism, given the rather ludicrous billable hour targets that determine bonus eligibility, we’re never too far from Damocles’ weapon of choice.

While this is bearable for a couple of years, I suspect the more rational of our species decide one day that enough is enough and hand in their notice. The lack-wits amongst us join smaller law firms in the hope that this will magically translate into better hours (for me less people equals more work - you do the math). Others choose to go in-house at corporates or banks where their work might not be exceptional but all pens are down at 7 pm. The more adventurous, however, make the choice that I made. Which bring me to…

Money (That's What I Want) (1963, With the Beatles, Gordy and Bradford)

I must admit was pretty happy at Colby, Hewitt and Richards. I had a good firm on my CV, decent work and a good relationship with most of my co-workers (that’s if you don’t count Katie with whom my relations were what I, being a gentleman, will delicately term “mind-blowing”).

I was coasting along until the day I figured that I had about five more years of horse-like stamina (i.e., the ability to sit absolutely still in a chair for more than 4 hours at a time) left in me. A little voice in my head asked - why not use these precious years somewhere where I could make more money (to buy more stuff I didn’t really need)?

So, to put it simply, I left CHR to join a US firm which paid me more.

Looking back now, I think that at some level, from an early age we’re all told to aim high, get into the best law school, win the best moot, date the hottest girl, that more is better, and that being seen as successful makes it all okay in the end. And what’s better than money to measure our successes?

‘nuff said.

Strawberry Fields Forever (1967, Magical Mystery Tour, Lennon)

Every starry-eyed young intern that walks through the corridors of power in a law firm dreams of making it to the top one day. Unfortunately, not everyone is going to make it there unscathed. Even the brightest amongst us will suffer when the things get sticky at the office.

It could be any number of things - an off-hand comment taken completely out of context, harmlessly picking one’s nose, an unnecessarily vindictive boss, an unappreciative client or sexual/racial/regional cliques. Contrary to popular belief, the office is not a dull place. It’s full of self-obsessed human beings who delight in cutting others down to size. A quiet word from the wrong people in the right ears means that the associate’s work is bad and his appraisal is written on toilet paper. Soon everyone knows that so and so’s career is on the path to nowhere.

Faced with a dead-end career, the only real option the afflicted associate has is to seek employment elsewhere. In most cases, the associate recovers his old verve and is soon seated across the table from his old boss hotly debating the application of the Takeover Code. However, I am reliably informed that chances of a re-lapse are pretty high when the boss is spotted leaving the hottest new club in town with the (now) ex-girlfriend in tow.

Some evolutionists believe that this is the best example of Darwin’s theory at work.

When I Get Home (1964, A Hard Days Night, Lennon)

Some people would like to work in London. Some people here dream of going back home to Bangalore.

Location. Location. Location.

In this era of globalisation, it’s notoriously hard for some people to find a city where they are happy living and working. These perfection-seeking associates spend their time scouting various cities, changing jobs and sometimes picking up one useless LLM degree after another. I’m also told that the promise of proximity to family or a lover sometimes prompts certain associates to pack their bags and take off into the sunset.  Sometimes they return to the firm where they started, sometimes they find what they seek.

My two bits: I will freely admit that the thought of moving to a more tax-efficient jurisdiction has crossed my mind occasionally. As for perfection, while some cities are great to live in (like New York) and some are great to work in (such as Amsterdam for obvious reasons such as awesome coffee breaks) the hike in oil prices generally deters me (like most people) from commuting approximately 7304 miles per day between the two cities.

All I can say is that the grass is always greener before it’s lit up, yeah?

Don't Ever Change (1964, A Hard Day's Night, Lennon)

Some associates who left our firm were never really interested in being lawyers really. One can safely assume that a few didn’t even want to study it in the first place and that it was the perception of the law being a safe, professional course which made them somehow go through the combined tortures of law school, the law firm interview process and the daily drudgery of the law firm itself.

So after a few years of fretting about deadlines, conditions precedent and suchlike, they said their goodbyes and took their chances. A few people I know have now taken up teaching, some are doing MBA degrees, some have become writers while some spent so much time in the office that they are toying with the idea of opening their own chain of tanning saloons. While they’re no longer rolling in the stuff like they used to, most of them are pretty happy with their decision and regret little of what they’ve left behind.

Sadly, I don’t see myself growing either an extra pair of testicles or following suit any time soon so you’ll have to bear with my irregular rants for quite a while longer.

That concludes my tirade for today. See you in another 508 days.


Nandii Reywal

P.S. Please direct all uncomplimentary comments towards Kian. I can swear that he actively encourages “whiners” like DudeDiligence and Nandii Reywal.

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