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Enjoying your BigLaw job? You may be an odd duck, and that’s OK, psychologist says

Posted Apr 29, 2013 6:30 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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About 96 percent of the BigLaw lawyers seeking help from psychotherapist Will Meyerhofer are seeking a way out.

Then there are the 4 percent who like BigLaw practice. “I don’t want to exaggerate the phenomenon,” Meyerhofer writes at the People’s Therapist, “but there are folks who actually ‘fit in’ in BigLaw. They actually like it there. These are the ‘odd ducks,’ and from time to time some of them also appear at my door.”

Odd ducks tend to lay low and pretend to be miserable, Meyerhofer says, because they recognize that liking BigLaw is taboo. “That’s what it’s come to," Meyerhofer writes. "Biglaw is so universally detested that the few people for whom it’s a fit are ashamed to admit it. But the fact remains: Some people do fine in even the scariest BigLaw firms—and they have a right to.”

Meyerhofer identifies these odd duck giveaways:

• True odd ducks are good at law, not just theoretical law taught in law schools, but day-to-day law as practiced in big firms. They get good reviews, “an extremely rare thing in BigLaw, where dismantling associate self-confidence and consigning their self-esteem to the flames of oblivion is an accepted norm.”

• Odd ducks are cut out for the work. They may relish the combat of litigation, find civil procedure fascinating, or become easily engrossed in the review of a purchase agreement.

• Odd ducks fit in with the partners, who see a kindred spirit.

Meyerhofer cautions that odd duck associates may lose their love for law practice when, for example, they end up working for a sadistic partner or they learn they're not good at client development. “Plenty of people who think they’re odd ducks as associates wind up discovering they only like ‘doing’ law, not marketing and bringing in clients,” Meyerhofer says, “and there’s little room for service partners in today’s BigLaw.”

Above the Law posted part of the column and the Hildebrandt Blog noted the blog post by Meyerhofer, who is himself a BigLaw refugee.

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