Saturday, August 13, 2011

What Pete Said

So there's a guy in our unit who's a partner at a Boston law firm.

And not just ANY law firm, mind you, but a white-shoe firm where even senior associates are proabably getting into quarter-mil territory. I mention that because it's rare to meet Senior National Guard Officers and NCOs who don't either work full-time for the Guard (it's called AGR, or Active Guard/Reserve) or work in a public-sector field like local/state police, or federal/state government GS-type stuff.

That probably has a lot to do with correlating interests, but it also has to do with the fact that the time demands on senior people in the Guard aren't super-compatible with jobs that have strenuous time demands of their own, let alone time for families and other pursuits.

So the partner guy, who's a JAG O-3 (Captain) here, and only a few rings-on-the-tree past me, came into my office the other night, and I got a chance to pick his brain about what it's like over in this Corporate America place.

What he said confirmed everything I think about why I want to check that place out. While there are aspects of his job that basically suck, like the fact that he has to track his time at work down to 6-minute increments (yes, 6-minute increments!) in order to properly bill clients, the basic fact is that no one there has to justify his/her existence, even for a second.

Because it's a firm that optimizes profits, there are people who constantly review its budget for places to cut corners, trim fat, and improve the bottom line. As a result, there's no one in the building who's there just to breathe oxygen. Obviously, people are there to perform different functions, but everyone is needed, and if someone weren't measuring up, well, they'd soon be looking for something new.

Yes, the hours were long. I tried to corner him into telling me about a 'typical' day (there's never such a thing, right?) and it sounded like 8:30 a.m.-7 p.m.-ish, with an emphasis on the 'ish').

Sure, that's a lot longer than the typical 40-hour government week, but at least during my active duty and Guard time, days like that have always been the norm. They may have started a bit sooner and ended a bit sooner, but they day length sounded about right.

Another major difference is that there's true zero-sum competition for certain spots. The firm uses one of those pyramid systems, where such-and-such a number of first-year associates will be hired, and then there will be a percentage asked to come back each year, and so on, all the way up to partner. I'll admit that that will be a culture shock coming from seven years in a non-zero-sum type environment.

Still, all told, I'm intrigued by this whole suit-and-tie thing.

At least until I write a follow-up entry a few years from now, lamenting everything about corporate culture and getting wistful about the days in the *actual* green-collar industry.

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