If you're not in the mood to hear someone whining/complaining a little, please feel free to ignore this post. ;) There are just some things on my mind that i'd normally write in my journal, but knowing my readers, i feel that i could get some valuable feedback by blogging about it. So here i go!
Yesterday was a bad day (as it was for many of you, apparently). Aside from the bad drivers, pet mishaps, etc., i was really frustrated at work, which guarantees a bad day, n'est ce pas? As if i don't question enough what the heck i'm doing here, my attitude towards work worsens exponentially when i don't have enough work to do. In theory, not having much to do sounds great. I can roll in around 9 and leave as early as 5:30. I don't have to work weekends or evenings, and i'm pretty certain i won't get a frantic email at 6 a.m. on a Saturday morning. The problem with being an attorney and having no work is that your productivity/success is measured on the number of hours you bill.
Ladies and gentlemen, allow moi to introduce you to the billable hour. We. Hate. It. (at least the the lawyers i know do) Evaluating your day in terms of billable hours can wreak havoc on the mind and soul, esp. when that number is low, or oftentimes, zero. Your value to the firm is how much you can bill the client - money, no matter where you are, is the bottom line. And unfortunately in this economy and in the particular practice area I'm in, business is slow. Being a new associate makes things way more stressful, especially when you read abovethelaw.com and hear about new layoffs almost daily (thankfully, that seems to have slowed down as well). I'm done (for the most part) worrying about being laid off. There was a period i was literally sick with fear every day i came into the office. I emailed City Girl almost daily with new fears/concerns, and she was WONDERFUL about addressing them and getting me to see the big picture (merci beaucoup, City Girl!!). What will i accomplish by making myself sick with worry? If i get laid off, so be it. I can't control the future, and i can only focus on doing the best i can do right now. Right?
This brings me to my current "problem". I'm trying to do the best i can do right now, but it's not enough. And furthermore, i can't bring in my own work which means i'm completely dependent on those senior to me to give me work to do, the hours to bill. It's a difficult balance - being diligent about finding work while also not be the nagging/annoying associate. Everyone is worried about hours, and since there aren't many to go around, being last on the totem pole is a disadvantage. Well yesterday i was faced with Day #3 of absolutely no billable work to do and starting to get really resentful of not being given anything to do despite my constant requests.
Because here's the deal guys, i know i have to PROVE myself. But how can i do that when it's impossible for me to work hard?? I know this may be hard for many to believe, but I ACTUALLY WANT TO WORK HARD. Because THIS is the time to do it! But i can't! And it's not my fault (for the first time in my life). And the thing is, i DO go above and beyond to try and work hard. I answer every email requesting an associate to do a project, i respond to partners who email on Friday afternoons for someone to work on something over the weekend, i try to do everything i can so that i can bill bill bill. It's not enough though. And i'm frustrated. Because not only do i feel worthless, but i feel like people don't see me for what i am - someone who's actually making a serious effort to work hard.
So, of course, that leads me into a downward spiral of "what the hell am i doing here" and "this is so not the right career for me" and "god could this day go by any slower" and "someone put me out of my misery". Now, don't get me wrong, i'm still me. I don't want to be put on projects that'll keep me in the office until 3 a.m.. What i do want is an opportunity to show my employers that i am capable of being a great associate* (and ok, maybe that will eventually involve some late nights, and that's fine). And more than that, i guess i want to feel like i am actually a valuable player in this whole game and that i'm not wasting my days on the internet FREAKING OUT about the number of hours i'm not billing. (Oh billable hour, how i loathe you.)
Ok, i'm done.
*Well, not quite. I have to say that I have been lucky enough to have been given a great deal of responsibility for a first-year associate, and i have been given great praise. I have been appreciated for the times i stepped up to the plate to do unpleasant tasks. And i know my own partner is happy with me. So okay, not all is awful, but if things keep up the way they do, they could quickly turn that way.