Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Greener Pastures

Lawyers today are different than ten or more years ago. It's a product of my generation, the economy, and the evolving legal profession. It is rare for a new attorney to enter a job and retire from the same one in today's world. We leave for more money, different experiences, to relocate cities, or simply leave the profession together. Gone are the days (mostly) where an associate will work his way up to be a senior associate, junior partner, and then senior partner at the same firm. It's even rarer for an ADA today to retire from the same office they began in. In a good economy, ADAs leave for private sector jobs that will pay more money. In poor economies, the turnover is infrequent but the number of lawyers looking for other jobs remains the same.

I constantly hear the complaint from older attorneys. They complain that attorneys my age don't have the same work ethic, loyalty, and that we expect things to be handed to us. Maybe some of that is true, but it is also a fact that my generation faces deep law school debt and an expensive world.

No matter when a person leaves the DA's office, it is always difficult to see them go. We grew up together in the office, in the trenches. We started making $40,000 a year with more than six figures in debt together, spending nights and weekends trying to learn what we were doing, believing we were fighting for the common good. We laughed at the ridiculous stories that came through the door and cried at the inconceivable harm humans do to each other.

Then, the person that grew into your friend takes another job. The reasons vary--more money, personality clash with supervision, an inability to separate the job from home life--but the result is the same. One more friend walks out the door. Their job is quickly filled by someone else as their files are dispersed to other ADAs.

The ADA that left always misses the office at some point and people that make a career as an ADA point to this to prove we have the best job in the legal world.

I have been on both sides of this. I have left a job I loved with co-workers I cared deeply about and I have seen some great friends leave. It is not easy on either side. Some people take an employee's resignation as a personal attack on the employer. It rarely is. It is just a fact of life. People move on from one place to another in the hopes that the next job will provide what the last job cannot. I am guilty of looking back with fond hindsight of prior jobs, such as a concessionaire at a movie theater or produce clerk at a supermarket. The truth is the people made those jobs memorable, not the work. It's the same in any business. If you are surrounded by amazing people, the job will seem better. Few miss the work. Most miss the people. Being an ADA is a terrific job because of the people inside the building are all working towards the same goals. Once you leave, it's difficult to establish that sense of purpose, that sense of camaraderie, again.

I said goodbye to a great friend and co-worker this week and wish her well. It never gets easier.


  1. This is so true..it is the coworkers that make or break the job

  2. A very nice post--I hope your next new co-worker is both competent and likable.