The latest edition of the ATL Top 50 Law Schools ranking is out and provides some interesting insights into legal education. As the ATL system privileges “outputs” by focusing on job placement and costs rather than incoming student GPAs and LSAT scores, the ranking gives prospective students a look at the best bang for their tuition buck and gives law schools a great way to game the system: be cheaper and get your grads jobs that will let them pay off debt. We talk about the rankings and some curious schools dropping down the list. We also discuss associate resistance to the “3-day in-person work week” model. It seems as though lawyers don’t want to return to the office at all and that might not be in their best interest.
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Joe Patrice: Hello, welcome to another edition of Thinking Like a Lawyer.
Kathryn Rubino: Hi there, thank you so much for welcoming again.
Joe Patrice: Yeah, okay. So, Thinking Like a Lawyer, the show that we do every week where we recap some of the biggest stories in law. I’m Joe Patrice from Above the Law. You’ve already heard from Kathryn Rubino out of turn from Above the Law.
Kathryn Rubino: I mean, is it out of turn if I do it every time I’m on the show?
Joe Patrice: Yes, still out of turn. And we are, as always, joined by Chris Williams, also of Above the Law and we’re here to give your weekly roundup of the stories that we were following last week. Yeah, that’s the show, which you probably know if you’ve been listening for a while, but nonetheless here we are.
Kathryn Rubino: That’s the first-time listeners, Joe?
Joe Patrice: That’s true.
Kathryn Rubino: Never foreclose the possibility of new people discovering the dulcet tones of your voice.
Joe Patrice: That’s true. Hold on. This is a small talk.
Kathryn Rubino: Yeah, I was out last week, so on vacation and forgot that was a thing that we do.
Joe Patrice: Yeah, so this is small talk. Actually, some woman randomly came up to me the other day and asked me if I did radio or other kinds of performance stuff. And I was like, “Well, I do host a podcast,” so, yeah, maybe we have new people.
Kathryn Rubino: Really? I feel like that’s a story that you made up.
Joe Patrice: No, totally randomly, like, I wasn’t talking to this person, but I said something in their mere presence, and they ran up and said, “Oh, your voice. Do you do radio?”
Chris Williams: Does anyone else find it weird that Joe is the only person on this podcast to get stories like, “Yeah, someone came up to me and said, X-Y-Z.” They really sound effects. I walk around streets all the time. I never get anything.
Joe Patrice: I mean, in fair, I’ve been here longer — since we don’t do this on video, people may not recognize you yet, but that will come in time and the longer you’re here.
Chris Williams: I’m going to get a Guy Fawkes mask if and when that happens.
Kathryn Rubino: So, how’s everyone’s week been?
Joe Patrice: Yeah, that’s right. We’ve been gone for a week. We had to have a rebroadcast last week. I hope everybody enjoyed learning a little bit about Bar Prep, and now we’re back with actual news.
Kathryn Rubino: And I have COVID. That’s what I brought back from vacation with me.
Joe Patrice: That is part of our news that Kathryn has COVID.
Kathryn Rubino: Okay, that might be the first time I’ve actually enjoyed the sound effect, and I thought it was completely appropriate.
Joe Patrice: Yeah, so how are you feeling?
Kathryn Rubino: I’m okay. Honestly, if we weren’t still in the tail, hopefully tail end of a pandemic, I never even would have clocked it as being particularly sick. But I got back from vacation, I’ve been on a bunch of planes, and my nose is a little runny, and I was about to go to a workout class. I was like, before I start breathing on people, maybe I should be responsible and take a test. Took the test and definitely came back positive. Got myself some of the antiviral medicines, which do have side effects, which I am dealing with.
Joe Patrice: Oh, really?
Kathryn Rubino: Yeah, apparently, about 5.6% of folks get this side effect where you have a change in this sense of taste and I thought that would be like the way COVID is. You can’t smell, you can’t taste, or whatever. It is not. It is this thing, it’s metal mouth, where different people have different versions, but this is a very common one that I am experiencing. Where my mouth just constantly tastes like metal. It doesn’t matter if I’m eating something. It doesn’t matter if I’ve just brushed my teeth. The first day I had it because I didn’t expect it to be like this, I like, brush my teeth like seven or eight times, I’m like, “What is going on with my mouth?” Everything tastes terrible but hopefully, once the course of antivirus is over, so will this side effect, which listen, it’s a lot better than being on ventilator, for example.
Joe Patrice: Obviously.
Kathryn Rubino: I’ll take it. I’ll take it. Yeah, so top 5%, that’s what I’ve learned. That’s where I am.
Joe Patrice: Well, yeah, unless there’s any other big news, maybe we should talk a little bit about being top 5%.
Chris Williams: No, no, I like to say things.
Joe Patrice: Oh, go for it.
Chris Williams: Since the last podcast, I’ve jumped out of a plane.
Kathryn Rubino: That’s awesome. I’ve always wanted to do that, was it so much fun?
Chris Williams: It was kind of fly.
Kathryn Rubino: Literally, you’re like flying?
Chris Williams: That was the joke. It was surprising how calming it was. Maybe it’s like I’m just really at terms with death and dying. Like, I’m the type of person where I bought my own earn.
Kathryn Rubino: Wow, okay.
Chris Williams: So, I’m very ready. It’s in my living room. It’s purple. It’s really nice, shout out to Prince. But I didn’t get, like, an adrenaline rush or anything. I saw trees, and they look like something you’d seen, like a Wii Game, they look pixelated. As I got close to the ground, I was like, “Oh, shit, that wasn’t just a model plane. That wasn’t actual plane.”
It was really cool. Everybody says here’s clichés, because they are common, but they’re actually, like, really good and succinct, like, ways to get out of feeling. And I say that because it was the first time, like, I saw the forest for the trees, and I was like, “Oh, shit, this is what they mean.” And I was like, “Oh, shit, I’m actually getting a bird’s eye view.” So, it was cool because it breeds some life into some cliché. I made it back in one piece mostly. Pockets are a little lighter, but it was a good one.
Joe Patrice: That is certainly more exciting than anything I did. So that’s good. I have not jumped off, but I did learn, since you mentioned Prince, I saw a thing. I can’t verify it. It’s one of those things you see on the internet, but I don’t’ have any reason to assume it’s wrong. Have you ever heard that there’s reason to believe Prince was one of the first people ever to play Oregon Trail?
Kathryn Rubino: No, I did not. I did not hear that.
Chris Williams: No, but that sounds like some Prince shit to do.
Joe Patrice: Apparently, the person who invented Oregon Trail was a Minnesota public school teacher, and he was in the process of inventing it at the same time that Prince attended that school and had that teacher. And so, while there’s nothing to suggest he actually was one of the first people, everybody’s like, “Well, he would have been in the class the year that this guy invented Oregon Trail or something.” So, Prince may well have been one of the first people to play Oregon Trail. That’s, like, with a random factoid I read the other day.
Kathryn Rubino: Amazing.
Chris Williams: That’s cool. My musical factor and then I guess we can do whatever the law stops people coming here for.
Joe Patrice: Right.
Chris Williams: I think that Cher is one of the first major users of autotune in a song.
Joe Patrice: Yes, that’s true.
Chris Williams: That “do you believe –“.
Joe Patrice: Oh, no, that was definitely true. That was definitely the first time that I’ve heard that.
Kathryn Rubino: I think it was like the first song with autotune that hit, like, some top whatever, billboard top whatever.
Chris Williams: I wonder if T-Pain gives Cher a shout out in any of his music.
Joe Patrice: Yeah, and with that, something that is most definitely not autotuned. We are now done with small talk.
So, let’s talk about the biggest thing going on, which we talked about 5% and stuff like that. This week, or last week, I guess, we’ve released here at Above the Law, our law school rankings, which we do every year. It’s another form of rankings of law schools that we do, as most people are familiar with the U.S. News & World Report rankings, we don’t love those. They certainly have a value but we have some serious issues with them philosophically, and that’s why we created our own companion rankings that people can use as well. Well, maybe, Kathryn, can you give us a quick update on what our philosophical approach to rankings are that make them so much different?
Kathryn Rubino: Our rankings have always been based on the output, not sort of the input. The U.S. News & World Report rankings are based very much on what are the quality of the students that get accepted, and what are some of those benchmarks of the students that get accepted to law schools. What do those look like? Whereas, ours puts the finger on the scale more in terms of what is the output, what jobs are people likely to get? How much debt are they likely to come out with? These sort of output-based metrics is something we care a lot more about.
Joe Patrice: Yeah, so this includes the jobs that you get and so on, but also some factors involving, like, the cost and what are you getting the best bang for your tuition buck, basically? So, this year’s rankings are out, and in first place, Duke Law School is now in first. Followed by Virginia in Cornell. Virginia UVA has been in the two-slot for a while now. And Chris, your alma mater clocks in at six with Washington in St. Louis.
Chris Williams: Listen, I was watching this Slavoj Žižek is a Slovenian philosopher psychoanalyst and maybe has a weird thing with his nose. It’s like a Slovenian joke, he acts as a genie comes to a guy, and the reputation is that Slovenes are, like, misers. He’s like, “I’ll give you one thing, but I have to give it double to your neighbor.” His response is, “Take out one of my eyes.” So, it was cool to see why she was placing, but Vanderbilt was above us, so I don’t have that much joy in it. I guess it’s cool to be top six, but it sucks at their top five.
Joe Patrice: It is amazing how Worstell and Vanderbilt have developed this bitter rivalry because they are the —
Chris Williams: I don’t know if it’s a general thing. It’s just in my heart of hearts, it’s like defund the police. Fuck Vanderbilt. I love my mom. I don’t even want a systemic thing. This is just a Chris idiosyncrasy.
Kathryn Rubino: And your mom actually listened to the podcast.
So, you are comfortable letting mom know that she is three.
Chris Williams: No, and listen, listen, my mom also knows I have heart problems, so like the ranking is being. It’s just the bad ranking is just a part of my biology. My mom loves her son. So, I’m sure she will accept.
Kathryn Rubino: So, you are number one on her list?
Chris Williams: Oh, I better be, I better be, because that’s what she tells me. But as you know, like, the left ventricle, the right ventricle, they are very close.
Joe Patrice: Yeah.
Chris Williams: They are very close.
Joe Patrice: Not in me. My actual heart condition means that that is true. But moving along, Vanderbilt actually rocketed up the numbers this year, they picked up I believe 10 slots, which was a kind of ridiculous jump in these rankings. I guess the biggest and the reason for that, I’ll explain a little bit of that. The reason for that is that they both had an increased in their job numbers, both more jobs coming out as well as — more jobs coming out, more graduates getting jobs when they walk away from school as well as a big dip in the underemployment number, which is people who have jobs but aren’t really jobs that you want to have as a lawyer necessarily with a degree that you have to pay off. But they also had a giant leap in their “quality job number”, which is a factor that we include which weights the scale of jobs a little bit towards NLJ 250 Firms, and federal clerkships, the sort of jobs that are a little bit more prestigious, we put a thumb on the scale for those. Obviously, if you can get those that’s a reason to like your law school. So, that was the big reason for the jump for Vanderbilt.
One question that I had which a former Dean from a law school reached out to me to chat about these numbers a little bit and they raised a concern and I want to hear what you both think about this, which is that this Dean was concerned because the thumb on the scale towards these big firms and federal clerkships, the argument was this is overlooking some high-end public interest jobs, which we probably should be counting, they argued because given loan forgiveness programs that a lot of law schools have, the decision to take that lower salary at that public interest job given the loan forgiveness programs and repayment options and stuff like that means that it actually is the sort of quality job we should be counting, because we’re tend to cut — we put this thumb on the scale because if you paid a lot of money in tuition and you’re making a bunch of money, that’s more important than if you aren’t and the argument was well, but if the tuition is lower for those folks, then maybe that should be counted and therefore not unnecessarily weight the scales towards corporate law when it could count public interest. Any thoughts on that? I’m kind of conflicted about it.
Kathryn Rubino: I mean, I just receive that argument and I do think that there are a lot of public interest jobs that are incredibly prestigious and probably should be counted, but I think that any effort to count them would have to be very much tied to what the repayment programs are like in individual schools, which do vary wildly from place to place.
Joe Patrice: Right.
Kathryn Rubino: Because, you know, just saying oh, we have some sort of loan forgiveness program and not investigating the quality of it, how many people who are in public interest actually get access to that program, all this kind of stuff. It’s just a lot more data points that you have to include in, you can’t just say, well, there is some form of loan forgiveness and there’s public interest. I think it has to be a lot more nuance in that, that truly capture the schools that are doing good by their public interest law students versus ones that are kind of feeling out a check box as opposed to, actually having a quality program.
Chris Williams: My initial impression is that, one of the important things that comes with Thinking Like a Lawyer is recognizing sophistry. And that seems like a good argument, but also, I think about one what high-paying public interests’ jobs like maybe, I mean they are there, they do exist, but there’s not nearly as much discussion about what they are and how to access them, maybe like some antitrust gigs, maybe if you can —
Kathryn Rubino: Well, I don’t think that they’re saying that those jobs actually pay big money, like, big law money, I think what they’re saying is that, given the fact that a certain percentage of their loans are going to be forgiven or they have access to a lower tuition that less of their salary is going towards serving loans therefore, their sort of disposable income is a higher percentage of their sort of total salary.
Chris Williams: Well, true. But I mean, isn’t that still like a 10-year period and the repayment, and the forgiving process forgive for loan forgiveness process itself is still like not even necessarily on stable time. Like I’ve heard stories. I don’t know how frequently these having a people that say that say initially, like, oh, I’m working this particular job that will qualify me for loan forgiveness, and then years later, they discovered that because of like a paperwork SNAFU or something along those lines or maybe depending on who’s in office the reliability of that is up in the air. And that’s a lot harder to quantify especially compared to like say, oh, this person is making 250k a year, like there’s at least a concrete thing happening, presently that can be weighed rather than wondering how things will play out in 2032.
And even then, you still make like what 50k, maybe 70k if you find a really good job. It’s like sure you have the amount of money that you’re able to spend is a greater of relation to the amount that you’re making, but still, that’s like why, you’re still probably scraping by. I mean it’s hard to really look at that and actually say, oh, this is, this is thriving.
Joe Patrice: Yeah, I mean, obviously, they’re not going to pay, public interest jobs aren’t going to pay as much. The idea being is since because this is a thing. People ask about this, well, your privileging big law, and, to some extent, we are, but I don’t think that our philosophy is that we’re privileging big law because we think big law is better, we are privileging big law to the extent that that’s the best proxy we have for hey, you walked out of school with $200,000 of debt, are you going to be able to repay that and by counting big law jobs in this way, we can say, yes, these people are being put in a position where they might be able to repay that and if they are working at a job that’s only making 60 Grand a year, they are not in a position to do that. Which is why the Dean’s argument makes some sense because if there are these programs that mean that, no, you aren’t walking out with $200,000 in debt, so therefore the $60,000 a year job isn’t as big a trade-off. Fine, but like I think Kathryn is right it’s just it’s so hard to capture that.
Kathryn Rubino: And again I, Chris’ point is also taken as well.
Joe Patrice: Yeah.
Kathryn Rubino: You know, different, they change over time. Plenty of people have found themselves on the losing end of thinking that they were going to have much more generous terms of their law school debt. And I don’t think that the ATL system necessarily privileges big law as much as it is putting a real sort of lived experience on the what servicing debt for the next 20 years or 10 years or whatever it is, is actually doing to you.
And, you know, there’s lots of reasons, we can look at all the reasons why people think we should cancel student debt generally but servicing loans, if you’re not thinking about that, as a big part of your life, you’re not really, you’re not making an accurate judgment as to what your financial prospects are. And the way that those impact, a lot of other things.
So, I don’t think it puts the finger on big law as much as it says that debt is bigger than you think it is. And I think that, a lot of people, oh yeah, it’s fine. I’ll just take out loans. You can get all these loans and it’s true and I took them out myself. But like, I think that actually thinking through the ways in which those giant loans will continue to impact your life, and you may find yourself, you know, golden handcuffed to jobs you hate and these are all real impacts of deciding to go to law school unless you can pay it off in the get-go. And I think that that has to be accounted for.
Chris Williams: I also think this is like a question of a method given that the loan forgiveness is over like a 10-year period. I think you also have to have symmetrical factoring how many people start doing public interest and then switch over to doing big law or something especially with all that long period of time. I have friends, and these are people that like graduate from like T4 school. I have a friend who graduated from Harvard Law who able to like, I was making, I had a public interest gig, I was making 90k a year and I can’t afford to live on that, I have to get a big law gig and they were very gung-ho about this is why, this is what I’m doing is it was important to me, but even after having a few years of that lifestyle, I can’t afford this. So, like just a — I don’t really know how could quantify that.
Joe Patrice: Its data that I think in the ideal world of Worlds we would have and we could granularly grab, hey this selection of the student body that’s going into a public interest job. He has this but it’s just so hard.
Chris Williams: That’s why I am saying there is some good sophistry, because like I see the merit to it but I’m like how would you actually gauge that? How do you gauge them and like how do you weigh it?
Joe Patrice: And I think you could gauge it for individual schools, but I think this goes to Kathryn’s point, like I could grab say CUNY’s numbers and I’m sure they would report, you know, a law school that’s very famous for putting people into public interest work, I could probably get their data and work out.
Here’s what the real cost to these people who are going into public interest jobs are as far as a percentage of being able to service their loans and yada yada and get something. But I would have to do that for every law school in order to do the ranking. And the advantage, theoretically of, I think an advantage of this system is that Columbia, for instance, does put a bunch of people into these sorts of jobs and does have repayment programs.
And I think a lot of the reason they do have these repayment programs and stuff are because they have folks going to big law who come back and give money to the school. And so, in some ways, it’s a proxy that hopefully, is itself reinforcing that the people who are getting the good repayment programs and the good public interest jobs are generally at schools where people are also going on to these other big law jobs, hopefully, that’s what we’re trying to capture.
Obviously, nothing’s perfect. But I wanted to where we’ve been going for a while here and I do have some other topics to get to. But one thing that I wanted to focus on that I think is interesting about these rankings is that Yale, Harvard, Stanford, these schools, not doing all that great in the Above the Law rankings, which is fascinating because like, you would say if the point of this is to go out and get a good job and get good bang for your buck. How do we end up in a situation where these perennially top-ranked schools aren’t there and a reason is they charge more for people getting these jobs than some other T14 level schools would, which is a reason why a school like Duke would outperform them in our rankings.
But what interests me about it is watching it over time because our methodology hasn’t really changed since the first time we put out these rankings and when we did, we captured a snapshot where Yale, Harvard and Stanford were still top ranked firms in our own rankings, to some extent that was like when you’re coming up with a methodology, we figured Yale probably should be first and it’s not like we gained it to cause that, but obviously, when we created a ranking system that spit out Yale was still first, we — or Harvard, one of those schools was first, I can’t remember what, but when we spit out a system that put them generally at the top, we felt like okay, this is still credible.
It seems as though so even though we have a different philosophy, we shouldn’t have too radically a different philosophy, right like the part of the reason why the inputs are good is it’s going to lead to good outputs and so those should be close. There should be differences, but close. And without changing our methodology, they’ve diverged, which I think is almost more interesting than the year-to-year rankings to my mind because it suggests that the snapshot, we took might have actually been part of a longer-term trend of these schools separating themselves as far as their value proposition.
And it’s gotten to a point where Stanford is languishing in our numbers, they having gone down in every count them metric that we use, good jobs, underemployment, quality employment, clerkship, everything went down to them and yet what they charge is up.
Chris Williams: This is more than a decision like a thought, maybe a little scatter brain, but I wonder what degree you have to factor in that because of the nature of the prestige of like the higher ranking places that people are just doing different things with the JDs, like I’m sure it’s easy to parlay the prestige of a Yale or a Harvard JD, probably that is something that is clearly different with maybe like going with friends, tech startup or like to what degree does it make sense to say that oh, if the metric is looking at how many hobbies people can use this platform and make their job to pay off, but the people are coming from generational wealth where they don’t really necessarily even need a job to do the thing that they want to do.
Kathryn Rubino: They want the resume line; they don’t need the money. They want the resume line more than anything else, they will pay whatever cost for it.
Chris Williams: Right. Well, like because I’m pretty sure the metric doesn’t have, not that I’m saying this is the reason most people go to a highly prestigious law school but it is a thing that happens like there’s not a way of determining if somebody goes since their son or daughter to Yale, Harvard or Stanford to find a husband or a wife and then they become like a person that lives with a big earner or something that they’re still able to like pay off the loans, whatnot, but it would look like they might look as if they’re unemployed. So, I don’t know like, I don’t know what these people are doing with the JDs after they get them.
Joe Patrice: Well, and historically in our rankings, the first school to kind of take a dip in our snapshot rankings over the years was Yale, which we thought made sense, because, as I’ve said long said, you don’t go to Yale to be a lawyer, you go to Yale to become the dictator of a small country.
These folks go on and do other stuff like that, shadow government, sort of things as opposed to being lawyers. And so, when that started to happen, I thought, well, that makes sense within the confines of what our rankings are meant to capture, but everybody yeah. Anyway, well, we’ve gone on far too long about this and I think we missed a few phone calls about it. Huh?
Kathryn Rubino: I mean we are talking so, that makes sense.
Joe Patrice: Oh yeah. So, but it would be great if we had a virtual reception service to deal with that for us.
Kathryn Rubino: Help us out.
Chris Williams: Is there something like that?
Kathryn Rubino: There is. So, let’s hear from Posh.
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Joe Patrice: All right. So, we’ve gone on a really long time so I think we have time for one more quick segment. Let’s talk about what’s going on Ropes & Gray Law Firm. Kathryn this is something you wrote about, what’s up.
Kathryn Rubino: So, like many big law firms and frankly employers in general, we’re all kind of trying to struggle, what does this post where I mean the fact that I actually have COVID, we’re hopefully at least at the tail end of our shared pain of experience, put a pin in monkeypox for a moment.
So, the question of what happens now is kind of an open one. Are people coming back to the office five days a week? Is there are some sort of a hybrid involved? Are people doing fully remote work? By and large in the legal profession, fully remote work has fallen off. There was an article recently about that those kind of fully remote jobs are harder and harder to find. It’s not really a thing anymore.
But most law firms have kind of settled into a hybrid model, where they’re asking folks to come in between two and four days a week, most people settled around three. Some firms have kind of said, these are the days prefer you come, but you need to come in three days a week. Ropes & Gray is one of those firms.
Back in May, they got a ton of kudos a few months ago for putting out like this kind of phased back to the office, whole — oh, the law firm is open. You can kind of come whenever you want, here it is and kind of ramping up to the beginning of May when they said, we really — our expectation is for attorneys and everyone to come in at least three days a week and we would really like to see you on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, which listen, 2019 and you’ve written this in the past too, Joe.
But, if in 2019, hey, there’s a big law firm and you only have to come into the office three days a week, everyone be like that is the best thing ever, best thing since sliced bread. This is it. This is the money. This is the future. But you know, COVID. So as a result, what’s happened to the firm is that not everyone showed up those three days and it’s been over a month at this point. And one of the co-chairs of the litigation department sent an email to folks in litigation saying, hey for I think three of the last four weeks, you have not been here on the three days that we asked you to, we really need you to be here; these are the days we are asking you to be here if there’s some sort of specific reason why you can’t, we’re happy to make the accommodations. But the expectation is in fact three days a week.
And, you know, folks at the firm have been kind of pissy about it, at least ATL tipsters, I guess, the only the folks who are upset are the ones who are going to reach out. So, I think it’s kind of some sort of sampling bias here but folks are pissed and — but on the other hand, I think that there’s some sympathy to be had for the firm first of all because it is, in fact, still a hybrid schedule. You’ll still get to work from home, Mondays and Fridays, there’s plenty of flexibility I think built into that.
They are also are willing to make more accommodations if your specific set of circumstances require it, but also because there’s also a ton of information out there saying that it’s summer associate season, summer associates, who had the last two years of their law school career remote are not interested in fully remote work. They want — I think it was 92% of summer associates surveyed said that, if an in-person, an opportunity to go to the office was available during their summer associate program, they would take it.
So, if you’re having 92% of summer associates come into the office, you need people there. You need people to take them to lunch. You need people there to show them the ropes. You need people there to kind of be an example of what the environment, what the culture of your firm is really like. So, I think that just kind of rocking a hard place I think for a lot of these firms and this is just one of the firms where we have a very clear example of how it’s playing out there.
Chris Williams: I just want to give you kudos for saying show them the ropes instead of showing them the Ropes & Gray because I would not.
Joe Patrice: Yeah, there we go.
Chris Williams: I would not have had to self-control to not do that.
Joe Patrice: I did catch that. That was brought up. But yeah, like, I’m very sympathetic, generally speaking.
Kathryn Rubino: Yeah, that’s going to be the title of the episode by the way, showing them the Ropes & Gray.
Joseph Patrice: No. Boo. I’m generally sympathetic to associates but like three days a week in the office seems like a dream come true, especially if you are for some of these firms, they’re taking a model of Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, you know, whatever. Other firms are leaving it much more flexible, for those that are leaving much more flexible, like you do have the ability to say, you know, Tuesday mornings I have to do volunteer at the school for a couple hours and to be with my kids and then whatever like all of these options that we said people need for years to help make a more congenial and collegial law firm we finally have. And now that it’s being offered, we’re getting people complaining that they don’t want to be forced back into the office and I think a lot of this is still the lingering fear of COVID, obviously, infections are up, as evidenced by this very podcast. But I just feel like the three-day a week model is amazing and in jeopardy as people don’t adopt it. Layoffs are likely to happen at some level, the lateral market is likely to slow down on some level and the leverage that we currently have to help build a future modeled of legal work that is more humane is diminishing and if we don’t jump wholeheartedly into this, I see it going back to everybody being in the office five to seven days a week because that’s just the way the world has always worked.
Kathryn Rubino: It’s almost like you can’t have nice things, so you can take it all the way. In some firms, you have more aggressive policies, some have four days a week, some said four days a week but staring at them at least four days a week.
Joseph Patrice: Yeah.
Kathryn Rubino: I don’t know. I think we’re in a very much in a moment of transition and sympathetic especially you know, someone who’s currently dealing with COVID but I think that that it also behooves associates to understand the perspective of the firms as well as their own personal perspective because no matter how long they’re planning at being at the firm, you have to think about what the big picture is and I think that’s also a skill that behooves you as an attorney.
Joseph Patrice: Yeah.
Chris Williams: I say this with no data to point to. I blame those damn K through JD’s who this is their first job because I don’t think — there’s no way that people that know the experience of going in the work and having to know that Steve is down the hall wants this like when they could work from their living room and I just don’t get it. Like, of all the jobs I’ve ever had, my living room is way more preferable even if there’s free coffee in the break room and it’s like this opens up so many potential ways of living like you don’t have to worry about paying more rent because you want to have a place that’s near the office like you could literally work wherever you want and just commute those three days like who would pass up on this? I don’t get it.
Joseph Patrice: Yeah, well and it seems as though they have been used to working fully remote because obviously during the lockdown that’s what we had to do and they’re kind of operating on the well, why even go back to three? We were able to do our jobs not going into the office any days a week, which is true, but had a limitation to it and that limitation is mentorship, because this is a thing that I’ve mentioned a few times. It’s like if you’re a fourth or fifth-year associate, yeah, you don’t need to go into the office for you per se. You can do your job remotely. But first years, don’t know how to do that and they’re not going to learn it from formalized training programs because where you actually learn things as a first-year is by doing something stupid in front of a second and third year, who go, oh don’t do that.
Kathryn Rubino: Oh, no.
Joseph Patrice: Right, and that sort of passive learning is where you learn stuff and so yeah, the fifth years don’t need it necessarily but they need to be there to train everybody else and three days a week seems like good one for that and another aspect of it that I hadn’t really thought of until partner at a big firm that I know mentioned it to me. It’s also valuable to those fifth years from a client development process and it’s not people think business development client, client development is like going golfing and dinners and old boys club stuff but it’s not. These days, especially on the transactional side, client development is becoming friends with Steve down the hall. Who’s about to get a job working at Goldman and be in a position to hand out business.
Being friends with your own colleagues is actually the way in which you end up getting business. And so, you may be a litigator but you befriend the capital market’s kid who’s about to go over to Goldman and like you might end up getting work from that and that’s where business development really happens and that’s the sort of thing that crossed department within your own firm relationships and that requires being there too. So, like, it just strikes me as though five days a week wasn’t necessary but three seems like a pretty good way of getting your cake and eating it too. And the way in which people aren’t enjoying that and flocking to it, I think quits the whole experiment of risk.
Chris Williams: Yeah, the outcome looks pretty grey.
Joseph Patrice: Yeah, it does look grey. Yeah, good job.
Chris Williams: Now, we’re here are we?
Kathryn Rubino: There we go, there we go.
Chris Williams: All right, fair, fair.
Joseph Patrice: So, with all that said I think we are done for the week. So, thanks for listening, you should be subscribed to the show so you can get new episodes when they come out, you can also give us reviews, stars, write something, it helps out, lets people know that we are a legal podcast that they can be listening to. You should be following us on social media, I’m at @josephpatrice, she’s @kathryn1, the numeral one, not all those words, just letting you know it’s a numeral, Chris is @rightsforrent. You should be listening to our other shows. Kathryn is the host of the Jabo. I am a panelist on the legal talk week journalist round table. You should listen to the other Legal Talk Network programs. You should be reading above the law because that’s where you can see these and more stories as they come out. You should follow app ATL blog, that’s our handler for the blog itself and you should thank Posh for sponsoring and I think that brings us to everything. Yep, we’ll be back next week.
Chris Williams: See you next week.