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Messages - Chris Laurel

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11
You're a fool.  Respect should be automatically given, and disrespect earned.  Otherwise our society would be unworkable.  Who wants to live in a country where we have to prove we are worthy of respect?  Not me.  Are we supposed to carry around credentials with us, or something?  Maybe we can all start wearing military clothing so we know our rank in society, and who we need to respect, and who we can disrespect.

Anyone who says respect must be earned has a value system worthy of derision.  They are the jerks you come across everyday and say, "Jeez, can people really be that way?"

12

I think it's because a lot of them like to have a martyr complex about the whole thing, they think it makes them tougher or something.

I think that is EXACTLY what is behind their support for the current system.  They obviously don't know too many practicing associates because many, if not most, are miserable and wish they never went to law school. 

I worked for two years at Fulbright in Texas and four years at Clifford Chance in NYC.  I know these people.  They are my friends.  I case-managed their transactions.  They know I write what I write.  And they all universally agree with what I say.  I know I won't convince everyone.  But it matters not that some swashbuckling law students who have no idea what they are in for don't see it.

You toughies - there's more to life than law.  There's families, there's community (and NOT just giving at the office); there's hobbies; there's problems we need to fix in this country (the require the whole of the citizenry to focus on them).  These things are NOT things most people can do without and be happy.  The legal profession has proven that true. 

It gives me no satisfaction that the toughies who post on these boards will often succumb to the same misery as the rest of the profession.  It's sad. See for yourselves:

Those unhappy, unhealthy lawyers
Notre Dame Magazine     

 
   Lawyers may or may not be among the most unethical professionals in America. But there is little doubt that they are among the most unhealthy and unhappy.

Lawyers suffer from depression, anxiety, hostility, paranoia, social alienation and isolation, obsessive-compulsiveness, and interpersonal sensitivity at alarming rates. For example, researchers affiliated with Johns Hopkins University found statistically significant elevations of major depressive disorder (AMDD@) in only three of 104 occupations: lawyers, pre-kindergarten and special education teachers, and secretaries. Lawyers topped the list, suffering from MDD at a rate 3.6 times higher than nonlawyers who shared their key socio-demographic traits.

Lawyers also suffer from alcoholism and use illegal drugs at rates far higher than nonlawyers. One group of researchers found that the rate of alcoholism among lawyers is double the rate of alcoholism among adults generally, while another group of researchers estimated that 26 percent of lawyers had used cocaine at least once C twice the rate of the general population. One out of three lawyers suffers from clinical depression, alcoholism or drug abuse. Not surprisingly, a preliminary study indicates that lawyers commit suicide and think about committing suicide more often than nonlawyers.

The divorce rate among lawyers appears to be higher than the divorce rate among other professionals. Felicia Baker LeClere of Notre Dame=s Center for the Study of Contemporary Society compared the incidence of divorce among lawyers to the incidence of divorce among doctors, using data from the 1990 census. LeClere found that the percentage of lawyers who are divorced is higher than the percentage of doctors who are divorced and that the difference is particularly pronounced among women.

People who are this unhealthy C people who suffer from depression, anxiety, alcoholism, drug abuse, divorce, and suicide to this extent C are almost by definition unhappy. It should not be surprising, then, that lawyers are indeed unhappy, nor should it be surprising that the source of their unhappiness seems to be the one thing that they have in common: their work as lawyers. In large numbers, lawyers say that they are unhappy with their careers, that they would not become lawyers again if they had the choice, that they would not advise their children or others to become lawyers, and that they hope to leave the practice of law before the end of their careers. Even as the market for legal services has improved in the last few years, the morale of lawyers has declined to new lows, especially for lawyers in private practice.

Why are lawyers so unhealthy and unhappy? Why do so many lawyers, in the words of Judge Laurence Silberman, Ahate what the practice of law has become?@ Lawyers give many reasons. They complain about the commercialization of the legal profession C about the fact that practicing law has become less of a profession and more of a business. They complain about the increased pressure to attract and retain clients in a ferociously competitive marketplace. They complain about having to work in an adversarial environment. They complain about not having control over their lives and about being at the mercy of judges and clients. They complain about a lack of civility among lawyers. They complain about a lack of collegiality and loyalty among their partners. And they complain about their poor public image. Mostly, though, they complain about the hours.

In every study of the career satisfaction of lawyers of which I am aware, in every book or article about the woes of the legal profession that I have read, and in every conversation about life as a practicing lawyer that I have heard, lawyers complain about the long hours they have to work. In the words of the American Bar Association, lawyers are complaining with increasing vehemence about Aliving to work, rather than working to live@ C about being Aasked not to dedicate, but to sacrifice their lives to the firm.@ Lawyers often suffer from a nostalgic longing for a past that never really existed. But when it comes to their brutal work schedules, lawyers have reason to complain, and they have reason to believe that the problem has grown worse. Thirty years ago, most partners billed between 1,200 and 1,400 hours per year and most associates between 1,400 and 1,600 hours. Today, over half of the associates and almost a quarter of the partners in private practice bill at least 2,000 hours per year. In the biggest and most prestigious law firms, almost everyone bills close to 2,000 hours, and many bill 2,500 hours or more.

Researchers have found that what makes people happy is the nature (not the amount) of the work they do and the quality of their lives outside of work. Long hours at the office have no relationship to the former and take away from the latter. Every hour that lawyers spend at their desks is an hour that they do not spend doing many of the things that give their lives joy and meaning: being with their spouses, playing with their children, relaxing with their friends, visiting their parents, going to movies, reading books, volunteering at the homeless shelter, playing softball, collecting stamps, traveling the world, getting involved in a political campaign, going to church, working out at a health club. There=s no mystery about why lawyers are so unhappy: They work too much.

13
Current Law Students / Re: The truth so quit whining
« on: January 24, 2006, 10:29:50 PM »
What a great post!  It ignores all the problems law students and lawyers face, and ignores that there is a better way to teach and practice.  It ignores that more exams is more accurate.  It ignores the numerous evidence that completely contradicts the original post on this thread.

I personally have not argued once to make law school easier, but to make it more effective, more accurate.  More tests.  TAs who can take time to explain concepts that one professor with a 115 students can't necessarily do. 

This isn't whining.  This is a problem we all face in the country: when a person says "there is a better way" people say it is whining without saying WHY the proposed better way is not better, and WHY the status quo works so well. 

Alcoholism and drug addiction are endemic in the legal community and at law schools.  The pressure we are under is inhuman, and pointless.  Firms work us like mules.  We are, hands-down, the unhappiest profession out there.  I've posted the studies and articles that back this up.  I am, by far, not the first person to say this stuff.  If you are so assured of your point of view, why don't you start producing some evidence?  I dare you - get some studies or SOMETHING besides just your ruminations.  I did - can't you?

We aren't talking about the top 10% of the class, the brains that will always do well one test or not.  Or those who for three years give up any semblance of life outside of law school (and why is that okay?)  We're talking about the next 20% of the class - and there the variance is wide in their grades. 

It's kind of sad when people ignore problems and advocate the delusional thinking that the current system is the best.  Like I said, I don't want things easier, I want them more accurate.  More exams, and TAs.  Why don't you put up something besides what comes out of your head to back up your whining about what you see as other people whining.

14
Current Law Students / Re: Demand more tests! Demand teaching assistants!
« on: January 24, 2006, 09:47:42 PM »
You miss the point of law school. It is not to teach you the law, but instead to teach you how to understand legal reasoning. With the exception of civpro most other areas of the law differ from state to state and circuit to circuit. It would simply serve to confuse if law schools tried to teach you all the law. Beside being d**mn near impossible, it would serve no use.  Thatís what you learn when get out of school pick a practice area and a practice location.

The purpose of BLL in law school is to provide a framework for learning to understand legal reasoning. Same with cases. We are essentially operating in an artificial legal world created by the prof and the casebook. In this world we are expected, with guidance, to look at statutes, rules, and cases and come to an understanding of how the law works. Hopefully this will allow us to do the same when we graduate and go to work, whether at a firm, or on our own.

By the way one of the reasons that exams are structured the way they are is so that grades can be a reflection of your ability to do good work quickly and with no rewrites. While a firm will no doubt train you, I know for a fact that a firm would prefer a person who can think for themselves understand legal reasoning and does not need to always have a another chance then someone who does.


You're wrong - we cover every topic imagineable.  If what you say is true, then there would be no need to learn Worker's Compensation in Torts unless we planned to practice it.  Think about all the crap you learn in Property that you will never revisit. Why do we learn the intricacies of Crim Law if we are only in school to learn legal reasoning?  What school do you go to that you don't know this? 

In fact, that is how most other countries do it.  A doctorate program in law is reserved for those who want to specialize or go on to academia.  So that makes your first paragraph wrong.

"By the way one of the reasons that exams are structured the way they are is so that grades can be a reflection of your ability to do good work quickly and with no rewrites."  That's not how law is practiced, Giffy, and why would having MORE exams detract from that, anyway?  Giving us more exams allows for a learning curve; allows us to see problems we did not see before.  This happens in law practice when a senior looks at your work.  That's how the real world works.  Face it, law is a business now and we don't go out of school and hang up our shingle as solo practitioners.  We don't show up as first year associates in front of judges or in front of clients not having someone else check our work.  And if we do, we are at crap asbestos firms, and the like.

Anyone who knows anything about writing knows that "writing is re-writing"  You can Google that phrase if you wish, to see its inherent truth.  The notion that BAM! we produce something well-written on the first draft is something grade school children think, not adults. 

15
Current Law Students / Re: Demand more tests! Demand teaching assistants!
« on: January 24, 2006, 09:37:07 PM »
Well Norm, since you are so knowledgable, why don't you enlighten us as to why?  Giving qualifications without arguments doesn't evidence a successful attorney, even if you are an "agent."

"Your honor, I am an attorney, and I am right.  Thank you and good day."

And then also explain why, when so few attorneys are involved in litigation, we should be taught as if we are going to be litigators?  And then explain why even if we were to be litigators, why TAs would not serve the same role as senior associates, helping to guide junior associates in their work.

Very few attorneys ever argue in front of a judge.

16
And these facts remain:

1.  Professors do not use the socratic method - stop worrying.

2.  Professors are judged not by how well they teach, but by how publishable is their research.  So whether they actually educate or not is largely irrelevant.  Why do you think that curve is so necessary?  Ever wonder what professional attorneys would think of our exams?  They'd probably laugh.  Does that show a flaw with us, or with how we are taught?

3.  One exam over a year or a semester is inherently flawed as an accurate measure of ability in a learning environment.

4.  Law schools are businesses, and even though the third year's usefulness can best be described as "tenuous," the schools show no sign of giving up 1/3 of that income.  Our debt keeps us indentured servants to law firms.  You guys are excited about those summer associate positions, but once you get out there and start working, and realize you have no time for vacations (or continually have to change your plans); no time to spend with your children; no time to spend with your spouses; no time to find spouses, etc. you will--like almost EVERY law firm associate--start questioning why you ever did this to yourself.

5.  Drug use and alcoholism in the legal community is, as my Professional Responsibility professor said, "Endemic."  Now you know why.  But we don't fix it.

6.  These problems have been known by the legal community for a long, long time, but nothing changes.  Why?  Because they convince law students this is the way it has to be.  But it is all a big business--and a big lie--and the cost is ridiculous.  There is zero justification that our education is worth 30K a year.  Zero. 

7.  Only America educates its attorneys in this manner, at such crushing cost.  The largest and most influential law firms in the world are based out of Europe - I wonder why they do such good jobs, yet don't require their own attorneys to go through such a ruinous system. 

Maybe it is time you all started asking yourselves those questions.  Then ask your professors, lawyers you know, your deans.  Debate with them. Argue with them.  Let them know it is not right. 

Because you know what?  Nobody cares about the lot of lawyers, except lawyers.  We are loathed in society (why?  Because the right wing HATES that we applied the Bill of Rights to the whole country during the Warren era - and they got it into the popular culture to hate us too) and if we are going to fix this BS then we are going to have to do it ourselves.  Problem is, it is lawyers who keep this system in place.  "I have seen the enemy, and it is We."

17
You know, when someone has to tear another person down based on assumptions, it shows they have no ideas, no ability to debate the issues, and probably lacks the intelligence.

"I bet you don't go to law school"
"I bet you are from Nebraska"
"I bet you are arrogant"
"I bet you made crappy grades"
"I bet you made that up."
"I bet you go to a crappy school"

I bet you guys don't know how stupid you all sound trying to figure out irrelevant characteristics of a postor instead of sticking to the issue.  This is the problem we face in this country:  people attack instead of think.  Attack my ideas, not made up notions and facts about me personally, which you can never really know for certain. It's true - you have no idea if I am in law school or not.  So what?  Debate the ideas with me and let's see if you have the knowledge to keep up. 

Go get some ideas and educate yourself on the issues, instead of trying to shoot fish in a barrel.  Really.  Every post that you guys put up like that just makes me look that much smarter.  Because you have nothing to say.  I take it as a compliment you think it is worth your while to read all that I write and then make flacid attempts to respond about me.  Would you like a date or something?

I wanted to start a thread devoted to that one issue is the only reason you see it repeated.  "I bet you aren't smart enough to have considered that."  I can say that because, you know, you haven't really evidenced much intelligence on lawschooldiscussion.com.

http://accuracyblog.blogspot.com/2006/01/law-school-story.html

18
That's great not to be concerned about the big firms giffy, but many people work at them because we have to take out loans that could buy homes, and the big firms are the only places to go to pay them back.

Your view is myopic.

19
The Third-Year Dilemma:
Why Firms Lose Associates
January 4, 2006
WALL STREET JOURNAL


This is the first installment of The FLaw, a new column about law-firm management, with a particular emphasis on the miscues, peculiarities and strange customs of law firms.

At their best, the country's largest law firms are magic-workers. They slip mergers past antitrust watchdogs, unlock revenue from dusty patent portfolios, yell "Duck!" as the Eliot Spitzers of the world are nearing mid-punch.

But when it comes to solving their own problems, big law firms aren't exactly Penn & Teller.

Take, for example, a problem currently roiling Big Law, one we might call the Dilemma of the Third Years.

According to a study unveiled last year by the NALP Foundation, a group that examines law firm hiring trends and practices, law firms have little trouble hanging onto their youngest lawyers -- only one percent and 14 percent of entry-level associates leave their law firms by the end of their first and second years of practice, respectively.

But a whopping 37 percent of associates at big law firms, defined by the study as those employing more than 500 lawyers, quit their firms by the end of their third years of practice.

Taken alone, the percentage might not seem so troubling. Like other professional services firms, law firms are, in the parlance of organizational management, "highly leveraged." That is, they need vastly more associate worker bees -- the 20 and 30-somethings who handle the mountains work generated by a big lawsuit or merger -- than they do queen-bee partners, who on any given matter, mostly map strategy and draw up long to-do lists for others to carry out. In other words, associate attrition isn't a problem, it's a necessity.

But another statistic casts the 37 percent figure in a different light. According to a study released in 2003 by Altman Weil, Inc., a Newtown Square, Pa.-based large consultant to law firms, the average big law firm doesn't start recouping its cash flow investment in an associate until about midway through an associate's fourth year, around the time most start acquiring the skill and confidence to run their own cases and deals.

The costs associated with premature attrition don't end there. When too many associates bolt a given firm during that third year, firms have to replace them with lateral hires, which, according to the NALP Foundation study, runs about $300,000 per associate. Says Dr. Larry Richard of Hildebrandt International, Inc., a Somerset, N.J.-based consultant to large firms: "There's no slush fund for those expenses. You're really just sucking money out of the partners' pockets."

For managing partners everywhere, then, the goal is well-defined: Figure out how to keep more lawyers around until at least about midway through their fifth years, ensuring at least one profit-making year of work from each associate. Firms that can do this will also escape the hefty costs of hiring replacement laterals.

Can law firms change the status quo? Maybe. But first they'll have to unravel an increasingly entrenched idea among associates that they've got to figure out the rest of their careers by the end of their third years of practice.

Manfred Gabriel, a fifth-year associate at Latham & Watkins LLP in New York, says firms start to demand more of associates in their third years. "At that point, the perception seems to be that it's time to ask yourself whether you want to commit yourself to the firm -- maybe make a run at partnership," he says. "If not, it's a good time to leave. You've learned how to do some things, but you're not viewed as someone past [his or her] prime." He left his first firm, LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & MacRae LLP, as a third-year associate.

Professional recruiters play a big role in the third-year exodus, mostly by fostering a sense that associates have a limited window of marketability." The headhunters started calling early in my third year," recalls Jennifer Boatwright, who left a Milwaukee-based firm for Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP in Dallas in September at the end of her third year of practice. Ms. Boatwright says she and her husband had long considered moving to a warmer climate, but the headhunters dictated the timing of the switch. "They told me that if I hadn't moved by the end of my fourth year, it would be nearly impossible to move" at all, she recalls. "I have no idea if that's true, but it certainly got me moving."

But it's the law firms themselves, not aggressive headhunters nor commitmentphobic associates, that deserve the lion's share of the blame for creating the Dilemma of the Third Years. According to David Maister, an author of several books on management at professional services firms, law firm partnership used to be something young lawyers aspired to. Not anymore. "Partners hate their lives," says Mr. Maister. "They're overworked and stressed out and slaves to the billable hour. Lots of associates see this first hand and can't run away from it fast enough."

Take the experience of Julia Hesse. Last year, Ms. Hesse left Boston's Choate, Hall & Stewart LLP for Ropes & Gray LLP at the end of her third year of practice even though the move cut her chances for partnership. At Ropes & Gray, a firm of 700 lawyers, seven associates made partner last year. "I don't want to be a partner," says Ms. Hesse, "and I don't know a single associate [at Ropes] who wants to make partner." Ms. Hesse says that Ropes's deep health-care practice, which promised good experience and introductions to a healthy roster of outside contacts, enticed her to Ropes. Bradford Malt, Ropes's chairman, agrees that partnership is tough to make at the firm, but boasts that "the experience and training a young attorney gets at Ropes is among the best in the country."

Given the problems associated with partnership, might law firms attack the Third Year Dilemma by reforming at the top?

A trickle are starting to. Pittsburgh-based Kirkpatrick & Lockhart Nicholson Graham LLP, for example, launched a "balanced hours" program in November to try to, in the words of Peter Kalis, the firm's chairman, "stop the bleeding" away of young lawyers.

Mr. Kalis stresses that the program -- which allows any lawyer to meet anonymously with an organizational sociologist and devise flexible working schedules (subject to the firm's approval, of course) -- is meant for both associates and partners. "Very few partners of AmLaw 100 firms are financially deprived," he says, "but a lot of them are still unhappy."

Happy partners, in Mr. Kalis's view, will solve the Third Year Dilemma and ultimately make for a more profitable firm. "When the people above you are happy, it has a tendency to rub off," he says. "And when associates are happy, not only are they more productive, but in my experience, they stay at your firm."

http://accuracyblog.blogspot.com

20
Yeah right.  Waste of time.  It's only our careers and future job satisfaction we are talking about.  Open your eyes, folks.  You think the anxiety, needless pressure and dissatisfaction end at law school?  I case-managed billion dollar transactions at the largest law firms for the last six years.  Change begins at law school, and I encourage everyone to start to give it thought.  Nothing changes unless you raise your voice.  Sadly, few are willing to do so because of asinine attacks the likes of which you see on this board:

The Third-Year Dilemma:
Why Firms Lose Associates
January 4, 2006
WALL STREET JOURNAL


This is the first installment of The FLaw, a new column about law-firm management, with a particular emphasis on the miscues, peculiarities and strange customs of law firms.

At their best, the country's largest law firms are magic-workers. They slip mergers past antitrust watchdogs, unlock revenue from dusty patent portfolios, yell "Duck!" as the Eliot Spitzers of the world are nearing mid-punch.

But when it comes to solving their own problems, big law firms aren't exactly Penn & Teller.

Take, for example, a problem currently roiling Big Law, one we might call the Dilemma of the Third Years.

According to a study unveiled last year by the NALP Foundation, a group that examines law firm hiring trends and practices, law firms have little trouble hanging onto their youngest lawyers -- only one percent and 14 percent of entry-level associates leave their law firms by the end of their first and second years of practice, respectively.

But a whopping 37 percent of associates at big law firms, defined by the study as those employing more than 500 lawyers, quit their firms by the end of their third years of practice.

Taken alone, the percentage might not seem so troubling. Like other professional services firms, law firms are, in the parlance of organizational management, "highly leveraged." That is, they need vastly more associate worker bees -- the 20 and 30-somethings who handle the mountains work generated by a big lawsuit or merger -- than they do queen-bee partners, who on any given matter, mostly map strategy and draw up long to-do lists for others to carry out. In other words, associate attrition isn't a problem, it's a necessity.

But another statistic casts the 37 percent figure in a different light. According to a study released in 2003 by Altman Weil, Inc., a Newtown Square, Pa.-based large consultant to law firms, the average big law firm doesn't start recouping its cash flow investment in an associate until about midway through an associate's fourth year, around the time most start acquiring the skill and confidence to run their own cases and deals.

The costs associated with premature attrition don't end there. When too many associates bolt a given firm during that third year, firms have to replace them with lateral hires, which, according to the NALP Foundation study, runs about $300,000 per associate. Says Dr. Larry Richard of Hildebrandt International, Inc., a Somerset, N.J.-based consultant to large firms: "There's no slush fund for those expenses. You're really just sucking money out of the partners' pockets."

For managing partners everywhere, then, the goal is well-defined: Figure out how to keep more lawyers around until at least about midway through their fifth years, ensuring at least one profit-making year of work from each associate. Firms that can do this will also escape the hefty costs of hiring replacement laterals.

Can law firms change the status quo? Maybe. But first they'll have to unravel an increasingly entrenched idea among associates that they've got to figure out the rest of their careers by the end of their third years of practice.

Manfred Gabriel, a fifth-year associate at Latham & Watkins LLP in New York, says firms start to demand more of associates in their third years. "At that point, the perception seems to be that it's time to ask yourself whether you want to commit yourself to the firm -- maybe make a run at partnership," he says. "If not, it's a good time to leave. You've learned how to do some things, but you're not viewed as someone past [his or her] prime." He left his first firm, LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & MacRae LLP, as a third-year associate.

Professional recruiters play a big role in the third-year exodus, mostly by fostering a sense that associates have a limited window of marketability." The headhunters started calling early in my third year," recalls Jennifer Boatwright, who left a Milwaukee-based firm for Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP in Dallas in September at the end of her third year of practice. Ms. Boatwright says she and her husband had long considered moving to a warmer climate, but the headhunters dictated the timing of the switch. "They told me that if I hadn't moved by the end of my fourth year, it would be nearly impossible to move" at all, she recalls. "I have no idea if that's true, but it certainly got me moving."

But it's the law firms themselves, not aggressive headhunters nor commitmentphobic associates, that deserve the lion's share of the blame for creating the Dilemma of the Third Years. According to David Maister, an author of several books on management at professional services firms, law firm partnership used to be something young lawyers aspired to. Not anymore. "Partners hate their lives," says Mr. Maister. "They're overworked and stressed out and slaves to the billable hour. Lots of associates see this first hand and can't run away from it fast enough."

Take the experience of Julia Hesse. Last year, Ms. Hesse left Boston's Choate, Hall & Stewart LLP for Ropes & Gray LLP at the end of her third year of practice even though the move cut her chances for partnership. At Ropes & Gray, a firm of 700 lawyers, seven associates made partner last year. "I don't want to be a partner," says Ms. Hesse, "and I don't know a single associate [at Ropes] who wants to make partner." Ms. Hesse says that Ropes's deep health-care practice, which promised good experience and introductions to a healthy roster of outside contacts, enticed her to Ropes. Bradford Malt, Ropes's chairman, agrees that partnership is tough to make at the firm, but boasts that "the experience and training a young attorney gets at Ropes is among the best in the country."

Given the problems associated with partnership, might law firms attack the Third Year Dilemma by reforming at the top?

A trickle are starting to. Pittsburgh-based Kirkpatrick & Lockhart Nicholson Graham LLP, for example, launched a "balanced hours" program in November to try to, in the words of Peter Kalis, the firm's chairman, "stop the bleeding" away of young lawyers.

Mr. Kalis stresses that the program -- which allows any lawyer to meet anonymously with an organizational sociologist and devise flexible working schedules (subject to the firm's approval, of course) -- is meant for both associates and partners. "Very few partners of AmLaw 100 firms are financially deprived," he says, "but a lot of them are still unhappy."

Happy partners, in Mr. Kalis's view, will solve the Third Year Dilemma and ultimately make for a more profitable firm. "When the people above you are happy, it has a tendency to rub off," he says. "And when associates are happy, not only are they more productive, but in my experience, they stay at your firm."


http://accuracyblog.blogspot.com

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