1st Year Feeling Lonely & Isolated

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1st Year Feeling Lonely & Isolated

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Dec 12, 2017 10:47 pm

I'm a first-year corporate associate at a "regional big law"-type firm & I'm absolutely miserable.

Everyone on my floor is so quiet and to themselves that I often go full days without talking to anyone. When I walk around my floor to take a break almost every other office door is closed. I'll admit I'm not the best at making "work friends," but it feels impossible in this environment. I'm the only first year associate and the youngest associate by 5 years (I'm 27) - most of the other associates are married with kids. None of them seem to have much interest in getting to know the other associates - it's gotten to the point where I feel like I'm bothering anyone if our conversations aren't all about business so I've basically stopped trying. Everyone was very nice during my first week or so (and when I was a summer), but since then no one has reached out to check-in.

Prior to law school I worked in a very social, collaborative office and I loved my coworkers. Now, I feel like I spend every day at work feeling sad and alone. I don't think I can handle a year of this, let alone a full career. Is this typical? Are all legal jobs like this? Would changing firms or going in-house or something in a few years help things?

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Re: 1st Year Feeling Lonely & Isolated

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Dec 12, 2017 10:55 pm

I'm a first year, too — litigation. It fluctuates for me. Some days my wing is all closed doors. Some days people are chatty.

I've had a lot of good conversations with associates I'm working closely with on a case, especially where it's leanly staffed. The folks I'm working with seem fine with me asking lots of questions and stopping by to check in if anything is needed (outside of what they've already asked me to do). It usually spawns more conversation, sometimes not at all about work (fantasy football, random things I'm experiencing as a newcomer to the area, etc).

So, I don't know. It could just be your group? I don't know what corporate is like, haven't talked to the corporate first years much about how they're doing.

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Re: 1st Year Feeling Lonely & Isolated

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Dec 12, 2017 10:57 pm

Just one thing-
be thankful that you are in that position.
I'd die to be a 1 st year associate at a firm (big or small). I've been struggling to find a job for the past 6 months now. Despite my double bar license.

Go to ABA networkings, seminars and CLE meetings. Meet other associates there. I do this pretty often. i'm the only one without a job... tho

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Re: 1st Year Feeling Lonely & Isolated

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Dec 12, 2017 11:20 pm

Sorry, OP. That's tough - as a senior associate who loves networking, here are some ideas. The bottom line is I think you should mentally recast the situation as an opportunity to start proactively building your networking inside and outside the firm.

- Invite folks at your firm to one-on-one or small group lunches. These don't need to be big sit down affairs, and if people are too busy to go eat a meal somewhere else, you can at least invite people to walk with you to grab lunch and bring it back.
- Go to bar association events, both general audience and those for young associates. Make friends. Invite those people for lunches or coffees. For bar associations, consider visiting your local/regional bar or the ABA and specialty bar associations for any subject matter you're interested in or diverse group you identify with.
- Ditto for your law school's alumni group.
- If the nature of your practice group permits, do the same for clients. I know that in some PGs, this is out of reach for first years, but in other corporate groups, it's viewed as never too early to start developing social ties with clients.
- Do you have an assigned mentor, whether associate or partner, at your firm? Discuss the underlying issue with them and ask them for guidance.

1styearlateral

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Re: 1st Year Feeling Lonely & Isolated

Postby 1styearlateral » Tue Dec 12, 2017 11:35 pm

Law firms are full of awkward, socially inept people. You might find out that it’s better you don’t have to force small talk with people who have nothing really to say.

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ggocat

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Re: 1st Year Feeling Lonely & Isolated

Postby ggocat » Wed Dec 13, 2017 12:30 am

Anonymous User wrote: Is this typical? Are all legal jobs like this? Would changing firms or going in-house or something in a few years help things?

Probably not. No. Maybe.

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deepseapartners

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Re: 1st Year Feeling Lonely & Isolated

Postby deepseapartners » Wed Dec 13, 2017 12:43 am

I'm sorry to hear that, OP. I'll echo the above anon that trying to get small group lunches/drinks going can be a good way to get people to come out of their caves. You may also gain something from reaching out beyond your practice group - while it's obviously the most beneficial for your career and education to socialize with your direct colleagues, you can learn an lot and get a break from the head-in-the-weeds nature of junior associate work by talking to other lawyers.

I will say, though, that if I were in your shoes, I would be trying to use the relatively antisocial atmosphere to build up as much deal experience as I could, and then leaving asap. It's clearly not a working environment that's going to work for you in the long term, and that will eventually stymie your career and disillusion you even faster than your peers.

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Re: 1st Year Feeling Lonely & Isolated

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Dec 13, 2017 1:16 am

Honestly that sounds like heaven. I summered at one of the "fratty" firms and the forced socialization was the worst.

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Re: 1st Year Feeling Lonely & Isolated

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Dec 13, 2017 8:38 am

What market/region is it?

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JenDarby

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Re: 1st Year Feeling Lonely & Isolated

Postby JenDarby » Wed Dec 13, 2017 9:42 am

I used to work in house in NYC in an office of ~600 and nearly everyone was incredibly social/friendly. I was ~27 and younger than the next person in legal by ~10 years, but still, we did drinks, lunches, etc all the time.

I moved in house to a secondary market and you could hear a pin drop in this place. We are closer to 30 people, all mainly in their late 40s. Still after about 4-6 months I have found some people to get drinks with, actually went to a concert with a couple of them (in their 40s and 60s). It took some time and I did eventually make friends through effort. It's not my ideal but it's tolderable.

That being said, I generally dislike my day to day here and will at some point make a move back to a larger firm Having worked in quite a few smaller offices, I definitely prefer a busier office environment.

Hang in there. You're not alone with these feelings. Prior posters are correct with the advice of networking outside your office to fill some gaps.
Last edited by JenDarby on Mon Jan 29, 2018 10:27 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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RedGiant

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Re: 1st Year Feeling Lonely & Isolated

Postby RedGiant » Wed Dec 13, 2017 11:41 am

Cosign all of the prior advice here. I also work in a regional biglaw office (in a big city) and I have worked in Silicon Valley, where each little office park is its own island. I have had some friendly work environments over the years, and some like you describe. In my current office, the handful of other associates in my group are super-antisocial. They will chat if you chat, but they are not going to go to lunch, they generally bring their lunch (so no opportunity to grab lunch outside together) and they leave the office the minute they are done billing. It's really robotic and weird.

I have handled this by finding _a friend_ to grab lunch with occasionally. I also have made friends with some of the staff, so I can chat with them. I make a point to have lunch or coffee with associates at other firms that I went to law school with. And I definitely try to plan things later in the week so I can look forward to them.

If you're not getting the socialization you need at work, find it elsewhere. Join a gym and go to the same classes there--you will make friends over time. As others have mentioned, try going to bar events (this can be lonely and isolating too though!). You will have to accept that your work is not going to be as you hoped. Also, it only takes ONE lateral to make your office a little more social.

Make friends with people in other practice groups. Make friends with associates in other offices--there have to be other first years. Call them up and chat. Only you can fix this.

I also cosign the advice to do your year and a half (it's hard to lateral before the beginning of your second year) and GTFO. But in the meantime, smile, get good experience, and put your friend radar up! GL.

cprit91

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Re: 1st Year Feeling Lonely & Isolated

Postby cprit91 » Sun Aug 26, 2018 7:09 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Honestly that sounds like heaven. I summered at one of the "fratty" firms and the forced socialization was the worst.

firm, office
so I can avoid

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Re: 1st Year Feeling Lonely & Isolated

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Aug 26, 2018 7:35 pm

I feel like I could’ve written this. My office is exactly the same. I’m in corporate and I spend most days in my office by myself. There are days I talk to no one (probably 2 days a week). It’s very isolating. I’m a very social person and I’ve tried talking to others in my office, but it’s hard when people want to work through lunch so they can leave earlier and have dinner with their families. And then on weekends they want to send time with their kids.

I’m in small secondary market and a young attorney is considered someone who is in their mid-30s. I’ve tried doing meet ups and all that stuff, joined the local chamber of commerce young professionals branch and the local bar young lawyers group. None of it really helps. Most people are married with children and kind of busy with that on top of just work.

For now, I’ve resorted to playing beer pong with 22 year olds and going to bars aka doing stuff recent college graduates do, since that is the only thing that has panned out so far.

Im trying to get to a year, at least, before going to a larger city. I’ve been working with recruiters and it seems like firms are in need of junior corporate associates, so I may be making the move sooner than planned.

I wonder how everything turned out for you (I realize the post is 8 months old).



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