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Does anyone else feel that their firm is a toxic workplace?

Posted: Fri Mar 02, 2018 4:06 pm
by Anonymous User
Recent small law transplant to biglaw. Strangely, I have the opposite problem most people have - good relationships with partners, but bad relationships with peers. I find the environment to be generally toxic, with a lot of anxiety over lack of work or who gets work and why. I find that most associates view one another as "frenemies," though as a recent lateral, I find others especially hostile towards me. Has anyone else experienced this or can attest to this being common?

Re: Does anyone else feel that their firm is a toxic workplace?

Posted: Fri Mar 02, 2018 4:46 pm
by Anonymous User
Absolutely. I also recently lateralled (from ny biglaw to biglaw); it was true at my old firm and also true at the new firm. It's not pleasant, but tbh it's really only the partner relationships that matter (and depending on your level, senior associates for training, etc.). For other associates at the same level/more junior, just keep it civil. It's work and not everyone has to be your bff/not everyone has to like you.

Re: Does anyone else feel that their firm is a toxic workplace?

Posted: Fri Mar 02, 2018 4:48 pm
by swimmer11
Sounds like law school. Not a surprise.

Re: Does anyone else feel that their firm is a toxic workplace?

Posted: Fri Mar 02, 2018 5:16 pm
by Anonymous User
Anonymous User wrote:Absolutely. I also recently lateralled (from ny biglaw to biglaw); it was true at my old firm and also true at the new firm. It's not pleasant, but tbh it's really only the partner relationships that matter (and depending on your level, senior associates for training, etc.). For other associates at the same level/more junior, just keep it civil. It's work and not everyone has to be your bff/not everyone has to like you.


Yeah, that's been my conclusion as well - it's really only the partner relationships that matter (and sr. associates, but even then much less so). Only the partners can review you, and the vast majority of associates won't be around eventually (yourself included).

I'm just stunned at the behavior i suppose. if you're not getting work, you should just leave, or recognize there's probably something wrong with your work product. Instead, people go around acting like nosybodies and acting bitter if they find that "their" partner is feeding another associate work. Law firms can be such toxic work environments.

This problem is exacerbated by the fact that my firm doesn't push out underbilling associates for a long time (i.e. years).

Re: Does anyone else feel that their firm is a toxic workplace?

Posted: Fri Mar 02, 2018 5:27 pm
by Anonymous User
Ain't just firms. I've now worked in three different not-for-profits: one small, one medium-sized, one quite large (albeit confined within a single office). Each was toxic in its own unique way. The small NFP was poorly managed; the small group of supervisors always seemed to be at each other's throats. The middle NFP was also poorly managed, but had generally nice supervisory staff. There, the executive director and the non-lawyer staff made life a living hell.

The big-size NFP (where I'm at now) is, unfortunately, "prestigious," meaning that it attracts a bunchamunchacruncha super competitive types who all hate each other and toe the line of sabotaging each other's cases.

tl;dr all workplaces are unhappy/dysfunctional in their own unique ways unless you get super lucky.

Re: Does anyone else feel that their firm is a toxic workplace?

Posted: Mon Mar 05, 2018 11:29 am
by Anonymous User
My firm has a very superficially pleasant but corrosively cautious/censored/understatedly-competitive atmosphere. In the end nobody is really your friend in a law firm; you are either profitable and doing high quality work or not. Friendships and pleasantries in a law firm (and any similarly competitive workplace) can only go to a relatively shallow depth because anything you say can and will be used against you. The key is to maintain friendships outside the office.