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Mixed messages

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Dec 08, 2022 9:15 am

I just received this great annual review. Like the equivalent of a Kirkland five out of five, which apparently no one else in my group received.

On the other hand, I’m no longer being staffed on deals with the most important clients, and my hours have dropped noticeably the past few months (while the rest of the group remains busy). When I have asked about it, from my perspective at least, I’m being spun nonsense (e.g., “Oh your hours looked high so we decided to give this one to Ray”, when my hours have dropped off a lot and Ray has been given the last six or seven of them).

Any thoughts? I’m a senior associate so I wouldn’t expect them to blow smoke up me for the sake of it. Literally nothing has gone wrong on any of my deals. I don’t really gel personality-wise with the rainmaker which I’m guessing is the main issue, but I have no evidence other than a general vibe.

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Re: Mixed messages

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Dec 08, 2022 9:43 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Thu Dec 08, 2022 9:15 am
I just received this great annual review. Like the equivalent of a Kirkland five out of five, which apparently no one else in my group received.

On the other hand, I’m no longer being staffed on deals with the most important clients, and my hours have dropped noticeably the past few months (while the rest of the group remains busy). When I have asked about it, from my perspective at least, I’m being spun nonsense (e.g., “Oh your hours looked high so we decided to give this one to Ray”, when my hours have dropped off a lot and Ray has been given the last six or seven of them).

Any thoughts? I’m a senior associate so I wouldn’t expect them to blow smoke up me for the sake of it. Literally nothing has gone wrong on any of my deals. I don’t really gel personality-wise with the rainmaker which I’m guessing is the main issue, but I have no evidence other than a general vibe.
It would make me nervous only because it is so odd. If you are a well-respected senior, I would think you have a good enough relationship with at least one partner in your group to push past what seem to you to be nonsense explanations. If you don't have that by now, coupled with conflict with the rainmaker, I would start thinking about my next step. The other possibility is that your perception is totally off and you aren't being "spun nonsense" but are actually being given a straight-up answer, but that would make me nervous because what is going on that you are misreading things so badly?

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Re: Mixed messages

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Dec 08, 2022 10:14 am

Thanks for the thoughtful reply.

I have that type of open-book relationship with some partners. But none of them are involved with this client. Speaking to them at best will not help, and at worst will aggravate a delicate political situation. They are also, as far as I know, oblivious to any weirdness between me and the rainmaker.

The rainmaker and I don’t have an ideal relationship, I don’t think. By the way, I wouldn’t go as far as to say there is conflict…we can chat cordially and you can tell this person tries, but just doesn’t vibe with me. And this person is very relationship-driven in their mindset, so it poses an issue. It feels like a festering wound. There’s another service partner on these transactions, but that person is young, without much power and still figuring out how to manage people. We get along well on a personal level, but that person is also attached by the hip to the rainmaker and understandably guarded.

I think Ray might have got the first deal given capacity levels, but it’s no longer the case several months and transactions down the track. Ray is experienced and does a good job. I can lean on other partners for work, so I don’t think I’ll be let go in the short term, but it doesn’t bode well for my long term prospects (especially given I’m often priced out of less complicated work done by other partners, who also have favored associates who understand all their personal preferences). I should mention for context that I made a lateral move into this team last year.

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Re: Mixed messages

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Dec 08, 2022 12:45 pm

Hmmm...I take back some of what I said if you are still relatively new -- it is not that surprising that you haven't built relationships with partners yet where you can get the "real scoop." I really don't have any great ideas about what to do here -- this is an odd situation.

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Re: Mixed messages

Post by malibustacy » Thu Dec 08, 2022 4:21 pm

Think you're overthinking it. Just enjoy the slow times while things are slow. Maybe they think they're helping you by getting deals off your plate so you're not overworked. Plenty of lawyers don't get on great with the rainmaker and have perfectly fine careers.

Why not branch out to some other offices and stuff? Forge some new relationships?

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Re: Mixed messages

Post by Anonymous User » Mon Jan 16, 2023 5:22 pm

OP here. I finally managed to have a very open conversation with one of the partners who has the scoop.

One partner behind the scenes is openly and strongly advocating for a mid-level within our group. This partner is politically savvy and, among other things, will raise any other associate’s hours when they surpass 2000 pace (including mine) in partner meetings, but never does the same for this mid-level’s (and even often suggests the mid-level wants more hours to receive an above market bonus). It paints an end of year picture to the wider firm that this mid-level is the star of our group. Despite what I stated in my OP, the mid-level also received a five out of five review, and has received similar reviews for several years.

Secondly, behind the scenes, some of the senior attorneys are very vocal about their hours, long term aspirations and desire to do certain types of work. Some of them *really* suck up to rainmaker and play up to certain of his pressure points (e.g., religious affiliation). This was the case with “Ray”. It had nothing to do with my work product, efficiency or anything else. I gave my perspective and the partner agreed with my assessment. Apparently they will try to help me to get back some of this work but we’ll see.

Finally, some of the partners who rate me (and expressed as such in the review process) usually don’t really care about anything or anyone outside of their own work bubble, so they aren’t actively advocating for my career or promotion.

In other words, it looks like I suck at politics despite the partners agreeing my work product is first rate. I’ve always tried to focus on my work and let it talk for itself, partly because I’m just not great at winning over decisions makers on a personal level (not saying these people necessarily dislike me).

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Re: Mixed messages

Post by Anonymous User » Mon Jan 16, 2023 7:24 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Mon Jan 16, 2023 5:22 pm
OP here. I finally managed to have a very open conversation with one of the partners who has the scoop.

One partner behind the scenes is openly and strongly advocating for a mid-level within our group. This partner is politically savvy and, among other things, will raise any other associate’s hours when they surpass 2000 pace (including mine) in partner meetings, but never does the same for this mid-level’s (and even often suggests the mid-level wants more hours to receive an above market bonus). It paints an end of year picture to the wider firm that this mid-level is the star of our group. Despite what I stated in my OP, the mid-level also received a five out of five review, and has received similar reviews for several years.

Secondly, behind the scenes, some of the senior attorneys are very vocal about their hours, long term aspirations and desire to do certain types of work. Some of them *really* suck up to rainmaker and play up to certain of his pressure points (e.g., religious affiliation). This was the case with “Ray”. It had nothing to do with my work product, efficiency or anything else. I gave my perspective and the partner agreed with my assessment. Apparently they will try to help me to get back some of this work but we’ll see.

Finally, some of the partners who rate me (and expressed as such in the review process) usually don’t really care about anything or anyone outside of their own work bubble, so they aren’t actively advocating for my career or promotion.

In other words, it looks like I suck at politics despite the partners agreeing my work product is first rate. I’ve always tried to focus on my work and let it talk for itself, partly because I’m just not great at winning over decisions makers on a personal level (not saying these people necessarily dislike me).
This is pretty BS man, I'm sorry you have to put up with this. I am glad to read that you do have partners who are in your corner, though.

Do you think you'll try to play the office politics game some more in the future, or will you keep doing what you've doing?

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Re: Mixed messages

Post by Antetrust » Tue Jan 17, 2023 9:24 am

Not that this solves everything, but try to see the bright side: at least your work load is much lighter, and people still recognize that your product is first rate so your job likely isn't in danger.

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Re: Mixed messages

Post by Anonymous User » Tue Jan 17, 2023 11:27 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Mon Jan 16, 2023 5:22 pm
OP here. I finally managed to have a very open conversation with one of the partners who has the scoop.

One partner behind the scenes is openly and strongly advocating for a mid-level within our group. This partner is politically savvy and, among other things, will raise any other associate’s hours when they surpass 2000 pace (including mine) in partner meetings, but never does the same for this mid-level’s (and even often suggests the mid-level wants more hours to receive an above market bonus). It paints an end of year picture to the wider firm that this mid-level is the star of our group. Despite what I stated in my OP, the mid-level also received a five out of five review, and has received similar reviews for several years.

Secondly, behind the scenes, some of the senior attorneys are very vocal about their hours, long term aspirations and desire to do certain types of work. Some of them *really* suck up to rainmaker and play up to certain of his pressure points (e.g., religious affiliation). This was the case with “Ray”. It had nothing to do with my work product, efficiency or anything else. I gave my perspective and the partner agreed with my assessment. Apparently they will try to help me to get back some of this work but we’ll see.

Finally, some of the partners who rate me (and expressed as such in the review process) usually don’t really care about anything or anyone outside of their own work bubble, so they aren’t actively advocating for my career or promotion.

In other words, it looks like I suck at politics despite the partners agreeing my work product is first rate. I’ve always tried to focus on my work and let it talk for itself, partly because I’m just not great at winning over decisions makers on a personal level (not saying these people necessarily dislike me).
Are you going to more actively engage in politics now? I am surprised at the number of people who ignore politics entirely because they think their work will "speak for itself" (it won't), but also you don't want to be the weirdo who politics too hard and turns people off. It can be a tricky line to walk....

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Anonymous User
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Re: Mixed messages

Post by Anonymous User » Tue Jan 17, 2023 11:50 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Tue Jan 17, 2023 11:27 am
Anonymous User wrote:
Mon Jan 16, 2023 5:22 pm
OP here. I finally managed to have a very open conversation with one of the partners who has the scoop.

One partner behind the scenes is openly and strongly advocating for a mid-level within our group. This partner is politically savvy and, among other things, will raise any other associate’s hours when they surpass 2000 pace (including mine) in partner meetings, but never does the same for this mid-level’s (and even often suggests the mid-level wants more hours to receive an above market bonus). It paints an end of year picture to the wider firm that this mid-level is the star of our group. Despite what I stated in my OP, the mid-level also received a five out of five review, and has received similar reviews for several years.

Secondly, behind the scenes, some of the senior attorneys are very vocal about their hours, long term aspirations and desire to do certain types of work. Some of them *really* suck up to rainmaker and play up to certain of his pressure points (e.g., religious affiliation). This was the case with “Ray”. It had nothing to do with my work product, efficiency or anything else. I gave my perspective and the partner agreed with my assessment. Apparently they will try to help me to get back some of this work but we’ll see.

Finally, some of the partners who rate me (and expressed as such in the review process) usually don’t really care about anything or anyone outside of their own work bubble, so they aren’t actively advocating for my career or promotion.

In other words, it looks like I suck at politics despite the partners agreeing my work product is first rate. I’ve always tried to focus on my work and let it talk for itself, partly because I’m just not great at winning over decisions makers on a personal level (not saying these people necessarily dislike me).
Are you going to more actively engage in politics now? I am surprised at the number of people who ignore politics entirely because they think their work will "speak for itself" (it won't), but also you don't want to be the weirdo who politics too hard and turns people off. It can be a tricky line to walk....
Having that conversation was engaging in it to some extent. It’s going to take some thought and planning. I won’t take the low road because I’m not giving up who I am for a job. In terms of self advocacy and building relationships, yes I will give it more of a go. Speaking truthfully, I am below average in this area and have been burnt more than once. There is a sense of self preservation in saying less.

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glitched

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Re: Mixed messages

Post by glitched » Tue Jan 17, 2023 12:30 pm

If by politics you mean getting people to know and like you, then yes you should be doing that. Doesn't mean being a suck-up or kissing ass.

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