Working at a Law Firm: How Big Is the Pebble in the Shoe?

Watching the recent video of Charles Martinet (voice of various Mario characters) talking about his new Mario Ambassador role made me want a fun job at a cool company, not an “assault my nervous system for a fee” sweatshop where my attention, precision, and personality are up for sale.

I bet Nintendo gave him the T-shirt he’s wearing. That’s dope.

The obvious solution seems to do just that and find a company to work at. Possibly better hours and perks. A corporate counsel friend says he leaves right at 5 PM. Nice. The in-house patent attorneys I work with still seem to work late hours, though.

So it would seem that the issue may not be the place as much as the role.

For example, a more creative or executive role at a company could be a better and more forgiving fit than a firm role where a single misstep could create a mortifying situation. (CCing the wrong people in an email! Leaving an undesirable paper trail publicly available at the Patent Office for the next 20 years!)

That said, there are great perks at my firm even though I feel like a bounty hunter with a quota:

  • Ability to work from home 7 days a week (via the miracles of VPN and teleconferencing)
  • Flexible work hours (including submitting drafts at 2:40 AM)
  • Ability to choose from a diverse set of clients and partners, as long as you manage this so it doesn’t stretch you thin. You just need a bit of work from each source
  • Learning (or being forced to learn) the intricacies of various relevant laws
  • Eat what you kill. Straight cash for work (percentage of billings) instead of your salary going to auxiliary perks like swag

I’m a mercenary for hire.

The question is whether these bribes make up for the return on happiness or are just enough to keep me going in simmering water—the pebble in the shoe.

Nagging enough to notice the discomfort; but not painful enough to take action. So instead of removing your shoe, examining the contents, and then putting it back on, you just grin and bear it. Endure. Cope. And hope that nagging feeling goes away.

The promise of bonuses and promotions provide a respite. Like a Gatorade and Ibuprofen when you’re hungover.


Self-awareness is the first step.

“It wasn’t enough of a feeling to make me do anything dramatic, but it threw me off just enough that I was forced to pay attention to my life in a different way.”








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