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Crystal Ball, Oh, Crystal Ball

Vivia Chen

January 9, 2018


It's that time of the year again—when I peer into my crystal ball to see what's in store for the legal profession in the new year. Here are my predictions:

Big little lies will become part of the legal culture. The legal profession will be more tolerant/understanding/forgiving of omissions, misstatements and flat-out lies on resumes, documents, disclosure forms, whatever. It will be no big deal to inflate GPAs or I.Q. scores on C.V.s, omit a felony conviction on a questionnaire or exaggerate the size of the audience at your moot court competition. 

Hey, if folks in high public office (e.g., Jeff Sessions, Jared Kushner and the POTUS himself) or candidates for the federal bench (e.g., Brett Talley) can forget or distort the facts, why not the rest us? 

All law schools will accept GREs—and SATs, PSATs, etc. Once Harvard Law School announced that it will take GREs, you knew that the LSAT as the gold standard for law school admission was finito. But law schools won't stop with the GREs. Spooked by that big dip in law school applications following the recession, law school officials will cast a wide net.

So expect law schools to accept SATs, PSATs, ACTs for future admissions. And it won't be long when they'll also take the ISEE (Independent School Entrance Exam)—you know, that silly test your kid takes to get into a posh private school. 

More hype about how millennials will change the evil ways of Big Law. Women, people of color and the otherwise disfranchised will insist that millennials will transform law firms into more egalitarian, open and humane work environments.

Don't worry, law firm managers: Millennials are needy and want approval. Just give them constant feedback, tell them their opinions are important and keep doing what you've always done. They'll fall into line—like you did. Hey, weren't Baby Boomers suppose to bring on the revolution too?

More hype that clients will insist that law firms diversity. The same group above (women, minorities, etc.) will pin their hopes on clients to make law firms more inclusive. The hope goes like this: Clients really, really care about diversity and are telling firms that they better get on the diversity train or lose business.

Again, no worries: Clients will scold you but they won't do anything drastic, like firing your firm. You white, middle-aged boys have been doing a dandy job, so why rock the boat?

Women will spend more time analyzing why they lag so far behind men. Firms will gladly send their female lawyers to all-day, all-week or all-season seminars, conferences, workshops and therapy sessions on why women aren't succeeding.

This will get the women out of the office so that men can do client development in peace.

Every firm will have a chief sex czar. Though the #MeToo moment hasn't really hit Big Law, firms are scared that there might be sleeper-Harveys in the ranks. To save their business, the latest must-have will be the resident sex czar. Move over marketing mavens and diversity directors!

Besides forcing everyone to undergo hours of tedious sexual harassment training, the sex czar will track the sex lives or potential sex lives of all lawyers. It will mean the end of office romance as we know it—a sad state of affairs for busy lawyers who have little chance of hanky-panky outside of the office. Alas, people will have to lust only in their hearts.

Law firm events will get (even more) unbearable. Because of the fear that alcohol will lead to indiscretions and lawsuits (see point above), all law firm events will be dry. That means no-booze at firm outings, holiday parties and dinners.

Yes, you will really have to sit stone sober next to that drooling 90-year old retired partner and feign amazement as he tells you (again) about how Cravath, Swaine & Moore unleashed a Pandora's box by upping the starting associate salary to $35,000 during the Stone Age.

The Trump administration will legalize sexual harassment. While law firms and the rest of corporate America scramble to grapple with sexism in their workplace, President Trump will change the rules of the game. He will nominate judges to the federal bench who believe that sexual harassment is a form of free speech that deserves First Amendment protection.

Yo, don't Neanderthals deserve be a protected class?




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Great column. Very funny.

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About The Careerist

The Careerist takes an inside look at how lawyers shape their careers and manage their lives. The blog aims to dissect developments in the profession, provide useful information and advice, and give lawyers a platform to voice their views. The goal is to provide a fresh, provocative take on the state of lawyering.

About Vivia Chen

Vivia Chen

Vivia Chen, The Careerist's chief blogger, has been covering the business and culture of law firms for a decade. A former corporate lawyer, Chen is fascinated by those who thrive (as well as those who don't) in the legal profession. Her take: Success in the law (and life) doesn't always travel a linear path. If you have topics you'd like to discuss or information to share, contact her: VChen@alm.com

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