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Crystal Ball, Oh, Crystal Ball 2019

Vivia Chen

January 16, 2019

43a63a722be4c7aaa3f8e33f5eda069fIt’s that time of the year again when I don my velvet robe and giant hoop earrings to gaze into the future. Here’s what I see in the new year:

Associates will have more freedom than ever. Firms will offer more corporate goodies like unlimited vacations and unlimited parental leave. (Two of the country’s hardest-working firms, Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan and Susman Godfrey, already do so.) They’ll also require less face time in the office. Who cares where you work, how you’re doing it or what you look and smell like in the process? Just keep billing at least 2,800 hours a year and you can be as free as a butterfly.

Law firms will offer more lavish perks. Besides picking up your dry-cleaning and buying birthday gifts for your loved ones, firms will extend concierge services to your children and dogs. Yes, they will feed them, potty-train them and kiss them goodnight. (And you thought Latham & Watkins offering free Fed-Ex service for breast milk to nursing lawyer-moms was a big deal!)

Firms will insist on emotional intelligence in associate hiring. Too bad management can’t think of a reason why EQ should apply to the partners in their stables.

Firms will brand themselves as thought leaders. Caveat: No one in management has a clue what that means. But, hey, isn’t that what those expensive consultants told you to say to distinguish your firm from the pack?

Theories will fly about why women still aren’t breaking into the equity partner ranks. Is it because they’re too busy having babies (or worried about not having babies)? Is it because they’re not pushy enough about client development (or being too pushy)? Are they wearing the wrong clothes, shoes, hairstyles?

Mommy track will still be a dead-end. Despite all the wishing and hoping, women on the mommy track are not going anywhere. That said, we’ll hear the occasional story about some lone woman who clawed her way to partnership from a part-time position. It’s nice to believe in miracles.

Men and women will not agree about sexual harassment, power, accountability or anything else. Men will continue to think that the system is working well; women, not so much. (Remember, 54 percent of men thought of themselves as “allies” for gender equality, while only 31 percent of women agreed with them, according to an American Bar Association study.) And why shouldn’t men think everything is great? I mean, duh, they’re doing fine.

Trump University will be reborn as Trump School of Law. Although Trump University was a fail and a fraud, it proved that there are suckers aplenty. So why not sell the Trump J.D. to his beloved “poorly educated”? The degree will be worthless but it’ll be a great investment for Trump’s friends and family, particularly with Education Secretary Betsy DeVos at the helm. MAGA!

Mike Pence will be the new role model for men. As men get increasingly unnerved by the #MeToo movement, expect the Mike Pence rule to prevail. Yes, that means more men in power will dodge one-on-one meetings or business travel with female colleagues. Expect a more uptight workplace and increased gender segregation on matters.

And yes, it will still be a great time to be a white man in the legal profession and everywhere else. I know you’ve been worried that clients now demand diverse teams and that the #MeToo era has embolden women to speak out, but chill. I’ll go on a limb and predict that white men will still rule Big Law, corporate America and the highest office in the land. Feel better now?

vchen@alm.com

Twitter: @lawcareerist.

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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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