Random Blog A Musing Farf

Thursday, November 30, 2006

LOST IN THE RAT RACE

For the last few days, I have been having bouts of insecurity at work. Nothing major, mind you and people have not done anything that would cause a normal employee to worry, but I can’t help it. And just because you are paranoid does not mean people aren’t talking about you.

Back when I lived in DC, I was heavily involved in Democratic politics. I loved the work and seemed to do really well without even trying. Opposition research, media relations and even some general campaign consulting. People actually respected my opinion and sought it out. But then, I was sick of the campaign life and had pretty much reached as far as I wanted to go with it. Plus, I was beginning to hate DC. I sought out a new challenge and new city and went to law school in New York. (Actually, that was the first time in my entire life I really enjoyed school – probably because I was able to avoid any and all topics involving foreign languages and/or mathematics).

During law school, I was a paralegal at Big Corporate Bank. It was easy work and, with the exception of a major personality conflict with one of the Managing Directors (but really, she was so nasty that everyone had a personality conflict with her) I did well and people sought me out for special projects because they thought I could handle them without a lot of hand holding. Also during law school I was a law clerk at Small Liberal Law firm (where I now work). I got better assignments then some of the other law clerks and was told by associates and partners that I was one of the best they had ever had. At both jobs, I felt smart.

Then, I graduated law school and took a job at Local Union. Although the least senior person when I started, I quickly made myself an integral part of the team and again, just like at previous jobs, my boss sought me out for special projects. In fact, he keeps calling me to offer me my old job back with a promotion and a substantial raise. Last night he told me that he could not find a replacement for me and to name my figure to return. When I worked for him, he told me I was one of the smartest young lawyers he had ever met.

So what’s the problem, right? Well, it is with current job at Small Liberal Law Firm. Oh, I love the work and find it interesting. I really feel like I am learing. And, unlike Local Union or Big Corporate Bank, I think the people I work with are good people who really care about what they are doing. (To clarify, some of the people at Local Union were like that but enough were giant jerks that it was impossible to deal with them and no one goes to work for Big Corporate Bank because they care about helping working class people improve their economic situation). I just sometimes get the impression that people at Small Liberal Law Firm don’t think I am very smart.

Now, this could be all in my head, or it could be some hormonal thing because I took two birth control pills today to make up for forgetting yesterday, but it is likely related to my interview process. When I applied for this job, I already had good friends such as Photogenic Friend and Marathon Partner who worked here and were willing to tell me every detail of the hiring process – including that Senior Name Partner thought my educational credentials were not up to snuff and he preferred to hire Ivy League educated folks. (Big mistake in one case, but that is a topic for another post). So automatically, I am nervous about my work. Fellow Associate in the next office has had partners walking in and out of her office all day with assignments and works until 9pm all the time. I am usually home by 7pm and until 5minutes ago, no partners have given me new assignments in the last couple days.

The good news is I am not alone in this feeling. Fellow Associate told me she is jealous of my position because no one ever seems to check back in with me or ask to review my work. They just assume it is done. I am jealous of her though because she got to work on a case on which I wanted to work and because Senior Name Partner always takes her to trials with him. We laugh that together we are the perfect employee.

But still, I can’t help the insecurity I am feeling. Maybe it is the small fish/big pond thing or maybe it’s because my billable hours have been acceptable because during the elections I was swamped or maybe they really do just trust me to get my work done, but I am still feeling like I am not taken as seriously as I might otherwise be. If anyone has ideas or suggestions as to how to fix this, I would love to know.

9 comments:

Sudiegirl said...

It's hard to know what to think in a situation like that.

I would say just make sure (in a subtle way) that others know you're still around...check in with them and ask if they have follow-up questions or concerns.

Beyond that, I don't know.

This is my first time here - I'm a blogging chick like you. Nice looking blog, and you are very articulate and forthright in your prose.

BROTHER said...

GEORGIA TECH IS PLAYING IN THE ACC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME ON SATURDAY, and you're writing and insecurity at work... priorities, sissy.

mom said...

Go have a glass or two of wine. Then go hug Husband and Tiki. Next keep repeating to yourself.."I am a lucky girl" I think you are overanalyzing the situation, something that Sister tends to do on a regular basis. Maybe the two of you are spending too much time together.
Anyway have you had a job review that would lead you to your conclusions? If not maybe instead of making yourself worry needlessly go have a talk with partner and ask point blank how your work is...what do they (in the firm) consider your strenghts and what can you do to overcome any weaknesses.
Just remember that I think you are a great daughter and friend.

Heather said...

Oooh as a (relatively) new lawyer I am filled with insecurity. I really think it's the profession - filled with hyper-competitive people (which isn't my personality at all) and the job itself is largely about second guessing things (no, the case stands for that, or no, that case doesn't apply here, or yes, it does). If you find the solution let me know.

Suzanne said...

People are talking about you my dear. And as you can see, they are saying wonderful things! I hate people who think that those who went to Ivy Leagues are smarter and more capable than the rest of us. Taking a test well (LSATs are evil) means bupkes.

I'm not sure what else to say except that we all know you are awesome and I'm sure that your employers get that as well. In the meantime, enjoy the reasonable hours!

Husband said...

I am a 6th year attorney, and I find that the more years I have "under my belt," the more I realize that I don't know about various aspects of the law. I recall having spoken to your father about this a while ago, and he said something very similar about his own experience. This is a profession where nobody, including the partners for whom you work, knows all there is to know -- everyone is learning every day in this profession. That's my first point. My second point is if someone is making you feel like you are inadequate, well, that's just ridiculous -- as a 2nd year attorney, you're not supposed to have all or even most of the answers, and that should be universally understood and accepted in a law firm. If there is a partner whose expectations are different or who is making you feel inadequate, etc., I think it's time to have a talk with a trusted partner or mentor in your shop -- that should just not be happening.

Thailand Bound said...

You are an amazing person so relax and don't worry. I think last year was filled with so many highs in your life that this year (since the honeymoon) is normal and you're not used to that. Most people have insecurities about their job, I know I have tons about how I will handle my new job. If it is bothering you, though, do what mother is suggesting and what sister did when she was having her insecurities - ask for a review of your work. I'm sure they will tell you that you are brilliant, but they will also tell you what areas you need to work on so that you will be asked to go to trial with Senior Name Partner.

wingin' it said...

we could use a corporate lawyer at Wings...one question before you start...do you want bones or boneless for your annual bonus? :-)

BROTHER said...

Georgia Tech played one of the most embarrassing games I've ever witnessed in my life yesterday..and I'm blaming it on your crappy topic selection. Poor DJ almost went through a window after they lost.