Ever since my first day in law school, many years ago, I pictured myself working at a big law firm in a major city. When I graduated and joined the ranks of a major US law firm, I was the “bright eyed and bushy tailed” type of associate. I recall working on my first IPO in 2002 and thinking it was the coolest thing ever. When I moved to NY, all I wanted was to work in the M&A/Capital Market/Finance department of a big law firm. I didn’t mind the long hours and the sleepless nights. I totally drank the kool-aid of conference calls and drafting sessions, the perception that you are somehow doing something that makes the world (or at least the business world) move forward. What I loved then, and still love today, is the work, the deal and the back and forth with the other side, whether it’s a target, a regulator, majority shareholders or other lenders.
The definition of top tier law firms changes from one Country to next; in the UK it’s the Magic Circle, in the US, it’s Biglaw. In the spring of 2006, I had just landed a job in Biglaw and was assigned to a pretty big deal as a newcomer, mostly for my language skills. One night after a very miserable conference call in which many rude words where blurted out while the phone was on mute, I bonded over Godiva Truffles with Lindsay Cameron. Good chocolate and good food was definitely our common interest on that long night of checking schedules and preparing due diligence report write-ups. Lindsay was more senior than I, but you could tell that she was a rising star in the department. Taller than most men in the room, smarter than two thirds of the senior associates, more attractive than the average female in Biglaw, the associate Lindsay Cameron had soft spoken charm and composure. Since I have always been short and loud, I thought that when I grow up I want to be like her: in control of her team and perfectly aware of what was going on with the deal. And what a deal that was! The team looked like the real life version of a satirical cartoon; the deal was complex and involved not only the business department but a slew of specialists who refused to understand the concept of “deadline”. Yet Lindsay was the zen even when a notoriously difficult senior associate would bark orders left and right. When she sent me to collect the signatures from the client because she knew he loved Italy, I realized that she had been two steps ahead of all of us all along.
When you are in the trenches with some colleagues, you sometimes create a special bond with them. It’s not just friendship: it’s knowing that you have been through some really difficult situations, worked under lots of pressure and still there was someone there sharing the experience with you. So Lindsay and I have been very good friends for many years even after we both left Biglaw. She’s come to my wedding with her husband, we’ve celebrated the birth of each other’s children and see each other as much as our social life and family obligations allow. Let’s just say that I give her emails priority, like I do with family.
So one day, a couple of years ago, she emailed me that she had written a book. A book about working in Biglaw. I asked her to read it and she sent me the first draft. I read on the subway back home, after dinner and all night. I finished the book and sent her a text message in the early hours of the morning, and I am sure she loved that! I couldn’t sleep because it was SO GOOD.
Now the time has come for people to read Biglaw, the novel written by my friend, the published author Lindsay Cameron. The main character is a young woman who works at a law firm in the M&A department. She has fulfilled her dream of working in the most aggressive department of a top law firm. Her boyfriend feels neglected and her family is constantly concerned about her inhuman workload. Then one day she gets assigned to a deal that could make or break her career. Will she survive the sharp elbows in Biglaw?
Whether you are considering law school or already work at a law firm, Biglaw is a must read. The characters have very realistic quirks and idiosyncrasies, because I, for one, have never met attorney who is completely sane (present company included). The situations are all too real for those who experienced working with demanding and sometimes unbearable clients and having to close a deal in record time. The story is compelling because you really want the main character to find balance in her life.
Preorder your copy of Biglaw here and be ready to find out whether the devil who wears Prada also works in Biglaw!