I used to work as an associate (aka pee-on) at a big law firm in the City, who to avoid being sued I will not name. I did it for almost three years, plus a summer. For those who never worked at such a place, here's a simple run-down of how it goes:
you come in early and stay late - and I mean really late...getting home by 10PM meant it was time to par-tay. While at work, imagine yourself surrounded by box after box after box after box after...you get my point...of "documents". A fancy word meaning crap you have to read even though most of it is worthless. Joining you in your cave of boxes are little post-it flags in all the colors of the rainbow. Your job is to take these little flags and stick them on certain documents...sometimes red meant one thing, sometimes it meant another, sometimes all it meant was that a certain person was listed somewhere on that particular piece of paper, a sort of "Where's Waldo" assignment -- you find a name on a page and stick a flag on it so some other moron down the line can copy that page and put it in a new box.
The 'find the names' jobs were the worst...um, excuse me but I did not bust my ass in law school learning the finer points of constitutional Law so I could be hired to find names on a piece of paper, something which I might add a trained monkey could probably do if they could be taught to read. At the very least, even Bush could manage this one by himself. But, the pay was good - OK fan-fucking-tastic, so long as you didn't break it down to an hourly wage. The parties, at least in the summer, were, as my girlfriend Kim would say, off the hook. And the lunches -- ah, you have not experienced lunch until you've taken two plus hours to do it and spent $50 bucks plus per person (with the firm's money of course). Plus I made some great friends.
But eventually, a month ago, I traded the big city salary for a smaller suburban one, because I'd had enough of 'biglaw'. I joined a much smaller firm in suburban NJ, where associates are actually treated like real lawyers, and not just glorified paralegals. Its really a whole new world for me. What amazed me more is the new firm actually apologized to me for making me share an office -- an office which I might add is about 4 times the size of my prior cubicle. Wow. Culture shock. And this from someone who didn't even want to move back here in the first place. Now I've joined the NJ work force. The wierdest thing -- I think I like it better than I ever liked my City job, even considering that one summer when biglaw kissed my ass, before they had purchased my soul and caged me in my cubicle.