the big firm ship, freeing up time to play
nine holes with clients on a weekday afternoon or to spend an entire evening at
home with the family. Finally, it seemed
that the time sacrifices made as an underling were finally worth it in the form
of a coveted partnership.
But for those who have joined the
ranks of large professional service firm
partners since then, it’s a different story.
professionals has evaporated like a
muddy water puddle on a hot August
afternoon. Many men and women who
thought achieving partnership would
result in more control over their personal
lives now find themselves working as
hard, if not harder, than when they were
MORE MONEY, MORE EXPECTATIONS
Today, the catchphrase associated with
owning a piece of the corporate pie is
“24/7.” As accounting, law and investment banking firms have become more
global and professionals are now linked
to their work by technological umbilical
cords like BlackBerrys, client expectations have ratcheted up exponentially.
And that means more hours worked,
more hours billed and more time attached to the office (even if remotely)
than ever before.
These technological conveniences
have made it easier for professionals to
protect their family time because they
can stay in touch with pending matters
without being in the office. But some of
these same people admit that, as a result,
clients feel more entitled to contact their
lawyers or investment bankers at any
hour or day of the week, whether they
are at the beach or riding a vaporetto
down the Grand Canal in Venice.
As a result of these drastically
changed expectations, downtime for
THE GOLDEN HANDCUFFS
Increasing numbers of partners and those
in the younger generation of professionals are now wondering, are the personal
sacrifices worth making it to the top?
It depends on whom you ask. But a
variety of career counselors and workplace experts agree that there are a lot
of discontented professionals who are
questioning whether the choices they
made and the crazy hours they worked to
achieve their professional success were
worth the cost.
Jessica DeGroot, founder of ThirdPath Institute in Philadelphia, says
increasing numbers of executives are
feeling trapped, alone and unhopeful
in their careers. She says many confide
that they don’t see a way out of the cycle
of endless billable hours and client commitments. DeGroot, whose ThirdPath
Institute studies new options to help
professionals lead more balanced lives,
cites an unhappy 60-something law firm
partner who is saddened by the state he
finds himself in today.
“He said to be successful he felt he had
to develop what he called an ‘impossible
Just as baby boomers shifted workplace expectations, Generations X
and Y also are changing the way we work. Penelope Trunk, a colum-
nist for the Boston Globe and author of the Brazen Careerist blog, says
work/life balance issues are a higher priority for many younger re-
cruits than for previous generations.
“Many today just don’t care about becoming a partner,” says Trunk.
“There are other, more important things in their lives, and it’s just not
something they want to attain anymore.”
Many of those in Gens X and Y grew up as latchkey kids, she says,
and didn’t see as much of their parents, so they now want to create
professional lives that look different from the ones their parents chose.