The legal profession is tough and getting tougher.  Firms demand more from associates and provide less. Meanwhile, the cost of a professional education has skyrocketed. The same goes for the newly-created “non-equity partner.”  In case we forgot to say it at the mixer, “Congratulations?”

Associates and partners deserve to be treated with respect for their sacrifices.  You will never get those hours back.  You will never have the chance to miss your mom’s 50th birthday because a brief was due or a deposition just couldn’t wait.  Remember the friends who stopped inviting you out after the umpteenth time you said you had to work?

But, you say — times are tough all over.  I am lucky to have a job. 

Times are tough.  You are lucky to have a job.  But you have a job because you make far more money for the firm than it costs to keep you around.  You are lucky to have a job, but you are not thereby obligated to be a doormat.

Recently, Craigslist postings offer as little as $20 an hour to seasoned attorneys.  One listing offered a total of $1,200 bucks to handle an appeal and defend a cross-appeal.  This, in case you hadn’t noticed, is an offense to your talent, experience, and commitment.