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Squire PB associate claims sexism and crazy hours led her to quit $400k job
29 April 2016
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A Squire Patton Boggs associate has revealed how self-loathing, long hours and alleged sexism led her to quit the firm after nine years. The firm has told RollOnFriday it "strongly disagrees" with her comments.

Using the 'Ask Me Anything' format on Reddit, Kristen Johnson explained that after being posted in the firm's Doha office for two and a half years she resigned because she was "disgusted" by the "luxury lifestyle and lawyers who would give anything and everything to make millions".

 
 Johnson, after walking out

Her confession rose to the top of the front page of the site as readers left over 3,000 comments and questions for the lawyer, who worked in Squire Patton Boggs' international arbitration practice.

Under the heading, "IamA burned out international lawyer just returned from Qatar making almost $400k per year, feeling jet lagged and slightly insane at having just quit it all to get my life back, get back in shape, actually see my 2 young boys, and start a toy company, AMA!" Johnson gave intimate details of her alleged working life at Squire Patton Boggs. She said that her annual target was 2,500 hours including non-billable hours and that she billed about 2,200 hours a year. But she claimed that billing less during the years she took maternity leave  "massively impacted" her bonus, partner, and payrise eligibility.

Johnson said she encountered "blatant" gender discrimination, sexual harassment "and a very clear glass ceiling" at the firm, adding, "having a baby apparently makes you worth less as a lawyer".



Johnson, and the proof she flashed to Reddit users

The ex-associate told Reddit users she felt pressure to “either keep working (increasingly) insane hours or resign”. She said that she "couldn't even take the time to mourn" when her grandmother died last November because she had to attend a hearing for three weeks, and work commitments meant she also had to miss the funeral. Johnson bemoaned that there is a "reward mentality that if you sacrifice everything, you'll ultimately win the prize", but that the prize is probably "like winning more pie at a pie eating contest".

She complained that putting in 60 to 70 hours a week at work meant she gained a lot of weight and "ached all the time from computers and sitting". However she "loved not having to worry about money", and said she earned enough before she walked to provide college funds for her two children, buy two houses and enjoy a lifestyle where she and her husband "could travel and splurge and it didn't matter".

But living around people "who worked 24/7 and didn't see their kids" made her "stop and think about what on earth I was doing". In March she quit SPB and is now back in the US where she plans to start a boy doll company with her sister. Johnson explained, "I became inspired to start a company making boy dolls after I couldn't find any cool ones for my own sons".

A spokesman for SPB told RollOnFriday, "We were disappointed to see the comments made by Ms. Johnson and strongly disagree with these comments, particularly with her assessment of the firm’s policies towards women. We are committed to a firm culture that promotes full and equal participation, advancement and retention of women”. He added that the firm’s Doha office was founded in 2003 by a female partner “who was the first non-Qatari attorney licensed to practice law in the State of Qatar and supported Ms. Johnson’s move to the office”.

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anonymous user
29/04/2016 01:20
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Definitely far more to this story than she's giving off.

Sounds like a bitter, disgruntled lawyer who couldn't make partner, couldn't stand the heat and flogged off. Thank goodness for that. Personally, I haven't met more friendly and gregarious people than the lot at SPB, and albeit I haven't met anyone from the Doha office, to pin all this on her firm is ridiculous.

What she said effectively applies to any high-powered career, BigLaw included. Good luck with your boy dolls, (wtf) lady.
Donald Draper
29/04/2016 08:20
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Bears crap in the woods.

This reminds me of the western RT news presenters who are happy to take the Russian dollar for a few years and then when the moment suits them do an on air self-indulgent resignation that 'they will not deliver the Kremlin's propaganda anymore'.

This girls earnings seem to have set her up nicely. We splurged she said. We own multiple properties. Now I'm going to set up some ridiculous you factory.

Talking about biting the hand that fed.
anonymous user
29/04/2016 08:40
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It's true though - biglaw is hostile to parents generally (the same way that cars are hostile to hedgehogs). They're not aggressively anti-family and they don't mean to be - it's just the way they biglaw treat children and childcare as if they are entirely unconnected to the individuals who are client-facing and fee-generating side of the business.
Lydia
29/04/2016 10:00
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We all have to make choices in life. Plenty of other people would like her job now she's left and if there were not then firms would change how they operate to retain people.

Much nicer working for myself and you keep all the money - which is even better.
anonymous user
29/04/2016 10:55
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FETID

Failed

Everywhere

Try

In

Doha
anonymous user
29/04/2016 13:10
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How does an associate in the Doha office earn $400k per year...
Mufcsan
29/04/2016 13:35
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But this is hardly news - this is how BigLaw works (for good and bad). You have to sacrifice everything to be partner and so at some stage you have to decide if the prize is worth those sacrifices...(in my opinion it really really isn't).

anonymous user
29/04/2016 14:27
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Was she really on $400,000 a year?

Where do I sign?
anonymous user
29/04/2016 15:05
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anonymous user
29/04/2016 01:20

She didn't blame her firm at all in the original reddit thread. She was talking generally about "biglaw". Stop relying on summaries on legal gossip websites.
anonymous user
29/04/2016 15:24
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"...she resigned because she was "disgusted" by the "luxury lifestyle and lawyers who would give anything and everything to make millions".

"...she "loved not having to worry about money", and said she earned enough before she walked to provide college funds for her two children, buy two houses and enjoy a lifestyle where she and her husband "could travel and splurge and it didn't matter".

Hmmm.

anonymous user
29/04/2016 16:21
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As a former GCC legal gypsy myself, I have to admit some of what she says rings true. The lifestyle does wear after a while, women get given a hard time (particularly in places like Kuwait) and the financial benefits (which are tempered by indirect taxation in the form of government "fees" on everything, extortionate rent and the ridiculous cost of fresh produce and alcohol) do eventually stop making living there worthwhile, particularly if you have a family. And when you decide it isn't worth it, you do the sensible thing and head back from whence you came, safe in the knowledge that you are a bit better off and that, on the whole, you had a decent experience.

Going on Reddit in that manner is just plain ridiculous and she is clearly telling a few porkies there. $400k as an associate, pull the other one. You earn a good living in the sandpits of the GCC, but that number is just plain fiction. Perhaps she should have taken a picture of her payslip to verify the claim.
anonymous user
06/05/2016 10:47
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Running your own company is a great choice - much easier, not long hours, no stress...
anonymous user
08/05/2016 08:17
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2200 billable hours target & 300 unbillable hours. This is a huge workload for any lawyer irrespective of gender. Week in, week out, month in , month out, year after year. Burnout is real.
How may hours are left for pursuit of interests outside of the office ?