A friend’s daughter just announced that she is voluntarily leaving her position as a Big Law fourth-year associate to join a smaller litigation firm. I won’t name the firm she is leaving but it always appears on lists of the country’s top ten corporate law practices. She has an impeccable academic pedigree and coming out of law school had multiple offers from top Boston firms. She has not been laid off or cut for sub-par performance. After successfully chasing the prize her whole life she caught it–and hated it. She hated the firm’s culture, the way partners treated associates, the constant tension and pressure. She wants more control over her life and a workplace that doesn’t tie her in knots. She is thus like most young associates, those golden girls and boys wooed by promises of fat paychecks and practice at the profession’s pinnacle only to leave big-firm practice well before partnership. It’s a remarkably inefficient system.