As defined by a task force’s recent report, a corporate attorney has an “extreme job” if the attorney works 60 hours a week and suffers at least five additional characteristics from a list of 10. According to the NY Times, Dec. 3, 2006 at Sec. 10, pg. 1, “These [blights] include fast-paced work under tight deadlines, responsibility for profit and loss, a large amount of travel, an unpredictable flow of work, and work-related events outside business hours.”
Pressure and pace, elite frequent-flyer status, spurts of over-work, and wining and dining all describe many a general counsel’s plight. The article doesn’t give the other five characteristics – perhaps a difficult boss, rapidly changing or stressful business environment, lots of people to manage – but it is likely that some direct reports to the general counsel also endure “extreme positions.”
Among high earners (defined as those in the top 6% of income levels) the task force estimates that about 20 percent hold extreme positions. Many senior corporate lawyers pass the income test, and they face the stress, burnout, and wreaked personal lives that dog those in extreme positions.