Monday, September 04, 2006
I'm pretty broken up about the death of Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter. I was planning on calling him to help us make the Snakes at the Firm event a reality. In all seriousness, I think his death will rightfully make our associates even more appreciative of the lifestyle we allow them at the firm. There are no wild animals here. There is almost no danger of death from animal bite, sting, or venomous attack. Even if a partner bites you, it's almost certain not to kill you, and the probability is higher than not that he won't even infect you with anything. We did have that scandal when the partner with hepatitis started biting his underlings, but there were almost no casualties and the press really blew that out of proportion. I wasn't terribly thrilled with a lot of what the Crocodile Hunter stood for in life. By making crocodiles and alligators and other wild animals seem less dangerous, he made law firm partners, and the law firm lifestyle, seem more dangerous in comparison. There are only a few careers we can confidently say we compare favorably to, in terms of lifestyle: (1) amusement park beta ride testers, pre-seatbelt stage, (2) assistant to a literary agent, (3) live-in housekeeper, (4) crash test dummy, and (5) person who sticks his hand into the mouths of wild animals. Steve Irwin made that last of those seem safer than we'd like it to seem, and made us seem worse by comparison. I'm sad to hear about his accident, but I do hope it teaches people that we're not such a bad alternative. It wouldn't hurt to have aspiring crocodile tamers come work at the firm anyway. Associates and paralegals need to be treated like wild animals sometimes, tamed, beaten down, stripped of their natural instincts to fight back against oppression, to sleep, to eat, to fight. They need to learn to obey, and they need to learn to listen to their masters. The summer associate program is all about conditioning them, and priming them to listen to us when they return in the fall, to strip them of their defenses, to make them let down their guard, and be open to influence. To turn them into clay we can mold in the image of our founders. To help them become adults. Responsible, legitimate, boring, overworked, exhausted adults. With health care, 401K plans, and no time for their kids. Just like their parents. I did a survey of our associates a few months ago and many of them come from broken homes. It makes sense. They look to me and my colleagues for the conditional love that they're used to. Maybe if they behave, Mommy and Daddy won't fight anymore. Maybe if they do what they're told, no one will yell at them. But they soon learn it doesn't matter. Mommy and Daddy are always going to fight, and there will never be peace. Yet they still hold on to that hope. It's how a firm like this one survives. Associates clinging to the hope that if they work hard enough, long enough, well enough, things will get better. They won't. One day they will get bitten. They will all get bitten. The strong will survive, but they will be different, weakened, lacking in spirit. Just the way we like it. I may not be the crocodile hunter, but I'm the law student hunter, me and all of my colleagues. We find them, we tame them, and then we exploit them for commercial gain. I ate crocodile once. It tasted like clients.