Wednesday, July 21, 2004

I don't say this lightly, but I don't believe there is any way for a good person to work at a place like this without destroying whatever makes him or her good.  I see interesting, kind, creative people come in and quickly turn cold.  At first, it was the speed that shocked me.  This takes over their lives, and suddenly what made them human vanishes.  Their souls get swallowed.  Before they can do anything about it.  And they resign themselves to their fates.  As corporate drones, completing repetitive, mind-numbing tasks for outrageous salaries and little else.  Tell me I'm wrong.  Tell me it's all just my imagination running wild.  Tell me it's this four-hour meeting I just escaped from, that took us through dinner, and whatever semblance of an evening I thought I would have, and that's it not the reality.  This wasn't supposed to be the life I ended up with.

You're wrong. It's all just your imagination running wild. It's that four hour meeting you just escaped from.

Now let's be serious now. Their souls get swallowed? People who decide to work for your firm have souls? Is this true?
That's probably true . . . for the vast majority of people . . . at large law firms . . . in major cities. Especially for people who want to make partner. Of-counsel types tend to be more human. Or more bitter, depending on the attitude they started out with.
tell us what the "life you were supposed to end up with" looks like. please?
This isn't a question for students; summers who ought to pay heed will not >>> This is a job for Lifestyle Firm! Where are you, man? Tell us about the people you work with. Is there that much of a difference? If so, why? I got the impression that your firm had a starting salary difference of only about $20K less than the big firms, so you're not exactly working for legal aid. Add to this, please - for AL & the rest of us.
Quit being a baby. You think being a lawyer is so much different than any other job out there? I've done both and it ain't much different. At least when you're a lawyer you actually can get paid decent scratch.

Go sit in cube for 4 years and let me know how you like it. The only reason people turn out like that is because they're shallow, empty people to begin with. As a group, I think law students are some of the worst people I've ever encountered. There's always exceptions, but overall law students suck. They're typically pompous, shallow, egocentric, insecure pricks. Why should getting a job change any of that?
Further proof that this blog is actually run by no one of higher seniority than a law firm associate; partners would not curse their lot--they are the abusers in the system, it works great for them! Only an associate would be sensitive to the inequities.

Further, only associates are so interested in summer associates--they are so much closer to the experience.

If this guy were a real partner, we'd be hearing much more about clients, opposing counsel, and government agencies.
Retarted blog detectives, at least do a little research before you throw around your incorrect claims.

AL is a highering partner, the summer associates are very much his concern. He is responsible for seeing that the firm has a good selection pool for the next wave of first year associates. Of course he is paying attention to how the program works out.

As for all partners not being concerned with the inequities of the firm, that is just foolish. Who took the five dollar logic course instead of the 10 dollar one? Even if your a lawyer in biglaw, which is doubtfull. How can your experience possibly be sufficient to state with confidence that no partner is concerned with the inequities of the firm. Not to mention that the inequities of the firm weren't even subject in AL's post, read it more carefully.

If you read more of the blog you would see that AL rarely if ever dicusses details of individual cases. This blog is not about that.

Quit trying to valdiate your obviously inflated egos by "proving" that AL is not who he says he is, its tired and boring.
Once again, XOXO is calling you home, Scooby.
Go back where you came from ~ there is enough interest to keep the questions, musings, occasional outrageous elitist comments going.

Reality, AL, is one that is largely of perception, which is why it constantly changes. I don't know if you are wrong ~ can you measure what percentage of the time firm life is like the meeting and it's numbing aftermath vs how often the perks, prestige and challenge make the overall picture worthwhile?

Sure, every 'world' and profession has its pros and cons ~ but the BIGLAW world intensifies (and therefore distorts) both. I agree with the poster who observed that law students in general come in with a certain characteristics that exacerbate the downside - but it is a valid question to wonder what exactly happens to the interesting, kind and creative people in that environment. We need one of them ~ perhaps a first or scond year associate ~ to chime in.
I am a law student and still a 'good person,' able put human values above everything else - but it's getting harder. Now, instead of the 'right choice' instinctive and automatic, I have competing values in my head that sometimes vie for top spot. At the end of last semester, I realized I was not comfortable with the idea of going home - because I didn't know how to be there anymore. All I 'knew' was how to worry about what I hadn't gotten done and focus on what I had to do next, and that seems increasingly incompatible with the world I knew before. It does begin to change you. I would like to know that it doesn't completely devour everything, yet I understand the mind set that once you have started down this path there is no going back. Not that you cannot, but that you don't want to, despite the changes you see taking place. And this from someone not yet in the high paying, high pressure environment AL lives in.
My 2 cents: I'm a lawyer, not a law student, at a non-BIGLAW firm. I'm not sh*tting you when I say that I love what I do, and maybe 30-50% of my colleagues here love what they do. We have fun, we don't kill ourselves, we add value, and we make great money considering what the cost of living is around here. But, as the "don't a baby" guy implied, my satisfaction is due partly to the fact that I had other jobs before I became a lawyer. I know from experience what's cool about being a law-firm lawyer -- things that you can't get elsewhere -- and I also know from experience what sucky things are part of ANY job.

As for AL's identity, he knows so much that he either is what he says he is or is a friggin' genius.
What region of the country, and what starting salary, Hans? (starting salary now, not when you began)
What focus of law? What size of firm? Thanks for the input!
Check out this article entitled "On Being a Happy, Healthy, and Ethical Member of an Unhappy, Unhealthy, and Unethical Profession," by an ex-lawyer turned law professor named Patrick Schiltz (

Since it's only one person's experience at a BigLaw firm, and that several years back, the usual disclaimers obviously apply.
To Anonymous at 9:10 am:

What part of "fictional" don't you understand pal?

"Highering," ay? Wow. You are dumb. Or, as you might say it, "D-U-M, dumb." Isn't it naptime for you yet, Dan Quayle?
In response to the questions a few posts above: East coast, about 80 lawyers, starting $115K.

Spelling mistakes (grievous as they were) aside, you're going to quickly run out of things to say without being able to nitpick everyone's gammar in a hurried comment on an anonymous blog.

In case you missed the fact that the previous poster was challenging whether or not the fictional partner was actually a partner in stead of an associate or summer, I'll clarify for you. I was responding to that.

And how are you so sure that the "fictional" header on the page wasn't placed there to throw off the gullible like yourself? I certainly would do that same if writing a blog that I wanted to be kept anonymous. When you eliminate the gullible you also elminate the pedantic assholes that would otherwise attempt to uncover the true identity of the blog's author.

Strangely enough, it seems those assholes hang around anyway. To stroke their own egos by grading the comments like an English paper.
The law review article previously posted is very good. Thanks for sharing it. One line for AL from it:

"Lawyers don’t sit down and think logically about why they are leading the lives they are leading any more than buffalo sit down and think logically about why they are stampeding."

If nothing else, AL, it's good that you aren't a buffalo
@12:37 are you retarded? Did you even read the comments before the one you ripped on?
AL is right. We're all just rats running on the mill. Forget all the posturing and preening, other commenters. It doesn't matter whether AL is an associate, a partner or whatever. He could be a cab driver for that matter. It doesn't matter.

Me? I'm getting out. I'm in a different industry but one which swallows your life in a similar way. I'm getting out soon. I won't feel empty. I've got stuff to do.
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
You know, it's really nice how all these people (okay a handful really) post about how great their firm is and how it's not like the big law firm factories that grind and then chew up your soul and how they have such a great culture and still make a bucket load of cash and have time for their families and friends and how much they love their jobs and etc. etc. etc. You know what? That's totally friggin' AWESOME for them but how the &%$# can the rest of us get those kind of jobs?! Anyhow wanna please please please help us out here? But no one's willing to be forthcoming. Okay, I understand, you don't want to give yourself away, but can't you let us know how to get a job at these firms, perhaps tell us the name of your law firm or something? Anything? Come on, I'm begging here! With 50 or 80 or however many lawyers at your firm, there's probably no way we'll be able to figure out who you are anyway. Please help out a fellow lawyer about to be devoured by the big law firm! And those law students who don't want to turn to the dark side...!
If its so damn bad why don't you just go ahead and quit already? For the life of me I don't understand why people voluntarily go on and on in a bad situation. That really is a character flaw...
I'll respond to the pleas above with a (true) story: Just the other evening, I was counseling a mid-level associate who is miserable practicing in a law firm. She's single, and she wants to have a life. She also went to law school straight from undergrad. We got to talking about other careers that might work for her, and she asked me about some job openings she'd seen and about jobs I had before becoming a lawyer. "How much did you make doing X?" I'd answer. "That's all? . . . How much did you make doing Y?" I'd answer. "That's all?" Then I asked her what she was doing to look for jobs. "Searching for openings on the Internet and in the paper." Have you done any informational interviews? "No" (making a face). You really should -- that's the only way to find out what's going on out there. No response to that.

My points are these: First, be realistic about what you want and can get. Jobs that pay well are hard; that's why they pay well. Being a good lawyer is very hard; that's what makes it interesting & exciting (assuming you're interested and excited by that kind of thing). Sometimes it's too hard, but that's the risk you have to take in order to do something interesting & exciting. The key is not to get into a situation in which overexposure turns the interest and excitement into ashes in your mouth. Unfortunately, these are lessons most people (including me) learn only by working at several different jobs or firms for significant periods of time. Even though I think my firm is great, and I wouldn't want to work anywhere else, the baby adults we hire (very often) just don't appreciate what's good here. That's why, as Prof. Schiltz points out in the article linked to above, law students will choose the sweatshop down the street over us just because the sweatshop offers a few thousand more bucks.

Second, and more relevant to the pleas, the good places to work are out there. Every state has some. Candidates need to get out and talk to people. Talk to practicing lawyers. Talk to senior associates. Buy people lunch or breakfast. Cold-call people. I cold-called lawyers when I was thinking of going to law school, and most of them were surprisingly happy to talk & surprisingly frank. And when you interview at firms, be sensitive to the atmosphere. I know that's hard (maybe impossible) for baby adults -- as you get older, your BS meter becomes a lot sharper. Do people *seem* happy? Do you hear any laughter? Do you hear anything other than typing?

So I'm going to be a hard-ass and not give the name of my firm or hints about who I am or where we're located. He who would have what he hath not should do what he doth not.
This blog stinks. You're kidding yourselves if you think a non-fictional partner gives a crap about summer associates. There are way more hijinks just dealing with one's colleagues, clients and opponents--that's what makes the job what it is, not dealing with part-time staff.

As a former summer associate at a large DC firm, I can tell you exactly how much contact summer associates have with partners: zero.

This is a one-joke blog that is played out.
Thanks Hans, AL & others for the info, the chiding, the tips & the ENTERTAINMENT.

For the previous poster: if the blog 'sucks' why are you here? The only thing more pathetic is that someone in DC is paying you for wasting their time.
Dude, give it a rest--the guy can show up and say he didn't like the blog.

And your "why is someone in DC paying you to waste their time"--please, you are such a moron! If you're going to insult someone, try not to screw it up again, dude!

Besides, most of what lawyers do is waste time; one minute of work, five minutes of email is 0.1 hours @ 225 dollars per hour.
Interesting, and some pretty hostile, comments.

Having done this now for a long time (14 years), and being a successful lawyer in terms of results and case load, if that's the measure (and it may not be), my opinion is that AL is wrong as to only one thing. It isn't "a place like this", it's the law.

The practice of law has become damaging to those who practice it. It has been for me, and it is for most who practice it. That helps explain why we seek diversions to such an extent, as most lawyers do, be it golf, some other sport, blogging, drinking, etc.

Some of us will still desperately defend this business, but I find it is fewer and fewer, and that most who will defend it are over 50, and looking at getting out. The law probably was different for them, but now it's a nasty business, no two ways about it.

The item above about it being interesting and exciting is interesting, as is the comment about it being "hard". I used to think it was interesting, I'm not to sure that most of us really think it is that hard. Funny, an old experienced lawyer I'm working with, from a different firm, made an off hand comment to my paralegal who commented on a case being "interesting" to the effect that "Anymore, I find less and less of this intereing."

I guess that I still find some of it interesting. It's the sole remaining thing of any value left in it.

And, yes, I know I can quit, if I can find a way to keep afloat financially, but it isn't that easy to do that in the real world.

For the younger lawyers, under 30 or so, the worm really seems to have turned. I find that many of them, once they become partners in their firms, are completely vocal about hating it. Pretty surprising. Up until recently a person would never have heard a comment like that from a young lawyer, but now I do all the time.

So, I think the practice, at least the litigating practice, or practice in any firm of any size, destroys whatever is good in a person irrespective of firm size, or salary.

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