Thursday, November 18, 2004

If I was going to make one change to legal education, I would require all law students spend a year in the military. Military service would make law firm life feel posh and painless in comparison, and would stop all the whining from first-year associates about how many boxes of documents they have to sort through or how many thousand-page contracts they have to frisk for inconsistencies. The snottiness of young graduates, the sense of entitlement they feel they have, expecting to come in here and immediately be given work that matters, or work that is actually engaging and interesting. It makes me angry. Not just at the associates themselves, but at the system that encourages it. All through school, these people are told they are special. Undergraduates don't even get C's and D's anymore, let alone F's. Half of them graduate with honors from a lot of top schools. Law school is even worse. People don't go to class, they spend zero energy on their work, and still, show up for the final, get a B. Show up and be reasonably intelligent, get a B+. At least. It's too easy. They're pampered. Life is not that easy. And they're not used to it. Especially the ones who haven't done real work. Who haven't shot a gun. Who haven't pursued the enemy into the jungle. Who haven't been frightened for their lives. I want associates who know what life-threatening danger really feels like, so they'll be more than happy to work as hard as we want so as not to be sent back to the killing fields. One year, mandatory military service. Especially the women.

That is why it is good to hire federal law clerks. They worked just as hard as at the firm for 80% less pay. Granted, they go from deciding cases to looking through boxes of documents, however, most are so overjoyed by the pay increase, while not being insecure about their legal skills because of what they saw and did while clerking, they will silently plug away with a better understanding of the game.
I love your posts that end with a zinger.
I'm going out on a limb here, but I bet someone as weak as AL was never in the military.
Boring. What's interesting about this blog is the "inside" information on what's going on in the firm. Not--at all--your pontificating.
The real whining is from older partners who rant about "back in my day ..."

Back in your day? Back in your day? Back in your day there were few, if any mega firms as we now understand them. Back in your day a discovery did not involve reviewing 30,000 emails in a week. Back in your day there were no multi-billion dollar mergers that required never ending due diligence reviews. Back in your day the pratice of law was far more interesting from day one.

Now you hire grads who are smarter than you, more driven than you and you ask them to spend all day reviewing mindless documents. If you can't stand the (predictable) negative response that document review causes, go home and roll around on your bed of money.
AL - What war did you fight in and how did it not stop you from bitterly complaining about your job over and over again on this blog?
I too love the smell of napalm in the morning.
The people (I’d be willing to bet are all law students) who ask AL questions and wait for responses like yo-yos should be flogged.
Clearly AL is a veteran. Thank you, sir, for serving our country bravely!
Yes male partners should also have to experience the pain of childbirth. But then they would have to be part-time at the firm and wouldn't be there to boss around all the snot-nosed kids.
I have had to deal with my share of snotty bratty freshies myself. Thank god they aren't half as smart-ass as those law students you have had to deal with, AL. To those snotty brats I have had to managed, I convince them into believing that the problem lies with them. See everyone else is coping just fine with the long hours, the ocassional tantrums from clients, the mundane work and the monotony. There must be a point that you are clearly missing. So manage your own expectations, adapt and conform. Problem solved. Move on. Sick, I know. But it makes my life a hell lot easier. Anyway, they will get the real picture after a couple of years in the mill.
"Who haven't shot a gun. Who haven't pursued the enemy into the jungle. Who haven't been frightened for their lives."

I'm John Kerry... I mean Anonymous Lawyer, and I approved this message.
"Who haven't shot a gun. Who haven't pursued the enemy into the jungle. Who haven't been frightened for their lives."

I'm John Kerry... I mean Anonymous Lawyer, and I approved this message.
Better random, the court should choose cases to be settled by mortal combat. Once an appearance is registered, no backing out, unless you give up your license. Two attorneys, in a steel cage, only one leaves. LETS GET IT ONNNNNNNNNNNN!!!!!!!!!!
I feel my experience as an urban teacher will suffice.
This guy is not real. He is just trying to get a reaction out of people. All the partners I know are concerned about a lot of things - like bringing in business, new law, vacation, whatever. I cannot see a real hiring partner spending so much time posting taunting comments on a website - unless he just wants to get a reaction because he is so pathetic otherwise. Get a life people. He is just yanking your chain.
I won't be starting law school until next year, but I have served in the military. One year would be worthless to the military, it takes about that much time to take a cherry and make him (I was infantry, no women) worth something to the unit.

I think the value of military service within your context is that the military tends to serve as a bullshit inoculation. The rest of my life I'll probably never be as bored, tired, or hungry as I was at times when I was on active duty. Chasing people through the jungle? That was the fun part. The big lesson was that there is a heap of monotony -- training, endless drill, physical punishment -- which goes into the fifteen minute adrenaline rush you get on the objective. I'd imagine certain similarities there with the practice of law.

I'm curious whether you'd be happier with the usual crowd of whiners, or the cocky ex-military guy telling the other associates "I am a god, and you are all my bitches." Except the women.
Maybe it would be a good idea to subject all lawyers to a stay in Abu Gharib prison for 1 month every year. They should be stripped naked and threatened with vicious dogs. The women too.
Nobody cares if Al is real or not. Why should we care? We are drawn to his blog by an appreciation for the wit and the beatific irony. If you're not appreciating that, the joke is on you.
I would make all law firm partners attend a Buddhist seminary for two weeks every year. This would help help them reconnect with their humanity, to remind them that their lust for money and power is the source of their unhappiness, and that the bad karma that they put out toward the people around them will one day come right back to them.
Couldn't agree more with AL's point on doing military service (regardless of whether he put in his time or not). I'd take it one step further and suggest that its time to put a stop to all these snot-nosed little bums who go from kindergarden right through to law school. First you need to spend time in the real world...learn to manage your time, people, deal with hard work, boring work, pressure, ethical challenges, crazy bosses. Then 5-6 years later (at a minimum), apply to law school. Pay for it yourself (not Daddy). After all that, you won't necessarily fall in love with being a lawyer (although you may if you're curious, smart and enjoy thinking), but you'll appreciate the good side of it and understand the bad side isn't too bad at all.

On the other hand, its thanks to all these thumb-sucking little kiddies who wait until the night before exams to study that those of us who work and go to law school at night can still kick their butts.
Such bitterness. It's not our thumb-sucking fault you couldn't get an LSAT high enough to get you into day school. Know what else? We didn't study for that test either.
FWIW, a real problem with lawyers is a lot of them haven't ever worked. Not real work. Lawyers who have worked, and not just some summer job, are far better lawyers. There really is a huge difference between having to break your back for a living, or waiting tables, or yes being a soldier, than selling your opinions.

Being a lawyer is hard work, but it doesn't make you royalty. A lot of lawyers are under the illusion that their entitled to something because they are lawyers, just as they mistakenly believe that being a lawyer makes you smart. Working in a menial job for law pay does show you what life is like for a lot of people, and a lot of those people are pretty darned smart who are breaking their backs. I served with an enlisted man, which is what I was, who could speak seven languages he'd admit to. He was a college dropout at that time, although he later went back.

And, yes, I was in the Army before I was a lawyer. Quite frankly, I've sometimes wished I'd stayed in. I'd be retired by now, if I wasn't dead of course. I don't usually think that, but I'm glad I was in, and all in all being in the service probably helped me more in life than going to law school did, except in terms of income.

I'm not for mandatory service, but a person doesn't know what real work is until he's worked it. And no person really empathisizes with those who really have to work, no matter how much they may fool themselves that they do, until they've actually worked a physical job.
If I was going to make one change to the military, I would require all soliders merit their insecurity issu... er, confidence.

Yes, the young law associates are excessively whiny. However, watching former servicemen constantly seek approval for their actions and squirm under uncomfortable questioning scares me for our military program. Certainly, if these soldiers are the gods that Mimbreno alleges, they can handle critical anaylsis of their work. Much experience has shown me otherwise.
"One year, mandatory military service. Especially the women."

Hmmm--I agree with the comment about one year of military service being mandatory ...

I take offense at the comment about women.

Buddy, or "AL", when you push a 9 lb. bowling ball
-with arms and legs
-through an orifice the size of your fist
-with no pain meds
-AFTER several hours of back labor
--we'll talk ...
The interesting point raised, presumably by a woman who has given birth, about the toughening lesson of having a child is all fine...except most of the female law students and may of the lawyers I know don't have or want kids. And anyway, heard of an epideral? A few hours of pain may be tough (I know I got a hand mangled in an engine, try knuckles ripped to shreds for toughening you up!...but what will really distinguish as far as discipline and hard work is long, hard slog-type challenge...getting up at 4:30am to study 2 hours before helping your daughter get her breakfast and send her off to school...then working 9 hours, going to school for another 2-4 depending on the night, and home long after she's asleep. And on the weekends...hours of studying.

Do that for 4.5 years and then you can talk about having a work ethic. That's my wife's story.
Commenting on AL's view on law school grades-- my law school is on a 2.5 curve, so the 'everyone gets a B' for minimal studying is bullshit. AL-- your material is getting a little old. Stop while you're ahead.
I think all graduate students face this. Universities are education systems -- and they do not prepare their students for the corporate world. It's a totally different monster.

That was my biggest complaint when I got out of school -- that I didn't get realistic expectations. It's a big injustice of our education system if you ask me.

About the military, I don't think that would be so good. I'm not into killing. It's against my grain!
Terrific post, AL! Keep it comin'...
Come on. Every submissive person in society complains. I bet low ranked people in the military complain bitterly and constantly. They have no power to change their condition so they bitch about it. That's universal. And what could prepare you for working in a corporation? Unless you spend your time in college getting anally raped on a daily basis you will be unprepared for corporate work. Learn to like it baby, learn to like it.
what happened to the publishing a book post?
AL deleting whole posts now. Wow.
AL deleted the last post because of my response? Or maybe he just realized how ridiculous it all was.
Thumb sucker poster: Don't be so bitter just because some of us got 170's on our LSATs while drinking and doing drugs in college and then went on to be Review Editors while you flushed your life down the toilet for 5 years only to end up in night school. I sure hope you make partner in time for retirement.
I agree that people should just go to law school after undergrad or at least very shortly there after. Check out the article on affirmative action in the ABA report this week the study also showed that older students do not do as well as younger students.
maybe you only got a 170 because you took so many drugs?
What happened to the book idea, AL? Are you ashamed of your drunken idea? Would you just publish all of your postings?
Where the heck are you, AL? How am I supposed to waste time without you.

Yes. I know it's pathetic.
AL-- I think you may have a drinking problem. One of the most reliable signs is "doing things while under the influence that you later regret when sober." (Even if it's as silly as making a weblog post). I urge you to seek help now, it's probably not too late.
3:23: first of all, just because you get drunk and do a little drunk-blogging (once), does not mean you have a "drinking problem." second of all, of course AL has a drinking problem. he's a lawyer!
Epidurals don't always work for back labor pain ... Also, there are those of us who have babies while in law school because lord knows it would ruin our career to have them during the our first years out of law school. Law school mothers know "work" -- up all hours of the day and night for feedings, diaper changing, exams, papers, you name it. So don't preach to law school mothers or lawyer mothers about work and pain. Some of us suffer through the adversity to provide a better life for our families in spite of the double glass ceiling--one just for being a woman, and another for being a mother and taking the "Mommy track". The children will always come first but we are still viable and talented workers. Life bites so bite back, or better yet, bite first.
Very funny reactions to this one. I was a moderately directionless kid, the Reserves really helped me out as I worked my way through college. Now as a lawyer I often think back to my experiences in the military; even on a part-time basis it had a big impact on me. It's not for everyone but it did give me a great frame of reference regarding hard work, and really does make you think twice before whining.

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?