Wednesday, July 18, 2007

A reader pointed me to a Slate article about one of our competitor firms and its program, "Chow For Charity." Under the program, if a lawyer takes a summer associate for a $15 lunch instead of a $60 one, the $45 difference gets donated to Legal Aid. The Slate piece takes the attitude that it's absurd for the firm to have the attitude that a $15 lunch is a sacrifice, and pathetic for the firm to trumpet a program that will end up donating practically nothing to charity, as compared to the profits the firm makes.

Obviously, I have a somewhat different take on the whole thing. First, I'm sick and tired of law firms feeling like we have to apologize for what we do and the money we make. No one forces our clients to choose us, and if we were charging more money than the market could bear we would go bankrupt. There's no shame in being good at what you do, and there's certainly no shame in getting paid for it. Donating our money to Legal Aid organizations just perpetuates the stigma that's unfairly been attached to making money. Law students have been brainwashed into viewing their ultimate employment decision as an either/or choice between money/evil/capitalism and poverty/goodness/sacrifice. Having summer associates make a "sacrifice" at their evil law firm jobs only adds to the false guilt the Public Interest Mafia imposes on them.

Every school has these people, the "good" law students who would never think of "selling out" and working for a firm. And who make everyone who just wants to pay off their loans and live a comfortable life in a gated suburban community feel like they're subhuman. When in reality, 90% of the public interest-minded students end up picking a firm anyway, and the other 10% can't get hired. Doing public interest work isn't a "choice" that any rational law student makes, it's the last resort, the place they go when a firm won't hire them.

Or they're irrational. Because "public interest" is no less "evil" than we are, they just have a better propaganda machine. We put our propaganda money into $60 lunches instead.

But when a firm announces they're letting students make this "sacrifice" and donate money to the enemy, it just legitimizes their claim that they're "better" than we are. And it sickens me. $60 lunches are not something we should be ashamed of. They're a bonus. A selling point. Something we should stand up and cheer, something we should be proud of. We can afford $60 lunches for our useless summer associates, who get paid absurd amounts of money in the first place, for doing busy-work and going to parties. It's lavish and wasteful and decadent... and I'm proud of it because it shows the world we are good at what we do and we have money to burn. But we've earned it. And screw whoever wants to try and take away the money we've rightfully earned and give it to the people who spend all their energy trying to bring us down and make us feel guilty for the lives we lead.

I'm starting a new program here. For every dollar someone goes over the $60 lunch limit, we take that money out of our yearly charitable contribution fund. It's called "Eat The Poor." See how they like that one. We can fight fire with fire here. I won't lie down for Legal Aid. Not in this lifetime.

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