Saturday, May 10, 2008

Eloquent, but Dark

Check out this dark post from an anonymous commenter in response to my celebratory post yesterday about being a 2L:

The hardest year of your life will be your first year out of law school grinding away at a law firm or government agency learning how to be a lawyer.

Once you pass that, the hardest year of your life will be the first year you make partner or head of your group.

Then, the hardest year of your life will be the year you get divorced and lose everything.

After that, the hardest year of your life will be when your kid gets arrested and convicted of a felony while you get diagnosed with diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, or some other condition partially or wholly spurred on by your job.

After that, you'll be dead, so who cares.

Welcome to your future.

Whoever posted this is right in one sense. I realize that law school is, in the end, just school. We're not in Iraq; we're not facing a million other incredible difficult situations that would far outweigh the struggle of law school. It's really a privilege to be here, and I'm grateful for the chance. But that doesn't temper my excitement for having completed a very difficult year.

The comment is representative of the jaded, macabre humor that law students and lawyers often engage in. Remember the post from a few weeks back with the quotes from the law week T-shirt? The first quote was "I predict universal failure."

I recognize that law school is not the hardest thing we'll ever face, but the first year was one heck of a challenge. I'm proud of my class for sticking it out this far.


Anonymous said...

I'm proud of us too. Boo to the haters.

Anonymous said...

I wrote the "dark comment." I didn't mean to be a downer, but the fact is that as time goes on, life, work, and balancing the two will get harder and harder. You'll see in a few years out of law school. The same is true in any demanding but highly paid profession. The perks are nice. My BMW is nice. My vacations to foreign countries are nice. Going to any restaurant I want anytime I want is nice. Being able to tip generously and get nice service without worrying about the tip percentage is nice. But the constant stress, verbal abuse, hypertension, non-stop blackberry email vibrations, and malicious sarcasm at the office are not nice. That is just how things are at large offices of big law firms. If you can handle that, then it's not too bad. But many people cannot handle that stuff very well. Hence, the ulcers, divorces, substance abuse, strip club addictions, and resentful spouses and children. If you want proof, look at the time that I am posting. I have been up on Sunday night doing document review on our online database. Fun. Document review is something that is a necessary evil, even for mid-level and senior associates sometimes.

Just so you know, I am also the person who complimented you on your posts on ATL some time ago. I did not reach out to you when you asked to know who I was because, frankly, I want to protect my anonymity. I still do. But for your information, I am an associate at a large firm in a large city, and I am more than several years removed from law school. I read ATL most days, and I read your blog when you post new items. ATL and this blog are the only two non-sports blogs I read.

Regarding ATL, you took an unfair amount of flak from bitter associates, but the fact is that you were much better than they cared to admit. Your byline did not say "David Lat," however, and that was fatal for you. Even as bitter as I am, I still saw that you were and are a good writer, and frankly, you paved the way for a lot of folks' acceptance of Kash. Without you, there is no Kash. You were the sacrificial lamb, unfortunately, but good to see that you survived your first year of law school. At least you are not that quivering tub of fecal matter, Billy Merck.

Good luck this summer in whatever internship or externship you do, and good luck in OCI in the fall. I have no doubt that, with your ability to communicate, your appearance, and what appears to be an outgoing personality, you will do well. Still, don't get too high or too low on the results of OCI. You will see deserving classmates get screwed in OCI, and you will see idiot classmates get job offers at high-paying firms. But so what? Your future is going to be filled with dreary work no matter what happens. Your ability and dedication will determine where you end up, regardless of where you start. Enjoy your weekends, vacations, and holidays. Those are the things that will sustain you for those first 2 or 3 years out of law school. After that, hopefully you'll get married and leave the practie of law or just go part-time at a small firm.

At least there is always fantasy football to keep one happy from week to week.

Anonymous said...

Remember, you are in control of your own destiny.That seems to be something anonymous has missed.

I am not denying that large firms do not produce the drudgery that he has described. I worked at a firm like that prior to law school, and knew it wasn't for me.

Therefore, I'm working at a small firm, making a lot less money. However, I'm happy. I decided my happiness and joy were much more important than the difference in a BMW and a Pontiac. I love to practice law. I think I was called to be an attorney. I have job satisfaction because I see the fruits of my labor in my every day working clients.

Ultimately, the decision is up to you and your classmates. Some will opt for the BMW. Others, like me, will opt for the jobs many of those at ATL consider inferior. Who cares? Everyone in his or her life should do what makes their heart sing.

Congratulations on completing your first year. I remember first year being one of the most disappointing times of my life. It only gets better.

John Adams said...

Hmm. I work in a nice firm. Low hours, lawyers who get along, great benefits for all staff, high salaries, little turnover. Lots of lawyers hate their jobs (thus the high levels of divorce, suicide, and substance abuse among attorneys) but it's not a requirement.

On the other hand, while my workplace is nice, I still don't like the work so there remain things to improve.