Anyone who reads this blog knows that Above the Law it isn't. That is, Esq. Never tends to focus on life on the wrong side of the legal industry train tracks rather than the world where associates get annual bonuses worth more than my car and would never dream of purchasing a suit off the rack from Goodwill.
No, usually we focus less on attorneys whose large corporate clients allow them to own nice downtown condos and more on "attorneys" whose court referred clients help them pay to heat their vans/homes parked down by the river.
Today, however, let's take a look at those who have "made it" in the legal profession. No, this isn't a sour grapes post. I'm not sure if working 90 hours a week performing associate level grunt work is exactly my thing. I do, however, know that actually having a job that's affords me a modicum of dignity while earning a salary that may give me a shot at paying off my debt some time before the sun implodes most certainly is "my thing".
Besides, I fully accept what I've been told a number of times: Those T-14 kids who reflexively understood that the LSAT passage about Harriet Tubman was a "whimsical analysis of an iconoclastic figure from Antebellum American history" are clearly our superiors. We're really quite impressed by you guys - honest.
Nonetheless, is a legal career that doesn't require one to click a mouse in a windowless basement like a retarded chimp really all that it's cracked up to be?
I'm actually not going to dedicate this post to the insane hours big firm attorneys need to work or the dry nature of most of their tasks (reading over SEC documents, etc.). I'm also not going to pick on the court room aspect of a successful practice - hauling oneself from court to court and dealing with obnoxious and annoying clients.
Instead, let me turn to an organization called Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers. For those of you unaware of this organization, it's essentially a support group (found in most states) for the multitude of attorneys each year who fall under the sway of the bottle, pills, or seriously consider offing themselves (probably much to the glee of the lawyer-joke spewing populace).
Congratulations, everyone, we've selected a field which not only requires three years at overpriced, fraudulent "trade" schools and taking on more debt than the Democratic Republic of the Congo but that also likely ends with a trip to the Betty Ford Clinic.
What? You think this is just an isolated group that caters to a small segment of the profession? Perhaps you can then point me to "Systems Administrators Concerned for Systems Administrators"? Can you explain to me why every law school orientation I've heard about has a presentation by a representative from LCL before students even have their first classes? How come the freakin' number to their hotline is on the back of my Bar ID card?!
I still remember the poor schlub who was responsible for the presentation at my orientation session. I assume he had to further shame himself by sharing his story with us as part of his community service plea agreement. Apparently, the stress of law firm life had led him to become such an addict that he had resorted to drinking mouthwash!
You see - the long hours, demanding and arrogant firm partners, absurd clients, stressful court sessions, insufferable colleagues, and everything else adds up to a create a career that isn't too fun. In fact, it's so "not fun" that it drives an inordinate number of our "brothers of the bar" to depression, substance abuse, and even suicide.
I don't recall thinking, "Gee, I really think I'd like to join a profession where after driving myself deep into the red to face bleak job prospects, I'll also have the elevated chance of my family finding my body in a near catatonic state after sucking down a bottle of Listerine all night."
Yet, here we are.