Posts Tagged ‘AboveTheLaw.com’

2d274907839718-sally-field-oscar-1985-speech-today-150217_27422441b72ca02103b8ba97bd2931d4I love prizes. Everyone loves prizes. Who doesn’t love winning a prize?

So…I am deeply thrilled (and delighted) to announce that this very blog (my blog!) The People’s Therapist, has just been named a top mental health blog of 2017 by OnlineCounselingPrograms.com.

So far, no statuette (although I’m clinging to the hope one might arrive in the mail.) But hey, it’s recognition, and I like recognition.

Here’s the list of winning blogs (there are thirteen, and they’re listed alphabetically, so yes, I’m down there near the bottom, but that in no way reflects my comparative grandeur.)  And yes, of course I urge you to take a peek at those other, dear little lesser blogs when you get the downtime.  Because I’m gracious like that.  Big-hearted.  Classy.

Anyway, here’s a nice long, special interview with moi-self, talking all about being The People’s Therapist, writing The People’s Therapist and reflecting the awesome glory of The People’s Therapist.  Please enjoy.

I want to thank Lauren Delapenha, and everyone at OnlineCounselingPrograms.com, as well as the lovely and talented rapscallions at AboveThelaw.com.  But most of all (he says, barely containing his emotion) I want to thank you, my fans.

I love you.  And now, choking back sobs, I’ll step (with immense dignity) offstage as the sound of the orchestra swells in the background.


Please check out The People’s Therapist’s legendary best-seller about the sad state of the legal profession: Way Worse Than Being a Dentist: The Lawyer’s Quest for Meaning

And now there’s a new Sequel: Still Way Worse Than Being a Dentist: (The Sequel)

My first book is an unusual (and useful) introduction to the concepts underlying psychotherapy:Life is a Brief Opportunity for Joy

I’ve also written a comic novel about a psychotherapist who falls

in love with a blue alien from outer space. I guarantee pure reading pleasure: Bad Therapist: A Romance

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thumbI participated on a panel last year with an expert on “happiness studies” and naturally, as someone who works with lawyers, I found myself inverting the customary nomenclature. While the relevance of “happiness studies” to the legal profession might fairly be questioned, it would be foolhardy to minimize the implications of “unhappiness studies” with regard to lawyers’ lives. I would venture a step further, to aver that law, as a profession, holds immense promise for future “unhappiness studies” research.

Until that time, we’ll have to make do with insights provided by the “happiness studies” folks, and simply invert it all so things makes sense in legal terms. It might sound like some kind of “Mister Mxyztplk” version of happiness studies…but for our purposes, it’ll do the trick.

Here, then, Mr. or Ms. Lawyer, is the official explanation (at least, according to some of the happiness experts I’ve read or listened to) for why you’re so unhappy: There are three things missing from your life – three elements critical to happiness (think of them as vitamins, and yourself as having a deficiency.) Studies show that you need these three elements, or your life will suck. Well, that’s not exactly what studies show, but in all honesty, I haven’t bothered to read any of those studies because it seems like that would be a difficult and boring thing to do and in any case this stuff is pretty intuitive (intuitive being the polite word for obvious) and who knows with these psychology studies – half the time they aren’t reproducible and most were likely done by a psych professor milking his tenure track gig while he moonlights supervising waterboardings.

But I regress. Or digress. Or whatever.

Here then, is an explanation of the vitamins, in entirely random order:

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I’ll never forget a moment in a wildlife program about Antarctic penguins – I think it was a David Attenborough series.

There were two little penguin parents and a penguin chick.

Then, suddenly, there wasn’t. The chick fell into a crack in the ice.

The little guy squeaked for all he was worth, the parents circled, there was frantic waving of wings – and not a damn thing anyone could do.

Five minutes later – which seemed like several lifetimes – a member of the film crew tore away a chunk of snow and released the chick.

Profound relief for all involved, penguin and human.

But there was a wrinkle. The show’s non-intervention policy had been violated. A voice-over explained that an exception had been made because the film crew may have created the crack in the ice.

Uh, yeah.

I doubt David Attenborough was buying that story.

The truth? You try filming a baby penguin slowly perishing in front of its parents.

One of my clients, a biglaw senior associate, experienced something similar.

The situation: An 8th year associate – not my client – was up for partner. She worked at a branch office of a huge firm. My client was preparing a case for trial, and her team needed help. They sent word to the branch office, which sent the 8th year. She showed up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, but the partner – an unstable sadist – decided on a whim after two weeks that this 8th year was no good. He didn’t tell her to her face. Instead, he mocked her behind her back to the entire team, proclaiming her work product worse than a second year’s, and bragging he’d send her packing to the branch office, where she belonged.

My client watched all this, and felt complicit. She wasn’t laughing, but she wasn’t saying anything either.

It was like watching the baby penguin.

This 8th year had no idea she was the object of ridicule. In fact, she was arrogant – confident she’d make partner. At the branch office she was their pride and joy, and they sent her to the big city to win support for her bid.

That bid was being derailed. One word from the partner to the branch office and Miss 8th year’s aspirations were toast.

There was nothing wrong with the 8th year’s abilities – she just wasn’t used to the level of aggression this partner demanded in his written work. That, and the partner wanted to hurt something small and helpless.

My client’s instinct was to step in and warn the 8th year.

She didn’t.

Maybe the penguin analogy isn’t quite right. This 8th year was hardly a helpless baby penguin – she was a cold-blooded litigator. If she were watching this happen to someone else, she wouldn’t intervene either.

A better analogy might be gazelles on the African savannah, watching as a hungry lion paces nearby. Each gazelle knows how things are going to end – one of them will be lunch. They would prefer it be someone else. They eye the others – that one’s old, that one’s lame, that one’s still a fawn.

The lion makes the same calculation. He chooses a weak runner, and gives chase.

The other gazelles flee, knowing he’ll get his meal. But this time, it’s not them.

My client was afraid of this partner. If she warned the 8th year, it might get back to him – and that wasn’t worth the risk. There was nothing she or any of the other gazelles could say to the lion – or to one another – that would do this 8th year any good. She was marked. The others were already stepping out of the way. Nature would take its course.

But the lion and gazelle analogy might not be apt either. Gazelles are harmless, but at a law firm anyone can turn dangerous. My client wasn’t naïve. She knew, if this 8th year came to power, she would grow fangs and learn to kill.

A friend of mine recently returned from Australia. He was amazed to find nearly every living creature that walks, swims or crawls Down Under can turn out to be deadly poisonous. It was incredible, he said – they had venomous toads and frogs and spiders and fish and snakes and centipedes and jellyfish and even a poisonous octopus. Just about anything you met could end up killing you.

What was it about living isolated together on a desert island that turned everyone poisonous?


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Last October, a law school placement director friend of mine forwarded me an email with a juicy piece of big law gossip. A former associate at Sullivan & Cromwell had offed himself. He was 39.

The body was discovered beneath a highway bridge in Toronto. A few days earlier, it was revealed that since the mid-90’s, he and a co-conspirator made ten million dollars on an insider trading scheme. He’d stolen insider information from S&C, arriving early in the morning to dig through waste baskets, rifle partners’ desks and employ temporary word-processor codes to break into the computer system.

“You can’t make this shit up,” was my friend’s comment. “Wasn’t he from around your time?”

It took a minute to locate the face. Gil Cornblum. Jewish, a bit pudgy, with big round glasses. Gil, in that ridiculous little office two doors down from mine.

What was Gil like? Mild-mannered, pleasant, always smiling.

I should have known something was wrong.

The pieces fit together.

Gil kept weird hours. He used to chuckle that he liked to get in early so he didn’t have to stay late. It turned out he was in at 5 am, combing the firm for insider tips.

The lavish wedding, too. A mutual friend was invited up to Canada to watch Gil tie the knot, and was blown away.

As people do in these situations, I stopped for a moment to contemplate Gil’s death. His body was discovered at the bottom of a highway bridge. He was still breathing, according to the bits of news I found online.

So far as I could tell, that meant portly, lovable Gil Cornblum threw himself off a bridge on a Canadian highway in the middle of the night and lay on the bottom – of what? A rocky riverbed? – shattered and dying.

Suicide amounts to punishing whoever is supposed to take care of you because you feel their care is inadequate.

Certainly, the care we all received at S&C was inadequate, and we committed suicide a little each day just by staying there and putting ourselves through that abuse as our lives passed us by. Our slow suicide manifested in other ways as well. Most of us mistreated ourselves by neglecting our health, letting our friendships die off, ignoring our families, our hobbies, our lives.

Maybe insider trading was Gil’s grand suicidal gesture, his protest against the abuse he received. He put his entire life on the line, knowing he might well be caught, end up in jail and lose everything. He was playing Russian roulette, and maybe he knew he’d kill himself if he got caught.

And all for what? Money.


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The People’s Therapist displayed his legendary tact and discretion during a recent interview with the lovely and talented Kashmir Hill, Associate Editor of the esteemed yet tasty legal blog, AboveTheLaw.com.

Despite my best efforts, tongues appear to be wagging regarding certain shocking revelations about The People’s Therapist’s previous incarnation as a high-powered Wall Street lawyer at Sullivan & Cromwell, a top white-shoe firm.  To put it bluntly – though I am loathe to – I told the truth about the toxic environments at big law firms, and the psychological toll they take on the people who work there.

Twitter is a-buzz and Buzz is a-twitter with these shocking revelations.  Facebook is…uh…blue in the face.


Here’s the link for the interview.

For more juicy brilliance from the lovely and talented Kashmir Hill, you can also check this out this site (highly recommended by The People’s Therapist.)

Those of you with heart conditions or delicate sensibilities – please exercise caution.

This material may be inappropriate for young children or those recently graduated from law school.

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