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Posts Tagged ‘biglaw’

You’re different. You disdain the crass blandishments of biglaw. You have a soul. Let the giant firms seduce your naïve classmates with their shameless wheedling. You’re made of sterner stuff.

Your ultimate goal? Something better. A place where you might actually do good. Few lawyers receive that opportunity. Many, exposed to goodness, would burst into flames.

That’s why you’re taking the high road, escaping the pervasive cynicism and greed. You’ve got your sights set on a not-for-profit institution, dedicated to the promise of a better tomorrow.

Will it work? Can a lawyer escape pervasive cynicism and greed?

Seems unlikely.

Let’s talk about the the not-for-profit track – its ups, downs and in-betweens.

Right off the bat, we have to discuss salary. I know – you want to escape all that – the obsession with filthy lucre. But there’s a stark reality you must grasp before reporting for duty at a not-for-profit: You will earn bupkis.

Maybe that’s okay with you – like Hebrew National, you answer to a higher authority. On the other hand, if – like most young lawyers – you’re sitting on a zillion dollars in bankruptcy-proof loans, an extended period of earning zilch could prove…inconvenient.

This aforesaid stark reality also explains one of the dirty little secrets of the not-for-profit world: It’s a magnet for rich kids. If Mom and Dad have already paid off the $200k you blew on an undergraduate degree and law school, then bought you the cutest little one-bedroom in Chelsea and a brand new Prius…well, the logical next step is to save the world. It’ll be fun!

Not-for-profits are bursting at the seams with eager-beaver trust-afarians – and it doesn’t stop there. Sometimes Mom and Dad (and their friends) sit on the board. Sometimes the charismatic founder and Executive Director is a grinning, twenty-something former college lacrosse star, just back from Burning Man. You can’t hold it against him if he wants to donate a snippet of grandaddy’s styrofoam factory fortune to making the world a better place. But his white-boy dread locks and penchant for calling you “bro” in the hallway make you wince.

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Last February I appeared on Steven Spierer’s radio show, and he brought on a caller, Matt, who had just started work at a big New York City law firm. You can listen to that interview here.

Now – 9 months later – I went back on Steven’s show, and caught up with Matt, and heard how things are going for this newly-minted corporate 2d year.

Here’s the show – Steven always does a great job, and it was especially fascinating to catch up with Matt and talk about how his views have changed now that he’s been working in biglaw for more than a year.

Thank you, Steven, and thank you, Matt, for another terrific experience on Talk Radio One.

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Please check out The People’s Therapist’s new book, “Way Worse Than Being A Dentist: The Lawyer’s Quest for Meaning”.

I can also heartily recommend my first book, “Life is a Brief Opportunity for Joy”.

(Both books are also available on bn.com and the Apple iBookstore.) 

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If it’s happened to you, keep reading. If it hasn’t, keep reading anyway. It happens a lot.

It begins with the standard set-up. You feel trapped. Hate your life. Nerves shot. Self-esteem shredded. You know the drill: biglaw.

That’s when the dæmon lover appears. It doesn’t end well.

There’s biglaw hanky-panky and biglaw sexual harassment. There’s also biglaw romantic infatuation. It’s the one you talk about least because you least feel like talking about it. Once you reemerge on the other side and wish it never happened, you never feel like talking about it again.

It’s no coincidence life-crushing, soul-annihilating infatuations collide on a regular basis with the lives of young associates – any more than cars colliding with deer on an expressway is a coincidence if you locate the expressway in the path of the herd’s migration. Life-crushing, soul-annihilating infatuation is the logical outcome of life-crushing, soul-annihilating law firm existence.

The firm swallows your life, denies you sleep and vacation, works you into the ground, and subjects you to an endless stream of criticism. You got there in the first place because you’re a pleaser – the kid who earned “A’s” to please teacher. Now you can’t please anyone.

Enter the dæmon lover. He gets you when you don’t love yourself – when you hate yourself. That’s infatuation – not falling in love, but hating yourself so much you try to escape your own identity by merging into someone else.

For some reason, he’s British. I’m not saying he has to be British, but three of my clients – by some stroke of fate – ended up obsessed with British guys at their firms. Oh, and I did, too. So we’ll make him British.

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