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Posts Tagged ‘NYU Law’

After Steve Spierer invited me to be a guest on his radio show on Talk Radio One, he told me we’d probably do a 30-minute segment.  Then he added a caveat:  “If we’re really on fire, we could go the full forty-five.”

Apparently we achieved ignition, because we ran the full forty-five.  Steve’s a terrific host, and kept things moving with perceptive, challenging questions.  He also arranged  for a caller – Matt, a young first-year lawyer at a top-100 firm.  It was a first – the People’s Therapist live on the air with one of the sort of people he’s always writing about, talking about what he’s always writing about.  A moment of truth.

To hear the show, click here.

For the show’s website, click here.

Steve’s a fascinating guy – a real estate lawyer with decades of experience, who also hosts a radio show about books and authors, issues of personal growth and – sound like the People’s Therapist? – the law.  I couldn’t have asked for a better match between interviewer and interviewee.

For more information on Steve and his show, click here.

I’m on for the first forty-five minutes, but stick around for the final fifteen, where Steve provides his listeners a savvy take on trends in the real estate market. His opinions might not be what you’re expecting, but he knows what he’s talking about and he leaves you thinking.

Thanks for having me on the show, Steve – and thank you, Matt, for calling in and keeping The People’s Therapist on his toes.

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If you enjoy The People’s Therapist, check out his new book!

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There’s one thing every lawyer, no matter how miserable, seems to agree on: law school wasn’t that bad. In fact, it was kind of fun.

Things take a nosedive when you get to a firm. That’s when you start hating life.

Maybe we should take a look at this phenomenon, and ask ourselves why this might be the case.

There are a few prominent disparities between the experience of law school and that at a big law firm.

First – in law school when you work hard, you get a reward. There is an “incentive” for “doing your best.”

I remember a guy in my class at NYU who used to grow an exam beard every semester. He’d stop shaving a couple of weeks before exams. The beard would start to get scraggly – then, after the last bluebook was filled with scribble, he’d shave it off and everyone would hit a bar to celebrate.

It was silly, light-hearted fun, designed to focus attention on completing a goal.

Contrast that to a law firm, where nothing is silly, light-hearted or fun – and there is no such thing as completing a goal.

At a firm, you don’t “complete goals.” Thanks to your massive student loans, you are now someone’s property, and you work to avoid punishment. That means you work until midnight, then go in on the weekend. Rinse. Repeat. There is no end of semester. There is no end of the week. There is no end of anything. There is no vacation. There is no end.

Your reward for working harder than you’ve ever worked in your life? If you do a good job, no one complains – and you get more work.

That is, unless there isn’t any work, in which case you’re in trouble, because that means you’re not going to make your billables, which means you’re a parasite and a useless drain on the firm and you should feel terrible about yourself and fear for your job.

It’s also possible that you didn’t do a very good job on whatever it was you were working on harder than you’ve worked on anything in your entire life. That might be because you’ve been working eighty hour weeks with no vacation and receiving a steady stream of criticism, all the while fearing for your job, which is a problem because you have a wife who wants to have a kid and you’re $180,000 in debt. The Zoloft and Klonopin your shrink prescribed don’t seem to be doing the trick. Nor does the Adderall you’re popping with alarming frequency – the left-over Adderall from the first shrink, who diagnosed you with ADHD before the second one decided it was actually depression and anxiety.

It might be that all the other work you did for the past six months at the firm was good, or even very good – until you handed in this latest assignment, which wasn’t good. However, at a law firm, if you do something that isn’t good, it doesn’t matter if you did one hundred other things that were good. You did something that wasn’t good, which means you are bad.

The reason this thing wasn’t good might be that you had no idea what you were doing because they gave you something unbelievably, insanely, laughably complicated to do over the weekend with a totally inadequate explanation.

That brings me to a second way in which law firms are not like law school.

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