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November 03, 2002

While I Was Sleeping

I spent a bit of time today catching up on blogs I haven't read in weeks, and in some respects it feels like I missed a lot—discussion of Senator Wellstone's tragic death, lots of thoughts on upcoming elections, the Microsoft anti-trust indecision, etc.—in other respects, not so much. The more things change...

Really, it looks like some of the biggest news in "blawgdom" recently has been "girls club." Check out Alice's thoughts, as well as her link to this great summary of the first episode of the show. Even Professor Cooper is somewhat sad to see the show has been cancelled, since it provided good fodder for teaching.

On a more sobering subject, Cooper links to Dahlia Lithwick's recent column in Slate, "Free the Baby Lawyers!". While it's good to be reminded of why I don't ever want to work for a firm (even though I realize I may have to, maybe, for a little while), it's scary and sad to get this inside look at big-firm life. According to Lithwick, after associates at Clifford Chance were asked for suggestions on how to improve their lives at the firm, all they could come up with was a lame "more perks and toys" response. Lithwick writes:

Associates in law firms knowingly sign away their health, leisure time, and relationships for a monstrous salary and hefty bonuses. This is not news. What is news is that the associates at Clifford Chance ask for both too much and too little. They want law firm life to be about more than just the commodification of their time, even when it is. And yet faced with an opportunity to reclaim their lives, they are willing to settle for a "hi" in the hallways and a better-appointed cage.

I see the beginnings of this myopia in my students every day. They seem to have no sense of a life or values outside of work and dollars. Somehow our culture seems to have produced a generation that has never stopped to ask the big metaphysical questions: What is the meaning of life? Why am I here? What is my purpose on this planet? Or if they have asked those questions, all the answers seem to be translated into dollar signs. (The decline in paper delivery boys and girls carrying their own papers must have something to do with this. It's like a cosmic connection, I tell ya.)

The comments following Lithwick's piece are also very enlightening, as "baby lawyers" rant about the hardships of paying for law school and the Faustian bargains they've made with firms to do so. See also this discussion among associates—especially this post from a teacher-turned-lawyer who says the pressure in teaching is greater than he's ever felt as a lawyer; amen to that, brother! And also this inspirational post and the thread that follows it—such comments give me hope that I'm not being completely naive to think I can avoid the young lawyer's Faustian bargain by taking advantage of my school's LRAP.

The discussion on Slate seems to rage on. See, for example, this thread that suggests that, in real terms, NY associates who make $125k/year are really making the equivalent of $42k/year, when you've accounted for all the time they're putting in. Or this advice: Don't go to law school. Hmmm. The replies to that one are more encouraging.

Posted November 3, 2002 01:51 PM | law school

i've never felt any kinship with those law students who see 'biglaw' as the one, true goal of a legal education. reading, for example, the princeton review message board prior to attending school (a fruitless exercise), i was unimpressed with the many posters who considered all else meaningless. i didn't buy that theory then, and i sure don't buy it now that i'm in school.

and hey, a 167 lsat score is damn fine, i think. well done.

Posted by: matt at November 4, 2002 10:29 AM

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