Law in Contemporary Society
When I read Lawyerland, I get less and less excited about becoming a lawyer. I feel like most, if not all of the stories have a strong, melancholy feeling and I can't recall any of the characters sounding happy about being lawyers, or at least expressing any real positive emotion when talking about what they do and the Law in general. To me, it paints a very bleak picture and, frankly, scares me a bit. Do other people have the same reaction? I know that lawyers are known to be a relatively unhappy group of people, but do you think the book accurately reflects the full reality of the situation? Perhaps these particular characters were chosen precisely because they are not fully happy (arguably, the book wouldn't be as engaging otherwise). However, I was wondering what other people here thought about this and what do you think this means for us, as future lawyers?

P.S. If anyone has read MacKnight? Was Murdered and can explain the last paragraph to me, I'd appreciate it.

-- JosephItkis - 04 Jun 2012

I think about that kind of stuff a whole lot, and to be honest, I think the understanding that lawyers are generally unhappy (which I think is a popular sentiment) is overblown. First of all, Eben seems happy as a lawyer, and other people practicing law in an "alternative" way often seem happy as well. But even beyond this - which is especially important to me, considering that I plan on going into Biglaw for at least a few years - I think that even the perception of Biglaw attorneys as generally unhappy is misguided. I have talked to a lot of attorneys and very few of them have told me that they are unhappy with their jobs. And it's not just the partners raking in the money who say this, either: I have spoken candidly with a lot of associates where I am working now and most agreed. Of course, they might just be lying to me and perhaps to themselves, but that's not the feeling I get. There are going to be terrible hours at a Biglaw firm, but there is also going to be interesting and thought-provoking work. This class seemed to teach us that it is difficult to have a fulfilling life at such a firm, but I'm not totally sure that that's true. In any event, I think even Eben would tell you there are plenty of ways to be a lawyer that can make you happy. The idea that lawyers are never happy seems to be pervasive in the world at large, and I don't really think it's true.

Lawyerland tells us that “lawyers, when they do something they really don’t want to do, end up subconsciously sublimating their real feeling into money and success.” That’s how the split happens. What I found particularly striking is not how unhappy lawyers are, but their lack of awareness for its reason. Most Biglaw associates believe that their unhappiness is due to the long working hours, the low payment (comparing to partners, bankers etc.), and job insecurity. These are all contributing factors. But after leaving the firm job for a year, I realized that lawyers are unhappy because they are perfectly clear what they do is meaningless, yet they try so hard to sublimate such feeling into unconsciousness. That’s how all the violence against oneself happens. Addiction to alcohol, caffeine and sex represents efforts to escape from the true feelings.

-- MeiqiangCui - 13 June 2012


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r4 - 22 Jan 2013 - 18:17:23 - IanSullivan
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