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August 30, 2009

Alienation of the Big-Firm Associate

In this economic climate, I know that most people are happy to have a job.  That said, the big-firm associates I am hearing from may be glad to be employed, but for the most part they appear to be profoundly unhappy.  While this is not true for all, certainly, it is true for enough of those I come in contact with that I suspect it may be a majority.

If I were to search for a single word to describe their feelings, it would be "alienated."  In short, they feel marginalized by the partners they work for, disengaged emotionally from the work itself, and wholly lacking in passion for what seems to be at best an amoral vocation.  Their work consumes their lives, and that work is not fulfilling.  The economic problems have divorced these talented people even more from the partners, who seem wary of developing any kind of attachment to these workers who may or may not be around next year, and true mentoring relationships seem rare.

My question is this:  Do I have a duty to pass along this observation to the students who come to me seeking job counseling?  I have my own thoughts on the issue, but wonder what others do in a similar situation.

-- Mark Osler

August 30, 2009 | Permalink


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Of course you should pass this information on, with the expressed caveat that it's anecdotal, subject to selection bias, and based (I'm assuming) on a sample too small to be statistically meaningful. (In other words, a statement suggesting categorically that all or even most big law associates hate their careers would go well beyond your data). Once you've accurately represented the information that has come to you, they can make of it what they will.

Life is short. There are many ways to practice law. At most prestigious schools, the law school placement process makes big firm practice seem more inevitable and desirable than it is. Some fairly stated counterpoint might be helpful as they sort through their options.

Posted by: Ray Campbell | Aug 31, 2009 10:46:42 AM

Here are a couple of problems with the profession for the new lawyer.

1) It is a cult enterprise that subjected the students to coercive indoctrination into supernatural core doctrines. There will be discomfort, hard to pin down, as there would with any others in a similar situation.

2) The lawyer is hated, even by the lawyer. You study 80 hours a week in law school, come out brilliant and erudite. People want to spit on you.

3) Everyone else is competent and aggressive, and likely know more law. The competitive situation is grim The sole remedy is to come up with some big innovation. Hard to do. There are 500,000 too many lawyers for our population and economy. More are being added, and they are becoming a pestilential vermin. This oversupply is a factor in the disrespect.

4) Because the methodologies of the lawyer are from 1250 AD, and there is nothing from 1250 AD that in way should be put into practice in any field, today, all the goals of all the law subjects are in failure. Some, such as the public safety in the criminal law, are in spectacular, unconscionable failure, with high murder rates, crime herding into black areas, and massive costs for worthless rent seeking and paper shuffling make work.

5) Although lawyering is a physical, practical profession, and the rule of law is an essential utility product, the practice is filled with supernatural doctrines from the Catechism. This is not only anti-scientific, incompetent for the goals of the law, but it is unlawful in a secular nation. The analogy would be to have Supreme Court decisions made in accordance with the Koran. That would be in insurrection against the Establishment Clause. The words, element, intent, foreseeable, and reasonable, indeed even the adversarial nature of a trial, the high bench, the oaths, the robes, the gavel, the standing up, the architecture of the court, are all church. All offend the constitution as much as Koranic jurisprudence would. None has validation, outside of coercion at the point of a gun.

There will be no remedy to these cult problems without custody of the bodies of the lawyer hierarchy. If anyone can suggest an alternative, I would like to hear it, as an owner of the law. Much troubled, this absolutely essential profession.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Sep 1, 2009 3:11:51 PM

I fit your description to a T. Going to law school ruined my life. If don't tell people, you will only contribute to ruining more lives.

Posted by: doesitmatter | Jan 10, 2010 4:58:19 PM

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