I'm a little slow today. I just switched to Sanka. So...have a heart?

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

"Well, I mean, I went to law school... what else am I gonna do?"

That's the answer I gave my little brother when he asked me whether he should become a lawyer and I answered with "NO!" and then he asked why I'm still a lawyer.

I don't know whether there's any other occupation that's accompanied by such thrilling highs (see last Thursday's post) and such crippling lows. It's like I signed up for Bi-Polar disorder when I took my Oath of Attorney.

And I'm getting sick of it.

But then, what else am I gonna do? I have no other business experience, I'm loaded down with debt, and chained, by golden handcuffs, to being a lawyer, whether I stay at my current job (Decision made today: GET OUT OF IT.) or get a new job (The Devil you know is better than the devil you don't.)

I'm either bored shitless at my job, or drowning in a never-ending avalanche of work. Currently, I'm drowning. And it's not that I don't want to do the work; it's that the deadlines, and loose ends, and contingencies, and liabilities... in a word... suck.

If you know a lawyer, you know someone who goes home and drinks by themselves at the end of the day, to forget the sixty or so things that that person should be doing instead of... sleeping. Or eating.

This occupation has me on anti-anxiety medicine. Maybe it's litigation, but I don't think so. Transactional work seems just as stressful, nitpicky, and awful. My boss sure ain't a bouquet of roses when he's got a big closing coming up.

Last week, I loved my job. I felt validated, and smart, and successful, and competent. This week, it'll be all I can do to keep myself from ripping my diplomas off the wall, and hurling myself off my building's atrium.

I feel like at any other job, after three years, it's pretty automatic - go in, do your stuff, get praised (or not), go home. Not so with law. At three years, you're competent enough to fuck up REALLY BADLY, and at the same time, incompetent enough to fuck up REALLY BADLY.

November and early December were really bad times for me. But that was when I went on my happy pills, that kept me stable... until now. I'm officially going off the deep end again. Late March and April will also be really bad times for me. Yelling clients, condescending bosses, and general cluelessness. I don't do well with cluelessness. I'm a smart guy. I can do most anything, but sometimes I need a minute or two extra to grasp the complexities, while not being swamped by them, and losing the forest for the trees.

It's like there's always another stone you could turn over, and most of the time, I just get to that "fuck it, good enough" point.

I'm tired of the panic attacks, and the careful phrasing of all letters and correspondence. I'm tired of the nuances and the distinguishing, and the due dilligence that must be done. Yeah, yeah, it's what I signed up for. No, it's not.

I didn't go to law school to hear about the bad job someone did with your driveway paving -- and what, exactly, do you expect me to do about it? If you want to sue the company, let's go. Otherwise, you don't like the paving grade? Do you expect me to re-do it? I didn't know I went to law school to tell you to pay your rent.

I signed up for this, but I didn't sign up for this.

3 Comments:

Anonymous The Brewer Patriot said...

This is what I tell people when they ask me as well. Then, the inevitable follow-up is why I am still doing it. Crushing debt is the answer. If I were to switch careers, then I would have to start out at the same level as a 22-year-old, fresh out of college. And somehow I don't think that will cover my $100,000 in student loans.

11:06 AM

 
Blogger Rootietoot said...

I have days where I want to march into the nearest office (of any sort, law, Dr, whatever)and demand that they hire me and give me a paycheck. I'll do anything, make coffee, floss teeth, fetch dry cleaning...just PAY ME SOMETHING. Then I have a day where I stay in my robe until 9, put on exactly what I want to wear, and spend hours planning a perfect meal for my family, and I feel like I should be paying someone for the privilege. I think (hopefully) it all balances in the end.

8:23 AM

 
Blogger jonphiwil said...

Outstanding post. This is a perfect summary of how I've been feeling for, oh, I don't know, the last year and a half...but it's been especially bad lately. Have you reached the point where you're searching Amazon for "what else can I do" books? I've got "Nonlegal Careers for Lawyers" and "The Lawyer's Career Change Handbook" sitting on my coffee table right now, and overall they are complete crap. I'm starting to accept that we may be stuck.

8:05 PM

 

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