Celebrating 10 years! 2007-2017

Non-Scam related article that should scare people away from law

https://www.google.com/amp/s/mobile .nytimes.com/2017/07/15/b thirdtierlaw07/15/17
Yes, it's a good article. But if there's one thing I've lea dnabrams07/19/17
Im drunk way too often outside work hours. This is a bad pro vohod07/15/17
My little brother, who was my very best friend, died March 2 thecharmingmresq07/16/17
Sadly I'm all too familiar with seemingly well adjusted or s thirdtierlaw07/16/17
A successful partner is still 8 times out of 10 a glorified vohod07/16/17
Like Marlins Man fartacus07/18/17
Sorry dude. F-ing sucks. One of my best friends from college wolfman07/17/17
Dude graduated from Franklin Pierce, a fourth tier school, b onehell07/17/17
was working himself harder than even the firm would have exp triplesix07/17/17
It will never change, you could be a HYS grad, biglaw partne mtbislife07/17/17
Look at the Davis Polk guy in California who committed suici ejs201707/18/17
About time legal sectored got some genuine job growth. triplesix07/18/17
I second all of the commentary here, and agree that one of t jj8207/18/17
My impression is that life is pretty difficult for law firm dnabrams07/18/17
I was fascinated by the article. It rings true about many sanka07/19/17
Sadly, it doesn't stop. Unless you are one of those people w ejs201707/20/17
How many private firms make their rainmaker piss in a cup? sanka07/20/17
thirdtierlaw (Jul 15, 2017 - 10:11 pm)

https://www.google.com/amp/s/mobile.nytimes.com/2017/07/15/business/lawyers-addiction-mental-health.amp.html

Great NYT's article, "the lawyer, the adict". Talks about substance abuse and cites some interesting research about students pre/post law school.

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dnabrams (Jul 19, 2017 - 12:16 am)

Yes, it's a good article. But if there's one thing I've learned as a lawyer, you should never believe what an ex-wife says about her ex-husband and vice versa.

To my knowledge, there is a very high suicide rate for divorced men. What if the real source of stress and crushing despair in this man's life was sky-high child support payments and the knowledge that he was literally a slave, i.e. if he quit working as an attorney he would be thrown in jail for failure to pay child support?

I'm just speculating, of course. But it's well known that divorce is very frequently a miserable experience, kind of like working in BigLaw. So it's anomalous that the article would focus on the difficulties of law firm life without really mentioning problems brought on by divorce.

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vohod (Jul 15, 2017 - 10:42 pm)

Im drunk way too often outside work hours. This is a bad profession for non-hackers.

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thecharmingmresq (Jul 16, 2017 - 1:36 am)

My little brother, who was my very best friend, died March 28th, 2016 of a heroin overdose. If your only contact with this phenomenon is this NYT story, I *assure* you this is a real thing.

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thirdtierlaw (Jul 16, 2017 - 7:08 am)

Sadly I'm all too familiar with seemingly well adjusted or successful people over dosing.

The statistics about the changes in students pre then post law school was new to me.

But it's similar to the suicide articles on here about biglaw partners. People who are at the pinnacle of the profession are retreating to drugs or suicide.

Being in the profession it is obvious, but for prospective students it may be informative.

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vohod (Jul 16, 2017 - 12:23 pm)

A successful partner is still 8 times out of 10 a glorified wrench turner. He or she is paid for their time (billable hours) to perform service for another. Inevitably you will break, get dementia, forget things. You are as replaceable as a roofer--a line of T14 midlevels a mile long will replace you in a second.

The most well off lawyers are not slaving in V10 firms as "partner." Its the folks running a successful mill that is staffed and operating with minimal owner involvement... they are successful.

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fartacus (Jul 18, 2017 - 10:43 am)

Like Marlins Man

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wolfman (Jul 17, 2017 - 12:39 am)

Sorry dude. F-ing sucks. One of my best friends from college, very successful lawyer (T14-fed clerk-biglaw-bigfed) with wife and kids, died suddenly recently. Family is keeping mum, obit doesn't give cause of death, ME did an autopsy and won't release cause of death pending tox reports. I can't help thinking that's what it was, and there is not really any way to know... of course, it's nothing compared to losing a brother. My condolences.

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onehell (Jul 17, 2017 - 2:00 pm)

Dude graduated from Franklin Pierce, a fourth tier school, back in the 90s. But he was first in his class and patent bar eligible, and it was the 90s, so he got biglaw.

I suspect he was working even harder than he needed to or than the firm would have expected to make up for his relative lack of prestige. For example, note how most folks in his firm thought it was no problem to put up pictures of family in your office. But not him, he was afraid of looking "distracted."

Here's another example, a law firm partner who committed suicide because his law firm was getting acquired by a more prestigious one and here you have a guy with a $4m book who is afraid he'll get canned because he went to Loyola:

http://www.americanlawyer.com/id=1202782753266/ExReed-Smith-Partners-Suicide-Trial-Highlights-Anxiety-in-Big-Law-Mergers

My point is that while it's true that biglaw is a grueling environment, there is a particular vulnerability for the people who have ended up there by defying expectations in some way, the first-in-class fourth tier grad being a classic example. I think these folks work themselves even harder. They never stop proving themselves. They truly believe they have to work twice as hard as their ivy league colleagues, whether that's true or not.

Point being, idk if the firm culture can be found entirely to blame here. There's a lot of factors that contributed to this guy's unhappiness. Perhaps he couldn't move on from his ex (after all she had a hous key; he may have literally been leaving the door open for her to come back). He may have had a massive inferiority complex about his Franklin Pierce JD and was working himself harder than even the firm would have expected. Finally, you have docs who cater to big city workaholics looking to self-medicate who give them deadly mixtures of opiates and benzodiazepines. And when an addiction gets too risky, the doc just pulls out and cuts you off, leaving people to the mercies of street drugs and dealers.

We need labor protections for knowledge workers who are, as vohod said, the new wrench-turners. We need action on the opiate crisis that is NOT just about scaring docs into cutting off people who are already addicted. We need mental health treatment that is accessible to the middle class and not just focused on skid-row alcoholics or those quasi-recreational therapists the rich people indulge in. And yes, we need culture change at law firms too. But it's a complex, multifactored thing and it's not limited to law.

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triplesix (Jul 17, 2017 - 2:10 pm)

was working himself harder than even the firm would have expected.

---

They don't care, in fact they were prolly happy they got this idiot killing himself over few hundred billable hours per year.

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mtbislife (Jul 17, 2017 - 8:51 pm)

It will never change, you could be a HYS grad, biglaw partner or bigfed, it doesnt matter. At the end of the day you are still an employee, which means you will get used and abused and are replaceable at a moments notice. The only way to have any sort of life and freedom is to have a successful business that requires a minimal amount of management/oversight.

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ejs2017 (Jul 18, 2017 - 9:44 am)

Look at the Davis Polk guy in California who committed suicide recently by stepping in front of a train. http://abovethelaw.com/2017/06/davis-polk-partner-dies-after-being-struck-by-a-train/

The guy seemingly had it all: pedigree, status, family. Yet, at some level his existential crisis became too much for him and he chose death.

In my humble opinion the common denominator is the basic toxicity of the profession coupled with whatever individual demons we may possess that leads to these outcomes. To begin with, the profession is elitist and narcissistic.

You're placed into the legal caste system starting with the law school you attend. I'm not aware of any other profession where someone with ten years' experience still may be asked in a job interview about where he went to school and what his grade point average was.

Then there's the entire law school process with its hyper competitiveness and what many argue is an arbitrary grading system.

Once you graduate it's the job market. The winners get Biglaw with the attendant huge salaries and QOL sacrifices or clerkships. The lower members of the caste fight for jobs at ID mills, personal injury firms or resort to JD-advantage positions or the purgatory of document review.

As schools continue to churn out more and more lawyers while the profession adjusts to technological advances, it would see that the problem will only get worse.

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triplesix (Jul 18, 2017 - 10:56 am)

About time legal sectored got some genuine job growth.

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jj82 (Jul 18, 2017 - 5:18 pm)

I second all of the commentary here, and agree that one of the most illuminating points the article makes is regarding the pre vs. post-law school human transformation--competitive, elitist greed.

Nearly all of my friends have left practice. The most illustrative example of my point above is that practicing lawyers are the ONLY people in NYC who have directly asked "how much money do you make?" I have met Dr., Wall St, VC, Tech, etc. people who make eons more than any lawyer...and the NYC BigLaw attorney is the only professional I have ever met who will ask a complete stranger they just met. Telling.

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dnabrams (Jul 18, 2017 - 11:50 pm)

My impression is that life is pretty difficult for law firm "service partners," i.e. partners without a significant book of business. Because basically you have the same kinds of problems associates face: Pressure to bill hours, lots of demands that are difficult to turn down, people ready to blame you when things go wrong, etc. And as Paul Campos would say, work that is simultaneously boring and stressful.

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sanka (Jul 19, 2017 - 11:18 pm)

I was fascinated by the article. It rings true about many lawyers I have known and about myself. And it had this fascinating tidbit about how law school initiates the self-destructive process:


law students generally start school with their sense of self and their values intact. But, in his research, he said, he has found that the formal structure of law school starts to change that.

Rather than hew to their internal self, students begin to focus on external values, he said, like status, comparative worth and competition. “We have seven very strong studies that show this twists people’s psyches and they come out of law school significantly impaired, with depression, anxiety and hostility,” he said.

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ejs2017 (Jul 20, 2017 - 9:52 am)

Sadly, it doesn't stop. Unless you are one of those people who had a pre-defined career path and were fortunate enough to find a job in a desired practice area in a good company or firm that respects QOL, where the compensation is acceptable, and your prospects for advancement and professional growth are identifiable, your long-term prospects are grim.

You will remain obsessed with varying degrees of focus on external values like status, comparative worth and competition because that's the nature of the profession. It's the profession's inherent elitism and narcissism.

That's really the tragedy of law school/law. Too many people - myself included - resort to law school out of lack of options, imagination, or true appreciation of what it is all about. Although a few years old, Tucker Max's article about why people should not go to law school still pretty much nails it.

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sanka (Jul 20, 2017 - 11:55 am)

How many private firms make their rainmaker piss in a cup?


Agencies that are federal contractors or grantees are required to comply with the Drug Free Workplace Act.

One reason why many recreational drug users, who are otherwise qualified, do not work for government.

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