How to Feed a Lawyer (and Other Irreverent Observations from the Legal Underground)

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David Giacalone

Roger, Find a field and firm where money isn't goal #1. Live below your means, so that golden handcuffs won't enslave your conscience and your freedom.

Rufus T. Firefly

Roger, well it depends on what you mean by an "obsession with money." Do you mean that the partners were in a constant tizzy about what their draw was, or do you mean that there was concern about keeping money coming in the door? In any practice, no matter the size or the type, the rent has be paid, the staff and associates have to be paid, the liability insurance has to be paid, the Westlaw bill has to be paid, etc. It's a business. But again, regardless of the size of the practice or the type of the practice, it is a stressful profession. Clients need to be satisfied, courts have deadlines, adversaries are, well, adversarial. And don't be fooled by a transactional practice, those guys have their own stressors. I don't know what they are, but I'm sure they exist. And the same for government and even, yes, in-house lawyers like myself. But at least I don't have to worry about keeping the doors open or billing time. I do, however, have a whole new set of worries that I never encounted in a law firm. Ranging from the incompetency and arrogance of outside counsel, the total lack of cooperation from non-lawyers in my company from I need information, the stupidity of non-lawyers in my company to whom I provide counsel and advice, and just the red tape and endless paperwork and forms and reporting that exist in big corporations. Law is a profession filled with stress and aggravation. The key is to find a way of practicing that you enjoy and to learn to have a good attitude about the stress. Outlets help. Drinking and drugs don't help; and I learned that the hard way. I find that writing and chasing pretty girls works for me.


David Giacalone says it all in 2 sentences. And yes, it is possible. Money is important to all firms, but it isn't everything in all firms.


To a certain degree I don't think you can escape the stress and hard work - it comes with the territory. However there are certainly areas of the law which are less stressful or inclined to overwork than others. It is a matter at looking at the whole kit and kaboodle - size of the firm, type of work, what you want to get out of it etc.


A philosopher once said, "Some people reach the top of the ladder of success only to find it is leaning against the wrong wall." It might have been Dolly Parton, I'm not sure.

Rufus T. Firefly

The Uncivil Litigator has implied that I am verbose. I shall comment no more.


Suck it up, Rufus, and keep commenting. Verbosity is one of the things we like about you the most.

Claims Boy

Does it count if the type of law you practice is where you just manage other attorneys doing the work for you and you only get paid an unremarkable yearly salary and leave every day at 5pm to go see your kids? I mean there's an ESQ on my business card.

If it doesn't the nice part is having control over the amount of money that enters 'their doors.'


From what I gather, you just need to work your butt off for 40 years or so until you become one of the people whose name is on the building. Then all you do is put on a nice suit every morning, come in about 10 am, sniff the well conditioned air, ogle the secretaries, ask about Case X as if you cared, then go home.


Well the law firm I worked at was just stressed because they were overachievers and they were working on cases with high potential for BIG settlements or verdicts. As for the partners not working, I still saw them late at night alone at their desks.

I think I would enjoy the work (although there would be too much of it) but since I am an overachiever I am scared that I would get caught up in the lifestyle and wake up and notice my kids are all grown up.


Oh yeah, and thanks everyone for the advice, keep it coming. Sorry it took me long to respond I kept checking on a different page of the website.

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