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Turning points, the bar exam, etc.

Discussion in 'Social Life, Food & Drink, Travel' started by CTGuy, Jun 29, 2006.

  1. JBZ

    JBZ Senior member

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    It should also be remembered that many people graduate law school with absolutely bone crushing debt. Some who would otherwise be pre-disposed to take public sector jobs simply cannot afford to do so, so they end up in the private sector at a larger firm so they can afford to make their loan payments. This is not necessarily an issue of taking a higher paying job simply due to a desire to make more money; it is done out of a necessity. After awhile, some of these people pay off their debts and move into the public sector. Some remain in the private sector.

    This is also not to say that most who work in the private sector are greedy (risk adverse is something else - I actually think it's a positive in a lot of ways in the practice of law, as long as it doesn't paralyze you). There is a lot of good being done by private law firms, even BigLaw firms. Somewhere along the way the practice of law has gone from being a noble profession to being the butt of all jokes (except, of course, when the joke teller actually needs legal representation - then they gladly accept the representation but complain about their legal bills). It's unfortunate, and lawyers certainly share the blame for the current state of affairs, but I think the majority of lawyers (just like the majority of doctors, accountants, and what have you) are good people.
     
  2. retronotmetro

    retronotmetro Senior member

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    I'm working on becoming a really good paralegal. That way I can make the same amount as a crappy lawyer, but get to go home at 5 every day instead of 9 or later.

    Most of the paralegals I know in mid- and biglaw work longer hours than the attorneys. During trials, they are the ones left at the end of the day to prepare the next day's exhibits and documents. When summary judgment motions are due, they are the ones left doing an all-nighter the night before the deadline to copy and assemble the filings. During document discovery they are the ones left staying late at night fishing out and redacting the documents some 2nd year associate marked with post-its.
     
  3. lawyerdad

    lawyerdad Senior member

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    LD. I'm sorry my flip remark -- directed in jest at BigLaw -- caused such turmoil. I have deep, deep respect for those of us who work in the public sector.

    Aybojs, there's a lot more than economic rationality at stake in choice of jobs made. I wish more people would realize that economic rationality is an incomplete yardstick in an irrational world. And to turn your statement on its head, why seek wealth instead of status? Especially when, as a lowly junior litigation associate, you might be correcting commas for a few years and your only courtroom exposure would be carrying someone's litigation bag?

    Having done a fair amount of pro bono work, I don't think it's fair to categorize all public-sector criminal lawyers as incompetent and power-hungry. I can say that the state of our public defender system is distressing, but there are some wonderfully talented people doing work out of the courage of their convictions. And in a world in which remarks like yours pass for the norm, courage in the face of economic rationalization nonsense is courage indeed.

    No worries, and your post is well-stated. Making cynically self-deprecating remarks about the profession is one of the perks of practice. It's just unfortunate when the irony gets lost in the translation.
     
  4. retronotmetro

    retronotmetro Senior member

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    aybojs, you could save yourself a lot of typing by simply saying "all lawyers suck."
     
  5. Mr. Checks

    Mr. Checks Senior member

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    Most of the paralegals I know in mid- and biglaw work longer hours than the attorneys. During trials, they are the ones left at the end of the day to prepare the next day's exhibits and documents. When summary judgment motions are due, they are the ones left doing an all-nighter the night before the deadline to copy and assemble the filings. During document discovery they are the ones left staying late at night fishing out and redacting the documents some 2nd year associate marked with post-its.

    Well, first, that's not my experience.

    Second, and I think you'll agree, it's an entirely different stress level for the attorney. So, during a big trial, or on the eve of oral argument on a big motion or appeal, I might be out taking a jog, but my mind is going 100 mph, trying to figure every angle, every argument that will be made by an equally committed, educated, talented person who wants his client to win as much as I do.

    I've been in trials where the other side is asking the jury for 175 million dollars, that will pucker your asshole for a month, becaue you know the jury is going to give that much if you lose.

    The paralegal (I call them paranormals, because every one I've even known has been weird) doesn't have that level of stress. It's the difference between cleaning guns and being in the duel.
     
  6. lawyerdad

    lawyerdad Senior member

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    Well, first, that's not my experience.

    Second, and I think you'll agree, it's an entirely different stress level for the attorney. So, during a big trial, or on the eve of oral argument on a big motion or appeal, I might be out taking a jog, but my mind is going 100 mph, trying to figure every angle, every argument that will be made by an equally committed, educated, talented person who wants his client to win as much as I do.

    I've been in trials where the other side is asking the jury for 175 million dollars, that will pucker your asshole for a month, becaue you know the jury is going to give that much if you lose.

    The paralegal (I call them paranormals, because every one I've even known has been weird) doesn't have that level of stress. It's the difference between cleaning guns and being in the duel.

    I agree with some of your observations. However, I think there's an entirely different kind of stress involved in being farther down the food chain, as paralegals generally are.
    Also, I suppose in some sense you may be right that you can make more money as an excellent paralegal than as a truly crappy attorney (although I know plenty of crappy attorneys who make big bucks, too). But as a rule, I think that the market tops out for paralegals at a level that's below what most reasonably competent attorneys can earn. There are plenty of reasons for this, not least among them the investment law firms and lawyers have in reinforcing the professional "hierarchy".
     
  7. Mr. Checks

    Mr. Checks Senior member

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    Sorry, Javyn, I'm sure you will be the exception to my normal experience.

    A really good paranorm- err, paralegal can be as well-informed as a so-so attorney. Within their range of duties (say, med-mal record review) they will know more than an attorney, but attorneys get paid for the breadth of their knowledge, their analysis, and their advice, which together deserve more pay than the in-depth but narrow expertise of a para; the difference between the technician and the professional.
     
  8. Mr. Checks

    Mr. Checks Senior member

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    Other jobs a lawyer can do...
    Do tell...[​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Chicken-wing taster, golf course sand-trap evaluator, Goodyear-welt spotter, I could go on and on.
     
  9. Mr. Pink

    Mr. Pink Senior member

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    i.e. why take a lower-paying public defender job when one could make much more as a big name private defense attorney?)

    Job satisfaction? Perhaps you should re-read "To Kill A Mockingbird" or "Simple Justice" and try to recall that there are reasons, other than making money, that lead people to become lawyers.

    (If you need to know my LSAT and law school to judge the worth of my post, I'll be happy to PM them to you.)
     
  10. RJman

    RJman Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    Other jobs a lawyer can do...


    Chicken-wing taster, golf course sand-trap evaluator, Goodyear-welt spotter, I could go on and on.

    RJ cat wrangler... wait, that job's been made redundant... [​IMG] ... Style book collector, massive amounts of coffee drinker, yeah, the list goes on and on.
     
  11. Duveen

    Duveen Senior member

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    Trannys don't wear EG shoes! [​IMG]

    Actually, according to Jeffrey Eugenides in Middlesex, they most certainly do:
    "Since it was the weekend, I tried to dress down. It isn't easy for me. I wore a camel-hair turtleneck, tweed blazer, and jeans. And a pair of handmade cordovans by Edward Green. This particular style is called the Dundee. They look dressy until you notice the Vibram soles. The leather is of a double thickness. The Dundee is a shoe designed for touring the landed estates, for tromping through mud while wearing a tie, with your spaniels trailing behind. I had to wait four months for these shoes. On the shoebox it says: "Edward Green: Master Shoemakers to the Few." That's me exactly. The few."
     
  12. odoreater

    odoreater Senior member

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    Actually, according to Jeffrey Eugenides in Middlesex, they most certainly do:
    "Since it was the weekend, I tried to dress down. It isn't easy for me. I wore a camel-hair turtleneck, tweed blazer, and jeans. And a pair of handmade cordovans by Edward Green. This particular style is called the Dundee. They look dressy until you notice the Vibram soles. The leather is of a double thickness. The Dundee is a shoe designed for touring the landed estates, for tromping through mud while wearing a tie, with your spaniels trailing behind. I had to wait four months for these shoes. On the shoebox it says: "Edward Green: Master Shoemakers to the Few." That's me exactly. The few."


    I stand corrected [​IMG]
     
  13. retronotmetro

    retronotmetro Senior member

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    Well, first, that's not my experience.

    Second, and I think you'll agree, it's an entirely different stress level for the attorney. So, during a big trial, or on the eve of oral argument on a big motion or appeal, I might be out taking a jog, but my mind is going 100 mph, trying to figure every angle, every argument that will be made by an equally committed, educated, talented person who wants his client to win as much as I do.

    I've been in trials where the other side is asking the jury for 175 million dollars, that will pucker your asshole for a month, becaue you know the jury is going to give that much if you lose.

    The paralegal (I call them paranormals, because every one I've even known has been weird) doesn't have that level of stress. It's the difference between cleaning guns and being in the duel.


    Sure, being a paralegal has an entirely different type and level of stress. My previous post was just responding to the idea that paralegals go home at 5. I know some large firms where the case managers have a higher billable hours requirement than the junior associates. Doing 240 hour months while being ordered around by snotty kids ten+ years younger than you is obviously a different level of stress than facing off over a $250MM dispute over a bilateral wholesale billing matter, but it isn't really an idyllic lifestyle.
     
  14. retronotmetro

    retronotmetro Senior member

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    Ever heard of paying your dues? Many of the big name defense attorneys are former AUSAs, Deputy DAs, or Deputy PDs. Others worked their asses off defending DUIs and shoplifting cases until they landed a case that brought them into the upper tier. I don't know anyone who walked out of the bar exam and immediately became a "big name private defense attorney." Though I do know a couple who immediately needed a big name private defense attorney.
     
  15. Mr. Checks

    Mr. Checks Senior member

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    Sure, being a paralegal has an entirely different type and level of stress. My previous post was just responding to the idea that paralegals go home at 5. I know some large firms where the case managers have a higher billable hours requirement than the junior associates. Doing 240 hour months while being ordered around by snotty kids ten+ years younger than you is obviously a different level of stress than facing off over a $250MM dispute over a bilateral wholesale billing matter, but it isn't really an idyllic lifestyle.

    Very true.
     
  16. lawyerdad

    lawyerdad Senior member

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    Though I do know a couple who immediately needed a big name private defense attorney.
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
     

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