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What Would I Have Done?

I finally subscribed to Above the Law. I thought about it once before after clicking on links to it from Simple Justice, but I quickly realized that Scott Greenfield’s commentary on articles far exceeded the quality of the articles themselves. It popped up on my radar again after people kept asking me if someone there found out about something from me and didn’t attribute it, but I doubted that was true and didn’t have enough time to worry about it anyway. I forgot about the site again until recently, when Brian Tannebaum began posting there. I couldn’t figure out how to just subscribe to his posts, so I’ve been getting everything.

It’s way too much to read, what with running a practice and all, but some of it is has been very interesting. Specifically, a recent post asking people what they would have done had they not gone to law school really got me thinking. The post itself isn’t terribly bitter, though I sense a bitter subtext. It seems mostly like daydreaming from people living the dream of most first year law students. The comments, on the other hand, range from asinine to the kind of stuff that makes me want to cry. That’s kind of a pervasive theme with the comments over there.

Don’t get me wrong; I can bitch with the best of them. In fact, I love a good bitch about the long hours and occasionally difficult client as much as anyone out there. The feeling I got reading the post and more importantly the comments, however, made me more thankful than a decade’s worth of reading sappy Thanksgiving posts would.

I have a lot of other interests. I’m sure I’ll open a brewing company someday soon. I imagine I’ll continue to pull out the ol’ horn and play some gigs every now and then too. I get excited about stuff other than law because there’s all kinds of other awesome stuff out there. When I joke about the joy of the life of a non-lawyer, however, I hope I don’t come across nearly as jaded, bitter, and generally unhappy as some of the mildest commentators there. It’s a great career. High stakes and high stress, but great. It’s awesome stuff too.

For me, thinking about what I would’ve done had I not gone to law school first and foremost conjures up a terrible feeling of regret in the pit of my stomach. I think about the clients I’ve helped. Would they have gotten good representation without me? Probably, but I wouldn’t have gotten to know them. I wouldn’t have learned what I know now about the criminal justice system, about the art of trial lawyering, or about human nature in general. Knowledge and relationships matter to me. Perhaps most important of all, I wouldn’t have met my amazing wife, and I wouldn’t have the blessed life I’m fortunate enough to be living right now. I wouldn’t have a great business partner, wouldn’t have the great group of friends I have, and wouldn’t have the ability to do all the other things I love so much. Maybe my little practice in the suburbs doesn’t turn heads, but it’s satisfying. Other areas of law and types of practice can’t suck that bad, can they?

It’s odd thinking that someone could win the rat race and complain about the prize. Given what I can only assume is the target audience at Above the Law based on many of the subjects that frequently appear, it’s probably more like the rat Grand Prix. The site is clearly geared towards people with BigLaw jobs. At the very least, it’s geared towards people who want BigLaw jobs and at least in their own minds believe that’s a realistic enough possibility to justify wasting their time reading about it. How are these people more jaded than the overworked contract lawyers and public defenders I see in court most days?

BigLaw people went to great schools and probably make great salaries. Why are they complaining? I don’t know who’s more depressing, the ones who one day hope to get the job in the field they’re already bitter about, or the one’s who are already bitter about their fortunate lives. Is it that they’ve never done anything else? If that’s true, with a six-figure salary and even a tiny bit of spending discipline, it can’t take long to get to a good starting point for more education or a new job in a different field.

Anyone half as bitter as some of the commentators should do that. Now. Hell, they’ve should’ve done that yesterday. The last thing this world needs is more lawyers who don’t want to be lawyers.

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5 Responses to "What Would I Have Done?"

  1. […] I Would Have… Matt Brown would have missed out. […]

  2. shg says:

    You really should be more empathetic toward the commenters at ATL. Many are law students, scared to death that their dreams of greatness will never be realized. Man others are the unemployed who graduated great schools, only to learn that their aspirations are hidden within their bag of Cheetos. Few actually work for Biglaw, and the ones who do are butthurt from the humiliation of having to take the elevator down rather than up to reach their office chair.

    The snark of the commenters is nothing more than an effort to seek validation on a website that they’ve never achieved in real life. Ah, to be witty on ATL and have the community appreciate you, though no law firm will ever hand you a paycheck. Feel badly for them, but don’t denigrate them. They can’t admit that they would give their left nut to sit in your chair. But they would.

  3. Mark Bennett says:

    “BigLaw people went to great schools and probably make great salaries. Why are they complaining?”

    Come on now. Going to a great school and making a great salary leaves an infinitude of things to complain about.

    How many BigLaw associates do you suppose have the freedom to get on their motorcycles and ride across the country? How many do you suppose have dinner with their families most nights? How many can fire their bosses? How many have had their clients thank them tearfully for preserving their freedom?

    You are living the good life, Brown. Don’t you dare forget it.

    1. Matt Brown says:

      Can’t say I disagree…

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