Reason Not to Go to Law School #45

Posted in Reasons Not to Go to Law School on May 12th, 2010 by bl1y

Practicing law will kill you.

According to a study from the European Heart Journal, people who regularly work 3-4 hours of overtime are 60% more likely to suffer from heart disease.  The study is using a 7 hour work day as the base, and so 3-4 hours of OT is a 10-11 hour workday.

Now let’s do a little number crunching…let’s assume you bill 2000 hours a year (kinda low), have a 4:1 billable to non-billable ratio (pretty awesome), and work 50 weeks a year (pretty normal), that comes out to…10 hours a day.  And that’s the low end of the hours lawyers put in.  Many lawyers bill 2,400 hours or more, which means 12.5 hour days.

The reasons for the increase risk of heart disease haven’t been proven, but a few seem obvious, such as less time for exercise, eating more fast food, and working while sick.  Not to mention the stress.  (Hint: your average lawyer has a more stressful job than your average British civil servant.)

And let’s not forget that one big other factor that will certainly affect your health as a lawyer: spending time with other lawyers.

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Reason Not to Go to Law School #27

Posted in Reasons Not to Go to Law School on February 4th, 2010 by bl1y

Everyone you know is suicidal.

A new article in Texas Lawyer explains the typical behavior your lawyer colleagues exhibit indicate depression and are warning signs of suicide.

Studies show that most people communicate their intentions to someone they know some time during the week preceding their attempt. These may be direct verbal clues, such as “I’m going to kill myself”; indirect verbal clues, such as “I don’t think it’s worth going on anymore”; and lots of clues in between, including nonverbal clues.

Pretty much every lawyer has said at some point they’re going to kill themselves.  And any lawyer with a functioning brain knows that it’s not worth going on anymore.  The lawyers who think it’s still worth it are the real psychopaths.

Listen for expressions of anxiety, feeling trapped, purposelessness, hopelessness and anger. Other warning signs may include increased isolation, recklessness, exhausted appearance, deteriorating hygiene, missing work and decreased productivity at work.

Basically, just ask “Do you work at a law firm?” and “Do you often work long hours and have tedious, stressful projects?”

So, after diagnosing virtually every lawyer in the country as suicidal, the article goes on to tell you what to do about these suicidal lawyers:

If, despite your best efforts, you remain concerned about someone, don’t be sworn to secrecy, and don’t take on the challenge alone. Get your friend to a mental health professional or call one yourself, call 911, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-8255 or call the State Bar of Texas Lawyers’ Assistance Program at (800) 343-8527. Your job is to get your friend the professional help he or she needs.

That’s right, every conversation you have with a lawyer that evenly mentions their workload, stress level or personal life should end with one of you calling 911 to get help for the other.  Nothing like ending a long day with a trip to the psych ER.

Lawyers do actually suffer from higher rates of depression and are at an increased risk of suicide, especially in a down economy, but the article from Texas Lawyer sounds like it was written TTT attorney who happened to get a minor in psychology fifteen years ago.  So, if you do go in to law, expect that either you or everyone around you will have severe mental problems and that the profession won’t have the slightest clue how to help.

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Reason Not to Go to Law School #23

Posted in Uncategorized on January 27th, 2010 by bl1y

If there’s beef, cock it and dump it, the drama really means nothin’
To me I’ll ride by and blow ya brains out (brains out)
There’s no time to cock it, no way you can stop it
When niggas run up on you wit’ them thangs out (thangs out)
I do what I gotta do I don’t care I if get caught
The DA can play this motherfuckin’ tape in court
I’ll kill you – I ain’t playin’, hear what I’m sayin’, homie I ain’t playin’
Catch you slippin’, I’ma kill you – I ain’t playin’, hear what I’m sayin’
Homie I ain’t playin’

siennamillerThat’s right.  Reason #23 not to go to law school: You’re gonna get shot.

As of about noon today, Northwestern Law school is under lock down and swarming with cops after a man with a gun was spotted on campus.

Sadly, law students and guns go together far too often.

Just recently, a Temple law student decided to take a gun with him out to a club, got into an altercation on the street outside and ended up shooting someone five times.  Another Philadelphian, a U. Penn law student was recently sentenced to 10 years in prison after shooting up the door of his neighbors’ apartment.

On January 6th, a gunman took fire at a Las Vegas court house.

The man who shot up LA Fitness last summer worked as an attorney at K&L Gates.

This is just the tip of the iceberg.  Lawyers are usually depressed, neurotic, stuck in thankless, high-stress jobs, up to their eye-balls in debt, and saturated with drugs and alcohol.  And, apparently, they’re also packing heat.

If you go to law school, the odds that you will shoot someone or be shot yourself go way up.  But, don’t expect that to be in their recruiting materials.

To the students at Northwestern, I sincerely hope you’re all okay, and sorry you didn’t get into Chicago.

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Interview With BL1Y, Part 1

Posted in Uncategorized on January 6th, 2010 by bl1y

Q: We’ve heard about a lot of lawyer layoffs, but rarely with any details about the process.  How exactly did it go down?

A: I was in my office, probably playing Desktop Tower Defense or MafiaWars and got a call from the partner who handles giving assignments to corporate associates.  She just asked me to come to her office, which is pretty much how any new assignments start.  Immediately after hanging up, I got a call from another first year who said she had just been laid off and wanted me to come to her office.  I tried explaining I just got a call and was probably getting canned too, but she kept insisting I come over there and talk to her right that moment.  After explaining a couple more times that I couldn’t chat because the boss was waiting for me to go to her office so she could fire me, I just hung up.

I got the sort of speech you’d expect.  It’s not you, it’s me, that sort of thing.  I don’t really think I said anything more than just “okay” at the end of it.  It was pretty boring really.  They could have made it a lot shorter.  It was a bit awkward how long it took them.  There was another partner there too, the head of one of the other practice groups.  They couldn’t quite get their stories straight about whether the lack of work meant the firm couldn’t afford to keep me or if it meant that I wouldn’t get enough experience to justify keeping me.  I think the bottom line was just that they crunched some numbers, figured they could can a few of us and give our work to the remaining people and save a couple bucks.

Q: Did you have much work at the time?

A: It was slow when I first started, but when I was laid off I was actually at my busiest.  Our litigation department was short-staffed and had a ton of grunt work that didn’t really require any litigation experience, so some of the corporate associates were repurpased.  A lot of us who were canned were actually billing quite a bit.  I’d actually billed enough hours at that point to have brought in about twice what they were paying me.  I really think the firm just saw a chance to work fewer associates harder.  In a normal economy firing a bunch of people would be a big news story and hurt recruiting.  But when every other firm is laying people off, no one’s going to notice.

Q: Did they maybe see that there wouldn’t be much work for you down the road?

A: Maybe, if they were idiots.  The very next day most of us that were let go were given new assignments.

Q: How can you give work to someone who was just laid off?

A: We were actually just given notice that we’d be let go in about 10 weeks.  We were still expected to come into the office.

Q: So you worked even after being told you wouldn’t have a job any more?

A: Hell no.  I still put in some face time.  I didn’t really have much else to do, and I figured it’d make things more awkward for everyone else in the office if I kept coming in.

My office mate though, he got the call right after I did, he kept working.  He was staffed on the same bullshit doc review work I was and was super paranoid about getting re-fired for not working.

Q: Re-fired?

A: Yeah, like they would terminate us even sooner.  We were still getting paid, so I guess there was something to lose, but I figured that it’d take the firm too long to analyze the time sheets, realize I wasn’t doing anything, reprimand me and explain that I was still expected to work and then discover I still wasn’t working I’d already be gone.

I did about an hour of doc review in those 10 weeks.  And I fielded a question about some research I’d done previously.  That was pretty much it.  As far as I was concerned finding Job #2 just became Job #1.

Q: So with all that free time in the office did you cause any trouble?  Any corporate sabotage?

A: I guess a little.  In the hour of doc review I did, I went through about 7000 documents.

Q: 7000 in one hour?

A: Yeah.  A lot of electronic doc review is simply separating out things that are obviously trash from things that could possibly be relevant.  Automated news alerts from Bloomberg.com, which are then forwarded to 100 different people obviously aren’t going to be relevant.  You don’t have to read through them to know this, you just highlight them all and mark it as junk.

We literally had hundreds of thousands of documents, and maybe only one in a thousand would be close to relevant.  It’s like looking for a needle in a haystack.  As a human being with a deadline, you have limited time you can put into the project, and the client has limited funds to pay you with.  We had a bankrupt client, so the funds were really limited.  The only way to competently review that many documents is to just throw away the stuff that’s incredibly unlikely to have any relevant documents.  If you spent even just 1 minute per document, you might never get to the relevant ones, your time would be up.  7000 documents at 60 docs an hour would cost the client over $30,000.  And there were hundreds of thousands of documents, and this is just the first round of review.  If we find anything relevant, it goes to someone higher up for analysis.  The client doesn’t have that kind of money.

Q: But since you were laid off, why would you even bother?

A: Because I knew the other people doing the doc review, and I knew they would go at the incredibly expensive, entirely useless snail’s pace.  Maybe not 60 an hour, but I knew people who thought 100 docs an hour was fast.  That’s slow even if you’re actually reading them.  I don’t really know how many billable hours I destroyed, but I hope it was enough to cost the firm more money than they were saving by getting rid of me.

Q: Any other trouble making?

A: I leaked the layoffs to Above the Law, of course.  Someone else did too.  They told me they needed a second source before they’d run with the story, and there were some facts they reported that I know didn’t come from me.

Oh, and I updated the firm’s Wikipedia page.  I think reporting record profits and then canning a bunch of junior associates meets Wikipedia’s relevancy standards.  I’m hoping someone at the firm changes it back and we can get into an editing war.  That might be newsworthy enough to show up on ATL.  Anything to embarrass them is pretty cool with me.

[In the next segment we explore the not-so-interesting aspects of being unemployed in the big city.]

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