Dramedy of Broken Dreams

I’ve noticed that guys tend to assume that any woman who acts neurotic and bitches about things is plagued with a lack of sex.  Sorry, fellas.  Not so.  I’m almost a month into a satisfying (on all counts) relationship—and yet, in the unhappiness department, my cup still runneth over.

You know the saying, “Nature abhors a vacuum?” That’s precisely it.  Before Carson, I was consumed by my loneliness and lack of romance.  But now that I’m knee-deep in romance and no longer lonely—except on nights when Carson has his daughter (but more on that in a moment)—it simply means that there’s now a big void where all of my relationship-less angst used to be.  And it’s refilling pretty quickly with career misery.

Let me be clear.  I’ve always hated practicing law.  I started to dread my professional life even before the end of my third year of law school.  But I guess my preoccupation with dying alone always distracted me from my absolute work-related unhappiness. 

Notwithstanding my contentment, I now find myself stewing on my renewed dissatisfaction with the practice of law on nights when I’m alone and Carson is being fatherly.  Don’t get me wrong, there are benefits related to the built-in free nights.  I spend most of them on my elliptical machine (always a plus when you’re still in the “I need to look good naked” phase of a relationship) and catching up on bad TV.  And with The Real Housewives of Orange County wrapping up yet another impeccable season, I decided to add a little variety and DVR the new show no one seems to be watching—The Deep End on ABC.

I don’t usually watch lawyer shows.  In fact, I barely even watch sitcoms.  But I thought that this one could be an ironic viewing emprise—like watching HGTV when I still have moving boxes in my apartment of three years.  But unfortunately, just like how I sulk when Candice Olson redoes yet another kitchen with a Tuscan theme, I ended up intensely depressed after watching the first two episodes.  All it did was remind me exactly what I hate about my profession—all in high definition.

First off, be assured that my problem with the stupid show lies outside the realm of the obvious.  I can forgive its inaccuracies because I understand the concept of TV, which depends on ratings to survive.  No one wants to watch a slew of accurately slovenly and misshapen attorneys hampered from Perry Mason moments by boring minutiae, like the rules preventing ex parte communications with the opposing party’s employees.

So here’s what kills me about the show—and I’m a little embarrassed to admit this, but it’s true…

When I decided to go to law school, I did so with the mental vision of someday working at a firm exactly like Sterling (a “multinational” firm, which the show’s managing partner, Cliff, calls an “unstoppable winning machine” that represents “corporations and sovereign wealth funds”) and living all bundled up in a major city, perched high in a glass-walled skyscraper on several floors that boast flawless light, elegant Scandinavian décor, Rothko-esque art, Chiasso couches, pure white garden roses (even on the desks of male associates), and sexy newbies armed with stellar academic pedigrees and taste so impeccable they rely on Trina Turk blouses as “backups.”

I also fantasized that I would be doing the exact same work as the characters Beth, Dylan, and Addy (I’m leaving out Liam because he doesn’t actually do any work)—all while looking just as fetching and poised as Beth.  I figured that, from day one on the job, I would be a comely neophyte encountering substantive, meaningful work involving extreme levels of one-on-one interaction with sophisticated clients—not to mention staggering levels of responsibility over case management and tactical decisions.

Never mind that my hair can’t hold curl all day like Beth’s and that 2100 billable hours per year doesn’t leave quite enough time for the kind of intense exercise that leaves you able to wear skintight sweaters with your fitted skirts—I didn’t know any of that then. 

Of course these fantasies eroded quickly after I started law school, but it was too late. 

Which is why it depressed me more than ever to watch four pretend first-years getting to live out my totally misguided vision of what my life would be like after law school.  The pretend first-years on the show have it all—and if there’s one thing that I’m certain of, it’s that the practice of law categorically forecloses the possibility of having it all. 

If you’re after poised, pretty, Ivy-educated colleagues who represent important clients surrounded by sophisticated Swedish furnishings, then you can forget about ever meeting with any of those clients at any point in your first decade of practice.  The only time that I’ve ever been alone with a client was when one got on the same elevator as me.  And even if you’re reasonably attractive (like I am), if you work at that sort of firm, you will never have enough time to maintain the level of perfection exhibited by the likes of Beth. 

Moreover, you will never “second chair” anything during your first year as an associate—maybe not even in your first year as a partner.  The crowning achievement my first year of practice was being permitted to organize the exhibits for a senior associate taking a tangential deposition in an important case.

And you certainly would never find yourself with the authority to (mistakenly) stipulate to the content of your expert’s testimony in a pre-trial conference thereby sanitizing its otherwise incendiary effect on a jury during your first month of practice.  I’m closing in on my fourth year of practice, and the only pre-trial conference that I’ve ever attended was for a pro bono case in municipal court. 

On the other hand, if you’re after the stimulation and satisfaction of being prematurely handed the reigns like Addy, Dylan, and Beth—or as Sterling’s hiring partner refers to it, “being thrown in the deep end before you’ve learned to swim”—then you should ride the fancy elevator down to the marble-ensconced lobby, exit the skyscraper and march into the nearest small firm.  Bid adieu to the Brioni suits, pickled wood, and Fortune 500 clients.  My law school friends who chose to practice at smaller firms definitely know a hell of a lot more about being lawyer than I do (and they have more time to take care of themselves and enjoy life).  But, they routinely cry over their small paychecks and depressing offices.

You can’t have it all.  Especially in law.  Simple as that.  If I had known that beforehand, I wouldn’t have ever taken the LSAT.  Yet in TV land, these characters get it all, so they actually like being lawyers—which is why the average person might actually enjoy this show. 

Meanwhile, real-life lawyers such as myself will continue hating the all-or-nothingness of this profession.  It’s almost enough to inspire the bravery I need to jump ship—except that it reminds me that I’ve probably got an equally unrealistic vision of my next career. 

That said, while watching these episodes, I couldn’t help myself from prejudicially re-capping both of them in Television Without Pity fashion.  So, CLICK HERE to visit my trenchant recap of episodes one and two of this “dramedy” we lawyers love to criticize.

Read more from Law Firm 10.

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I’ve noticed that guys tend to assume that any woman who acts neurotic and bitches about things is plagued with a lack of sex.  Sorry, fellas.  Not so.  I’m almost a month into a satisfying (on all counts) relationship—and yet, in the unhappiness department, my cup still runneth over.

You know the saying, “Nature abhors a vacuum?” That’s precisely it.  Before Carson, I was consumed by my loneliness and lack of romance.  But now that I’m knee-deep in romance and no longer lonely—except on nights when Carson has his daughter (but more on that in a moment)—it simply means that there’s now a big void where all of my relationship-less angst used to be.  And it’s refilling pretty quickly with career misery.

Law Firm 10 may lack the dazzling, magnetic charisma of a girl from the hottest sorority in school, but she (arguably) makes up for that with her wit, humor, and low-maintenance-ness. Read more from Law Firm 10.

9 Comments

  1. Guano Dubango

    February 4, 2010 at 3:09 am

    I think you need to do more domestic thinking and less obsessing.  You obviously want to be home, married, and watching soap operas.  If you are still fertile, you should get busy and get married, perhaps to Carson, or perhaps to me, though you may be a bit too high maintenance for my tastes, and you may want to remain in New York City (where I am) indefinitely.  In the meantime, however, understand that the show is supposed to be a fantasy show.  We already know there are almost no good looking women in the law; we know the female lawyers have flat asses and are obnoxious.  I personally like the fantasy of law.  Imagine if there really was a lawyer like Beth.  I can only imagine what I would be doing with her in my firm.  That is the fantasy.  Instead, I have women who look and smell like buffalo, and treat me like an underling even though I have an LLM degree from a top US law school. That is the reality.  Let me know if you tire of Carson, and I will see if you are more fantasy than reality.

  2. BL1Y

    February 4, 2010 at 7:20 am

    Two LF10 articles on The Deep End in one day?  I’m confused.

  3. Alma Federer

    February 4, 2010 at 9:31 am

    I agree with LF10.  Beautiful women do not not always have to be happy and giddy to please men.  I also watched the TV show, and I have to say that I am as perky as these women are at work, but I don’t have access to handsome men at work like they do.  But if I could find a man that would respect me for my mind, and NOT ogle my breasts, I would consider dating him.

  4. BL1Y

    February 4, 2010 at 9:43 am

    Catch 22, Alma.  If a guy doesn’t ogle your breasts, he doesn’t want to date you.  Have fun being some gay guy’s beard.

  5. Alma Federer

    February 4, 2010 at 1:55 pm

    I had to ask what that meant, BL1Y, but you should know that I do not care 1 way or another for gay guys and would not waste my time trying to cover for their sexuality.  I am interested in a real man, not some gay guy to go out in public with.  I would rather be home watching TV then hanging in some bar with a gay guy.  Why would I even want to do that anyway?  Just because he was not interested in my breasts?  I want a man interested in me for my MIND, who can eventually be my husband and we can live happily together as a family.  I cannot find that here in NY City, though I have tried so hard to find an eligible man, the boys I meet only want to sleep with me, not have a relationship with me.  Since I will not do that, I have time to reflect on things.  I also avoid having to send slobbering men home in the morning.

  6. PGuy

    February 5, 2010 at 9:08 am

    “…even if you’re reasonably attractive (like I am)…” Your sad little parenthetical is displaying your inferiority complex again LF10–Truly attractive people don’t need to state the obvious.
    As for your free evenings, why don’t you learn to read? It’s a much better alternative to television, and might actually help improve you a bit. It will give you something to do when Carson realizes that he can do better.

  7. Son of Guano

    February 5, 2010 at 10:03 am

    PGuy: You seem very mean-spirited.  LF10 does not pump herself (unlike Alma); she says almost in passing that she is “reasonably attractive” which is hardly an Alma-like boast.  She knows a nice guy when she sees him and seems very well balanced. She reads all day–an lawyer that does needs junk tv to unwind.  Even Aunt oona liked her.

  8. Guano Dubango

    February 5, 2010 at 5:43 pm

    I would like to go on record that I WOULD like to bang either Alma or LF10, or maybe both at the same time.  I need to get some kind of reward for all of my work, and why not go for the best lawyer I can find?

  9. TaxxxGirl

    February 15, 2010 at 6:35 am

    Darling, you can give the country club wife life a try, but I guarantee you’ll be back at work in under a year! You know you’d be miserable if you ever get to be a housewife – some of us (I may be projecting, if so, indulge me, LF10) are wired for unhappiness and while we think relaxation and domestic bliss are going to cure the peculiar pleasure we feel from late-nights at work and pats on the head from higher-ups, we’re dead wrong. We (again, I may be using the “royal we”) love that deadline adrenaline high and without anything looming we lose a sense of worth. Not saying I don’t want the option to stay home and bake cupcakes, but I bet that when I meet TaxxxBoy and try out the desperate housewife scene I’ll be even more miserable than I think I am working my life away.
    It’s harder in some ways for women because there is a tension between work and home and there is a guilt about enjoying work maybe more than Junior League and PTA meetings. It’s just not for some of us. I want kids and a husband and pictures in matching white linen shirts on a beach vacation someday, but right now what I want is to enjoy doing the best work I can and not feel like I’m doing something wrong by getting satisfaction from my paycheck rather than my kid’s fingerpainting.
    The Deep End is a great escapist fantasy, but it’s just that: a brief way to remember what we thought we were getting ourselves in to when we practiced our logic games and watched Elle Woods define mens rea in Chanel tweed.

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