I Want To Fall In Love With The Law


QI graduated near the middle of my class of a top-tier law school in 2009. I have been working as a contract lawyer for two law smaller firms in a moderate size town for a year, gaining some valuable litigation experience.  I am at a crossroads, however. I really dislike litigation.  I never went to law school to research and write all day.  I did it to become a transactional lawyer.  But, I hear the life or work of a transactional lawyer isn’t so much better.  Therefore, I, like so many others on this site, am having some serious second thoughts about the law.  My question is, given the huge learning curve with the law, does time make the heart grow fonder?

This question, I feel, is critical to answer in terms of determining where I go from here. Does the practice get better with time, or does that general feeling of angst and despair continue to follow lawyers throughout their career? I, of course, am not talking about those lawyers who genuinely love the practice, more power to them. I am talking about those attorneys who start practicing and quickly realize they really don’t enjoy what they are doing. Does life as a lawyer get better, or should one trust their intuition and begin looking for other career opportunities.

I realize this is a tough question that depends on a multitude of variables, but it might be interesting to hear readers’ thoughts. Thank you.

ADoes that woman you think is “okay looking” ever get really hot?  In my experience, the answer is no. You know right off the bat. The second that door opens, you’re either saying, “Damn, I can’t wait to hit that!” or, “Shit! She looks kind of dumpy in jeans.”

It’s visceral. It’s immediate. It’s primal.

Of course, we all tend to repress the truth. It’s called denial. You think she’s really funny and smart and you hope that somehow, magically, she’ll get hotter over time.  You say things to yourself like, “The more I get to know her, the sexier she’ll become.” Or, “Smart lasts forever, but beauty doesn’t.” Or, and this is my all time favorite, “Sometimes, physical attraction just takes a while to develop.”

The bottom line is: It doesn’t! You got it or you don’t! It’s the same thing with practicing law.  It’s not as visceral and immediate as sexual chemistry, I admit, but it’s pretty damn close.

Personally, I knew right away that I didn’t dig practicing law.  In the quiet of the night, alone with my self-hate and tortured thoughts, I KNEW that being a lawyer wasn’t for me.  I just knew it!  But like a good, hard working middle class kid (err, pussy) , I hung in there for years trying to make it work – trying to fall in love with a woman I knew I wasn’t attracted to.

Ex-Bitter is a former big firm lawyer who now doles out advice to anyone who asks. Got a question? Email it to advice@bitterlawyer.com. Or read more Advice from an Ex-Bitter.

18 Comments

  1. SLO Law

    August 11, 2010 at 11:03 am

    Since when is litigation “research and writing”?  Get in the courtroom and be a real litigator. In my opinion a jury trial is the most exciting thing you can do as a lawyer. Terrifying? Yes. Hard work? Yes. But, get good at it and you will never look back.

  2. Anon

    August 11, 2010 at 11:25 am

    So true!

  3. BL1Y

    August 11, 2010 at 11:31 am

    SLO: Since the first time two lawyers joined together to make a law firm.  Now most litigators are library jockeys and there’s a whole other class of “trial lawyers” who actually go in to the court room.

  4. Big Jim

    August 11, 2010 at 12:00 pm

    Bl1y:  Nice one.
    Research and writing IS litigation, dude!  I know partners who have never tried a case.

  5. SLO

    August 11, 2010 at 1:29 pm

    Then they are not litigators. Perhaps the moniker “Trial Lawyer” is more appropriate.

  6. Nobitter special

    August 11, 2010 at 2:42 pm

    Does that woman you think is “okay looking” ever get really hot?

    Love such sagacious facetiousness. 
    Hey Bitter Lawyer upkeeper dudes here’s a spoonful of genius.  Swallow it and talk amongst yourselves in the morning: 
    “Dear beloved readers,

    Sorry we’ve been such douchebags and not explained to you why we all of a sudden stopped consistently updating our site.  We’ve had X problems and are working on it.  We know this sucks but we’ll be back to our old self in X amount of time.  We’re only doing it to make this site better.

    Thanks and God bless Michael Jackson,

    Bitter Lawyer Staff.”

  7. Get Out While You Can

    August 11, 2010 at 4:39 pm

    I got out of law and went into business–I couldn’t stand the dick-sizing among so-called “litigators” who have one, maybe two trials under their belts (yes, I am talking to you, associate slaves). Partners aren’t any better, because almost none in the biz make big money, and I’m talking more than $500K per year.
    Now, I didn’t make that much as an attorney, but I did make decent bank at slaving away in research, writing, and doc review 60-70 hours a week in a large regional law firm.  Now that I’ve gotten out, I’m making more than most equity partners and have beautiful goldne parachute.
    Oh, and working no more than 50 hours per week allows me to pursue fulfilling pro bono work (yes, I do keep the kills honed just in case). 
    Get out, get out, get out.

  8. Angriest Man Alive

    August 11, 2010 at 5:27 pm

    NoBitter special:
    I love your anger.  But you’re a douch bag.

  9. Steve

    August 12, 2010 at 6:22 am

    I think too many young lawyers get into this biz without much real world experience and then, when they figure out that working for a living kinda sucks, they think they have made an awful mistake and start thinking career change.  Truth is, working for a living kinda sucks.  But here’s the thing, some jobs suck worse than others.  Before becoming a lawyer I worked in a steel mill, a shipyard, a cabinet shop, etc.  By comparison, working in law rocks.  But it still sucks sometimes.  Find something to fulfill yourself outside of whatever it is you do to pay the bills, and accept the fact that work is a necessary evil, and that some jobs suck less than others.  “I owe, I owe, so off to work I go…”

  10. Sienna

    August 12, 2010 at 4:33 pm

    LOL Ex-Bitter! Funny answer!

  11. Guano Dubango

    August 12, 2010 at 6:30 pm

    I would like to try and have the opportunity to fall in love with a woman.  This will require for me to first find a woman who is at least attracted to me, who will provide mutual satisfaction.  In time, I am confident she will become attracted to me and my LLM degree, even though I only require a woman who will bear me children.  If there is a woman interested in bearing me children, ideally with a JD, please write to me and provide specific measurements for my Aunt Ooona.  We can travel to Accra together where you can sample family life on the Dubango Estate.

  12. Alma Federer

    August 13, 2010 at 2:09 am

    Who is putting up the spam on the website?  I want Bitter Lawyer to take it DOWN!  Anyway, it is sexist to compare the law to whether a woman gets sexier over time.  The law does not, but a woman should once a man stops thinking of a woman just as a vehicle for sex.  Yes it is true men immediately view women for their sexual attractiveness–I know, b/c I am always the victim of being good looking—but over time, even less pretty women can get men to stick with them and learn to love them, when they are not gorgeous or slim or famous like LA model types (which I am not).  So women, don’t let these men think that you are not that great and they won’t learn to love you over time.  We women have what men need, and it’s more than female parts.  We have the ability to provide true companionship and the ability to mother a child eventually.  I hope I will find a man who will provide me with the love I will share as well as being a good father to our children.

  13. Gunners = Glorified Law Dorks

    August 13, 2010 at 5:10 am

    Does the woman get hotter over time if she at least brings home the bacon?

  14. Merlin

    August 13, 2010 at 8:11 am

    Steve hit it on the head.
    I read these questions/comments and have to assume that 99% of them come from students (either in law school or pre-law) with little or no work experience beyond waiting tables or selling cell phones as a teen/20-something.
    Finding true, unbridled happiness in your vocation is rare…I daresay it’s a lie. When an adult is talking about “enjoying” their job, it’s an expression of relativism. When you hear, “I like my job a lot,” you need to interpret it as, “I like my job better than I would like shoveling monkey shit in a rain forest.” We’ve bred this Entitlement Generation that honestly thinks they all deserve a shot at this Holy Grail of employment euphoria. “I’m not going to settle” is the mantra of this moronic tribe of toddlers, and they’ll be chanting loudly from their parents’ spare bedroom until they wake up in their mid-40s and realize that school debt doesn’t disappear.
    There is a reason that we have always encouraged hobbies: jobs suck–you need something to take your mind off of them on the weekends. When this generation of day-dreamers figures out the difference between “vocation” and “avocation,” they might be able to salvage their remaining years.

  15. Al Tidom

    August 14, 2010 at 1:30 pm

    If a good looking woman lawyer came up to me, took her top off and offered to have sex with me, I would fall in love with the law.  However, the closest I got to this is when a very heavy female lawyer slipped on the ice and kicked me in the knee before she dragged me on top of her on Madison Avenue in NY City.  It was not sexy at all; I wound up with a bruised leg and a wet ass (from the slush).  Oh, and her breath was not fresh.  So based on that, I am not in love with the law.

  16. Anonymous

    August 16, 2010 at 12:23 pm

    Some woman ought to step up to the plate to restore Al’s faith in the “fair sex”.  If there are any good looking women interested in taking the part, please step forward.  No ugly ones, please.  Al is already tramutized.

  17. prog

    August 16, 2010 at 1:16 pm

    Litigation does involve a lot of research and writing – that’s what I practice and I spend a lot of time writing Ps&As;for motions.  Depending on the practice though, you can also get into the nitty gritty every so often, get to go to court and other stuff like that.  However, if you hate research and writing you will really dislike transactional work.  Probably less research – but a whole lot more writing, and writing, and writing, and you will likely not get to get out of the office much.
    The main problem is probably that you are a contract lawyer.  So you don’t get to do the more fun nitty gritty stuff that’s involved in litigation because they aren’t your cases – they belong to the attorneys you are doing contract work for.  They call you in to do the boring menial research & writing stuff for law in motion and keep all the interesting stuff for themselves.  I think your outlook may change if you get an actual position and get to fully work the cases – however, there is still a fair amount of research & writing.

  18. Evil Lawyer

    August 20, 2010 at 2:15 pm

    being a lawyer if you don’t want to be is like doing it with a woman you didn’t really want. You won’t be firm in your conviction, your devotion will be flabby more often than not, and you’ll always be thinking about someone else.

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