I’d Rather Be Flipping Burgers


QI’m a mid-ranked grad from a T14 school who found a job with a small firm in 2008 before the profession started to tank. I stuck it out, missed the layoffs and was somewhat thankful I did. But, to be honest, I also would have been pretty relieved if the firm I worked for—a low-grade firm that basically pays me on what I bring in—had started to go under and asked me to move on.

Instead, things just got worse and I now hate practice. It’s skull-numbingly boring, economically stupid, and incredibly stressful. On top of that, I have to threaten to sue about 20 percent of my clients to make them pay, need to take on the absolute worst dog cases in order to eke out a living, and typically end up with a pissed off client who owes me money and blames me for making life so shitty—as if losing an absolute no-win custody dispute was the worst thing going for the client. I’d rather be flipping beef and serving up McFlurries from the drive-thru than doing this. We’d all be better off.

AFirst, you’re right. We’d all be better off. Second, I’m not quite sure what the question is, unless you’re just blowing off steam and thinking about me late at night after downing half a bottle of Black Velvet. Are you looking for a reason to quit? Quit. Who’s stopping you?

Honestly, if you hate practicing, get out. Make a clean cut. I don’t get the endless hand-wringing of new lawyers over decisions like this. Life sucks? Change it. Hate practicing? Don’t. It’s not as if you were born into a salt-harvesting family in Sudan—or even that your only option is assembling Big Macs. Unless you’re so highly leveraged with debt and a home and car you cannot afford, just do it. Move on. Hustle and see what happens. I’m not sure what other feel-good advice you want me to give, even if I had some.

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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.

7 Comments

  1. Quadoz

    January 20, 2012 at 10:48 am

    That second-to-last sentence said it all. Hustle… I kind of understand why newer attorneys get like this and have that mindset. I just got out a year or two ago. So, I can only relate to the type of person that is recently coming out of LOLschool. Too many of these guys thought, ‘go to law school, get job, practice until I die’. The prospect of there being NO jobs didn’t cross a lot of their radars. Now I know some that are doing whatever they can to make ends meet. They don’t consider just going out and hustling in the local district courts. Shadowing some guy for a month to learn the ‘shit-law’ way and make a decent living at it. The best part, not answering to some old bastard partner. In the end…I guess this guy is in a great spot. He has a job in law…that’s a huge step above many, and he could start hustling, or learning how to.
    Good Luck man… this is all just early morning rambling..I just got off work from job 1 at 8am, and just got back from court twenty minutes ago…job 2. NIGHT.

    Quadoz,
    City Cop by Midnight, Rookie Lawyer by Day

  2. Guano Dubango

    January 20, 2012 at 2:47 pm

    I would like a job that would guarantee me access to top shelf women. Unfortunately I am not 7′ 4″ and cannot get a job as a center for the NY Knicks, otherwise, the women would be all over me. I do have an LLM from a large university, so I would have hoped that would make the women come in droves for me, but they have not as yet. Any ideas?

  3. Quadoz

    January 20, 2012 at 5:56 pm

    GD – whenever your head tells you to not whip it out..Just whip it out. The women will come in droves.

    • Ellen

      January 21, 2012 at 5:50 pm

      Not me. A man has to woo me my dad says. I am NOT attracted by a mans wiener! Fooey on that. FOOEY!

  4. Desiree Moore

    January 20, 2012 at 6:16 pm

    While it is painful to hear from lawyers again and again about how much they hate their jobs, I tend to agree with the response here. You are free to go – absolutely. Still, it is worth mentioning that it is not uncommon for lawyers to feel “stuck.” I have seen lawyers put up with some fairly outrageous things in the name of some unspecified, unseen, undefined “stuck” feeling. Lawyers are risk averse and expectation driven, even when the expectation is repeatedly not met. Maybe this accounts for not being able to let go? In any event, I hope you feel you can transition into another job/career/whatever soon!

    • Guano Dubango

      January 23, 2012 at 4:47 am

      How about you? Are you satisfied with your law job? Do you think there is more out there for you than a career in law?

  5. Evil Lawyer

    January 23, 2012 at 3:28 pm

    Articles about people who don’t feel “”appreciated” in law practice or who feel “bored” or “stuck” make me ill . Only spoiled, pampered upper middle class kids, trust fund babies or –or naive poor kids–think they have some god given right to a job that pays well, requires no stress, and rewards people with no real skills.

    If you can make the new iphone by all means go. If you can write symphonies go. If you are really good looking and can get married to someone who can support you with more than you can make as a lawyer go. Did you realy want to be a doctor? Then go. But you can’t. Youor math averse, can’t write music and you don’t looks good enough to even get a job seweeping the red carpet.

    In its marvelous generosity, the US has created a boatload of jobs for people like you: normal looking, bookish people, with no other talent except talking.

    Go outside, look at the unemployed losers, figure out if you’ll like getting by on less than 100k a year and then scoot back into your office as fast as you can. And then be quiet.

    I am tired of all the whiners in law practice: get with it or get out. Just stop whining.

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