My Dashboard Confessional

Call it karma.  I buy a new (slightly used) car and it has a squeak.  Nothing major.  Just a tiny little squeak coming from behind the dashboard.  Just a little peep to remind me that this car is, in fact, not new.  New cars do not have squeaks coming from behind the dashboard. 

True: It is a 2008 Mercedes Benz.  True: It is black.  True: I love this car.  True: It will not get me laid—but still, why does it have to have that squeak? 

It’s like my goddamn resume.  No matter what I accomplish in life, every article ever written about me on Above the Law or in a legal paper will contain the TTT imprimatur or footnote that while I managed to [fill in impressive legal feat here], I graduated from [TTT shit law school].  The car is my legal career.  The squeak is the subtle reminder that my credentials are like the bold orange script written on windshields in a used car lot.  “Like new!” “Runs great!” Fuck you.

Lawyers always focus on the exception to the rule.  The tree and not the forest.  That’s the whole point of our stupid profession—figuring out how and why this one specific instance is different from all the rest.  In success, I’m like the young minority who manages to go to college and not smoke crack despite a mother who didn’t finish high school and smokes crack.  My relevance will never be that I did well—it will be that I did well despite a less-desirable start.

When I go back to my law school to volunteer as a trial advocacy coach, it’s like I’m leading a support group for slightly used cars.  These kids are clueless, just as I was back in the day.  They don’t realize that no matter what they do—no matter how many times they wash or wax the car—they’re buying a squeak.  For 3Ls, this mentality becomes apparent pretty quickly. 

My job as a trial ad coach is to rekindle the spark of confidence that is the key ingredient to any good oralist’s presentation.  To remind them that their resumes not mean NOTHING in a courtroom unless they let them.  The concept of “the sale” is foreign to any law school student who has spent the past three years being told that where you put the comma is a life and death decision.  “Forget the rules, just SELL me.” Without a willingness to embrace their competitive advantage, a TTT resume will wreck these poor kids.  “The fault, dear Brutus, lies not in our stars, but in ourselves if we are underlings.”

Back to the car: Yes, it is sick. (Sick the way urban youths mean it, not the way a nurse means it.) Yes, it’s black-on-black with a big engine and all kinds of bling.  It’s a work of art. 

However, the half of me that is Jewish must note, for the record, that I got a great deal on the car.  Got a great rate.  Could sell it today and make a profit.  I’m borrowing the money from an insurance company at 4.5 percent, which for a used car is a steal.  And to hear me tell the story of the buying experience is akin to those bass fishing shows on ESPN at 8 AM on Saturday mornings during baseball season.

But no matter how much confidence and pride I have in that car, that goddamn squeak won’t go away.  It never will.  I won’t let it.  Because even if I get it fixed, I’ll just be upset about something else.  The car is dirty, or that it’s not the newest model, or that it somehow reflects the inner inferiority I feel to Big Firm associates.  And that’s exactly what they want.  And then the terrorists win.

It’s that squeak that drives me.  It reminds me that I’m glad all your friends got laid off.  And I hope more law firms fail.  Big ones.  I hope the whole system comes crumbling down on your silver-spooned heads. 

After just 13 months on the job, I am on my way to court appearance #150 tomorrow.  Just so happens it’s in Riverside.

I live in Santa Monica.  That’s as far west as you can get in LA—or as far west as you can get in the lower 48, pretty much.  My appearance is in Riverside is scheduled for 8:30.

Riverside Superior Court, according to the navigation system installed on my new-to-me Benz, is 78.3 miles away.  Imagine you live in Manhattan, you have a hearing in Philadelphia, and you have to be there at 8:30 tomorrow morning.  From Latham’s evil layer on 3rd Ave. in Midtown to the Southampton courthouse is also, ironically, about 80 miles away. 

This whole appearance is to cover a CMC (the 5 minute hearing where the judge gives you a trial date a year from now and tells you to play nice with the other children).  So what would any logical lawyer do, even if he has a shiny new car to play with?  Arrange a CourtCall.

CourtCall is the company that sets up telephonic appearances.  Why drive when you can strain to hear what is being said into a speakerphone on the other side of the courtroom?  Sure enough, I emailed my trusty office manager, Holly—a newly hired Alpha Pi UCLA grad—and asked her to set it up.  I know I sent this email because I had to find it and forward it to her as proof when, after I asked her where my CourtCall sheet was for tomorrow, she looked at me as if I asked her if she was on her period.

While Holly generally does a good job, this kind of mistake is practically unheard of at Latham.  Which means my alarm is set for 5:25 to gear up for a 160-mile ride.  Squeak. 

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Call it karma.  I buy a new (slightly used) car and it has a squeak.  Nothing major.  Just a tiny little squeak coming from behind the dashboard.  Just a little peep to remind me that this car is, in fact, not new.  New cars do not have squeaks coming from behind the dashboard. 

True: It is a 2008 Mercedes Benz.  True: It is black.  True: I love this car.  True: It will not get me laid—but still, why does it have to have that squeak? 

It’s like my goddamn resume.  No matter what I accomplish in life, every article ever written about me on Above the Law or in a legal paper will contain the TTT imprimatur or footnote that while I managed to [fill in impressive legal feat here], I graduated from [TTT shit law school].

Mr. 162 may have fallen short of the first tier, but in these crazy economic times, “small is the new big.” Mr. 162 provides a “learner, more efficient” account of the fast-talking, no-support-staff lifestyle of a Los Angeles boutique associate. Read more from Mr. 162.

13 Comments

  1. Alma Federer

    January 7, 2010 at 4:11 am

    I guess I can’t sympatize too much with this guy.  He is driving a Mercedes, and pretending to be super hot.  But he typfies the type of loser that masquerades as a top shelf catch, but once you peel back the dashboard, you find out this guy is not all he pretends to be.  I am always careful when I meet a new guy, particularly if he shows off his car or his watch.  I know that you can buy a fake Omega watch for $35 in New York City, so I am NOT impressed with watches, either.  Men do not like it when I show them I am smarter than them.  They just want me to think whatever they think and do whatever they do.  Well guess what?  I have a mind of my own, and you CANT take away the fact that I went to law school and am successful even without you.  So don’t bash me for being independent and a woman with a mind of my own.  Also, I write here to warn all other WOMEN lawyers not to sleep with men like this.  Once you do, you will be shown the door unless you turn your minds off and do whatever these sleazy men want us to.

  2. Ace in the Hole

    January 7, 2010 at 7:19 am

    Sorry your holidays were lonely again Alma (though with that attitude, they will always be lonely).

  3. Schadenfreude

    January 7, 2010 at 8:37 am

    To Alma: You are not likely to get a column on here by whining. They already have one, LF10. Nobody really cares about your opinion of men and the abundant reasons why none of them stick around. Again, please refer to LF10.
    To Mr. 162: Was there a point somewhere in that mess? I usually like your writing. You make me sad today Biggie.

  4. Anonymous

    January 7, 2010 at 9:09 am

    It only takes $1,500 – $3,000 to get a nice brand-spanking new Omega watch, so a BigLaw type of salary is not a prerequisite.

  5. BL1Y

    January 7, 2010 at 9:54 am

    Mr. 162 and Alma are both confusing and pointless today.  I guess I understand the idea that it’s depressing teaching kids who’s careers are doomed from the start, but I didn’t get the whole thing about driving to court.  The story seemed very disjointed.  And Alma…where did he say he thinks he’s super hot?  Maybe I’m more reading impaired than usual today.

  6. Handsome Avocat

    January 7, 2010 at 10:16 am

    I like Mr. 162’s stories as well, and this story’s no exception.  Granted, we’re not talking federal appellate writing here (what would you expect from a TTT grad?), but he manages to make his point(s) accross.
    I must admit he is whining a bit more than usual. Yes it is a pain to get up that early and drive that far back and forth for a seemingly ministerial/housekeeping court appearance.  On the other hand, these are “easy billables.”
    Insofar as the car is concerned, I venture to guess he bought an off-lease 2008 (prior generation) E Class Benz. Bad move considering the completely redesigned E Class is out.  Unlike the one he bought, the new E class could have gotten him laid though.
    Je suis desole.

  7. Chick Litigator

    January 7, 2010 at 5:57 pm

    It always amazes me how Alma manages to make an article that has NOTHING to do with love/sex/dating all about her desperate attempts to find a good man.

    Alma, here’s some advice, lady to lady: Shut your mouth. Shut it now. Please. Even some of us girls are sick of hearing your pathetic whining.

  8. Guano Dubango

    January 7, 2010 at 6:16 pm

    While I no longer pine for Alma, I do wish that she would find a man, even if it is not to be me.  My Aunt Ooona warned me not to expect Alma to come around, so I no longer expect her to date, let alone mate, with me.  But I do hope she selects some man to date and mate with, because she is one of very few attractive lawyers, is my guess, and we would like to see good looking children of lawyers.  If I am not to be the father, perhaps another eligible male lawyer could fill in for me.

  9. Monkey Man

    January 8, 2010 at 5:51 am

    How excited can someone get about a boring Mercedes?  If the car isn’t stick shift there is no passion, nothing to love.

  10. anonymous.

    January 8, 2010 at 6:56 am

    Difference between a TTT and a non-TTT:
    When insulting someone, the non-TTT will most likely know how to spell said insult.
    LAYER is not equal to LAIR. Except for evil Mr. Cake.

  11. Schadenfreude

    January 8, 2010 at 12:02 pm

    Well said, Chick Litigator.

  12. son of Guano

    January 8, 2010 at 4:36 pm

    So you weren’t diligent enough to verify court call 5 days in advance like everyone else? You trust your secretary?  (Jean Paul Getty” “If your employees were as competent as you, they wouldn’t be your employees.”) You don’t know yet that the best way to have a benz is to re-lease a top of the line S or SL class? (Preferably older when they still used metal, not plastic).  And Alma can’t tell a fake rolex from a real one? (that’s sad).  The real question is: where are all the grounded women like Chick Litigator?

  13. www.pinkshoelawyer.blogspot.com

    January 9, 2010 at 8:38 am

    hey, at least you *knew* about the court appointment.  You have just not shown up at all.  And here’s a hint: no one really gives a shit about your TTT status.  Except you.  Get over yourself.  Pull your head out of your butt, look around, and be glad you can afford a new car, have free time to write columns for blogs and teach unappreciative youth about how to be lawyers.

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