I love my job as an attorney because every day is different for me and I help people. But it isn’t always great. And I know a ton of attorneys that are miserable. So with Thanksgiving upon us, here are a bunch of reasons why you should be thankful that you never went to law school.
- Rude clients – There’s nothing I love more than when someone calls me and tells me, “I just want to know if I have a case or not.” They then explain the facts and I tell them they don’t have a good case and why. This is usually followed by them telling me what a dumbass I am and how they know they have a great case even if I and the five attorneys they called before me told them otherwise.
- Clients are broke – While I personally only handle contingency cases so I never have to bill a client, the referral service I run regrettably requires me to tell people around ten times a day that I don’t know a lawyer for them because they can’t afford it. Even when they can initially afford an attorney, many can’t keep up with payments, especially for divorces. It sucks to be a lawyer who is doing a good job on a case and then have to either work for free or withdraw from representing someone you want to help.
- 99% of new laws are anti-lawyer and consumer or so it seems – Not looking for any sympathy, but it’s getting harder and harder to win cases, especially with a US Supreme Court that has struck down many consumer protections and insurance companies that spend hundreds of millions on marketing toward people’s fears with false information about cases like medical malpractice. We could have it a lot worse in Illinois, but areas of law like workers’ compensation have gotten weaker.
- In Chicago, many of the attorneys are simply jerks – We don’t need to all hug and sing Kumbaya, but there are so many attorneys that are high struck a-holes that want nothing more than to scream at another lawyer.
- Law school is really expensive – And it’s not getting cheaper. Imagine leaving school with 150k in debt and no job prospects.
- For areas of law that fit your passion, there isn’t much money to be made – Want to be a public defender to help the poorest in your community? Your wages will make you one of the poorest. Hoping to practice environmental law? The only jobs are helping companies that want screw the environment. Guessing here that wasn’t your childhood dream.
- Most areas of law are groundhog day – New day. New case name. Same work. Over and over and over.
- Continuing Legal Education will steal 30 hours of your life every two years – I get the theory behind making lawyers take CLE classes, but the reality is that for me and most attorneys, every day is CLE. I read the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin every day. I talk and e-mail with other attorneys about cases and our thoughts on them as well as new laws. I read a bunch of trade publications. I write three legal blogs. None of that is considered CLE. Yet I’m forced to sit for 30 hours every other year and listen to something that doesn’t interest me or educate me.
- Judges with big egos – If you are ever REALLLLLLY bored, head to the Daley Center. Most of the Judges are really nice, but there are a few that think the robe makes them a god. The way they treat attorneys and the general public is disgusting.
- It’s a 24/7 job if you want to be successful – I work really hard and one of the reasons I’ve had success is that if you contact me, I almost always answer the phone right away and if you leave a message or e-mail me, you get a call back right away. That’s what it takes to do well, but I don’t like being at my kid’s basketball games and having to look at my phone when it vibrates or make phone calls when I’m on vacation. If you don’t want that type of lifestyle then be thankful you don’t have your own law firm. I’m a workaholic, but I do dream about the day I can throw my I-Phone in to Lake Michigan.
- It’s a rat race and not everyone plays fairly – It’s illegal to “ambulance chase.” But it happens every day. Law firms pay runners to go talk to injured people. Others provide benefits to police officers. Some will just walk in to hospitals and offer their services. And if you are a good guy you still have to deal with guilt by association just because you are one of them.
- Once you are in, it’s hard to get out –If you do head to the Daley Center, check out all of the miserable middle aged men that wish they were anywhere else, but there. They can’t do anything else so they are stuck.
Ok, enough whining, turkey time. Go Bears!
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