So, I recently had to go to a state bar event as part of my CLE (for the uninitiated CLE stands for Continuing Legal Education and it means that you have to sit through a bunch of horseshit seminars/lectures/workshops about some general/specific area or aspect of legal practice that literally does nothing to help anyone). It's bullshit, everyone knows it's bullshit, but depending on your state they force it upon you regardless of your 8th Amendment rights.
Today, we're going to discuss the recent impact of changes made to state property code x and the tax implications...would you like a blindfold?
The CLE was for one designed for new attorneys. This meant that it was filled with more than the usual amount of B.S. about the legal profession in general (as my older associate tells me, they pretty much just go through the motions after they are with the 3+ years of experience crowd). However, as a cultural archaeologist, I was fascinated to encounter that increasingly rare creature--a living fossil like the Coelacanth or Cher--also known as the Baby Boomer Litigator/Lawyer. Once again I don't want to stereotype, but everyone has seen the Fossil Lawyer.
Above picture depicts how the Fossil Lawyer views self.
In general, they are pot-bellied, white men over the age of 50. When they speak, they do so both loudly and clearly while slightly tipping their head back so as to give the impression that they are looking down on the audience from a position of authority. Penny loafers & braided leather belts would not be out of character for them...nor brightly colored ties or pocket squares from high end brands.
This was the generation responsible that spawned most of the shameless whores populating the law schools throughout the country right now. It's also the generation that had the most ridiculously inflated lifestyle viewed against the backdrop of to the history of the profession (I'll explain & provide evidence in a later post). It's the generation that always defends the current state of affairs and their culpability by saying "We built this country! We gave it civil rights! We gave it women's rights!" **See below
Of course, I'm being somewhat facetious & exaggerating for dramatic effect/rhetorical flourish, but not by much. The lunacy and fallacies of the cognitive processes from both sides in the above clip should be apparent to any enlightened/thinking reader but I digress.
Rather than a diatribe on the Baby Boomers, I was far more interested in the justifications/public relations spiel these living fossils gave to the new crop of debt slaves who have a slim to none chance of achieving a good life for a long long time (and slim just left town).
So first, I had some old
The downfalls of any profession being a "calling" should be pretty apparent if you spend at least 5 minutes digesting it in your mind (for example, suppose you never find your calling---this means that your entire life was meaningless & wasted...which is why having a "calling" or "divine message" usually doesn't end well for either the receiver or the bystanders around them).
I was also told I and my fellow participants/newly minted lawyers had "inherited a legacy." Great, that's like finding out I'm a carrier of a rare genetic disorder that makes my genitals spontaneously combust and then kill everything I love. That's not all though..
"We're not plumbers or retail clerks.."
No you're right, they have a lot higher salaries and job security than we do assclown. They also probably have a better sense of self-worth or at least didn't go into a bottomless hole of interest based debt to on a dice throw of a chance at becoming plumbers or retail clerks...but please continue.
"You join the ranks of Thomas Jefferson, Abe Lincoln, Clarence Darrow, Thurgood Marshall."
Ok, you sack of shit. Being a human, being an American, being a male, etc. There are all kinds of similar identity based comparisons to draw. The people you mentioned were great human beings WHO HAPPENED TO BE ATTORNEYS not the other way around. It's correlation not causation. If being trained in the law & practicing it turned a person into a great soul like the names mentioned above, I'm fairly certain that we wouldn't be in so many messes right now (for example, Elizabeth Warren is a great soul/character who happens to be a lawyer).
You know who else were attorneys based on your logic by analogy (a terrible way to think but one of the most prevalent in the legal realm)? *See nazis, rapists, murderers, thieves, etc. Ok you fucking moron what else you got?
"Of course the greatest member of our profession was described by Justice Jackson in 1950. The country seat lawyer...blah blah blah"
I couldn't believe he was serious. In no other profession, save the clergy, do they idolize the past like the law does. Imagine if you went into a doctor's office for major invasive surgery and she told you, "I'm going to use a method from the 1950's because that's the ideal. Also, we're going to be adhering to the same ethical standards from back then because we obviously can't garner anything new." Wait wait wait, don't you have something a little newer based upon decades of trial and error, experiementation, bold thinking and innovation? "Fuck no," she says, that whole MedMal craze back in the 70s/80s put the kaibash on that kinda shit, it's all defensive medicine now."
We didn't get to the moon on a fucking horse. The living fossils know this. But they're assholes, of which they should be more aware. They love to find some romanticized version of what they do for their self image and conceptualization, but it's a thin line between that kind of esteem builder and a guy in a padded room claiming to be Napoleon in my eyes.
At this point, we got to break into our smaller workshops. At this point, I was considering whether the dry wall would be strong enough for me to smash my head against to go into unconsciousness rather than endure what I knew was coming.
I tried to delay by talking to one of the people doing registration who I recognized as a judicial assistant from the courthouse. As I struck up a conversation with her about how we both hated being stuck for this kabuki dance, I asked about whether our feedback forms ever actually got read. She informed me that yes she was the one of the people forced to read them (I also have a strong suspicion that a lot of the "bar exam graders" are really just paralegals too but that's another discussion). I asked what's changed compared to last year and what was the general feedback from participants.
"Well, it's mostly practical. Lots of write ins for how to practice law, how to interact with the court employees, how to write pleadings and memorandums, how to dress and address the court..."
As she went on my eyes started to glaze over as I groaned internally. All of these "practical" requests were the kinds of things that one would think would have been covered in the course of 3 years and over a hundred thousand dollars of tuition at "law school." But sadly no. This is probably the greatest indictment I have of the whole law school scam. If you left school actually ready to practice, save for perhaps your own anxiety/trepidation, then I would have very little to criticize (ignoring of course the ridiculous cost & no attempt to help students find employment). But law school isn't training for being a lawyer. It's a fleecing scheme that sucks out as much of your hope, faith, energy, dreams, soul and cash as it can get. Then it kicks you right in the genitals before throwing you out the door with a pat on the ass and a smile.
Eventually I had to go to the workshops so I could sign the attendance slip and get my credit (I also had to pay for the privilege of these assholes raping my ears with this bullshit). One presenter went on and on about the gap between school and practice, that it's a problem that has been going on for years.
Tell you the truth Theo, I just don't think about it.
During the question and answer session, I took the opportunity to make a statement-question to the presenter about whether he thought about the whole educational system and its effect on the profession. To which he responded,
I don't like it but that's the way it is.
I then asked,
Well out of sheer academic curiosity, how will any of this change for the better?
He said, and I quote, "Uh...well...uh, no idea. Get involved in the argument!"
The day dragged on, and on, and on. At this point I had my head down like a tired 4th grader sleeping through math class. One of the living fossils, who was wearing a blue blazer with shorts and boat shoes for no other reason than to look like a dick, was talking about the "hanging judge" problem.
Fossil Lawyer then asked,
"What would you do if your client is worried about a hanging judge? How can you alleviate their fears or convince them you have it under control?"
That's odd sounds a lot like the kind of thing a retail clerk has to deal with when, let's say, some slut at a J.Crew asks whether this pair of overpriced jeans makes her ass look big (Oh yeah, law is so different from retail..worked there too if you can't tell).
From my position of half-sleep, I decided to quote one of my professors in law school and shout out from between my arms,
"Justice is blind so that shouldn't be a problem."
The fossil let out such a long and throaty laugh that I
For the uninitiated Zero Lemmings, let me give you an insider secret right now---we really don't & Santa Claus doesn't exist either.
Herein lies another problem Zero Lemmings. When you attend something like the event that Locke participated in the other week, you should respond to the assertions made by presenters the same way the old lawyer responded to me.
When they make some vague/general/broad statement like "At our school we have a very strong international law program" you should
Really? Tell me more. How about some specifics? Does your school have a formal externship/placement program with the UN? If so, does everyone who applies get into it or is it highly selective? If your school doesn't have that kind of program that's a pretty good chance/guarantee of job placement, how is your resume regardless of the J.D. degree? Are you going to be working in the main NY headquarters in a specific department or are you going to be attached to a mission or field office? Have you already applied to a program or have experience working for the UN and have a list of contacts who you have built a relationship with over time and they want to use you as an attorney? How many languages do you speak, and if so which ones? See what I mean...I highly doubt that kind of reality check takes place. It's just a dream.
Without specifics, you may as well be a kindergartner telling me that you're going to be an astronaut when you grow up (by the way that program is over too, go go American decline!).
Till Next Time!!! If you went through Higher Ed---Your Mind is the Scene of the Crime!!!!