Having spent the past week vetting resumes from partner candidates who are exploring the market, something from my college days keeps coming to mind. It's a play called 'dentity Crisis' by Christopher Durang. One of the core moments within such play is a dialogue between the character Jane and her psychiatrist, Summers:
SUMMERS. You're talking quite rationally now. And your self-doubts are a sign of health. The truly crazy person never thinks he's crazy. Now explain to me what led up to your attempted suicide.In the simplest of terms, Durang's language is a spoof on the therapy environment. In the more complex of terms, it's an accurate representation of what is going on in the market right now relative to people's perceptions of reality — and of themselves within that reality. Whether currently employed but watchful or recently laid off and, thus, searching for a new job, many partner candidates are experiencing an identity crisis of sorts which, if left unchecked, has the potential to detrimentally impact their job search and/or future opportunities. Essentially, to many senior partner candidates, the legal market at the current time largely represents Jane's experience at the theatre, namely, chaos, voices saying ''it wasn't enough,'' understudies filling spaces, Tinkerbell dying, and a hugely warped sense that life, as we knew it, is changing. This may sound a bit dramatic to some but, to others, it is right on point.
JANE. Well, a few days ago I woke up and I heard this voice saying, "It wasn't enough."
SUMMERS. Did you recognize the voice?
JANE. Not at first. But then it started to come back to me. When I was eight years old, someone brought me to a theatre with lots of other children. We had come to see a production of Peter Pan. And I remember something seemed wrong with the whole production, odd things kept happening. Like when the children would fly, the ropes would keep breaking and the actors would come thumping to the ground and they'd have to be carried off by the stagehands. There seemed to be an unlimited supply of understudies to take the children's places, and then they'd fall to the ground. . . .
SUMMERS. What happened to the children?
JANE. Several understudies came and took their places in the audience. And from scene to scene Wendy seemed to get fatter and fatter until finally by the second act she was immobile and had to be moved with a cart.
SUMMERS. Where does the voice fit in?
JANE. The voice belonged to the actress playing Peter Pan. You remember how in the second act Tinkerbell drinks some poison that Peter's about to drink, in order to save him? And then Peter turns to the audience and he says that Tinkerbell's going to die because not enough people believe in fairies, but that if everybody in the audience claps real hard to show that they do believe in fairies, then maybe Tinkerbell won't die. And so then all the children started to clap. We clapped very hard and very long. My palms hurt and even started to bleed I clapped so hard. Then suddenly the actress playing Peter Pan turned to the audience and she said, "That wasn't enough. You didn't clap hard enough. Tinkerbell's dead." . . . I don't think any of us were ever the same after that experience.
SUMMERS. How do you think this affected you?
JANE. Well it certainly turned me against theatre; but more damagingly, I think it's warped my sense of life. You know — nothing seems worth trying if Tinkerbell's just going to die.
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