09.29 - Seven Reasons Why Practicing Law Might Be More Stressful Than Spending 18 Months in a POW Camp
[00:00:00] Okay. Hello and thanks for joining today for this webinar this webinars one that I've actually haven't wanted to do for a long time because it's not necessarily the most pleasant subject matter. And it's some people may actually find it funny, but it's actually the things I'm going to talk about today are true.
And a lot of people that I know from practicing law have died, and had quite a few problems and I put a lot of that directly on the practice of law. And the title even of the article is somewhat offensive, but at the same time it's based on something that someone that actually wasn't a PO camp in pow camps had to me.
So I'm going to talk today about this topic. This topic makes a lot of people sometimes uncomfortable and. And I've, I've seen people get very uncomfortable. Just me telling parts of stories that are in this presentation today. But I think it's useful to hear and I think listening to it what I'm talking about today will be helpful for you to give you some perspective.
And and during this presentation, I'll try to reflect [00:01:00] to some extent on, on things that may, I may not have said before are related to this. And and and also I'd say welcome I do these webinars once a week. And and then when I'm done with today's webinars we'll take a short break and then take questions about any questions you have, whether it's related to this webinar or any other questions you have about your career, so that we'll get started.
So what I'm talking about today is really the stress of practicing law. And and, it's attorneys in big firms. It's also attorneys in smaller firms, but it can be a very stressful profession. And and many times the larger the firm and the more competitive with the firm, the more stressful it can be.
And and different people experienced the stress of practicing law in different ways. And in some people can thrive in the kind of environments legal environments like that. Others may not. And have quite a few problems practicing law. And and you have to, really take all the, everything I'm saying today with with a a grain of salt and and and then really understand w [00:02:00] Y it can be such a stressful profession.
So not too long ago, I was talking to a a woman and had a long day talking to attorneys and firms that weren't happy. And and then I had a call with this woman that I think she was practicing in Japan. And and she'd never actually practiced with a us law firm. And and as the only American attorney in her law firm and and actually one of the only women tip and and it was funny because she was just, when I was talking to this woman, she seemed very happy.
She was just laughing and making jokes and and anytime I encounter someone like that practicing law, I'm very surprised. My my, my wife or ex-wife is was like that when I first started talking to her and she was in a law firm, and I was like, this person, this doesn't make any sense.
No one is this happy in a law firm and practicing law. And that's was one of the things when I met my ex wife. So it's just so refreshing and attracted to someone like that. Finding happiness in a major law firm is not easy. And and this person, I was very happy as well. And and it was funny cause he, most of these conversations I have with attorneys are very, they're [00:03:00] very serious and the, they're competitive and somewhat negative.
And but this woman was having fun. And we were talking on Skype and she had a funny Skype handle. And it was excited about the weather because the sun come out and it was talking about how she wanted to go out for lunch and she was excited about our secretary's anniversary and and just really just someone that seemed very happy.
And and this was the first conversation that I'd had with someone that seemed that happy and quite a long time practicing law and people typically aren't like finding good reasons and things to be happy about. They're, it's, they're doing the opposite many times. They're finding things that they're upset about.
And I, talking to her, I was like, does this person even know what's going on? And and what it's like being an attorney and how, difficult to people that are gonna they're dealing with are, and how, the traps that are being laid for them. And and even today, you talk to attorneys and most of them are not they're on pins and needles.
Yeah. Again, when I met my ex-wife, it was the same thing. Like she was very happy and I hadn't really encountered people like [00:04:00] this before. And and I wondered if this moment was on something. Because it just, she was too happy. She was talking about all this happy stuff and very upbeat.
And and at the same time I was literally, because of all these conversations I have with attorneys, I thought she might be joking. I thought this might be a joke and I might be being recorded or something. And and I remember the conversation very well because it's not something this sort of enthusiasm for life and the weather and and just life in general is not something that most attorneys have.
And I'm sure you can you can identify with that. And there's a reason why, that's part of what I'm going to talk about today. But this woman was practicing in a in a very isolated type of area of the world, for an American attorney and was very happy.
As in my business, I spent most of my days talking to attorneys and and and what I've noticed. In, in the process of doing that is, is most attorneys are nowhere near is happy. It's this particular woman Watson. [00:05:00] And in, in most, if they're working for big firms or they're very competitive very few are, have that sense of optimism and happiness about their lives and careers.
And a lot of that is even more the case when they're in big firms and and even in the job that I do, I bring into the legal placement world. It's very detailed right, and stuff, and it's it's, it can be a very hard job and very few people are happy.
They it's it's a very competitive profession. People are out to get you, judges are out to get you, if you're a litigator, the other side's out to get you clients are mad at you, their peers want to advance mean it's a very difficult job. And I'm going to talk a lot about that today.
So I know when I wrote this, I knew two lawyers are committed suicide. I think I think there's a third that I know now. And I know several attorneys that are died of heart attacks two of them in their early forties and one of them probably in his mid forties, I know one attorney that was actually working for me, he has not directly.
He had a, he was a solo practitioner, hired him to do something now, when he was found after being dead for a [00:06:00] week. And before his secretary and stuff that has firmed, I'd noticed he was gone and couldn't find him cause she came in a couple of days a week.
It can be a very difficult job and and a very difficult job. And and that particular guy that I'm thinking of when it came time to send out bills, there was just nothing there. I knew a couple of other attorneys that that I worked for when I was practicing law in law firms one of them is in prison for the rest of his life.
Another went to prison for several years for committing a a massive financial crime. And these are people that I worked with. I probably didn't work with more than 30, 40 attorneys in the course of my career. I know another guy that did work for me at one point.
And and and he was charged with attempted murder for stabbing trying to establish he did stab his girlfriend with a bread knife in the, it's all, it was all over the papers. And th the thing that's so surprising to all this about me and I don't, and it's and this is just, these are just the tips of the iceberg of things that I've seen is I've lived in worked before I became worked in law firms and so forth and did what I did now I actually lived and worked in the inner city, Detroit, and [00:07:00] and where I was a contractor and and and I never met these kinds of people.
I met people that had been to prison for being caught with drugs and things, but I never met people that were stressed out and unhappy universally as these people that I've met practicing law. So honestly, I've worked in very bad conditions. And I did it intentionally when I lived in Detroit because I was also studying, and then I took an interest in the people and other things, but, there's just a lot of a lot of stress practicing law.
And it's I've seen a lot of met a lot of very bad people, a lot of very unhappy people and and doing that and I'm not saying that these sort of situations aren't really something that you'll see in other professions and things, but I do think that the stress of practicing law.
Really can drive people in and create problems. So again, this is, these are uncomfortable topics to talk about. And but I think if you look around, you'll see a lot of the same cases. And and I think to some extent it's a reflection of the [00:08:00] profession and aspects of it that hopefully are changing, but it make it a difficult profession for a lot of people.
I one time I remember, and this is a very sad case, but I placed a woman that was coming from an Ivy league law school and and she one of the best firms in the country in LA and and she had a very difficult time and and I didn't talk to her for a while after she had been placed, but she when she had been younger, I think meaning in her teens 1720 and that sort of thing she'd had some substance abuse problems.
And the second she got into this major law firm she all sorts of problems started divorce and her car is being repossessed. And and and I spoke to her husband and he said, he, he hadn't talked to her in weeks and and she'd become, addicted. Crystal meth and was dating the member of a, and a dangerous type of person.
The member of a Latin gang and and and she was, working 96 hours in a row, then she would sleep for 24 hours. And just, what he said to me, it was, something along the lines of she was working these crazy [00:09:00] hours and someone at the office introduced her to crystal meth, and then she started working 96 hours in a row and seemed for 24 hours.
Now she's got this boyfriend has given him all her money and he sold her wedding ring and I don't know what to do. And this, her husband was actually very nice guy. And and I finally managed to meet her and again and, she talked about how the job had destroyed her and she never imagined how difficult working in the firm would be.
And then said she had been raped also when she was younger and trauma from the firm is worse than that. And I, again I don't like saying these things. I think that's it makes me uncomfortable when people talk about this because it's I don't know that you can compare to things like that, but this is what someone said to me.
And so I just I'm just the messenger here, often pondered what happens to people and when they get into large law firms or any law firm in general, sometimes it doesn't necessarily have to be a large law firm. And I wonder, why do people, fin the pressure of this, why does it make them turn to, hard drugs and and why does it take people and hurt them sometimes and [00:10:00] men and create so much stress.
And why does it create these suicides and why does it, create an, is it just is it a product? Is it a product of just the world in general? Is this happened to everyone or doesn't an error? Is it more prevalent? Here and I think I th I, I would say that I've taken statistics and everything, and the only place that I'm seeing this in such grave amounts or in the practice of law and and it's upsetting to me so you have to ask, how can the legal profession hurt people so badly and that, and and does it, it certainly doesn't hurt everyone, but what's happening.
So I, again, I, these analogies are painful to talk about, but I, I, I spoke to an attorney that had served in combat and he spent 18 months in as a pow, I don't know if he was in a pow camp, but it was. Tortured and and he was now a practicing lawyer and looking for another job.
And and you talked about, you said the pressure's just too much. I was hospitalized for a few weeks and beginning of this year, I not handle it. I was chewing my nails so much, so my fingertips were bleeding all the [00:11:00] time. I got home from work one day and my wife showed me the pill I'd slept on the night before, and it was covered in blood.
And she told me I needed help.
And so I said, why is the work so stressful? And he said, I'm only given a certain amount of time to work on each patent. Who's pat attorney. And if I did not finish his patent and time, a lot of it, or you're not getting credit for my time, it's nonsensical and Delmar can compete the patents and the time a lot, I worked 26 hours last year.
It only got her 2,600 hours when we got credit for 1800, I didn't bonus. And so he's, in a position where he's not getting positive feedback. And he says, I just do not understand how people do it. The people I'm working with are competitive each other and are not my friends.
The attorneys I work for are demanding unpleasant. I bought a small condominium and have a family I need to support, but it always looks like I could lose my job at any second. And if I do, I know it will not be easy. The examiners and the patent offices are rude to me, and you're not even going to talk to her, interact with clients.
I'm just expected to sit in a small office all day and night with a bunch of people who are rude to me and do not appreciate anything that. [00:12:00] Then I come home at night and my wife is upset. I'm not home earlier or seeing my kids grow up. It sounds worse than being a pow. I told them, I don't know why I said that, but it says and then you said, at least there, you can look forward to being rescued and having a better life.
At least there you're locked up with people who are your friends, at least there, who your enemies are. Even some of the guards were nicer than the people in this firm. At least there, you do not have to look forward to your wife divorce in you because no one ever sees you. As I reflected on, on this conversation and the countless other conversations of how a disillusioned, under the broke liars to, I realized that, you know what he said, there's, there may be some truth to it.
And and I'll talk about these seven reasons today. But it's a very hard profession. It's just this introduction I've told you about all the people that I know that have committed suicide have have died very early of, just heart attacks.
Even recently I was reading about looking up an attorney and he, I found out that he died, and visiting his family, just after a break, it's just, it's a very hard job for a lot of people. [00:13:00] And and I think that. There's reasons that attorneys have the problems they do.
And compared to other professions, I, in one firm I know of that I worked, almost everyone got divorced. It's just, it's a very difficult job. And and I and it's one reason that that motivates me personally. I wanna help people in this profession because there's, it's not people need help finding the right firms and learning about themselves and becoming better and so forth.
And these are things that for you to think about, but I'll go through these the seven reasons right now. So the first thing is a lot of times you have nothing to look forward to. One of the things that I see quite often is attorneys that work, just fairly incredible hours you could work for 10 years in a law firm and, come in every day and work here very long hours and never see your family and and and and then lose your job which is very common in large law firms.
And that's just how it works. And there's not always room for partners and they need people and they pay [00:14:00] well because of that, but. I remember one time when I was quitting a law firm and I said I was disappointed that such and such didn't make partner. And they said those two people only worked 2,800 hours or 2,900 and the person that did make partner work $3,500.
And, so your whole future kind of can depend on that sort of thing. And and and it's very rare for especially in most large law firms for people who joined them to ever advance beyond being an associate. That's not that the firm's doing anything wrong. It's just that they don't always have a lot of opportunity at the top.
And that's how, there's nothing wrong with the firm for having not happening that you can't say that firms are bad places, but it's, it just means that no matter how hard you work and how much time you put in you have a skill that you can take with you, but you're not necessarily going to advance.
And and that can be difficult. Most people leave in the associate level and it even councils and others will leave and others will be told to leave. And and there's often, you take, you [00:15:00] sacrifice some of the best years of your life in inside of a law firm.
And I I hate to tell this story and then I going to be very careful, but I, I. I was talking to this not too long ago, this this candidate of mine, and she'd gone into an interview with a big firm. And the partner said to her, you're, you're outgoing and, and have a great personality and, can have a, and you really shouldn't be working in a law firm.
You should go enjoy yourself. And this is not a pleasant thing for someone like you, whatever that means. And and I listened to that and I was like, wow. And of course, she turned around and said he was sexist and a bad person and stuff. And and maybe, I don't know if he was doing that in a sexist way, but but the point is that it's, it can be a very unpleasant thing.
You look at people that go into this and it can hurt you. And and especially if there's no opportunity and and and then I remember when I was working in a law firm, one of the things that scared me, and one of the reasons that I left and I'm doing what I'm doing now is because I started seeing all these partners losing their job at [00:16:00] the firm I was at.
So I was like, wow, there's no security. Now I didn't understand the rules of having had business and how the system worked and stuff at that point when I was young. But it's scary because if you see partners losing their job, and then you share their associates, you don't know what's going on. And and you think even if I do everything I'm supposed to and work really hard, there's nothing there's nothing to hide.
So it's important by the way, to listen to webinars, like the one I'm giving into read articles and other things, because it will tell you how things work. But you need to understand. And so when I, I saw all these people losing their jobs and and I started at this one from my aunt that I lateraled into.
And and when I started there were, it was a skyscraper and there were maybe seven or eight partners. And one year later there were only like two left and that had all been let go. And and that, that was scary to me. You're like, wow, what's going on here. And certainly that was a sign that the firm I was in, wasn't the healthiest place.
So it's not necessarily all firms like that. But but it made me think that there's not a lot to look forward to. And and that scared me. [00:17:00] And and they, one partner was de equitized and had to become a judge and and it just, and that, again, that was, certain firms have more opportunity than others.
And so that, there's certainly nothing wrong. To say that all firms are like that, but it can be scary, it can be scary that if there's no opportunity where you're at that that that's not a good thing for you. And my, my thought was, if you're really good at your job, what is there to look forward to?
You can make more money, but you're going to probably work the same hours, if not more. And if you make more money, I guess you can buy more things, but more things don't satisfy you. They might satisfy you, but they don't, that's just things you'll get a title. So you'll get more respect from, newer people.
But I don't think any of this stuff really, if you think about it is really that important and and and you have to decide and in come around to that. But I think the more that people think that things like money are important and titles and the unhappier they ultimately are, and these are things you won't care about when you're older, meaning in your fifties and sixties as much, but young people do when they're trying to [00:18:00] establish themselves.
And I think that it's good, but at the same time your goal really needs to be happy. And and if you can do that in a law firm, that's great. But even if you do make more money to buy things or save more money, you're still going to have to work incredible hours and may never see your family and and are going to have a lot of stress.
And and I think, I was just reading this morning an article. About, I dunno, Costa Rica like reading about these blue zones. And I was reading about this Eric Costa Rico, where, the average age of people is over 90 and stuff. And just seeing like all these people dying in their forties and stuff from practicing law, it's half your life disappears.
And that's not cool. It's let's, try to enjoy your life. And to some extent, you don't, you can enjoy practicing law, you can enjoy it in a lot of different ways, but for a lot of attorneys it can be there are difficult not having anything to look forward to.
And it's not, it many times it could be the employer you're with, and it's not necessarily that, but this is one reason that practicing law is very stressful. And a thing that I don't like and this is also true is [00:19:00] that, when attorneys get senior, when the more experience you have the less marketable you can become.
When you get more senior, you're almost, I don't know if he use cars is a good word, but you've been around a long time. And and and firms are not as interested in you because they know that you're not going to try to work as hard to become a partner.
If you don't have business, you're more of a cost center. And they may not want that. And they need to have young people kind of clamoring for the top. And and it's changing to some extent, but for the most. You have to be young attorneys are more marketable than older ones.
And and also, I would say experienced attorneys are less marketable many times than inexperienced ones, unless you have a lot of business, so it can be a difficult situation. And, in most professions, the longer you do something the better off you'll be.
But I guess professional athletes and attorneys and others have a a shorter shelf life. And and in this particular situation you're, things can get worse the longer you do it. So it's something to think about to this. And and you can't always look forward to things improving I don't like these [00:20:00] pow analogies to, by the way, I think they're a little bit extreme, but and I did write this article, but this based on, but at the same time it's hard to be an attorney and a major law firm, and even in smaller law firms, because you can really age out of the position and and don't necessarily have very much to look for.
And just as a reflection I did years ago I started a blog, which is just based on my name, Harrison Barnes, and just trying to give people like inspirational insight and things about how to manage this stuff from an emotional level, everything coming at you and it's important.
You want to make sure that you you're emotionally grounded and and that you don't allow all this stuff to take over your mind space and you have perspective because, being a very effective attorney in a major firm can be a good thing.
I may not. I think it's an awesome thing for the right person, but it's not for everyone. And you have to really decide if it's for you. And and you have, you, you sh there should be something positive in your life that you're looking forward to. And you shouldn't be just driven by [00:21:00] money, titles, prestige and things, because those are all things that you're not going to care about when you're older and they're not in th they can hurt you.
So the other thing about a law firm is inside of a law firm. No one is your friend. And and it's not always the case but this is the way that a lot of people. Perceive things, and this is how many experience partners perceive their jobs in whether in a larger small firm. And instead they many people do perceive their competitor, their coworkers as competitors.
And and for the most part your coworkers are competitors. Especially if you're trying to become a partner or if you're a partner in a major law firm and you're competing with other partners for clients and for for money and how much you make. And people are to, to some extent interested in seeing you fail you, you have to be very careful with sharing personal details.
There's very few people you can trust with them. If you do share personal details, many times it could be used against you later. So you need to be very careful with that. And I don't like saying these things, but you're in a [00:22:00] competitive environment and making friends can put you on the side of issues.
It can, if your friends on the way out it can hurt you. It's there's all sorts of problems. And then, I love giving this example of litigators because litigators are some of the most stressed out of all attorneys, especially with. In, in big firms, but you face a whole bunch of enemies and your first enemy of course is going to be the client.
The client wants you to succeed. But at the same time, they want you to win and and they're always, you're always in danger of being fired by clients. And and and they're always in, especially in litigators, if you're spending money, they're always going to be angry because they're spending money on defending things that they don't, you know, that they think they're right about and so forth.
If you're an associate other associates are, your enemy, they're competing with you for the best assignments they're trying to look better. They may be under undermining you with your, with other associates or subtly with partners and other people. There's just all sorts of games that happen.
Partners you're working for are always evaluating you. They may have [00:23:00] favorites and not favorites and if you screw up they will take note. And and and they're busy. If you need acknowledgement and so forth you may never get that, especially in the largest law firms with the highest with with the most competitive places.
You, you're not going to get a lot of acknowledgement. You're not going to get thank you as very often. You're just expected to be paid a lot of money and do the best and the acknowledgement may actually be. The most important thing for you. But you're not necessarily going to get that.
So you need to be concerned about that. To some extent the court is generally not your friend courts will yell at attorney, sanctioned them and are always in a situation where they need to pick one side over the other. And you're if you make mistakes in court, the court will come down on you.
And you have to be concerned about them. Opposing counsel of course, is always hard to slip you up and get under your skin and make you angry or make you lose control or so there's not really any question about, that's their job. So you have the court, the client the people you're working with.
And so it's just a lot of people that are against you. [00:24:00] And and it's very difficult to keep your bearings when threats are everywhere. And and and it's just, it's a difficult thing. And and a lot of people are driven nuts by this. When I say nuts, they cope with problems by one of the things that I saw, of course, there's a lot of drugs.
There are a lot of alcohol to numb the numb, the feelings which never works prescription drugs are our big one for a ton of people. Some people will use food sacks all sorts of ways to do that. Other people will use relationships or I dunno, but there's a lot of when you're, when you have this many people coming at you, it's not natural.
It's, your adrenaline is going all the time and and you don't have a lot of people that are on your side. And so you're trying to do the best you can, but the rules are very difficult and no matter what you do, you still have enemies all the time. And so it's a very difficult thing.
And and so just realize that if you're, you're feeling that a lot of the things you're feeling you're not alone and you're responding the way you are because you're human, so being stressed and stuff is human, but you have to [00:25:00] realize the way it is and, it's hard.
So my, I don't know, I could give you like a lot of advice about this and but the ways to really cope with these, this, all the stress you're under, when no one's, your friend are, things that, that people, that everyone, that are good for you, like exercise and meditation and taking breaks and vacations and all these sorts of things that a lot of times people don't think about and you need stuff to look forward to and then friends, and then having people that will listen to you, whether it's your significant other your friends therapists, things along those lines, because you need.
Support and you need to realize that, what you're doing, this is also just game and and, but you're, but you need to have thick skin. The other thing that a lot of people have find very difficult of practicing law is that you're a very easily replaceable commodity and in a law firm, most large law firms.
And I dislike saying this because it's not a nice thing, but most law firms can, the largest law firms can replace most [00:26:00] associates fairly quickly. And they, if a law firm needs work done the partner level, like they have too much work and not enough partners they could probably find someone literally in the middle of the night, because there's that many people that are senior looking for jobs socially, it's funny, but you're saying, sorry, call you in the middle of the night.
I know it's 3:00 AM. We have an opening for a litigate over 10 years of experience. Great, I'll be there by 9:00 AM tomorrow. I just need to stop on my own job, pick up some pictures and tell him I'm leaving. Thanks for the opportunity. It's attorneys really are not that hard to replace regardless of their location.
And the opening. Attorneys will move anywhere. Russia, Alaska small islands in the Pacific. There's just a lot of I've even not, when I remember worked with firms back when I originally started working on this several years ago. We've worked with firms in Afghanistan.
It's just funny. So there's just attorneys everywhere and there's a lot of attorneys and the, there's not really any limit to the number that, that law schools and things can pump out. There's limit to the ones from the best schools, but there's not really any limit.
And and and [00:27:00] if a law firm needs an attorney, they can find one. I give an example that, you can go into almost any town in the country and if you have a bull horn, you can find someone that's a litigator pretty quickly. They will hear your bull horn and be in the distance of it.
It's, that, there's that many litigators and, and th and the larger the market, by the way, the more competitive it is, and the more attorneys are trying to get the same people. A big law firm in New York can say they want someone from, I don't know, scat and walked are solving a Cramo with 18 and 25 years of experience doing work on behalf of.
Large institutional private equity firms. And then, and then 45 minutes later they'll receive resumes of the people that they're interested in. And and 24 hours later, they might receive resumes from, five or 10 of the 30 eligible attorneys matching those qualifications.
I'll work into the target firms. So it's that's how he doing very saturated market. So it can be very difficult. Now this is an example that it's maybe not quite accurate and in the current market, but in a lot of times, if the market was, it was a little [00:28:00] slow then it would definitely, or the market was that it would definitely be accurate.
So it's very difficult for know for attorneys compared to how easy it is for most law firms to find the people they want. I know an attorney, this is not a pleasant story. And I, and again, I said this stuff, isn't going to be pleasant today, but so working for a small firm for several years and then asked for a race and the attorney was told, probably at the beginning of next year and
Sorry about that. So then yeah, the attorney responded that's fine. But would you mind putting that in writing and send me an email or something and give me one second here. Sorry. And the attorney's boss looked down for a few seconds and then said I'll tell you what I'm going to do.
I'm going to send you out on the holiday accounting and have them give you a final check. And then I'm going to have it remove you from the website. And then I'm going to call her into the hundreds of resumes that have got from someone else. They start here right away. Wow. That's a true story.
And then they turned and looked on their website a few days later and the replacement had already been. It's this pow example, again, I'm not a big fan of it, but POW's are very valuable [00:29:00] to the side that holds them. I was just reading about China trading someone from, I know someone that wouldn't let leave for someone the U S wouldn't let leave, and it's not a PO Doug beer, the same thing, but, they're valuable.
And and and, and when the law firm you're not, as you, you can easily be replaced. And and that's one of the problems of many attorneys that they have. It's, if you think that you're very valuable because you have a certain type of experience or you've worked at certain firms before there's some truth to that.
Is, it means you can compete for very high paying jobs, but at the same time you most attorneys, even the best ones are commodities and easily replaceable. And and that can be difficult. The other thing about working in major firms is that death can be very slow and not necessarily instantaneous.
In a firm you're generally just working there until you lose your job. And and, you're likely to lose it at some point. Most attorneys are, and and that can be something that's not very happy. You just don't know when. And and it's something that most attorneys don't enjoy.
In most jobs you have a good idea of whether or not you have a future, when you're practicing law you don't [00:30:00] necessarily know what's going to happen. And I've seen people that were very surprised that thought they were either going to be fired or make partner on the day they made partner and major us law firms.
I've seen people be fired on the day. They thought they were going to make partner. And you just don't know and, you can make literally I was talking to, and I hear this, these kinds of stories all the time where you can make hundreds of thousands of dollars a year selling cars and dealerships.
You can make millions of dollars a year selling stocks and bonds. And neither of these things even require a high school education. You can do very well. And then I know people that you know I was, I heard a story. This is a true story. It was looking at pickup trucks the other day.
And and I was talking to the salesman. Actually I was talking to a guy in the finance department about a warranty or something that could diesel truck and he had to, and and he was saying that his son works in a, I don't know, Mercedes dealership or BMW and, and was already making $40,000 a month or something.
And there's only, 22 years old, and that may upset you hearing that, but that's, and I don't think you could do that in most of these. In Los Angeles, you certainly can. [00:31:00] So you can make, $500,000 here, in your early twenties selling cars in in the, in a, in an auto dealership.
And and that doesn't require any education you can make. Millions of dollars a year. I know a guy that started off just graduated from college with bad grades. He was just a complete stoner, which I don't mean in a bad way, but he was the kind of guy that would get up and smoke pot in the day, all day, every day.
And and it took a job just working at a storefront, I dunno selling stocks to people that were walking off the street and now he lives in yeah, again, this probably like a $30 million house, I don't know something like that. So the point is that and same job, he, but he you can make a lot of money doing a lot of things and, then the guy that sells cars will, can take his blew his customers and go to another dealership or the guy that sells stocks, moves around.
And and they have futures and in there and they and it's. Yeah, it makes me uncomfortable, but they have skills [00:32:00] and and it's very difficult. They have bargaining power, their bargaining power over the dealerships. They had bargaining power over the the, where there, where they sell stocks and bonds and so forth.
And and if they leave that there'll be missed and and and it's just difficult. And and are you in, can I just, this is an example. I, these examples are funny that this is, was this wasn't a few months ago because it was an older piece, but it was an auto dealership and there was a Cadillac dealership and there was a salesman.
He was in his late eighties, men. He was drooling, which I guess people do when they get older and it's unfortunate, but then he kept wiping drool from his face. And he worked, he said, he'd worked on geo shifts since the 1940s instill, I don't even know how that's possible.
But jeez it's tons of people that have returned to buy cars from him and share. So he's got all these clienteles and, so there's some jobs you can just keep doing them and you get more and more clients and you get better and better in the last like that. To some extent, if you start getting clients, that's the whole point that a lot of people don't realize.
If you bring in clients you will you can actually have a growing business like this old. I work [00:33:00] in a dealership. So it's really hard to for me to overstate though, when you go to work in a Mo a lot of law firms, and if you don't bring in business and so forth the longer you do it the more more likely it is, you're going to be at some point told you needed to leave.
And and then when you leave it'll be very difficult for you to get a job, at least with another law firm of the same caliber. You can certainly get one on a smaller one or in-house and so forth. But you're, you have a, it's very difficult. And and, and after putting in all that time many people do feel like they've wasted a lot of their lives and and spend a lot of time being stressed and having physical symptoms and dealing with the mental challenges and so forth of, feeling, everything they're dealing with these problems.
And so that's just something to think about what happens and and then the thing that happens also is that any time and I bring this up and I don't like bringing this up or talking about it, but I'm gonna talk about it real briefly.
What happens is, once you're, if you're working in a law firm and and then your job stops and, [00:34:00] say you're making. Hundreds of thousands, whatever the number is per year. And then all of this stuff stops. And your family is become accustomed to you, bring in a certain amount of money and feeling a certain sense of pride in your job.
Then all of a sudden you don't feel pride. You are resentful. You maybe supporting people in your family and then all of a sudden, all that stops. And then and then, people get divorced they, and and and certainly it can be very unpleasant. And and this is the kind of thing I see a lot of times I see it, from both women and men that are unhappy and often are the primary providers of their families, but it can happen.
And and and people feel trapped and and they feel like they, the, even though they've given everything that they can, that the market doesn't value them anymore. And that's very upsetting. And and it's upsetting if you're a spouse living with someone like that.
It's upsetting if you're in a position of trying to be proud of what you do for a living and being in a position like that it's all very in pleasant for people. And it's very difficult for people to [00:35:00] handle. People do fly off the handle and have a difficult time because of all these.
Okay. The next thing is that, when you work in most law firms, there's just not a lot of positive feedback and that's okay. That's just the way it works, but they typically get pretty bad reviews of junior associates. What they'll do is when you're starting off as an attorney, you're obviously have no idea what you're doing, even if you did great in law school.
Law firms will typically give very bad reviews to junior people. And then as you get more senior, meaning you have a couple of years of experience and they don't need to write off a lot of your time and so forth. Cause you're a very effective then all of a sudden you'll start getting very good reviews and then as you get more senior you may start getting poor reviews again.
And that's just how things work in most law firms the first year or so. They want you to improve very rapidly or two years. And then and then once you get to the point where you're very profitable and you're doing a good job they give you great reviews. Probably even veteran, they should be.
And then as you get more senior and they want you to leave, they start giving you negative reviews or [00:36:00] if they're not negative, they're just not that encouraging. And then so it's kinda you're hit, you're hit first, told your net not that great.
And then you're told you're great and then you're hit again. It can be very abusive and it's always worked. And law firms, at least from what I've understood and talking to thousands of attorneys and and certainly there are people that get great reviews as first-year attorneys and so forth, but the kind of the traditional way that people follow we're doing attorneys is that way.
And, but this can, if you don't understand the system and now that you understand what I'm saying, hopefully will help you. This is one reason that people experience a lot of stress inside of law firms. And I remember I was working in the Los Angeles offices in New York law firm. When I, when I was third year associate and I, the reviews I used to be done by partners, they would come from the New York office to conduct a reviews of the associates in LA.
And I don't know why they didn't have that the the LA-based partners do it, but they, these were all partners that no one in the LA office knew. One day two of these partners, I'd never seen them before in my life. They showed up in [00:37:00] my office and they started giving me a review that I literally couldn't believe it.
It was horrible. I had no idea what was going on. They were saying things like, no one liked me, mom. I shouldn't start looking for a job. No one had any confidence in me and just all this stuff that I, I was astonished. I couldn't believe it because it didn't seem. Did it made sense?
And then they mentioned a partner I'd never worked with, I'd never even spoken with. And they said, we're not even gonna talk about what happened with him. And and I said what are you talking about? I've never even worked with him because before they were just talking in generalities and and then they looked at each other and and they, one of them whispered something and the others year.
And and then they said, actually, we were giving you someone else's review. We'll need to find your evaluations and we'll be back. And so that I was sitting there taking someone else's review, getting someone else's review when it wasn't even my review. And then I never saw these guys again, it was a very strange experience.
They never apologized I never got reviewed at that firm and [00:38:00] practically had a heart attack but I was getting someone else's review and I'm pretty sure that I know the person whose it was because it was a senior person. And and and someone that had, probably like a ninth year I'm pretty sure, I think they had gotten just the person's office was next to mine.
And and I thought if this is what's going to be waiting for me in six more years this isn't a good situation because I thought this guy was a pretty nice guy. And and. And wasn't looking forward to something like that, if that was what they were going to do to me in the future.
And so in a war zone, you're surrounded by others, some comrades who have your back and want you to survive. If you're a pow, you've got people trying to rescue you, but in a law firm your environment that may eventually try to expel you, if you don't bring in business and you're not doing the things that you need to do in order to succeed.
Another thing that happens in law firms is, your career could really end at any second. So all the people in litigation jobs I've seen entire law firms close. Helen Erwin was one of them when they had a bunch of cases settle and they had maxed out their line of credit [00:39:00] before then.
That was like a hundred plus year old firm. And if a few cases settle, everyone in the litigation department can lose their job. When corporate markets slow down on, they always do. They haven't in years, but they do corporate, lots and lots of corporate departments and attorneys lose their jobs.
If you make a mistake, practicing law, I've seen, people's careers suddenly. And I saw an entire law firm close because of some mistake that someone had made like seven or eight years ago. And then they got sued and I don't know how the statute of limitations work, but a entire law firm needed to close.
And it was a law firm that I'd used. To do some work for me actually. And they got sued and the entire law firm and everyone in it lost their jobs. There are all sorts of threats to, to your career inside of a law firm. And and it can be incredibly stressful. There's certainly stressed and companies close and so forth, but a simple mistake can end your career.
And I once knew an attorney that was going to be a man, a partner in a huge, very well-respected law firm. And and and he told me that team, this guy had already they'd already agreed [00:40:00] all the partners together to vote and elect him to be a partner within a few weeks. And he'd been working massive amounts of hours and was doing good work.
And one day he got to work and I think it was on a Monday and he was asked by a partner if he'd sent a letter that had very little consequence to opposing counsel and a case he was working on. They just said that you send a letter this weekend or something, and you said, yeah, I did it last night.
And and then he gotten back to his office and realized he'd written it or something, but he'd forgotten to email it. And and he'd been in the office past midnight the day before and been working crazy hours and was just, out of it. And and then he emailed that right when he got back to his office and and then the opposing counselors.
And CC department who told they'd done it in San Antonio before. And they saw that he'd actually just sent it after talking to the partner, as opposed to when you said he sent it and the attorney was immediately fired. They fired him because he, he lied and I again, it is a lie, so I'm not gonna defend it, but it just seems extreme.
And not only that, but they were so mad about it that [00:41:00] he buyed that anytime someone would recheck the rough, his references and so forth, they would say bad things about him. And and any, literally he ended up leaving the state. It's very sad. It's just, wow. Just and again, I'm not defending a line, but yeah.
And people that they spoke to about him, they would call him a liar and a trustworthy, a major disappointment and that sort of thing. And he was so tainted. He literally had a leave California because people of course, wanting to check his references and that's what would happen.
And and he was days from becoming a partner, only had one type of affirming only one type of partnership with equity or non equity. And I guess all green. And he made that mistake. So these sorts of things happen. People's careers just end very rapidly when you're practicing law sometimes.
And so you have to constantly be on your toes, and I'm not saying that this doesn't happen in other types of employment, another professions, but these things are very serious. Soldiers of course always, stay employed.
You don't lose your job as a soldier, but, you can lose your job very quickly as an attorney. The other thing is when [00:42:00] you're practicing law, you don't have a lot of control over your time. And and you really very little work life balance and the firm owns your time.
And and if you try to not let them own your time, they will penalize you meaning they will typically not advance you or bring it up later. You, it's not smart to plan your weekends, you mean, and so forth. You just can't plan on them. You're really expected if you're given work to drop everything at a moment's notice when you're called on, and I'm not saying that's a bad thing obviously you know that you have to remember that when you're practicing law, you're working for clients and you may be saving them from.
Very serious consequences. If you're a doctor in an emergency room where you have a certain skill, you have to do that. And you have to basically respond and that's what a profession is. And so that's just being an attorney. You sh you should realize that, if you want to go into professional thing, you have to, some someone's life could, could be online.
The company survival or ability to do something could be on the line. But I remember one time when I was practicing him and I came into work on a Thursday morning and I [00:43:00] didn't return from the office until Sunday at 6:00 AM. The working out a project and I emailed it to the partner.
It was 6:00 AM on Eastern Sunday, and I went home and and it took me a few hours to get to sleep because I was so charged up after working so many hours. And and when I finally got to sleep around eight o'clock at 8:30 AM, my phone rang and it was a partner. And and I hadn't heard the phone ring because I'm sleeping and my wife had to wake me up.
And and she said she hadn't received the memo. And she was calling from her car on the way to Easter Sunday services. And and and I told her, I'd emailed it to her a few hours ago. And she managed it, demanded that I go into the office and resend it. And and I was so upset that when I got off the phone, I slammed my arm into a wall.
Did this nerve damage. So I couldn't feel it. I still have pain actually in the back of my arm. And I drove to the office and when I got the opposite, I checked in and it wasn't my outbox and I sent it again and called the it people. And they said, oh, they're re they reboot their servers every Sunday night emails to oncology during that time for a few hours or every Sunday morning or whatever.
[00:44:00] And and despite this I explained it and the partner was still upset and there was no apologies. And, it's just how it is. Law firms don't care if you work 72 hours straight, it's just not something it's, it's part of the job and it's, it's no different than a hospital.
If you give a, if you have to go into a hospital and do surgery for, 24 hours straight it's it's not a big deal. It's just how it is. So it's nothing, I'm not complaining about it, but I'm just saying you have to understand that the client's point of view too, and it's kind of part of the job.
One time when I was in my first legal job, I remember I took a it was in a law firm and I took a one week vacation on the summer. And before I left a partner, never worked with him call me on the phone at home the night before I was leaving for the vacation and said, I just want to let you know that we all hope you have a nice vacation, which I thought was funny.
And I was very surprised because I was very excited to go on vacation and so forth, but, there's a message there and the message. That I shouldn't be taking a vacation and and if you're an attorney practicing law, most attorneys do not take vacations very often have very little control over their time.
And and that's just how it [00:45:00] is. It's very, I remember when I was clerking for a judge attorneys would always come in, they'd be like, oh, this is the first vacation I'm taking in five years, the first vacation and, and that's it. And it's often true.
Attorneys do not have a lot of control over the time. They're driven by other people's deadlines and so forth. In the military, there's something called RNR. W what that is essentially is, between fighting and so forth soldiers get time off but not in a law firm.
There's very little control in most law firms over your time. And it's just how it is, and it's part of the job it's part of the profession. And and it's just something you need to understand. Th what's the point and so if practicing law is so stressful what's the point.
And the point is just to be aware, I think of the drawbacks of add and also the strengths. And then I appreciate to some extent, if you don't have a job that has a lot of these negative things in it, and yeah. And to understand if this is really for you in terms of the type of employer with one of the things that I talk about a lot, and I try to bring it up every week is it's, you don't necessarily need to practice with people [00:46:00] you don't like, or you don't need to practice in environments.
You don't like you don't need to practice in you don't need to prove anything. Maybe you need to prove something to yourself, but you should try to find yourself in a position that makes you happy. And with people that make you happy and an environment that makes you happy.
And and that's really a big part of the point I think, is to make sure that you're, you are happy because no one is going to make you happy except for you. And it's all about your choices. And I think a lot of the reason that people are in this situation is that they're allowing others to act on them.
And so they're P other people are influencing what happens to them. Other people are in, in a position where they're relying on others to. For them to be happy and no one is ever going to make you happy, you have to do it. And then you have to make yourself happy.
And it's based on the kind of employer, whether it's, if you're with the right employer, you're going to be happy. And there are big law firms where you could be very happy. I know people that have worked in, law firms that have the worst possible name for being sweatshops and so forth.
[00:47:00] And they didn't have that experience at all. And and it just depends on the people you work with and so forth, but you need to realize that you need to, make yourself happy. You need to take control. And I know that a lot of the people that I've seen that have died or had problems or been through the worst asks have been victims of the worst possible negatives of practicing law.
The reason for that, it's just because they've allowed themselves to be acted upon and by, by forces that you know, without taking control of their careers and lives. And and you can certainly, when, practicing law is a great profession. There's a lot of very good point parts of it.
The idea that you can do something and you can practice in your eighties or nineties was just reading about one of my favorite judges Weinstein that, I don't know if he's one of my favorite, but I think he's a very smart. Good brighter. And and and he practiced into his nineties, lots of attorneys practicing in their 90th judges and practicing their nineties.
You can do this for a long time, but you need to find that balance and you need to, make sure that you're [00:48:00] putting yourself in the right environments. And and it may be a large law firm and may be a mid sized law firm. I may be academia. I may be it can be all sorts of things, but you need to put yourself in the right environment and you need to come out of this and win.
And law is a great profession, even as working in a law firm, it can be a great profession because you can get clients, you can you can you can build your book of business. You're going to become an expert. There's so many things that I could talk about that I think are great.
And I think next week, I'll talk about why this practicing law is an awesome profession, but you need to really think about that. And and the, one of the things that it's very difficult because in my refreshing, the attorneys that want to work in the large law firms are not always the right people.
You have to think about that if that's what you want, cause not everyone is suited to it. And and I don't necessarily have a negative view of anybody of the legal profession. I don't have a negative view of really type of any type of high achiever.
Working in a big law firm is high achievement, but you have to understand. That you have to find for you what is the right atmosphere? And and [00:49:00] you have to roll up, rely on what's intuitive to you and what makes sense. And typically, one of the things I was talking to someone yesterday if associating with a certain type of person makes you unhappy and uncomfortable, then you should avoid that person.
Why would you want to continually be upset? If so, if going into work at a certain type of firm or certain types of thing makes you unhappy, then you know, then you shouldn't do it. You shouldn't put yourself into any type of situation that makes you upset. If being in a relationship is continually unhappy for you.
You shouldn't be doing it. It's going to make you upset. If you're in a legal atmosphere where, you know, you'll never 68 at a high level doing it, there's not probably not in your best interest. And so you have to take a look at all of these things and think to yourself, what am I doing?
Is it, what am I doing as a leader in your word? Isn't making me happy will make me happy in the long run. And for many people the answer is yes. And for others, it's not, and you may enjoy the competition. You may really enjoy if you're in a major firm, [00:50:00] you may enjoy it.
And that's great. And if it is you should do it. I work actually much harder than. Than I did when I was practicing law much harder, but at the same time one of the reasons is that I really enjoy what I'm doing. And and so you need to enjoy what you're doing. You may enjoy selling cars.
You may enjoy, I know a guy it just depends. You may enjoy doing lots of things. It doesn't have to be selling cars. You may enjoy being a therapist or being a, I know an attorney became a therapist. I know an attorney used to become, real estate tycoons. I know attorneys that have become priests and monks and, there's all sorts of things you can do.
But you have to be or I know attorneys that have thrown themselves into this major firm stuff and love it and are in the headlines and and doing very well. It just depends. But this is something that I love talking about this. I love helping people and it, because there's so much potential for growth.
And I th I will say that I feel like a lot of the people that don't grow or the people that don't know what's happening. And so you taking the time to listen to a webinar like this, or watch this as something that can be very [00:51:00] helpful for you. So in terms of the girl who was addicted to crystal meth, she actually became and it's doing great.
She moved to a smaller market. She she's got her own firm and she's now working with people that have had issues. With drugs and substance abuse and things like that, and is very happy. And she just was in the wrong environment and she's well-known and doing well. And so the point is there's a place for everyone in the legal profession.
And and you're going to find what you're looking for. If you approach things in the right way and ask questions, listening to something like this is great too. Cause you know, what the traps are. So I'll take a quick break. Right now it is 11, 12 in where I'm at. So I will be back probably by 11, 15, so three minutes.
And then and then I'll take questions about this and anything other questions and he wanted a house today about anything.
all right, let's start with questions. Let's see what we got here. First of all.
Let's see. Okay. First one. I read your articles regularly, given your views and commit to work as a lawyer, would it make sense for a junior qualified buyer? Just [00:52:00] six months. PQQ to be a claim sand on a Marine insurance company. I think I mentioned this one last week. So let me just see here. No, give me once.
okay. Sure. I'm just looking at these questions first. Oh, this is fun. I like these questions. Okay. All right. Let's see. Okay. So one of the trainers experiences, and I'm not let me make sure, just give me one second. I'm sorry. Give me one second. Want to make sure that I'm sharing the right stuff here? Give me one second. Okay. I think that works.
Okay. I just have one of the strangest experiences and I'm not sure how I feel about it. I finished a screener with a vault 10 and came away feeling by the max. It started off with me answer some questions about my similar work experience in my aims concerning an office location interfere was great and there was good synergy because the practice was also one I was very much interested in.
So I got to bring up some really cool stuff they did in their field. The suddenly to them talking quite a bit, quite a while though, since they were very passionate about what they did, I loved listening to them. Talk about it, fellows that I didn't [00:53:00] really leave them with X to assess me on because I had limited speaking time, which got me worried that I might've screwed up somehow.
What is the implication? They didn't ask about my Los Como strengths are to ask myself. I says, it's really down to being written up. Okay. This is actually a great question. Grades or anything pretty high up CC at the pharma question. Okay. This is a very good question. Actually. I like this question.
Let me just see here. Ah, let me fix this again. Sorry. Okay. Yeah, this is actually a very good question. So the reason this is a good question is this brings up something very interesting. So anytime you go in to an interview and the interviewer does most of the talking, the interviewer does most of the talking that's actually a good sign.
So you want the interview of your viewer does most of the time. So a lot of times there's a famous story. One of my mentors is a guy named guard, J Abraham, and he's a marketing guy. And I don't know if I call him a mentor, but I read a lot of his marketing stuff when I was younger.
And then I started going to wa meet meeting with him and kinda, made friends with him and stuff. But he tells a story about that, most people are trying to listen [00:54:00] and most people are trying to are most people are trying to talk and want to be heard and so forth. And very few people listen.
So he, he said that he was, he wanted to kind of test and he had the idea of thinking about how would it work if I just tried to listen and what, what would change? And so he got in a plane and. And the guy next to him started talking to him. And so he just decided he was going to keep asking the guy more questions and get the guy to talk.
So it was his, long flight for, three and a half hours from, I don't know, from LA to Chicago or something. And so finally the plane landed and and the whole plane Jay didn't say anything about himself. He just kept asking the guy, oh, tell me more. What about this? And and then the guy basically said at the end of the flight, this is one of the most interesting conversations I've ever had