Friday, May 04, 2007

What I Like/Dislike about being an Attorney

Since Wednesday is my last day at the firm, and I'll likely not practice law for another year or more, I thought it would be fitting to take stock of what I do and do not like about the practice. Like many people, I often forget the bad, remembering only the good, so lists are helpful for me. The first list like this that I remember making was formed right after my 4 and 1/2 year long relationship ended. It was my very first "real" boyfriend, and we'd try to end things before but inevitably ended back up together. So I made a list of everything about our relationship and him that I didn't like and reread it (often) as needed to avoid calling him or returning his calls. I imagine this list will serve a different purpose:)

Things I Like About Working as an Attorney at this Firm

(1) It pays relatively well.
(2) It is sometimes intellectually challenging.
(3) Every day/case/client is different.
(4) Flexibility. If I "need" to take a two hour lunch or come in late, I can. Of course, I have to make up those hours, but still it's great to have that freedom.
(5) Some of the work that I do is easy.
(6) Sometimes I get to really help people.
(7) The advisory relationship role I have with some clients.
(8) Working downtown and being able to walk to lunch/courthouse/shops.
(9) The happy feeling I get from wearing a TEE-SHIRT with my suits....as if I'm getting away with something really exciting.
(10) About 12 times a year, I get a free super good meal complete with appetizer, drinks, dessert, etc.

One Thing I Like/Don't Like

People seem to treat me differently because I am an attorney. For the most part, there are three reactions to someone learning of my profession. (1) It's no big deal, and the person treats me the same as they otherwise would. (2) If it's at a bar or in a social situation, I sometimes get the attitude from men of "wow" or "You must make a lot of money" or "I guess you think I'm better than you." I'll attribute that to them drinking and being the vice president of the staff that oversees the staff that stocks the restrooms or something silly like that. (3) They seem to treat me with more respect. I know there are a lot of lawyer jokes and the like, but people seem to assume that because I'm an attorney I am also smart, educated, and professional.

I put this in the like/dislike category because I do not like how people treat me "better" because I am an attorney (as opposed to staff or any other human being).

Things I Dislike about Working as an Attorney

(1) Billable hours.
(2) No real sick leave and vacation time as a result of billable hours.
(3) Often feeling overwhelmed by my workload, deadlines, the unpredictability, etc.
(4) Having to wear suits (and having to spend the $ to buy said suits)
(5) Needing to focus 98% of the time and thus not really being able to have an "off" day...or if I do have an "off" day, needing to make it up at night/on the weekends
(6) There being so much I do not know and sometimes things I don't even know I don't know....and realizing a mistake could potentially cost my client a lot.
(7) Having so many balls in the air that I know one is inevitably going to drop.
(8) Having about 20 potential bosses (a.k.a. partners), most of whom don't know (and/or do not care) about your workload for other partners

p.s. I'm grateful for the opportunity I've had to work at my firm and learn a lot about the practice of law.

21 comments:

Ozzy said...

Well put!

e.b. said...

I was just about to ask you when the last day was and then I read this.

Well put. Though I do notice your likes seem to be tempered - as in sometimes you get to do things that are exciting. But I really think that is true for most of us. There are not a lot of highs and they are not all that long lasting or staying. I could ramble on for hours about this topic. But really the point is GOOD LUCK and ENJOY!

Ally said...

Ozzy: Thanks.

e.b.: You're right...unfortunately more of my time here than not didn't include those things, but I really enjoyed the times that did.

brandy said...

Well said. I had never thought about the fact that a laywer has 20 bosses. This was a great list!

Accidentally Me said...

Wait...Ozzy just chimed in? THE Ozzy?

LeiselB said...

Wow- very mature and well-put. I'm impressed.

Aaron said...

But you are rich, right? :D

Ally said...

Aaron: In comparison to most of the world, we're both extremely wealthy.

Leiselb: Thanks.

AM: Yes! He commented not long ago too.

Brandy: Yeah, all of the partners are at least technically your bosses, which can create an interesting dynamic....plus your clients.

Snake Diggity said...

Good post.

About your comment RE: reactions to guys finding out you're a lawyer, I have some thoughts on that.

The way I was raised, doctors and lawyers were held in the highest esteem, followed by your accountants and engineers and those types, followed by everybody else. I assume this is pretty much how most other upper middle class kids were raised.

As an "aging" single dude, you start to run into more and more single women who are "professsionals" (doctors, lawyers, etc.). I guess because I'm just some dude, not a doctor, lawyer, acct., or otherwise, they expect there to be some issue with what they do for a living. In my experience, the issues that professionals put on their relationships is self-imposed. I don't care how much $ a girl makes; that would be pretty shallow imo. And any girl who thinks how educated she is or that how much money she makes should/could/probably intimidates guys is only creating a concern where there otherwise wouldn't be. I mean, I've gone out with multiple female attorneys who, on the first date, will ask something like "Are you intimidated by me because I'm an attorney?" Wtf? Why would I be? I didn't care before, but now I guess I should.

Sorry for the rant. I just think being an attorney or doctor or teacher or garbagewoman frequently isn't an issue until the person makes it one.

Ally said...

Snake: Thanks for sharing your perspective. I am surprised that someone has asked you if you were intimidated by her profession; I would find that terribly off-putting. My profession has not been an issue at all with the men I've dated nor would I expect it to be; I've gotten the "intimidated" bit a few times from men I've dated, but it wasn't because of my profession but more b/c I was confident and independent, I think. Have you gone on second dates with the attorneys who asked you that?

Snake Diggity said...

It's happened twice, and I went on more dates with one of them, because I tried not to let that part of it get to me. It was only in hindsight where I was like "Wtf? Why did they ask that?"

B said...

If I were to make a list like this about my job- I think I would have a hard time staying in the profession,( nursing) at present I am in denial and just keep on working.

but your definately right in that it's easier to walk away when you have the facts looking right at you.

The Egg said...

Good idea with the list. I need to make one!

Anonymous said...

What about benefits such as health insurance , retirement program? Dr. RJJ

Princess Extraordinaire said...

Good list of pros and cons - I do that all the time when, or after making a decision

cdp said...

Couldn't have said it better myself.

One of the balls dropped for me last fall and it was a harrowing experience. Nothing will flash your life before your eyes like the thought, however brief, that you have have possibly just committed majorly prima facie malpractice.

Ps, suits are hideous, especially during a Georgia August.

Ally said...

cdp: And Macon is soooo much hotter than Atlanta and totally unecessarily humid.

Princess: It definitely can help size things up.

Dr. RJJ: So are you saying my parents aren't just going to provide that for me?:)

Egg: They're sort of fun to do.

B: Sometimes despite how things stack up, we're just not ready to move on quite yet.

Snake Diggity: I can understand; in hindsight, I often wonder "wtf?"

socal sweetie said...

Wow, good luck finding yourself & what you really want from life =]. I think you're going to have an amazing time traveling, and in whatever you choose to do. That was a really interesting post, I've been debating about going to law school, but after hearing opinions from a lot of different people, I definitely don't think it's for me.

Good luck!

mallory said...

great... i guess! i have always wanted 2 be a lwayer, but after reading this it sounds frustrating. but that wont change my goal of becoming one! and thanx for the information!
love, mallory

James said...

Hi.
Thank you for the post. I have always had some interest in law and have recently been thinking very seriously about going to law school. I have a few concerns though. I am married and hope to have kids one day. Do you find it hard for most lawyers to find time for both work and family? And what about hobbies such as travel?
Any insight you can give me would be very appreciated. If you can email me sometime @ james.bryen@me.com I would very much appreciate it.
Thank you

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