Jeremy's Weblog

I recently graduated from Harvard Law School. This is my weblog. It tries to be funny. E-mail me if you like it. For an index of what's lurking in the archives, sorted by category, click here.

Saturday, March 13, 2004

Waddling Thunder responds to my posts below about the law firm partner who posted on the Princeton Review board about work vs. life at a big firm. WT writes:

My sense is that if something about the law firm life gives you a real kick, then the appalling hours are probably tolerable. The pleasure might come from being part of a piece of litigation, or knowing that you're part of a deal that makes people money, or that you're competing against other smart, hard working people, but you need to really enjoy some part of the whole thing. Unlike many others, though, I do believe practicing law can be a calling, something people are really meant to do.
I don't think I disagree. If this stuff is your passion -- and you want to be there, and you enjoy the work, for whatever reason (although "knowing that you're part of a deal that makes people money" strikes me as a fairly appalling reason, but that may just be me), then of course it's a great job. That's the goal, isn't it -- to find the job that feels like a calling (at best), or (at worst) at least feels somewhat pleasurable to do every day.

But even if you love the job -- the partner on the Princeton Review board was answering a question where someone asked if one day a week he'd be able to go do a family thing at 6:30 at night. And his answer was a pretty unambiguous "not if you want to succeed here." It just strikes me that you need more than a "real kick" out of the work to truly be happy when it's the only thing you can really do with yourself. I get a real kick out of writing stuff. If you chained me to my computer and told me I had to write 18 hours a day, I don't think I'd get a real kick out of it anymore. And I say this, obviously, as a completely uninformed outsider. I've never worked at a firm; I don't know if it really is impossible to have some sort of balance in your life or not; I don't know if maybe the work is rewarding enough to overcome the hours -- maybe it really is; I can't possibly know yet. All I do know is that one of my biggest fears is waking up one morning and hating the life I'm leading, regretting the choices I've made, and having no clear way out from where I've ended up. So quotes like the one on the Princeton Review board scare me, just a little.

UPDATE: Chris at cogitation responds too, from the perspective of someone who worked long hours at a big consulting firm.