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.

Monday, June 14, 2004

We had a presentation at work today from some corporate partners talking about what they do. It was actually a very solid presentation -- I came in knowing very little about what lawyers on the corporate side do, and left having a decent idea, sort of, a little bit. But enough that a thought passed through my head that I've been playing around with since. I have a macro-level lack of understanding about our economy that makes it absolutely impossible for me to have any appreciation for what corporate lawyers, investment bankers, hedge fund people, private equity folks, venture capitalists, and big businessmen do, or to have any idea why they're necessary. I understand that we have all sorts of financial structures and rules and regulations and processes and forms and business arrangements. I just don't understand what they are and why we need them. This is at a level so far removed from the actual practice of these professions that it's not an indictment of anything or an opinion about the value of certain people in society -- it's just a general ignorance of what goes on and why that may or may not be important. To me, if I have a business -- making sneakers, let's say -- I understand that I need leather, and thread, and people to sew them; I need factories, and trucks, and accountants to keep the books, and marketing people, and lawyers to make sure I don't do anything wrong; and some people to set strategy, and some people to sell my shoes, and a banker to collect my money... but I don't understand why these things require, say, bidding procedures, or compliance with something apparently known as the '40 Act. Or why we may need to involve an investment bank in what we do, and get other people to put money into it. And why all of this is so complicated and takes so many smart people to spend so many hours worrying about this. All that should matter are the shoes.

See, as I write it, I realize I should have a better idea of what the business world looks like than I do, and it all probably comes off as very naive and unsophisticated. But because I don't understand where these players fit, I find myself unable to imagine doing these things I see as abstract for a living and getting excited and passionate about them. I just can't quite get myself to care. And I don't say that in a bad way, but in the same way I might say that I just can't get myself to care about cricket because I've never seen a game and don't know any of the players. I'm not saying cricket is a bad sport. I just don't know the rules, and would hardly be inclined to choose to go watch, or play. And I'd probably look a little skeptical at someone who did decide to go play, since I have no way of understanding his passion and his interest. And, since I'm familiar with lots of other sports, and they get me interested and motivated, it's not like I'm dying to learn about cricket, or even have much of a desire at all to become an expert. I'd rather just play baseball. I've gone too far with the analogy, but this is kind of how I feel, in a way, about investment banking and securities law, and stuff like that. It's cricket. It may be a great sport. But given what I know now, I can't imagine staying up all night measuring the paddles (do they even use paddles?), or figuring out whether to trade the catcher (do they even have a catcher), or even figuring out which channel the games are aired on.

(See, you hang around through the nonsense and eventually I say something substantive, right?)