Get Your Law School Applications In: Welcome to the Profession

It’s that time of year when English, Philosophy, and History majors start wondering what they’re going to do after graduation.

If you’re thinking about going to law school, you’re welcome to read the entirety of this New York Times article, The Lawyer, the Addict,  on substance abuse in the legal profession.

Or, you can read just this part, under the heading, “Rewarded for Being Hostile.” After noting that lawyers “have the highest rate of depression of any occupational group in the country,” there’s this:

Yes, there are other stressful professions…Being a surgeon is stressful, for instance — but not in the same way. It would be like having another surgeon across the table from you trying to undo your operation. In law, you are financially rewarded for being hostile.

I love that image. I mean, I also hate it, as a lawyer who has to deal with lawyers all day long.

The law is a strange profession. Look at the ads in the Yellow Pages, and there they are: “Hostile”; “Aggressive”; “Take No Prisoners”; “Bulldog.”


Here is a law firm using, literally, an angry gorilla to advertise their services. (I found another one with a lawyer holding a ninja sword, but I didn’t post that.)

This isn’t the part where I say that I hate my job, but it’s a note that the legal profession is a strange one.

The next ten years will be interesting, as more of the “old school” attorneys retire and make way for the millennials, who, if we believe the news stories, value quality of life and collaboration. Maybe, we’ll see a decrease in this “law is war” mentality.

But, with a generation raised on social media snark, I wonder whether we’ll see a continuation of the broader cultural shift to a lack of civil behavior, particularly with the wide-spread use of e-mail communication as the primary means of lawyer to lawyer communication and long-distance / remote practice.

What I’m saying, in the end, is: Welcome to the Jungle, new lawyers.