Is $135,000 enough to get you to try the law firm crack?

Heather and the Dean

Law School graduation: The Dean was glad to see me go. So was I.

First year associate jobs are apparently paying up to that much according to today’s New York Times. So now you can make almost as much in your first year as you’ve shelled out for law school. That is if you work at a very top big firm in a major city, and if you can live on air then you can take a good chunk out of your loans. The discussion on the NYT message board is instructive. In it you can see fear about whether or not you deserve that money, frustration, and concerns about being valued. I think that the increased pay is really a loss of consortium payment for all the sex and happiness those folks will miss out on. Law school is the most effective (but expensive) contraception known to mankind.

Much of the whole system is painful and I’d love to see the incredible brain power and passion of all the people who work in law focussed on asking “what would work better than what we have” rather than politely bitch-slapping each other for not working as hard as we do in a system that isn’t really meeting anyones needs well.

People at law firms are often very very focussed on how much they and their peers are making. They often have major law school debt. They work extremely hard. Could they ever earn enough to make it worthwhile?

Here’s a little piece of my own WayBack Machine. A journal entry…

May 16th, 2002. That’s today’s date. I want to remember it as the day I bought my freedom. Today was the day I paid off my student loans. For some reason, i don’t want to tell mum and dad.

The loan payments have made saving impossible. I have not bought a home. I have no real investments. I missed the stock market boom and all the investment growth during the Net years. I had nothing to work with. The fact of law school debt never bothered me. It was the fact that I was *still* paying for an experience I didn’t really want in the first place. All these years the payments have been a reminder of just how deep the cost is when you mortgage your soul. When you do what you think you ”should” what’s expected. I did law school cause I thought it would help me get taken care of, and instead I found it cost me. It cost me my freedom. I cost me my self.

Today I cut my last tie with law school. Today I am a free woman.

…so why is the legal world so uncomfortable? Why does this profession rank #1 in depression, and high in alcoholism and unhappiness? I believe there is something very wrong at the heart of the entire system. But there is no room in law school to ask why, only how. When you’re a law student, you’re too busy learning the system and playing the system for grades to do anything else. My next solo comedy is about law school. It’s called The Law Project and in it I teach the class I always wanted to take. I often do workshops with audience as I love the “open source” writing process, so sign up for my mailng list it you’d like to get the heads up on the show and workshop invites.