Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Lawyers AKA Pompous A-Holes?

Ran across this letter and I nearly fell over in my chair:
I've been dating this guy who is a young, successful lawyer for a couple of weeks. I really like him but whenever we go out with my friends, he talks A LOT about the fact that he went to law school and is a lawyer. He doesn't even talk about specific law experiences. He just continuously reminds people that he is a lawyer. Most of the time, it doesn't even relate to the conversation, he just throws it out there.

Don't get me wrong, he should be proud because he worked really hard to get where is, but it just comes across as too much. Even my friends have noticed and have said how they really like him but "he talks about being a lawyer a lot." They weren't mean about it and just dismissed it as his way of trying to impress them, but he does it often, even among his own friends or new people he meets.
The fact of the matter is that I hang out with very down-to-earth people who aren't pretentious. So here is my issue: some friends and I are planning on going away and sharing a vacation house. I don't know everyone in the group that well and I am concerned that this problem will happen again, only it's a bigger deal because we'll all be stuck together for a few days. One friend even said "just make sure he doesn't constantly talk about being a lawyer."
I definitely don't want him to hide who he is and what he does, but I don't want him to gloat about it either. How do I tell him to cool it with the bragging without hurting his feelings or undermining his success?
– Cool It, Boston 
See what I mean?  Ha. If you recognize yourself as this guy, please shoot me an email!  Love it!

Oh yah, here's my answer.

Dear Cool It,

You're reading him all wrong.  He's ecstatic to have landed a job as a lawyer.  This is an achievement.  It's the gold medal of going to law school during this recession.  He probably realizes how lucky he is. He keeps interjecting it in conversation because he can hardly believe it himself.  Because you're assuming that all lawyers are well off and employed, you do not value his great success.  If he had  completed an Iron Man in record time, would you feel the need to silence him?  No. You'd let him talk about it a few times to many people--because it would be the accomplishment of a lifetime.  So, let him gloat.  He'll probably be let go from his Big Firm job in a few years, then you'll be wiping the tears off his face when he tells people he WAS an attorney.

Love, hugs and kisses,


  1. You have it all wrong. He may have a JD and may have passed the bar, but no way this guy is an actual lawyer. Notice how she says he talks about being a lawyer but never shares specifics, thats a clear give away that this guy is either unemployed or doing doc rev. This girl wants to believe that she has the golden ticket so she refuses to see the signs. People who talk the most, lie the most.

  2. Good point! I guess I read too much into the word "successful". Let's revise that to say that he's a loser and trying to cover it up by showing off a prestigious degree--although he has nothing to back it up.

  3. As a lawyer, I think it's perfectly normal to mention to people that one is a lawyer. I mean, people will always ask you what you are anyway. If you were a lawyer, as I am, you would want to pre-empt others and tell them before they even ask. Practicing lawyers, like me, can't give out details about the cases they are currently working on. Maybe past cases, but if he is a young lawyer, like me, he wouldn't have any. It would all be current. Maybe the judge has ordered all the lawyers in the case not to talk about it to anyone. Maybe it's just unethical. Back when I was in law school, I think I learned something about it being unethical to talk about your cases and clients. Maybe that's just how good lawyers like me behave. It's hard to believe I still remember anything from law school. Man, law school was the best!! Parties all the time. Study for like maybe 3 weeks every semester. It would be hard for any lawyer, as I am, to not mention their fun years at law school. So give your lawyer sig-o a break. As I lawyer, I know I'd want my significant other to be okay with me. Oh, did I mention that I'm a lawyer? And I went to law school too! Man, those were the times.

  4. I assumed that since law school consumed his life so much these past few years that he has absolutely no idea what else to talk about.

    When you get out of law school, your ability to interact with the outside world is all screwed up. Or, at least mine was. Law school is your life 24/7, so you really don't know what else to talk with other people besides some really raunchy blackacre jokes.

    Then again, it doesn't help that law school itself help feeds the "you are the most amazing person ever!" ego trip. Whether it's selling the idea that you are saving the world, or that you are undergoing the worst stress EVER SUFFERED BY A HUMAN BEING. It is a hotbed of narcissism that toys heavily with your self esteem as you are constantly forced to be measured against other people.

  5. I agree that the guy is probably lying. Probably he is a paralegal or a word processor at a law firm. Or he's a low level administrator in a law school. Or something like that.

    Ask him what law firm he works at and ask if you can drop by some time and see his office. If he's truly a proud lawyer, he should have no problem with this request. But instead, I predict he will make some lame excuse.

    Even if the guy is not lying, I would still dump him. If his personality is grating against you after only 2 weeks, imagine what things will be like when the honeymoon period is over.

  6. Can you imagine Bill Gates saying over and over, "You know, I'm in computer software."

  7. She seems to indicate that he's a nice guy and this is the only thing that bothers her and her friends. More than likely he's struggling and barely making it by, he most likely is not in fact a practicing attorney, or much less a successful one.

    There are two ways to go on that. Nobody likes a depressed loser, and generally if you're evasive about what you do people consider you a loser. The other way is to preempt any attacks on you being a loser by sort of over compensating, at least out in the start. This is actually a better strategy, because it might become a self fulfilling prophecy anyway. He is more likely to be treated with respect and drum up actual business.

    I've pretty much been on both extremes, but I don't really go out much or interact with many others besides family members, whom I have no real need to impress these days. Most of my friends before law school are usually working or I've otherwise lost contact with them, and lawyers suck to be around so I don't hang out with anybody I'd know from working. I mean really most lawyers are assholes. You have to be in this profession.

    More than likely she thinks this guy is her meal ticket. He knows that's the only reason she is with him too. If/when she figures out how destitute he in fact is, she will probably dump him and flee for the hills, driving him even closer to /killself. His gamble is probably that he makes it before then or she somehow falls in love before that time (haha unlikely).

    I can't hate on this guy too much since we all know how shitty everything is.

  8. If he has a job, great, but I second what BIDER says . . . we'll see what happens in 2-3 years after he gets unceremoniously booted out of his associate office. You may well be the one supporting him! Just ask my non-lawyer fiance. You have to keep in mind that law school is factory that creates a never ending supply of self-inflated, narcacissts (or people with severe self-esteem issues if they didn't go to a top 14 school). Just for the record, I fall into the latter category, altoough I was an A-hole myself when I graduated law school and got my biglaw job. Only after going through the revolving door of biglaw life did I finally become humble, i.e., less of an A-hole - but my fiance is still working on that character flaw!

  9. I would rather point to the list of beautiful women I have dated than point out that I went to law school. The first is a bigger accomplishment, and did not result in six-figure debt.

  10. My first four wives thought I was a nice guy. By the way, did I mention I am a lawyer?

  11. @ 1:00 pm,

    while it may be more impressive to point to a list of beautiful prior girlfriends when talking to a random person, it probably is not a good idea to do such a thing with your current girlfriend, or in front of your current girlfriend. I remember that when I was in law school and I mentioned my ex by mistake, my current kinda cringed, but to her credit did not flip out. I miss law school. It was such a carefree time. The life of a lawyer is just so stressful. Oh, I guess I forgot to mention, I'm a lawyer.

  12. The reason he keeps mentioning it is because it has not had the payoff he expected. We are raised to think of lawyers performing important, intellectually stimulating work that makes us admired members of our community. But in reality, most lawyers are paper pushers or bottom scrapers, struggling to pay off their student loans. A law degree comes with neither the quality of work we believed in, nor the prestige. There is nothing admirable about researching obscure, and likely unimportant issues for a client who themselves is just a paper mill. Maybe there used to be some great thing that was "thinking like a lawyer" but now the best way to survive in legal practice is to not think about it at all.

    He keeps mentioning it because there is a gaping hole in his expectations, and he subconsciously thinks that eventually he will get the 'at-a-boys society promised him for his hard work. He went to law school thinking that being a lawyer meant something, and even with a "good" law job, he's coping with the fact that being a lawyer means nothing.

  13. Rewarding you say?
    .... should I mark this little line of code confidential, work-product... ah what the heck let it pass.

  14. What's the big deal?

    EVERYBODY'S a lawyer now.

  15. It amazes me how these anti law school blogs have grown exponentially in the past 2-3 years. The word is getting out among LSAT test prep companies, too.

    I think eventually congress and the gov't will have to address the issue about too many law schools, too many loans and not enough jobs for students to pay them back.

    While the banks and lending firms are greedy scumbags, its hurting them even more to give out loans to those students who can't pay them back.

  16. Sounds like a tool to me.



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