Confessions of a Laid-off Lawyer

Just Your Average Joe Blogging Away His Debt—In One Year or Less

View From the Top

with 2 comments

Total Black: $84.21
Total Red: $228,973.35

Last night I paused for a moment at work and snapped a few pictures with my iPhone of the midtown Manhattan skyline.  This is the view outside one of the rooms I was working out of.  Amazing.  And beautiful in a way only modern cities can be.  I have a similar sense of awe anytime I land in Chicago—seeing all the lights spread out in grids for miles.  I recall being humbled and awed when visiting the Sears Tower at night one time.  Every pair of lights moving around the city carried at least one person scurrying to another destination.  So too here.  Many, though certainly not all, of the lights peppering this picture illuminated someone burning the midnight oil.  And it was nearly midnight when I took this.  Just at midnight when I left.  I definitely got in thirteen hours yesterday.  I suspect there will be more nights like this in the days to come.

This time I’m working on a white-collar criminal matter.  Who says contract attorneys don’t get substantive work?  Most of my time being a contract attorney has included work on substantive projects.  Certainly not every project, however.  The first contract attorney project, mentioned back in A Minor Triumph, was literally secretarial: we inventoried boxes and created excel spreadsheets to document the contents of each box.  They don’t teach you Microsoft Excel in law school.  They should because lawyers love their charts.  I did at least get teased with a bit of patent law on that project though; an area I’d never worked in before.  Next came my first true document review case, mentioned first in Update on Efforts; it occupied nearly all of September and much October and introduced me to the true world of document review.  But it also shed a bit of light on how the Department of Justice handles antitrust matters.  And I gained a bit of knowledge of an area of business I would never have sought out on my own.  Those first two projects probably contained the least substance, but they were good in other ways.  The next project, mentioned in Working on Wall Street (and which abruptly ended on Christmas Day, which I had no qualms calling them out on in Bah! Humbug!), exposed me to construction defect and also product liability matters.  Also two areas of the law I’d never worked in.  I also got valuable hands-on analysis of how attorneys read, interpret, and respond to requests for the other side to turn over documents.  Thinking aloud, the attorney wondered if the law firm issuing the demand had included drafts in their definition of “document.”  If not, drafts would not be responsive to their requests.  The law firm I worked at as an associate really didn’t have many active litigation matters going on, and those they did, they certainly didn’t sit down with the first- and second-year associates and masticate over terms like this firm did.  Despite the shoddy way it treated us in winding down the project, I do appreciate that level of inclusion we received while there.  And now on this project, I’m learning a good deal about the New York real estate market while gaining some exposure to a prosecution by the United States Attorney’s Office here in Manhattan.

That all said: I’m not making a pitch to remain a temp attorney for the rest of my life.  I just find that there’s much to learn from the projects I’ve been on and there’s a way to spin it when the time comes to interview for a permanent position.  It’s not as if I’ve been sitting around with my legal thumb up my ass.  Though I may have seen a few temps actually doing that themselves once or twice.  But I digress.

One thing that I thought about last night: how so many people out there want this view.  It’s a symbol of success.  We’ve seen numerous films where the executive sits at his desk with nearly a panoramic view of the city from the top of his building.  This view wasn’t really at the top of the building.  But you can’t tell from that pic.  In Manhattan, every tall building—and some not so tall—also have similar views.  There’s no top in this city really but multiple tops all around.  And even the cleaning lady has that same view.  I’m sure she sits in the boss’s chair every so often and kicks up her flat-heeled shoes and admires the view.  What an image: hundreds of cleaning ladies, late at night, all propped up in the bosses chair, feet up on the desk.  Lemon pledge off to the side.  There’s a view of corporate life waiting to be share.

I’m glad I’m getting all the trappings of success out of my system now. I was shackled by them earlier and they certainly led to my debt increasing.

2 Responses

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  1. Keep fighting the good fight. You take a lot of shit here and I just wanted to let you know I look forward to reading your daily posts each morning. Very insightful and entertaining. Cheers!


    January 26, 2010 at 11:45

  2. Hang in there. I know you get a lot of flack in comments, but I look forward to your entries every day. Best of luck!

    Jim in Chicago

    January 26, 2010 at 13:12

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