Tuesday, February 16, 2010

I Love the Law Again


I had a pretty strange experience yesterday. As a favor to a friend I found myself in a conference room surrounded by a bunch of business guys eager to get legal advice on a number of corporate matters. My adrenaline started pumping as the trickle of legal concepts and strategies I presented became a torrent. I found myself excited, indeed intoxicated, by the magnificent edifice that is the law. And you know what? I enjoyed it.

Or did I? Maybe I've become so averse to opening any door that could let in the Jack of old that what I felt was not joy but relief. The bottom line is that, for the first time in a long time, I found myself enveloped in the exciting machinations of corporate law without all the baggage I felt back in the day. There are several reasons why this happened. It probably helped that the business guys in question run a company that isn't stuffy and that is ethically honest. It's also not lost on me that the progress I have made over the past several years has outfitted me with an impenetrable shield against all the BS I faced every day back at my old law firm.

But probably the most important reason is that I wasn't providing advice as a Big Law attorney. And I think that's why I might have felt relief during the meeting. I had always believed that my problem with Big Law was not Big Law itself but the tendendy of Big Law to encourage a lifestyle that was antithetical to my core beliefs. Suddenly, this belief was transformed into fact and I was free to love the law again, without having to reprise my role as an egocentric asshole lawyer.

Let me be very clear: I have ABSOLUTELY, POSITIVELY NO INTENTION of going back to corporate law. That being said, I consider yesterday's realization an unexpected gift.


Japhy said...

Good for you man. I come from a different background (small firm owner vs. Biglaw) but there are always moments when I love the law. The problem is that those moments also come with a price, and for me the baggage that comes with the lawyer-tag just isn't worth it right now. But I tell you, every now and then those moments happen and it's like the best drug in the world.

Jerry Critter said...

Maybe there is a roll for you as some sort of legal consultant. There are many small ethic corporations out there that could use good ethical legal advice. Let a regular law firm handle the details. You provide the ideas and general direction, but do not get involved in the details.

You offer ideas, the bones. Others flesh it out.

madison. said...

I stumbled across your blog, darling. It's glorious. Truly, inspiring. Please visit my personal blog sometime, follow if you'd like.

Afternoon Tea:

Bon vivant said...

Reminds me of why I left the states in '94 (Clinton, O.J. Simpson and other scoundrels getting away with 'murder') and found myelf in China where one would think I'd feel worse about those in power using it unethically. NOT. Being an alien, it didn't bother me a bit!

Jerry Critter said...

I'm not so sure that I would put Clinton and OJ in the same sentence, at least not the first Clinton that came to mind.

Kristy said...


As a practicing attorney, I love reading your blog and admire your decision to leave the confines of corporate law. I still enjoy practicing more days than I don't and I hope that I don't get to a position where the two are reversed. If so I hope I can bow out and go my own way as you have. In any event, I have found that these days of finding joy in your profession are gifts. Finding a client that I enjoy working with or finding a solution to a problem (and not overbilling for it) are what keeps me sane. Congrats on a great day.

Jack said...


I know what you mean. I know that if I were to ever get back in the game, those moments will exist amid other not so nice moments, no matter the circumstances.


Way ahead of you. If I ever go that way I think that will be one of my first stops.


Thanks. I like your prose as well. Don't be a stranger.

Jack said...

@Bon vivant,

Interesting. Becoming an expat to escape...


People are going to have different views and the ClintonS are going to have their detractors.


I congratulate you. You seem to have found the necessary balance. Maybe one day I will as well.

JenJen said...

Hi Jack~

I'm a new follower to your blog....and I truly enjoy reading your posts. I have encountered similar experiences to "I Love the Law Again" when transitioning out of the military. Sometimes the greatest things I have ever done were completed out of sheer happiness and delight, as opposed to obligation. I was a medic in the Army. I tired easily of medical techniques I was forced to practice over and over and OVER again. Nowadays, however, when my friends call for medical advice, I joyously respond to their inquiries with grace and excitement. Sometimes a job can become a jumping-off point for the true joys of life: helping those you actually care about!

Jennifer @ Conversion Diary said...

Once again, your journey in this department reminds me of my husband's. He also took a major jump from corporate law and left the industry altogether (I didn't even know he was an attorney when I met him). But then, a few years later, he had a similar discovery to yours: he realized that he actually loved helping people, and even had a natural knack for being a lawyer. Long story short, he now works with individuals -- especially small business owners trying to do cool stuff -- and he loves it. He realized it wasn't law he hated, it was the big firms.

Debbi said...

Very cool. Even if some law firms suck, that doesn't mean practicing law has to.

I learned more about what it was really like to practice law and got more satisfaction from doing so when I wasn't working in a traditional law firm setting.

Although I'm not practicing now (got other things I'd much rather be doing), I'm glad you find happiness in continuing to do so. Someone has to. :)

Anonymous said...

Hi! I'm semi-new to your blog and I enjoy reading about the changes you're making. I wanted to ask if you listen to Greg Holden. Your journey reminds me of his music. Especially this song: The Art of Falling...

anyway, thank you for sharing with us and inspiring me. :)

Chris Burrows said...

Hello Jack, I have just started blogging. I enjoy your writing. My husband and I retired very early I was 52 and he was 49,we had both worked, but always tried to live on one income, saving and donating some on the way.
My health became dodgy, so we just decided to retire. Living frugally seemed so much more attractive than working. Since we retired we have been incredibly busy we enjoy the luxury of too many pets and symphony/ballet tickets, the cheapest seats of course.
I am learning thru your blog to try to refrain from too much boring blather on mine, I did some serious pruning today!
Sel my husband uses a lot of his old work skills (jousting with bureaucracy)to help out our local inner city groups.
Keep on blogging ,you are worth reading. Thanks; Chris

Freely Living Life said...

Yet another inspiring post. We always enjoy your well written experiences! :)

Anonymous said...

I'm a former NY immigration attorney who left the law to move to Europe to be a screenwriter. To pay the bills, I often teach Legal English, or American Constitutional Law, or legal writing, etc. And I have to say - it's fun. Like you, I love the law. I just don't want it to dictate my life.

anuar said...

Hi Jack, I envy the way you managed to drop everything you lead in life and live in Voluntary Simplicity. Is it true to say that, you need to be filthy rich first to be able to throw all the worldly materialism. I am a father of 3 teenage kids, how do advise me to embrace the life of VS.. How about responsibility to their needs man..?? Or is this the reason for your blog "I dont want children".. to mean I dont want responsibility.?.. But on the other hand, nobody force you have any in the first place... Curious to see you take on what I should do.. Just go VS and avoid responsibility??


Anonymous said...

How trully interesting that an individual in this professional field changed his perspective to help regain some focus/clearity. I find that I have to get away from things to get a better look at the situation so that I can collect my thoughts. Sometimes you can't see the forest for the trees being in the way.

Jack said...


That is so true. Thought about your comment the other day. I hadn't responded to it originally, but I was sitting editing a contract and it just struck me that I was enjoying myself. How cool.

It's weird how over time my experience parallels his. I still remember talking to you about it way back when...


“Very cool. Even if some law firms suck, that doesn't mean practicing law has to.”

For the record, my old law firm didn't quite suck. I just think I wasn't made for that environment. I guess I am doing what you are doing: stuff I would rather be doing.

Jack said...


Thanks for the link. I googled him back in Feb when you menitoned him. Dig it. Any other favorites?


Thank you for reading and commenting. Sounds like you both embraced something simple early on. I just wish I had started years ago. Good luck blogging.

@Freely Living Life,

Thanks for the kudos. Don't be a stranger.

Jack said...


That's about what I feel. I hope the dream of writing is going well. Still in Europe?


“Is it true to say that, you need to be filthy rich first to be able to throw all the worldly materialism.”
I don't think so. Better men than I have been able to do just that without a cent to their names. I had to hit a wall of success and unhappiness before figuring it all out.

As for having kids, I don't think embracing simple living has to mean that you avoid responsibility as a father. In fact, it may mean that you have a responsibility to teach them that what's most important is not what's the most expensive, or most exclusive, or most coveted.


“I find that I have to get away from things to get a better look at the situation so that I can collect my thoughts. Sometimes you can't see the forest for the trees being in the way.”

All very true. Just check out my blog post immediately after this one.