A locus for eccentrics (hopefully)

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

I Do, Adieu

This morning, I resigned from my law firm. I'm still in kind of a daze about it, but on balance I am certain I did the right thing. I quit for a variety of reasons, many of which parallel those of other attorneys who leave firms; overwork, burn out, stress, ect. For the eight months I worked there, I could never get past the feeling of cold, naked fear that would grip me almost every morning when I got to the office, or when something threatened to spring out of control in court, or when I knew my bosses were about to scream at me, or call me stupid, or when I was impossibly behind on a major project with a deadline looming. The first thing my Doctor told me this past January after I told her my symptoms was "You need to get another job."

I guess I took it for granted that I would be phenomenally successful right out of the gate, and ignored the anecdotes and statistics about the high turnover rate at some of these firms. After only a few weeks, I could see why (and I worked at a relatively small firm set in the suburbs - I can't imagine how some of the bigwigs do it in Wall Street). The work managed to be both mind-numbingly tedious and unreasonably stressful. And I don't think I was really that good at it. And the partners at our firm were perfectionists who belittled you for sport. After a few months, it stops being a healthy environment to be in. I don't have regrets about anything--it was good to see what the private sector is like, and absorb the corporate culture, and get some solid work experience, and I learned a lot. But since December I feel like I've been walking around with my stomach in knots, and I've had difficulty carrying on conversations with my friends about normal stuff. I had a shitty Thanksgiving and Christmas because even though I was surrounded by people I love, I couldn't stop thinking about any one of the hundreds of different things that were back at the office, waiting to blow up in my face (and many of them did). The worst part about it is that many of your mistakes don't come back to haunt you until months afterward. Why, just this week I was called into the Senior Partner's office and ripped into about a file that I hadn't touched since, like, October.

So today I just said fuck it. We left things on a civil note, and I assured them it wasn't personal, it was just time to move on. I'm a little anxious because its a tight job market and I take nothing for granted, but other than that, I feel an enormous sense of relief. The one thing I take from this is no job is worth being miserable day in and day out. I plan on looking for other law firm jobs in the next few weeks and months, because I want to really feel like I experienced the culture of a law firm before I decide that its not for me. I owe it to myself to try it out one more time before I give up on it for good and explore some alternate legal job (public interest? administrative legal work? legal education?) or another career path altogether. I know that in the meantime, I will be okay. Its a tough market out there, no job is guaranteed for me to grab, and my savings are finite. But at least I can relax a little bit today, learn from this experience and move on from there. My continued thanks for your support.


Blogger steve said...

Wow, good luck. I guess there is something about being in a more relaxed environment, even if you don't make The Big Bucks.

9:33 PM

Blogger neill said...

I wonder how much of it had to do with going through all of that in the 'burbs? I can't imagine living out there (without having kids--obviously that changes the calculus a little bit) and not shooting myself in the head.

8:08 AM

Blogger Omar said...

I feel like the last few months have been so busy, whatever setting I was in would not have made a difference. I don't neccessarily have the same aversion to the suburbs that a lot of other people do, and I doubt that if I gone through all of this in Chicago, I would have been able to take the time and enjoy the environment. It doesn't really seem to work like that, at least for me.

On the other hand, there were a couple guys at my firm who lived in the city and commuted, and wouldn't have it any other way. They always ended up sleeping in the office, though, which in my mind defeated the purpose.

8:16 AM

Blogger Jefe said...

Tough decision to make, but it sounds like the right one.

10:12 AM

Blogger steve said...

Just a taste of what waits for you, jefe.

7:50 AM

Blogger Jefe said...

I know. I become nervouser and nervouser.

9:09 AM


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