Disclaimer: I know this is usually an in-house column with tips and tidbits about being a corporate attorney, but there have already been numerous columns about how to network (or not) through the holidays, how to prepare for the next billable year, and how to act at a party. I’m using today’s column to very briefly examine some of the real world negatives and positives going into the end of the year 2011. So, if you want in-house perspective, stop reading now, because that stuff will resume next week. Comments will, however, remain open.
Christmas is in a few days, and all I have on my mind are some heinous local crimes this week. A grown man raped a 9-month-old — yeah, read that again and try to forget it — and an adopted son tried to burn his family to death (succeeding in killing his father and two brothers). A man is being sentenced today for killing his girlfriend and their child on Father’s Day, and a man convicted of murder may go free because some jurors are now saying that they voted guilty in order to get home for the weekend. The local Occupy folks are freezing in their tents, and now just seem even more small and pitiful. Oh, and there is no snow, there has been no snow, and there might not be snow for a while — and this in a place that averages 160 inches of the stuff per year….
End of year accounting is fast approaching, and the requests from the sales force have become more strident and sometimes ridiculous. I understand the pressure, which is predictable, but the vast array of absurdity borders on comical. Law firm folks are either crunching for billables, or coasting because a big case made them early on. Bonus announcements are trickling out of the major cities, and while some folks are happy, most seem disappointed. Boies Schiller seems to be the rare firm that gave a ton of money in exchange for the killer work and working hours demanded of its associates.
The Congress is likely going on break without extending the payroll tax deduction, and the local district attorney just got screwed out of a federal judgeship, as well as his office. The Iraq War has officially been declared a “mission accomplished” — of course, almost 4,500 Americans, and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, are now dead, but hey, we’re out of there, right? God bless Academi, or whatever it’s called now. That billion plus of no-bid blood money should feel awfully righteous.
We’re about to really turn on the 2012 election cycle. Sarah Palin just hinted that she might run. Oh please, please, please. Child bride Courtney Stodden is still being exploited, and Reema Bajaj is now “Nicki.” Even the commenters seem maudlin — you sad, bro? And there are a ton of folks still looking for work, but who is hiring? Is it really Christmas? I took my kids to see Santa, and we’ve seen “Polar Express” umpteen times. Cards have been sent and received, and presents have been purchased and wrapped. But somehow, nothing seems that “different.”
However, there are signs of brightness: Above the Law is slowly evolving into a serious legal blog (I said slowly). There are some very talented writers on this site — all of Wallerstein’s stuff has been top shelf, and Lat’s piece yesterday was one of the best anywhere — and even some of the usual commenters have stepped up their game. I’ve been asked to write a book, which is cool, and impressive. So, things are good there.
There are also signs that the economy may be turning, albeit about as quickly as the Titanic turned away from that iceberg, but still. It is good news that many of the men and women in the Armed Services will be, if not home, at least safe, for Christmas. I do not tire of tearing up when I see military personnel reuniting with their families, and I suspect most folks find it very dusty in their TV rooms as well. There was a story the other day about a girl with brain cancer who received the opportunity to make a basket in a high school basketball game — when she missed, the other team handed her the ball for another shot, which she made. She later scored a legit three pointer. People around the country are paying off strangers’ layaway bills, and charitable donations are up for the first time in years.
All in all, the more things change, the more they stay the same and all that blather. Life is good for some, and horrible for others. I very much appreciate the opportunity to write for this site, and I appreciate the folks who read, and are moved to write to me. I genuinely hope that the legal market takes no time in finding an upswing in the coming year, because God knows we need it. And I hope that your holidays are good ones, half full or otherwise.
After two federal clerkships and several years as a litigator in law firms, David Mowry is happily ensconced as an in-house lawyer at a major technology company. He specializes in commercial leasing transactions, only sometimes misses litigation, and never regrets leaving firm life. You can reach him by email at email@example.com.