Depressing Things

Ed. note: This post is by Will Meyerhofer, a former Sullivan & Cromwell attorney turned psychotherapist. He holds degrees from Harvard, NYU Law, and The Hunter College School of Social Work, and he blogs at The People’s Therapist. His new book, Way Worse Than Being A Dentist, is available on Amazon, as is his previous book, Life is a Brief Opportunity for Joy (affiliate links).

A visit to my office has evolved into something akin to the road to Lourdes. Pilgrims arrive red-eyed and defeated, faces etched with misery, searching for a way out of a trap.

The standard story is some variant of the following: You are either out of work or loathe your work. You have $180k in loans. You have either no income or an impermanent income paid to you in exchange for any joy life might offer. You see no hope.

Let me spell out the critical element here: You are one hundred and eighty thousand dollars in debt.

Just to fully drive the point home: that’s bankruptcy-proof debt.

You’ve yelled at your parents, but it’s not really their fault. You’ve wept and wailed and gotten drunk and stoned and consumed a scrip of Xanax. You’ve tried sleeping and pretending you don’t have to wake up.

Then comes the pilgrimage. Perhaps I can heal with a laying on of hands….

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Georgetown University Law Center (known for its great gym).

I feel very fortunate to have had an idea of what I wanted to do from such a young age, and even more fortunate that it involved graduate school. What can you do with a bachelor’s degree anymore? I’m hoping that the job market will pick up in the three years I spend at law school, because a lot of lawyers are getting laid off. The American Bar Association is even encouraging college students not to apply to law school, citing the bleak job market.

– Noah Rich, a Georgetown 1L who was interviewed by the New York Times as part of the newspaper’s survey of the class of 2011 at Drew University in Madison, New Jersey.

(It’s hard out there for a class of 2011 college graduate. More findings, and additional law-related tidbits, after the jump.)

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On the Philadelphia Craigslist, there is a job listing for people who enjoy pissing all over the 99% — a part-time job for a most likely unemployed person who nonetheless loves the people in power and hates everybody else. Oh, and applicants better have not protested against the Iraq war, because apparently this employer loves people who never question authority.

See, this is why we still have to pay attention to Super Tuesday despite the fact that the Republicans are down to a robot and a guy who hates women. Republicans always have a puncher’s chance because there are so many people in this country right now who are unemployed and willing to take part-time crap work, who still believe that someday — magically — they will end up on top.

It’s much easier to sing to these American idiots about the dream of prosperity than to tell people the truth: statistically speaking, you’re more likely to be struck by lightning that to go from the mailroom to the boardroom.

But, since I suspect at least 50% of the unemployed people out there don’t understand how the system works, let me post the job. Have fun with your self-loathing….

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I work as a lawyer so I can afford Gold Label so I can forget that I work as a lawyer.

Facebook status update of a person who graduated from a top 10 law school and now works at a large law firm.

When I was a kid, I thought only white people had to worry about being thirty-something.

I’m back. I got sick, again, with pretty much the same kind of acute sinus infection as I had the last time. It’s the second time in six months some stupid illness has completely floored me by making it hard to see and think — I definitely need at least one of those faculties to do my job.

Last time, when I got back, I was just happy to be alive and looking for somebody to blame. This time, I’m depressed. It’s probably because I was sitting the doctor’s office, and I was whining and in incredible pain and petulantly demanding answers as to why I’m having all these health problems and the guy says to me: “Well, you are getting old.”

Sigh.

I’m not the only one. And it occurs to me that, once again, I’m in much better shape for this new phase of consequences than I would be if I was still at a Biglaw firm. Because while I need to refine and hone my skills in my mid and late thirties, associates at top law firms need to gun it. They need to take their suddenly aging bodies and turn every morsel of ATP into billable hours if they want to make partner. And they need to do it now….

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Ed. note: This post is by Will Meyerhofer, a former Sullivan & Cromwell attorney turned psychotherapist. He holds degrees from Harvard, NYU Law, and The Hunter College School of Social Work, and he blogs at The People’s Therapist. His new book, Way Worse Than Being A Dentist, is available on Amazon, as is his previous book, Life is a Brief Opportunity for Joy (affiliate links).

A law student client — already an MBA — said she needed convincing to drop out of her third-tier school.

I told her to calculate the return on investment for the final three semesters.

She crunched the numbers.

“Debit-wise, I’ve burned $80k in savings and I’m looking at another $100k of borrowed money. On the credit side, I might find a low-salary doc review gig.” She pretended to scratch notes. “So… big loans, interest payments, inadequate cash flow…opportunity cost of 18 more wasted months learning legal mumbo-jumbo followed by the bar exam…”

“In other words…” I egged her on.

“I’d be totally screwed.” She affixed the cap on her pen. “Thanks. I’m convinced.”

I posed the question we were dancing around: “Why are we having this conversation?”

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Last night, a dramatic scene unfolded in the parking lot of a movie theater. A suspected drunk driver allegedly took off without his headlights on, hit two police cruisers, terrified several witnesses, and then slammed his car into a tree. The driver was killed.

“It was coming straight towards us and I didn’t know if he was going to stop or what he was doing,” said one witness. “He was going 70, 80 miles an hour. It was scary.”

The driver of the vehicle was a young lawyer, an associate at a law firm. He graduated not too long ago from a leading law school….

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William Brewer Jr.

Take it from those of us on the frontline of economic distress in America. This could very well be the next debt bomb for the U.S. economy.

William E. Brewer Jr., president of the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys, commenting on a new national survey of 860 bankruptcy lawyers. Surveyed lawyers expressed concern about the state of student debt in America, reporting that they are already seeing “what feels too much like what they saw before the foreclosure crisis crashed onto the national scene.”

As we mentioned in Morning Docket, more and more law school graduates are trying to seek bankruptcy protection from their mountains of student loan debt. Bankruptcy? Really?

Now, we know that reading comprehension is tested on the LSAT, but apparently, once students complete the law school entrance exam, that skill goes right out the window. How do we know? Because law school graduates, who freely signed up for student loans as law students, are now trying to shirk their repayment responsibilities. They are the 99% (of people who sign on the dotted line and think nothing of it until it’s time to face the consequences).

All the documents these law school graduates signed and claimed to have read and understood prior to accepting their student loans — well, they had some words to say about bankruptcy. Important words. Here are some of them, pulled from my very own master promissory note:

We will discharge (forgive) your loan if: [y]our loan is discharged in bankruptcy. However, federal student loans are not automatically discharged if you file for bankruptcy. In order to have your loan discharged in bankruptcy, you must prove to the bankruptcy court that repaying the loan would cause undue hardship.

Aww, you think you’ve got an undue hardship, precious little snowflake? Well, think again….

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I’ve never been a fan of U.S. News obsessing over how much money law schools spend on their facilities. I feel it artificially inflates the cost of going to law school in a digital age where so much of what you need can be found online.

But there are some things that you can’t do online. Not yet at least. Like going to the bathroom. Perhaps if Steve Jobs were still alive, the iPoop and the Waterless iPoop would be just around the corner. But we were robbed of that great man.

Maybe all you need to know about the difference between top law schools and not-so-hot law schools really does come down to toilets. At Harvard, they name them after rich alumni. At North Dakota Law School, they barely have them….

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