Relationships

Anytime my lawyer friends talk shop, my divorce lawyer friend always has the most interesting stories. A few months ago, a group of us went for happy hour. The conversation turned to a discussion of what we were doing at work. I said that my client was contemplating settlement over his parking lot lawsuit. Everyone yawned. My finance lawyer friend began to talk about securitizing something, but then just stopped talking because she knew her work was even more boring. This trend continued until my divorce lawyer friend talked about a recent trial. The highlights of her story included a lesbian affair and a mail-order bride. We were all rapt.

For that reason, I have wanted to profile a divorce firm for a while. Recently, I was lucky enough to have a conversation with San Francisco family lawyer (I guess they prefer that term) Erik Newton. His firm, Heath Newton LLP, has become a highly regarded boutique law firm that specializes in “Family Building,” “Divorce and Dissolution,” and “Asset Protection”….

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As I approach the completion of my third full year at Above the Law, you’d think I wouldn’t feel the need to write a memo every time I take a week off so people don’t start partying like I’ve been fired. Yet… well, let’s just say that Dan Savage came to me in a dream and said, “It gets better — except for you, Elie.”

I jest. As regular readers know, this is the time I take off to celebrate my wedding anniversary. I leave you in the always capable hands of managing editor David Lat and ATL’s newest staff writer, Staci Zaretsky. Please send all tips and story ideas to them at tips@abovethelaw.com.

Marriage has been on my mind a lot this summer. I attended the wonderful wedding of an old friend last weekend. But mainly I’ve been thinking about marriage and family in the context of the many strong reactions to my debt posts.

Some of the most surprising reactions were from people who contended that I was essentially being a bad husband by quitting my Biglaw job while still saddled with serious debts. According to these people, including some women, a better husband would have stuck it out in Biglaw for however long it took until my wife and I could be debt-free.

Are these people insane?

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Ed. note: This is the latest installment of Size Matters, one of Above the Law’s new columns for small-firm lawyers.

We all know that sometimes relationships end. Take Renee Zellweger and Bradley Cooper. As my friend (who is a divorce attorney) always says, if things are not working out, end it and do not buy real estate together.

This is true not only with bad relationships, but with bad jobs. I have received emails and had conversations with several small-firm attorneys who are unhappy. One woman emailed me that she worked at a small firm where she had to work in a poorly heated office with roaches and screamers (I guess she worked on a pirate ship). One man told me that he was repeatedly forced to cancel his vacations for faux emergencies. I have heard many different tales of experiences that range from unpleasant to abusive.

The idea of quitting a job (even a bad one) in this economy seems heretical to many. But, it shouldn’t. A recent study suggests that working at a bad job may be more harmful than being unemployed….

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Plus, you always surrender in an argument with your wife, right? Isn’t that the formula for marital happiness?

– Judge Richard Posner, quoted recently in the New York Times in an article about “sell by” or “use by” dates for food.

You know the old joke: How many Harvard men does it take to screw in a light bulb? Just one; he holds the bulb in place while the world revolves around him.

Many a Harvard man takes that approach to household maintenance, professional endeavors, and even dating. You’re not going to believe this, but some people who graduate from Harvard are real douchebags. Some of them think that just by dint of having gone to Harvard, people will love them, respect them, and shower them with jobs and money. They even make up special phrases for mentioning where they go/went to school, like “dropping the H-Bomb.”  Good God, get over yourselves. I’m sure glad my own blazing Harvard credentials, which I keep in special pouch around my neck, have never once prevented me from interacting with the little people in a way that makes them feel like we are all the same species. I’m magnanimous like that.

In all seriousness, there are of course enormous, self-important jackasses who graduate from Harvard, but there are also more than enough people who gladly buy into the Harvard mystique. Now there’s a dating site dedicated to bringing the Crimson and their sycophants together. As they say in Wicked, “they deserve each other.”

Let’s take a closer look….

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