April 01, 2013

The Mask that Becomes You

What would you choose: bored but happy, or stimulated but haggard with stress?

Addison Braendel

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“What do you do?”

“I’m a lawyer.”

“What kind of law do you do?”

“Fund formation.”

“ . . . ?”

“It’s like ‘fun’ with a d.”


One of the advantages of being a litigator is that other people get it. I used to be one, and I never had to explain myself. Litigation involves conflict. Conflict makes for good stories. Good stories make for good television. So . . . everyone knows what litigators are, and everyone has a pretty decent—albeit mostly inaccurate—idea of what they do. I certainly did, heading downtown with my recent law degree and first-year-associate, big-firm litigation job.

That job lasted one and a half years.

When I left, I had a choice between two firms. One was a litigation boutique: dynamic name partner; reasonably interesting cases, one involving a local sports star. The other was the corporate department of another big firm with a reputation that was a little less brutal but not by much.

That should have been an easy choice.

I’m grateful that it wasn’t.

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