Associate, Interrupted

Law Firm 10 Columns, Law Firm 10, Lawyer 43 Comments

There are two things I’m certain of: (i) I am a fantastic associate; (ii) I am profoundly miserable. And I’m afraid there’s a direct link.

My rumination on this topic started valiantly enough. The recent layoffs of most of my friends had me in an introspective mood—and I had a little extra time on my hands since there was no one in my foreseeable future with whom I’d be “just lunching.” So I decided to apply my lawyerly reasoning to something other than arguments in opposition to summary judgment motions.

I spend no less than seven days a week getting hyped up about finding razor-thin distinctions among unfavorable Seventh Circuit precedent and the facts of our clients’ cases, so why shouldn’t I allow a few hours for analyzing a more intimately pressing question: How did a witty, attractive, intelligent, well-dressed, high-achieving, twenty-something girl like me end up so bitter and lonely? Honestly, I look good, and I listen to Colin Cowherd and Mike & Mike religiously. Those two facts alone should have most reasonable guys feeling like they “out-kicked the coverage” when dating me. Instead, I just end up kicked out of bed—usually by douchebags.

I thought it might be helpful to get assessed by a psychiatrist. I already have an aesthetician, manicurist, waxer, masseuse and hair stylist, so what’s one more addition to the LF10 payroll? And considering I almost let a gypsy on the Lower East Side persuade me into buying a $250 crystal to cleanse my aura when I was in New York last month, the services of a trained medical professional seemed more than appropriate. Ultimately, I hoped that figuring out a way to better manage stress and root out my issues would start a wonderful chain reaction culminating in a lasting relationship.

I made my first appointment with a female psychiatrist in a small practice just north of Northwestern Hospital. Going into it, I was only nervous about three things—that I would lose my lunch hour at the last minute on the day of the appointment due to an “emergency” assignment; that there would be weird people in the waiting room; and that my shrink might not like me.  (The latter stressor a potential diagnosis in and of itself.) But when the doctor called me into her Crate & Barrel-ish little office, it all evaporated, and I immediately felt comfortable. She expertly commingled introductory and probing questions. And I noticed we even had on the same Theory pants.

Towards the end of the session, she offered her diagnoses: Mild depression, generalized anxiety disorder, and mild OCD tendencies. She wanted to see me weekly, which was fine by me.  But then she made an unexpected suggestion—she wanted to start me ASAP on a low-dose SSRI. It turns out that people wired like I am are poster children for anti-depressants. She opined that I would see a decrease in irrational anxiety and obsessive behaviors within a week or two. In other words, I might be able to be a happy lawyer instead of a bitter lawyer.

That night after work, I set forth doing what I do best—obsessively fixating on her findings—when it dawned on me. I’m a sought-after associate by partners because of my good judgment and attention to detail. When I’m working on their cases, they have the relief of a few less things to agonize about because they know I will scrutinize every, single, solitary inch of the cases I cite to weed out potential dicta traps, and I’ll never get their motions struck in out-of-jurisdiction cases because of a failure to precisely follow filing requirements.

They know that I possess that special mixture of pathological perfectionism, neurotic need for approval, and irrational fear of failure that make for a superstar litigator. Without my anxieties, I truly do not know what would motivate me to triple check each and every mind-numbingly minute detail of a brief at 3 AM the night before it’s due. And the media partner from our D.C. office who has publicly dubbed me the heir to his throne might not be able to terrorize me into submission with outrageously critical emails if I was suddenly granted the capacity to not let those emails get to me.

In other words, without irrational anxiety and low self-esteem, I don’t know what the hell would motivate me.

Winning can’t be the motivation because when I actually get to see the final disposition of a case, half the time the wrong guy won because our fate was in the hands of a fickle judge who wasn’t even smart enough to realize how stupid the other side’s arguments were. And “love of status” certainly won’t suffice—my firm isn’t even a top-tier big firm, not to mention the partners who graduated from Michigan have eternal hard-ons for finding creative ways to remind me that I went to a second-tier school. And the money, which I never have time to spend anyway, doesn’t justify developing ulcers over inhuman and nonsensical minutiae.

Which leaves me in a quandary. Tranquility is within my grasp. But with it could come the end of my Big Firm golden-child status. I’m afraid that if I take the antidepressant, I won’t be a good associate anymore. On the other hand, if I don’t take the antidepressant, I might have to accept that the only men who will ever love me are the asshole partners whose abuses have helped carry me over the pharmaceutical threshold in the first place.

On the bright side—all this still beats obsessing over whether or not my shrink likes me. And the control freak in me enjoys already knowing what we’ll talk about next session.

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  • KS

    I have diagnosed your inability to mate:
    You “…listen to Colin Cowherd and Mike & Mike religiously”.
    And you didn’t even have to pay me by the hour for that one – you’re welcome.

  • BL1Y

    “How did a witty, attractive, intelligent, well-dressed, high-achieving, twenty-something girl like me end up so bitter and lonely?” Maybe it has something to do with describing yourself as witty, attractive, intelligent, well-dressed, and high-achieving?  You’re clearly delusional about your own value.  You think you’re smarter than the judge and only lose because he’s so dumb?  Wrong-o.  If you can’t make a persuasive argument, it’s your fault, not his, regardless of how right you think you are.  If one guy kicks you out of bed, maybe it’s just him, but if a lot of them do, it’s you.  You’re clearly just not as attractive as you think.  Work on your “I’m the hottest thing ever” attitude and hit the gym a couple more times a week.

    • boyiejd

      AMEN. AMEN.

  • London Calling

    I think the irony here is that you’re obsessing about obsessing, and that you went to that psychiatrist to try not to obsess.
    I’m an associate at a US firm in London and I think some lawyers are a little bit crazy for one of two reasons: they either forget what makes them legitimately happy, or they think that some other thing(s) (in your case, motivation/career) is/are more important than happiness. Incorrect.
    I’ll do you a deal. Stop being neurotic, come to London, and if you’re as beautiful as you claim to be, and are genuinely intelligent, you’ll have me (and presumably the rest of the British males) eating out of your hand.

  • Brett

    I agree with BL1Y; kind of.  There’s a common denominator in all the beds you’re getting kicked out of…YOU.  I practice in Scottsdale, AZ and you can’t swing a dead cat in this city without hitting a ton of smoking hot “10’s.” The one thing they all have in common…they love being treated like crap by douche bags…just like you.  The fact that you’re still in your 20’s does say a lot.  Most women don’t kick their douche bag fetish until the late 20’s; early 30’s.  The reason most men you date don’t feel they’re overchicked is because they’re not…you’re a dime a dozen, chica.

  • JM

    You listen to Colin Cowherd, and you wonder why you end up with douchebags? Someone’s analytical skills need some work.

  • J

    I think the fact that you claim to listen to Collin Cowherd may be a little white lie that you think will attract guys.  He’s an annoying blowhard who is unlistenable, in my opinion, and I can’t believe that any real sports fan would listen to him.  Also, he’s on during the day, and when do associates (or partners for that matter) get to listen to the radio in their offices?  That wouldn’t look, you know, lawyerly.  Mike & Mike, on the other hand, are great.  Why ESPN can’t get more good radio guys is beyond me—their lineup sucks aside from Mike & Mike and Terrico & VanPelt.

  • Utah Reporter

    I recommend taking the SSRI.  You’ll find that it doesn’t affect much your ability to focus your OCD.  You’ll be able to obsess over the things that matter and ignore the ones that don’t.  Also, you need to stop dating douchebags.  You’ll probably feel a lot better about yourself and increase your chances of getting into a lasting relationship if you stop looking for love from over-dressed, over-moussed, self-absorbed pricks.

  • Anon

    I completely relate LF!0 – I have found myself in a similar situation.

  • Bill Dugan

    I can’t feel too bad for this poor beeotch.  She’s like they say, stuck on herself.  For all we know, she really looks like a moose, but even assuming ARGUENDO that she is attractive, there are so many good looking women floating around (especially now that it’s warming up and we can see what’s underneath the down overcoats) that we really don’t care about another wacked out babe who is aging less than gracefully.  We appreciate good looking women, but not with the baggage.  We want fun, friendly and hot, too, not people who piss and moan all the time.  You want to NOT get kicked out of bed?  Then stop looking in the mirror and think about being joyful and willing to make someone else feel good.  Otherwise, you’ll just be a vehicle for men for sex.  That’s it. And while I’d bang you, you are obviously looking for more.

  • Anonymous

    She could be attractive, but that is not the point.  This woman is little more than a sexual outlet.  After the men come, she goes.  Nothing more.  Too bad for her, because she at least can write well.

  • Anon Female

    Dugan, LF10 wouldn’t touch you with a 10 foot pole. dream on.

  • Seriously

    Poll question: Is Dugan still a virgin?
    A simple “Y” or “N” will do.

  • Anonymous


  • Craig

    “I spend no less than seven days a week getting hyped up about finding razor-thin distinctions among unfavorable Seventh Circuit precedent and the facts of our clients’ cases, so why shouldn’t I allow a few hours for analyzing a more intimately pressing question: How did a witty, attractive, intelligent, well-dressed, high-achieving, twenty-something girl like me end up so bitter and lonely?” That is exactly what you should not do. Stop analyzing yourself so much and just live. Don’t over think everything. As you have mentioned in prior articles, the problem is that you can’t turn off your lawyer/analytical brain when not dealing with work. If you are attracted to asshole douche bags, which you obviously are, don’t be upset when they toss you out of bed; use them just as much as they are using you. You’re a maniac. Stop analyzing the shit out of every angle, and just enjoy the moment. Think of all the people that have it a lot worse off then you.

  • Craig

    Of course, if you did stop analyzing yourself so much, you may not have anything to write about. And since I really enjoy your articles, maybe it is best if you stay the same.

  • Wilbur Moore

    I think a good roll in the hay will be good for this woman, but with someone that will also treat her with respect apres-sex.  A guy like Dugan is strictly of the 4F school (Find em, Feel em, F*** em and Forget em).  She needs more than a good lay.  I think Dugan has had his share.  Why else would he offer his 2 cents otherwise?

  • BL1Y

    (From the BL1Y Blog) These are 10 types of girls guys avoid, or, if they don’t, they should.  By no means a complete list, but if you find yourself on here, do something about it.  1.  The Anachronism.  She wants all the benefits of chivalry and male providers, but also wants the rights and privileges of living in a (largely) equal society.  Expecting a man to always pick up the tab made sense when women had extraordinarily limited job opportunities.  But it’s 2009 now, Michelle Obama has somehow become our new standard of feminine beauty, women are 60% of college students, and in big cities their average salaries are ~15% more than men’s.  There’s a huge difference in wanting someone to be nice and respectful, and expecting the man to do everything for you.  2.  The Zealot.  Your pet concern can be religion, politics, veganism, feminism, travel, shoes, whatever.  But, recognize that if you have an extreme view coupled with an extreme passion, you’re going to get some extreme negative reactions.  Having very narrow interests will drive away the bulk of men.  If we don’t share that same single interest, what the hell are we going to talk about?  3.  The Fatty.  There are so many reasons we want to avoid relationships with fat girls.  They’re less fun to look at, generally worse in bed, they embarrass us in front of our friends, tend to have very low self esteem or else a deluded self image, and they expect us to constantly lie about how they’re not fat.  NEXT!  4.  The Failure.  You’re just waiting tables until you can save up enough money to finish college?  Wow, that’s really great that you’re trying to improve your life.  Oh, you’ve been saving for 5 years?  Sorry, but we don’t want to be stuck providing for you, and we don’t want to get drawn into your drama.  One of the best ways to lose your drive is to associate with people who’ve lost theirs, so we’re going to go find someone with both ambition and the dedication to actually get something done.  Girls who go to TTT law schools count too.  5.  The Prude.  I don’t think a guy will dismiss you for not putting out on the first date, but by the third or fourth, home plate better be in sight.  Maybe you like to take it slow, but remember that physical contact is a way people communicate how interested they are.  When you back away from fooling around, you might know you’re actually interested but just want to take it slower, but you’re sending a totally different message.  You’d better work on how to, convingly, tell a guy you’re more interested than your actions suggest.  I’d go with buying him tickets to a baseball game.  6.  The Mooch.  This is the girl that makes guys run from prudes.  The mooch doesn’t put out because she actually isn’t interested.  She just keeps going on the dates for the attention and free meals.  Mooches can be pretty easy to identify.  They have a very strong preference for dinner dates, because this saves them money.  They’ll try to get an earlier weekday date, because they’re saving Friday and Saturday nights for guys they’re actually interested in.  They also like to space out dates, usually a week or too, and will very rarely see you twice in one week; doing this makes you less likely to try to advance physically, and thus makes it easier for her to keep her cover.  Besides, she probably has 3-4 other guys (easily found on J-Date) buying her dinner on other nights and doesn’t need you more than once a week.  7.  The Emotard.  Listen, we just don’t want to read (or hear) your poetry.  Ever.  …Unless you happen to have been published (not self-published), in a real, physical, 3-dimensional book or journal with a distribution of at least 5,000 copies (actually distributed, not just the print run).  8.  The Mama’s Girl.  Or Daddy’s Girl.  Either one.  It’s okay to be close to your parents, but there’s a point where it becomes a huge turn off.  If you ever interrupt sex because your mom is calling and you haven’t talked to her in 2 days, there’s a problem.  9.  The Wookiee.  You might have a really cute face and a great figure, but hair in the wrong places will spoil it.  Any hair on your face requires prompt removal.  Just because you bleach your mustache doesn’t mean it’s not there.  Look out for the arms too.  If your arm hair is thick or dark, get rid of it.  And just in case you forget, do the legs and armpits.  Don’t wait for when you think you’re going to get lucky; act as though you could meet your Prince Charming any moment of your life.  10.  Hillary Clinton.

    • annoyed by this guy

      From your post alone, I can tell that you are extremely unattractive and get ignored by all women. You have no charisma, a horrible personality and the only thing that you have going for you is that you’re a lawyer. I feel sorry for you.

  • BL1Y

    Wah wah wah….my name is BL1Y…wah wah wah…I know everything about women, I bed so many, they all love me, I have to push so many away….wah wah wah.
    BL1Y – SHUT UP!

  • wha

    Wait. You get a lunch hour?

  • Alex Hump

    Go easy on BL1Y.  He needs to get laid.

  • Ex BL Ass.

    I think you hit on something I learned early in my BigLaw career – that I didn’t have the kind of anxieties that are typically found in superstar litigation associates. I did’t care if my citations were not in perfect Blue Book format. I refused to pull all-nighters. I took deadlines as suggestions. I wasn’t scared of blowhard partners. I refused to believe a typo in a brief was the end of the world. I guesstimated my time with the accuracy of a trebuchet. I quickly realized that I was doomed to fail in BigLaw because I didn’t possess any of the pathological neuroses I saw in all the “superstarl” associates and partners. I’m a little poorer now, but infinitely happier. My advice to LF10 – take the red pill. Unless you’re landing whale clients or really about to inherit the media practice, your days in BigLaw are numbered. Life is short.

  • rip ‘n run

    I feel like most lawyers, myself included, are predisposed to OCD, depression, and alcoholism–which are probably all genetically linked as well, or stem from our perfectionism.  Biglaw just makes this crap worse too.  oh well, i’m going to pay off my debt and get the eff out.

  • Anon

    BL1Y that’s quite a comment. LF10 really gets you writing!

  • Bill Dugan

    God, I must be a loser, at least 5 or 6 out of the 10 types of girls BL1Y has listed I have dated or at least crossed paths with.  Why are these women so F***ed up?  And worse yet, why are there so many of them?  Where are the normal, sports-loving, hard f***ing women I remember from college?  Are they all married off with kids, leaving the army of loser women for us guys holding our dicks?  If there are normal women out there who like to party hard and appreciate real men, step up to the plate, we’re waiting for you!!!!!

  • Anonymous

    Is this BL1Y some kind of metrosexual?  I picture him with one of those man-purses.  I don’t see him out humping women like the other guys.

  • 2L

    Dear LF10:

    I’ll stick it in if you want and if it’ll make you feel better. Hell, I’ll even listen to your bullshit whining while I cook and do so with a smile on my face. In exchange, all I ask is that you get me an interview at your law firm.


  • Anonymous

    I think LF 10 looks like Susan Boyle (the British singing sensation on YOO-Tube).  I don’t see the men lining up to give it to HER, fella, so think twice before you offer up your salami.

  • BL1Y

    @7:47: Perhaps because I choose to do my humping in private?  @Bill: I feel your pain.

  • 2L

    @ 4:54.

    Good Call
    New Stipulation:

    I’ll require a bottle of McCallan’s 18 or J-Dub Blue, too. Plus, I’m in Chicago, so, LF10, holla atcha Boy(toy)

  • Anonymous

    I agree with the guy below that LF10 may well look like a moose.  It’s often the case that those that THINK they are gorgeous are, to the rest of us, painfully plain, if not borderline gross.  Once you factor in the whining factor (her voice may be just as bad as her ass), what you are left with is an annoying loser whose only saving grace is a glory hole.

  • [Pillhead] Associate Superstar

    The trick, my friend, is to fill the SSRI, take it for a month, tell your doc you love it but it makes you tired, and get a ritalin script to counteract.  As Mary Poppins sang, ‘Just a handfull of pills make the billables go down, the billables go dooo-own, the billables go down..’
    (and by down I mean up)

  • Anon

    I don’t feel bad for her. Get a life. Work to live, don’t live to work. Who the fuck cares what X thinks of you, he’s probably a douche bag. Do your work, go home, and get laid.

  • Steve

    If this is true, then I am concerned about her.  Depression runs in my family and I have had to deal with a close family member who went through hell and is still having issues.  I hope you do the right thing for you.

  • Rob

    Wow, you got some issues…maybe thats why you sleep with db’s and cant find a nice guy.

  • HJ

    SSRIs have bad side effects….when I took them was hungry all the time and gained 30 pounds in 3 months.

  • Steve

    I don’t know if this an American thing or a Lawyer thing but you seem to be almost as materially obsessed as the douchey guy who made fun of the boots. Maybe the reason you’re unhappy is because you are an over paid fact checker with no social life not because you aren’t taking SSRIs.

  • Jon

    Take the pill. They work wonders, you’ll see. Weight gain is a possible side effect as is a loss of libido. I gained over 30 pounds but got it off my running every day for 30 to 40 mins. Still have a low libido, but since I’m one to fantasize about every hottie I see its been good actually, less distraction.
    Depression is depression. It should be treated as any other injury.

  • Anonymous

    LF 10, you can get over this by boning a few young male associates at work.  They’ll be foreever grateful, and will likely become your regular after work aperitif.  So happy boning!

  • ipseloquitor

    I can’t help but wonder if your therapist surprised you at your next session and spent the entire time discussing your near-pathological narcissism.

  • David

    This is sad. I hope counseling is productive. In the end, you may choose not to be a lawyer anymore.

  • KnowNothing1L

    Become partner. *Then* take the antidepressant if you want. Win-win. Doctors are too quick to write prescriptions for everything anyway. Try some yoga or some meditation if you can find the time.