Law Firm 10 Has a Question for You

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

I’ve been struggling with something for awhile now (actually, since 1/3 of the way through my first stint as a summer associate in Big Law), and I was hoping the universe might be able to offer some guidance. See, I want to be a positive person who radiates enthusiastic energy and gives off good vibes and all that. Not only because it would be good for my overall well-being, but also because it would probably be pretty helpful in attracting solid potential husband candidates. But the problem is, it seems like every single aspect of practicing law is completely antithetical to building a good aura and balanced chakras and whatnot.

Apparently, the best way to center yourself and clear out frantic, panicked, negative energy is to take time to center yourself by meditating, practicing yoga, eating fresh and wholesome foods, surrounding yourself with positive people and things, and fostering patience. I swear I don’t intend to sound like I’m whining, but I can’t figure out how to squeeze in time for meditation, yoga, and home-cooked vegetables when I spend about 75 hours each week at the office surrounded by nasty, impatient assholes who fuel themselves with adrenaline and screaming fits. And it’s not like I can follow the advice of the self-help books I buy online and cut these negative people out of my life, because they are my bosses and co-workers and they are at pretty much every firm that’s worth a damn, i.e. pays well.

The other difficulty I keep encountering is that I think that I somehow absorb the negative, toxic energy that I come into contact with. If an evil partner sends me a nasty-toned email, or if I spend the day working with a bitchy senior associate who is miserable about her life and takes it out on me, it’s as if some unseen magnet sucks all of the energy and life out of me, and I’m left feeling exhausted, emotionally depleted, and totally un-centered. On a day like that (and, let’s face it, most of my days are like that), I feel so lifeless by the time I’m able to leave the office that the last thing I want to do is go to a yoga class or cook myself a healthy dinner or socialize. So it becomes this awful, never-ending cycle.

So, what I would like to know is whether it’s possible to remain in Big Law and somehow deflect this toxic energy and keep it from swallowing me whole? I honestly can’t think of even one centered, patient person who radiates positive energy at my firm. Does that attorney exist? Does anyone know how to stay positive and be upbeat and cheerful in the Big Law context, or am I right that it’s impossible?

Post image courtesy of Shutterstock.

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  • Larry

    You can detox pretty fast if you find a guy willing to put up with you and listen to your whining. Of course, you will also have to put out. Not sure if you’re willing to do that quid pro quo.

  • Chris

    Dear LF10,

    I have to admit that I cannot totally relate or understand the depth of what you’re experiencing. I’ve worked past jobs that were demanding of me and took a lot of social energy, but never at 75 hours per week. As it stands, I’m a final year student, and even staring down the barrel of final exams I’m still going to Spain next week for a holiday, so my life is peachy by comparison.

    I think the main thing that you can do is make a commitment to yourself to respond to these potential stressors in a different way. Stress is not something that happens to you, it’s a reaction that you have to an external (or possibly internal) stimulus. If you have a yelling, angry, asshole you need to deal with there must be some way to make sure you’re not taking it personally and deflect it. It’s not anything you’re doing, it’s that guy’s fault and he’s going to have a stroke at 58 if he keeps up his shenanigans. An alternative or complementary strategy is to attempt to exude positive energy upon people. Usually, every situation you find yourself in has positive and negative aspects that you can work with if you choose to see it that way. Help others find the positive and be the person you want to be. It takes a little leadership and I don’t know if you’re in a position to take the reins like that professionally, but socially you might have more power than you think. Lastly, maybe learn how to meditate. Meditation can be done in under a minute if you practice it. Do a quick Google and you’ll see what I mean.

    Get yourself some B Vitamin tablets, the kind that dissolve in H2O.


    Rocco Laidlaw
    Self Help Guru and Sex Therapist

  • Quadoz

    This is easy. Get laid, yes I am serious. Sex will get the Endorphins flowing.

    Also, forget that yogo bs. Go to a gym or set one up at home. A heavy boxing bag. One that weighs more than a child. Go to town on that thing. Almost as great of a stress reliever as sex. Same thing though, endorphins, general better mood, not coming across as such a bitch.

    City Cop by Midnights, Rookie Lawyer by day

  • Jay D Kaputski

    All that meditating, practicing yoga, eating fresh and wholesome foods, surrounding yourself with positive people and things, blah blah blah, are over-rated. You cannot control others’ behavior, but how you deal with it is up to you. I suspect you are the type who thinks it is all about you, otherwise why do you take everything from every asshole so hard and personally? You are not alone. I know a couple big law women (both are of counsel) who are just like that. You choose the life you live. Enjoy.

  • Brad

    Last I heard, weren’t you an avid CrossFit participant?

    Take out your aggression on some burpees, pull ups, clean and jerks, etc.

  • FreddieKrueger

    Or you could realize that all the money you’re making doesn’t mean shit if you aren’t happy. And guess what – you aren’t. So the aswer to your question is “No.” Leave BigLaw, go SmallLaw, have a life, be happy, and guess what? When you find that husband – which will be so much easier to attract when you smile – then your income goes back up because you now have two incomes, and you still get to enjoy both life and practice…

  • Velvet

    As long as you stay in big law you will have a tarnished aura. Your choice the money or the door to a life.

  • Bitter as 1000-Day Old Coffee

    Law Firm 10, you are looking for the black swan. I’ve found perhaps a few in a seven-year career. So what if you do? Would that prove to you that you *could* be one of those people? There are countless professions that are full of people who radiate positive energy. Why spend so much more energy trying to be the black swan in a profession full of people who ultimately all hate their job, are pissed off at the world, egomaniacal, or are well-intentioned people trapped in their professions who would like nothing more than to turn back the clock. Your post is my sentiment exactly. That’s why I’ve been looking for a way out for the last four years. It’s starting to turn. Good luck! Just GTFO and stop hating your life.

  • LolaC

    Best problem to your solution: Meet a hot doctor. Doesn’t matter if it’s too have a great date, see the longer and more pressurised hours of work they put in and sadistically laugh at them (not to their face) or have a hot date. At least you will have a grin on your face by the end.

  • Rod Rempel

    You are amazing. I was sitting on my deck in the sun with my SMART phone and IJL came to mind. Like yours a flashback to one of a thousand flights taken. Your post came up.
    You brought a belly laugh to someone in Vancouver. That has to say something to a frustrated attorney who is on the long winding narrowing creekbed leading to wisdom and contentment. Don’t forget that you are not alone. There is one who shares a similar journey up here in the great white north.