Q) I’m an attorney five years out at a nondescript law firm in a forgettable city. In other words, I’m just a lawyer, nothing special, nothing big, and I like it that way. I’ve had a colorful past but nothing extreme. Experimented with every drug known to my generation, wandered through Central America and Mexico, drove a tow-truck for four years, did some amateur boxing. For the most part, that’s all behind me and, though some of my friends find it strangely humorous, I’m satisfied that I’m employed and practicing law.
Here’s the deal, though. Last week I got a call at home from one of my bosses, which is highly unusual. We really do leave work behind at the end of the day—so the call made me think it was some sort of emergency. But my boss was calling for one thing: he ultimately asked me if I could “score some weed” for him. I was blown away and thought for a minute and just said, “sure, let me see what I can do.” As you can guess, I now have major second thoughts and two fundamental concerns: 1) given that I’m not open about my past or even what I do presently, how the hell (and why) did my boss connect me with scoring weed? and 2) what should I do now?
A) I’m always fascinated by the words that remain stuck in the questions I get. In your case, it’s the phrase “For the most part,” as in “for the most part I’m a happy lawyer but I still like to burn a few.” Here’s the deal. You obviously still have the whole hombre package going for you. The reformed vagabond thing. A wanderer who’s landed at a law firm. And the partners (or “bosses” as you call them) can see that and probably realized it shortly after you started working for them. It’s often more obvious than you think. Same goes for any other associates at the firm, even if you haven’t shared your “colorful past” with them. That past still rides shotgun with you, even while content just practicing law. So, embrace it. It’s not a bad thing. You actually sound fairly relaxed and satisfied with what you are doing and where you are going, and that’s something most attorneys tell me is lacking in their lives. Just don’t be stupid.
As for what to do, lie. Say that you don’t have any connections anymore and that it’s been years since you got baked. Do this for a couple of reasons: 1) it does you no good to become the Jeff Lebowski of the firm, however humorous that may sound to your friends or to other attorneys; and 2) you never, ever—and I mean never ever—want to be an accessory to a partner’s mid-life crisis. That’s essentially what is being asked of you, and it won’t be the first request. After this, it will be to join him to “party” with his girlfriend. Then for advice on tattoos or where to find the best hookers, as if you would know that. It will end badly. Stay away, far away.