The Strangled Cries of Lawyers in Love

I’ll be blunt: Dating a fellow lawyer—especially one from the same firm—is an epically bad idea. I understand the time-honored “don’t shit where you eat” principle. But that’s not the precise problem I’m having.

Let’s rewind to only a few short weeks ago. On a cold, snowy night in January, I silenced my anxious pessimism, swallowed my doubtful resolve and allowed myself to fall for Carson, the firm’s new-ish corporate lateral from a few floors down.

The honeymoon phase was stunning. I adored every second of it. How could I not? Despite signaling the unexpected red flag of being a single dad, he practically rode a white horse to the office and read my whims telepathically. But that only lasted a few minutes, and I’m now realizing that his daughter was just a baggage smoke screen concealing Carson’s real underbelly.

I’m quickly noticing that Carson possesses the attributes that make me hate all other lawyers—and, incidentally, myself (though I haven’t gotten to that in therapy yet).

He is a sanctimonious, argumentative, prestige-obsessed, snarky know-it-all. Since that’s usually my role in a relationship, I’m beginning to understand why I’ve had so little luck in the dating department. In fact, I’m actually starting to sympathize with all of the non-lawyers who stopped calling me after our fourth date.

In an attempt to find some clarity (or, alternatively, create a record of evidence for when I inevitably dump him), I’ve been keeping a running list of things he does that I hate. If nothing else, it’s somewhat cathartic.

Here’s the short list:

  • He exhibits an unfulfilling lack of sympathy on the two things I complain about most: How much I hate my firm and how little free time I have. I constantly suffer from the female equivalent of blue balls. When I get all worked up into a frenzy recounting a firm-induced grievance, his only response is, “Yeah, I know. I work there, too.”
  • He feels the need to play devil’s advocate about everything. I’m sure partners love him for it. But I find it absolutely infuriating when I’m simply trying to explain the spoiled and immature thing that my younger sister just did, and rather than nod sympathetically, his response includes the phrase “assuming arguendo . . . .”
  • He constantly instigates what I like to call “issue-spotting fights.” It’s amazing how a spirited debate can spiral into the kind of screaming argument that ends with me throwing a dish against the wall when he decides to interject, “But that’s not the real issue. This is the issue.” And usually such a debate will occur over something as inconsequential as which sushi restaurant I’d prefer to stop at on the way home.
  • My two least favorite law school classes were business organizations and federal income tax. As such, I chose litigation to decrease the chances of future exposure to the infinitesimal nuances of corporate law and the tax code. Yet look at whom I’m dating. A friggin corporate tax attorney. Which means I listen to him preach ad infinitum in a professorial tone about things that make me want to throw up.
  • He went to a far more prestigious law school than me. In fact, he went to a better law school than all but perhaps 300 of the American law students that graduated in 2005. Which is fine, but it leads to unimaginable awfulness, such as:
    • Whenever I tell stories that involve my law school days, he interrupts after tangential details and points out that his school was “different.” And by “different,” he clearly means “superior.” As in, “Do you mean to say that you received a class rank after every semester based on your grades? Thank God they didn’t do that at my school.”
    • He interrupts during minor points when I’m talking about my day and somehow finds a way to link it back to his law school. Such as, “Wait—you’re in front of Coar for that case? Oh man, a buddy of mine from school clerked for Coar.”
    • Conversations like this:

      Him: “Were you on a law journal?”
      Me: “Yes.”
      Him: “Which one?”
      Me: “Um, my school basically only had one.”
      Him: “Really. Mine had several.”

    • The other day, he bitched about an associate that he’s working with on a deal. Apparently, the associate had the audacity to act like a know-it-all, notwithstanding the fact that he graduated from a lesser law school. As in, “Here’s the thing: He got his J.D. at Kent. I mean, seriously? Who is he to tell me that I’m wrong?” Problem is, Kent jumped ahead of my school in the rankings the year I graduated.

With the above examples of suffocating pompousness and Order of the Coif-derived infallibility, Carson has proven himself over and over again to be exactly the same as all of the lawyers at my firm (and every firm) whom I despise. Not to mention, none of our stars align. Our signs aren’t compatible, I hate his last name and our birth orders conflict being as we’re both oldest children. Control issues!

However, the real tricky part is that there’s one very, very important distinction between Carson and the roster of assholes clogging up my firm’s carpeted halls with their disgustingness: I am massively, arrestingly, devastatingly attracted to him.

There’s even a sense in which it turns me on to be challenged by a worthy opponent.

In my defense, if the aforementioned non-lawyers had called me after the fourth date, I’m sure I would’ve lost interest shortly thereafter. There’s nothing hot about having to spend the rest of my life editing or dumb-ing myself down in order to get along with a guy. I really can’t imagine being long-term attracted to anyone for whom I have to patiently explain the jokes on The Daily Show. I don’t want to have to search for the layman terms to describe my day. Being a lawyer is miserable enough, so isn’t it nice to lament it to someone who already speaks the language?

Carson’s other saving grace is that—when he’s not unintentionally insulting my legal education and patronizing me—he treats me perfectly. For God’s sake, my mom loves him so much that I almost started drafting this list of my complaints just to persuade her to actually take my side for once. The day she took an overly dramatic beat after my tirade about his didactic nature to say, “I’m sorry, but he really seems to like you,” was the day I came closest to throwing myself off the el.

Before you go running to comment on my relationship paradox, I’m fully acknowledging here and now that this tale of two cities is also plagued by my own insecurity. It’s just that I don’t know how much. What if he isn’t pompous at all? What if it’s just my ego that can’t tolerate losing a battle or two?

Which means I really don’t know where that leaves us. I’m either working with a full deck (two people with looks, considerateness, intellect, spark and a legacy for our future children at two excellent schools) or we’re on a rudderless collision course. For once, I’m truly stimulated by a guy. Yet, all the attributes that make him a good match for me infuriate me.

Last week, I shouted to him exactly how I feel, and he laughed and called me spoiled. It was almost as if he had a death wish and was asking me to dump him on the spot. But my paralyzing fear of making an irreversibly bad decision leaves me with no choice but to adopt my least favorite course of action. The one that involves patience and a lack of rigidity.

In other words, I’m going to have to just wait and see. And hopefully, I won’t throw any heavy, glass objects at him in the meantime.

  • Anonymous

    Dames like this mentally exhaust me, and unless she looks like Meghan Fox, which I doubt, all guys soon get weary of broads like this chick and head for the friggin’ hills.  What makes this broad think she is going to have any type of “relationship” with this Carson guy?  As far as I can tell, she’s on the tail end of fertility, with strange sweaty boobs, and no man is going to be willing to put up with that foul mouth when she is busy spewing forthher negativity.  I say she just be glad for whatever looks she still has and prays she retains a decent body (if not face) for a few more years until she can latch onto a rich guy over 65 who thinks she’s hot!  Once she is over 40, she will be over the hill for everything except for guys collecting social security.  From that point forward, decent guys under 65 wouldn’t even want anything but cheap quickies with her.  For now “Carson” is biding his time and hanging with her, but if he’s smart, he would do well to be on the lookout for a saner, younger, more nubile and stable chick to keep him warm at nite.

  • Bill

    The best thing about this article is the picture.  Guys who get stuck with a woman like this are “up sh***ts creek WITHOUT a paddle.” Not where I want to be, man.

  • Res Ipsa Loquitur

    Dude sounds like a loser, but then, most lawyers do. You should find yourself a nice high school English teacher or something. Someone sensitive who will be impressed by your fast-paced job. You’re never going to be happy with one of your own. Of course, I know what that means for your dreams of being kept. Sorry, but that’s how the worm turns sometimes.

  • Reader

    Carson nailed it, you are spoiled. That’s blatantly obvious from your past pieces about your failed dating attempts. The relationship is early enough where either of you could easily change if you discussed things rationally (doubt anything productive came from your shout-fest), but you seem like the chick who is too stubborn to bring up the situation. I’d put $20 on you just dealing with it, which will result in a continuation of how things are or will lead to an eventual breakup when you get sick of the things he does.

  • BL1Y

    I love when women date guys who are obviously problematic, and then complain about the problems that were apparent from the start.  It’s cute.  Oh no!  He’s a lawyer?  Yeah, that was basically the first thing you knew about him.

  • Frat Guy Law Type

    This essay leads me to the conclusion that you need more patronizing talk, not less.

  • Bitter Overseas

    It’s great how columns like this allow us lawyer types to practice our skills in psychiatry…Personally, assuming all this is real and not a 3rd rate reenactment of a 2nd rate Jane Austen storyline, I think LF10 needs to ‘man up’ – doesn’t sound like she’s being honest with herself, and hence, not with us.

  • Eric

    The amount of pretentiousness you both display makes me physically and mentally ill.

  • Evil Lawyer

    I am worn out reading this: you seemed so reasonable before. A rare grounded woman.  Now I wonder if I should suggest a “Surrendered Wife” book (essentially telling you to shut up, lay down and remember that if you want to stay home one day, you’re doing a piss poor job of finding a man for it, and by the way, who made you God?). Or is it just not enough good sex that now makes Carson’s behavior infuriating rather than cute?  Or maybe it was what I thought:  you’re not in love and won’t know what a catch he is till he’s gone: People in love never see things that piss other people off. They find those things charming. Like never being able to find their car keys, mispronouncing a word or interrupting your diatribe to mention something about his law school. (How dare he not be your passive audience!) When you have to work at love, its work.  Its why Ben Franklin said to “keep your eyes wide open before marriage and half closed afterwards.” But Poster No 1 put it best: you are too much WORK for a relationship. He puts up with your erratic thoughts and behavior and YOU are mad at HIM?  Do yourself and Carson a favor: break up.

  • KateLaw

    The problem with this post is that she’s writing about things that usually cross every woman’s mind when they start dating someone (lawyer or not).  Females like to overanalyze & obsess over insignificant (for the most part) details, but it’s the ones that can get over this tendency that make the best girlfriends/wives.  Her rambling is a little too reminiscent of my annoying, needy tool-magnet girlfriends.  No thanks.

  • Craig

    My goodness.  Do you now use your anonymous public forum on Bitter Lawyer as some sort of cathartic exercise for you?  You basically wrote down all the dysfunctional thoughts you have running through your head, ones you don’t even know what to make of, and pressed the send button over to Bitter Lawyer.  Why?  Send it to your psychiatrist.  And if all of these stories are bullshit, please, come up with some better stuff.

  • Schadenfreude

    To Anonymous (Comment 1): What are you, a gangster from the 30’s? Dames? Broads? Really? Next time try picking up your girls from the local Speakeasy. — To LF10, you guys sound perfect for each other. He probably is pompous, but you are too, a bit, so own up to it and let yourself be happy. Otherwise you will be just another boring nitpicker, and that WILL get old. To anyone.

  • TaxxxGirl

    1) Get a diary. 2) Sorry, that was tough love, because I almost always love your posts. Relationships aren’t easy – that’s why you haven’t settled down yet. You won’t date “below you” but someone who is even slightly “above you” is proving to be too much for you, too. This basically leaves a mirror. And that’s not satisfying. He sounds like a decent communicator, talk things over. Try activities together that require you to do things that neither is familiar with – like cooking a complicated meal or taking dance lessons.
    And P.S. if you get too bored, I know a girl who doesn’t think tax and corporate law induce suicidal thoughts.

  • nn

    “I really can’t imagine being long-term attracted to anyone for whom I have to patiently explain the jokes on The Daily Show.  I don’t want to have to search for the layman terms to describe my day.”
    You sound as condescending about everyday people as Carson sounds about law graduates of “lesser schools” (e.g., you).  Perhaps if you weren’t so whiney and obnoxious, you could get past the fourth date, teach your layman bf your “i’m-smart-because-i’m-a-lawyer” language.  It shouldn’t be that big a step up–you didn’t even go to Kent.

  • hi there!

    first and foremost, you need to learn to love yourself.  and, by that, i mean with a dildo.  because, you see, if you refuse to dismount your highfalutin pedestal, you’re never going to mount the right man. 
    let’s get real here for a minute, shall we?  we shall.  see, i know that deep down inside you really aren’t shallow.  e.g., you really wouldn’t pass on that ranch-hand whose veinous forearms, glistening in the sun from hard labor, call out to you from under his rolled cuffs would you?  of course not.  he’s a working man.  he smells like wet straw, dirt, tobacco, leather and sweat.  he’s looking right at you with those bright blue eyes, bridling his massive, compliant horse–a hard ass in soft denim.  he has dirt on his face and doesn’t even know it; doesn’t care even if he did.  he’ll wash up when he’s done. 
    now then, if at this time you’re wondering to yourself whether our lesser friend here is worthy of you because he isn’t jurisprudential, well, reread sentence one and two, because that’s the best it’s gonna get for you.

  • Guano Dubango

    I am also of the group that finds this woman to be too much.  Personally, I like an attractive woman, but this one just doesn’t know when to shut up.  Women should know when to stop their whining and when to be attentive to their man.  Here she has found someone, but proceeds to bash him.  Is she really that much better?  Hardly, she went to some unknown school and was not academically distinguished.  Now, I might be interested in such a woman if she learned not to talk so much and not to expect her man to be a servant to her.  I agree with the first post that she is getting old, and may not be able to bear me children.  If she cannot do this, of what use would she be to me?  Probably very little, as sex is best practiced on a woman between 19-30, because beyond this, the women lose their sex appeal, at least in my home country.  So, I will continue to try and find a woman, but I no longer look at LF10 as eligible for me.

  • Evil Lawyer

    Scene One: Carson packs his stuff and flees with shirts and ascots dangling from his poorly closed suitcase, before this loquacious, nattering ingrate comes home.
    Scene Two: big public fight between them, followed by breakup sex or Scene One;
    Either way, Guano will be there.

  • BL1Y

    “when he’s not unintentionally insulting my legal education and patronizing me—he treats me perfectly.” I love shit like this.  It’s the same of that “he can be really nice, when he wants to be.” Yeah, so can everyone.  Too bad your guy chooses to be an asshole.

  • Mufasa

    This isn’t anything surprising.  We’re just wired differently.  He treats you like crap and you fret over it and ultimately decide to take it, because you like it even though you won’t admit it.  You feel inferior, and you are, so you are relegated to the inferior role, searching for your identity, even demanding it, but you are never taken seriously.  You are the flavor of the month, and he actually hopes you will dump him, which is his way of dumping you.  You ponder every situation, every word or phrase he utters, every possible context, trying to read between the lines.  He just wants food, massages, or sex.  It wouldn’t even matter if your law schools were reversed.  You would still be his flavor of the month.  You would use every opportunity to throw that in his face, but unlike you, he wouldn’t care.  He just wants food, massages, or sex.  In fact, he wishes you would just stop talking.  He’s done with you already, so please dump him.  He ready for someone a little younger, a little hotter, anyway.  You can’t give him the only other thing he might want besides food, massages, or sex, and that’s strange sex.  So do everyone a favor, dump him and then boast about it.  He’ll be thankful, and you’ll be miserable now instead of four months from now when he can’t take your yapping any longer and he is forced to dump you.

  • LF10 fan

    I laughed out load. enjoyable piece. dames? who says dames it’s 2010? I bet LF10 looks like Megan Fox!

  • Deraj

    “Sell crazy someplace else, [LF10’s] all stocked up here.”

  • Magic Circle Jerk

    You’re the reason why I would never shit where I eat….

    Carson: if you can read this, ATD my friend, ATD and quickly too

  • Random Paralegal

    Both of you suffer from Narcissistic personality disorder.

  • Anonymous

    I think the real issue here is that you think your dating choices are limited to a patronizing tool or a moron. Shouldn’t you be able to find someone you enjoy on the spectrum between HYS snob and someone to whom you need to explain the daily show? Considering you haven’t been able to go more than a couple months dating this guy before you feel like breaking stuff, you need to dump him and open up you relationship search to areas where you haven’t traditionally been looking.

  • Storm

    Who cares if she does look like Megan Fox? Somewhere, some guy is tired of her bullshit.

  • Christopher Dillingham

    Nice. I enjoyed it immensely. My wife complains about all the characteristics, and if all these naysayers would look at their own (mostly) self-absorbed replies, they would realize we are all fashioned from the same mold. This is why we are in this profession, and if one does not realize that we have control and ego issues, then one fails to recognize the source of the drug and alcoholism issues infecting our profession.
    That said, this is yet again another outstanding, well-written piece of self-satire.
    Forgive me, but I must stop typing in order to explain a Daily Show joke to a lower life form…

  • Rooney

    I was up at 4am and stumbled upon this site while I was licking my wounds after a tumultuous year and a half dating a very narcissistic tax lawyer. This thread is interesting because most everyone’s opinion rings some sort of bell with me. I’m not a lawyer. I’m an editor. Facts and debate are important to me but there are times when I just want to BE. Without needing ammo to get through a simple conversation. I’m argumentative, I suppose, by nature, but found difficulty dating someone who always had to be “on.” Playing Scrabble was a nightmare. Emotional outbursts that would otherwise be normal in other relationships became linked to my identity as a “dramatic” person when he didn’t understand why I got upset after constant criticizing of my shoe choice, friends, schedule, how I cooked and anything else he could nitpick. One day he tells me all that matters is how much he loves me. The next day he can’t handle someone who gets upset about little things. I don’t know what or who he needs. I don’t know what this woman needs. But I hope she can relax and start to enjoy his company or move on before anymore damage is done. It’s okay to not always have the last word or to listen to our emotions. Dating shouldn’t be this hard and you shouldn’t have to feel as though you’re always in the defense, although it sounds like just like me, she puts herself there.