Midnight Pub

we are the law


This is going to be somewhat rant-y.

I’ll hopefully get something longer written about this at some point, but for now a brief post will have to do.

I struggle a lot with finding satisfaction in...things. I have to be careful, because at least some of this is biochemical, and it’s easy to find something that would make sense as a cause and assume that it’s actually the cause (as opposed to the aforementioned biochemical difficulties).

With that said, I have difficulty finding enjoyment in my career as a lawyer. The more experience I’ve gotten the less I’ve enjoyed it, although I have to include the caveat that I haven’t been able to go in the direction that I necessarily would’ve wanted.

Regardless, part of my dissatisfaction is that the law all comes back to people. It’s not some objective thing that we’re trying to understand and make use of. Instead, we as lawyers are stuck trying to navigate a universe that was entirely created by other people. With those situations where the law doesn’t work, it’s because *people* screwed it up, and by the same token, people can fix it.

Why this leads to this malaise on my part is less clear. This inherent arbitrariness of laws (even under the best of circumstances) somehow means that working with them just becomes frustrating rather than a worthwhile problem to solve. I think my feeling boils down to: I wouldn’t have to do all this (put my client through all this, etc.) if someone else hadn’t set things up this way. And it’s not like it’s about trying to figure out the best way to handle a problem most of the time; the law cares about what the law says, not what the results ultimately are.

I recognize, at least intellectually, that from my (and any client’s) perspective, the law is no more mutable than some physical aspect of the universe. I don’t know why I can’t internalize that, or at the least be content with some idea like “trying to make things apply equally.” I just can’t see past the fact that it doesn’t have to be this way.


For a long time, I’ve seen myself as being very non-competitive. In some respects this is still true, but in others I think the opposite is the case. In those instances, this idea of being non-competitive was how I forced myself to avoid competition because of how much I (sometimes) don’t like to lose. From what I can tell, it’s less an ego thing and more a case of how easy it is for me to become emotionally invested in whatever I’m doing, such that not being successful at it (which includes “losing” in some situations) can be really rough emotionally.

So for example, I have a really hard time with e.g. court opinions I think are wrong. They make me inordinately angry and just generally upset; while understandable, this is not really healthy. It means I have to keep myself away from a lot of goings-on, and it means that dealing with a case as a lawyer that I’m really passionate about is dangerous, especially if things don’t go my way. This expands to other areas too, and is one of the reasons I’ve been unable to find some kind of homeostasis with regards to my job. I’m either all in to a fault or entirely disconnected. The latter has allowed me to remain sane while still doing this work, but it does inhibit any kind of job satisfaction. (That I’m bored as hell doesn’t help.)

In the case of legal issues, I think these two things are tied together. When I see what appears to me to be the right answer, especially from a moral one, it’s very upsetting when things go in a different direction. This is true in plenty of areas, to be clear, and is why I keep myself away from current events as much as humanely possible.

For example, the blatant abuse of power that’s ongoing in the Young Thug trial in Georgia has been driving me up the wall, and I’m both morbidly fascinated by how it seems to continue getting worse and the broader implications. If nothing else, I can’t imagine this is the first case of this level of witness tampering and subsequent shenanigans. It just happened to take place this time in a trial subject to a lot more publicity and with a defendant who has the resources to hire good (superlative, actually) defense counsel.

This is the main reason I nope’d very quickly out of criminal defense work: the deck is heavily stacked against the defendant. Granted, a defense lawyer’s job isn’t actually to get an acquittal, but given how few non-lawyers understand this, it was still pretty dissatisfying.

Anyway, the end result is me ending up in a profession that I have in some ways lost faith in. Not lawyers specifically, but more with my ability to operate within the system as it currently exists.

I’m not sure what the next step actually is, of course. I’m plenty good at sitting on the internet and telling people they’re wrong, but it’s surprisingly hard to do that professionally (as opposed to the vibrant amateur community). If nothing else, you have to convince someone that you’re worth listening to, which is more than a little difficult in itself. This is to say nothing of how little stomach I have for politics.

So it goes, or I suppose doesn’t in this case.


Howdy ~zampano!

~bartender? Whatever ~zampano has, it's on me. The whole week! And for now just coffee, please.

~zampano, you have my full respect. I would like to congratulate you, that you can mentally go beyond the frontier. :)

I have graduated in physics, doctorate degree and all. And believe it or not, I sometimes have the same problem, although with very different details. Example: electrons. On several occasions I have said something like: "Look, electrons don't exist. They are a mental model in our heads, which will very nicely describe a set of observations, which we can make in experiments. But that does not prove, that electrons exist." I will a agree any time, that the model named "electron" is very successful. But it is still a model, and the Goddesses of this universe will chuckle a bit at our sub par understanding of nature. Now, in physics, we have "the experiment" as the ultima ratio --- the thing that you are missing in law.

And I whole-heartedly agree with your little rant. "The Law" in its current form is an attempt to keep the chaos low, that would arise from everyone doing exactly, what they want and only that. But "The Law" in its current form has seen countless transformations. As you say, it is made by people in an attempt to make people largely get along with each other. One of my favorite pets is about the concept of family. Currently and in my jurisdiction, 2 people can enter the civil state of "married". It used to be narrower, only a female and a male can enter this state. But look: There was a time, when there was no office in town to record that. Ok, it was the churches before, at least in large parts of Europe. And before christian churches an monasteries became a thing? And before that? Well, there were rituals among folks to indicate that 2 people take responsibility for each other and possibly their offspring. But how about more than 2 people? I get blank stares, when I ask this. How about two females, maybe sisters, sharing one male? Because all three agree to this? "But you can't do that!" --- I hear them. However, rest assured, that people have done these and similar things for a few thousand years anyway. "The Law" is there to serve people, and not the other way round. That being said, it is not impossible for things to change. Homosexual marriages were forbidden not so long ago in this area. And I have seen people working on a more general concept of family these days. So "The Law" is not immutable, but I do not expect fast changes.


Post Scriptum: If I hire you or one of your fellows, then it is, because I am totally blind to these alien to me concepts. I need your help to find through this jungle of options and concepts. And if you lead me to the other end of that jungle, largely unscathed, then I will be very grateful!



To me, what you're saying is a reference to the fuckuppedness of individuality by emphasizing how it need be tamed/herded by "law" and enforcers thereof ...

... which re-emphasizes to me that individuality itself is "root cause" of the - thus - ensuing madness, and should be the focal point of remedy such that the likes of "law" are first seen to be merely bandaids of really crappy adhesion, and then abandoned in favor of root cause remedy.

Of course, it's tough, because how do individuals - i.e. the conceptually ill - rise above and out of their tragic state? Does not everything they think/do reinforce their illusions that they're free-willed doers? All thinking/doing seems a sort of pulling the straight jacket strings even tighter....

What magically unravels the seeming fall proceeding from the pride of individuality?

<ducks in anticipation of non-friendly individuality fire>




I'm chuckling (at this point (see below)) - and please don't take this personally, i.e. about you and/or your choices in life, because it's just some goofy thing that came to mind that led to my smiling - because while staring at the word 'lawyer', the phrase "infantryman of Satan" came to mind.... :-)

I don't know for sure, but I suspect that came to mind from deep-rooted - and mostly successfully sublimated - hatred engendered by witnessing the behavior of my ex-wife's lawyer in divorce court what is now a quarter century ago.

I've honestly never witnessed behavior more vile.

I best stop typing now before what was once chuckling degenerates into statements at *least* as vile as that <deleted description of that lawyer ending in "...piece of shit">....

<composes "self">

Okay. It's going to be okay, ~inquiry. Just... okay... breathe... you've got this... the bad person is gone... you've moved on... <exhales>

On the flip side, my lawyer in that fiasco was a delight to interact with. We're talking some of the most fun-ly clever banter I've ever experienced. And you should have seen/heard us laughing nearly to tears when he reminded me "Don't forget you're paying for this time, ~inquiry!"



Unfortunately your experience is far from unique. Whether her lawyer was actually inappropriate or anything I obviously don’t know, but the fact that it’s hard to tell is, IMO, part of the problem. What the solution is remains unclear to me...not necessarily in your case, of course, but civic education in the U.S. is often very poor.

The news doesn’t help, and legal journalism can be as problematic as science journalism.

And don’t get me started on how much damage shows like *Law and Order* do...



I've never cared for shows featuring dramatized court related crap. But I witnessed aspects of it with my own eyes in that ex-wife lawyer.

There I was, thinking I was going to be experiencing a formality, when suddenly some woman was bellowing, repeatedly pointing her index finger at me, basically performing an animated character assassination I'd never - and still haven't - seen in real life. Her somewhat big hair was flying all over the place. In the context of that display, it wouldn't have seemed unreasonable if the floor between her and where I was sitting had opened revealing the fires of hell, and I was dragged and thrown therein by bailiffs.

You don't forget something like that.

Nor have I forgotten her name.

And the judgement *was* essentially anticipated formality: assets split evenly, child support, no spousal support because we earned similar incomes.

But the hyper-dramatized behavior of that lawyer in court, matched by that of the ex- with former neighbors and friends? Absolutely, categorically vile.

It's very, *very* difficult to escape periodic "days of reckoning" fantasies....



That’s wild, but at least it doesn’t sound like it had much effect. It usually doesn’t, and is why most (good) lawyers don’t engage in that kind of thing. It just doesn’t help, wastes time, and makes you look like an asshole at best. The only thing it is good for is reinforcing a lot of negative stereotypes about lawyers. Meanwhile, other lawyers (including judges) are not generally impressed by that kind of performative behavior, which is really what it is: putting on a show for the client to the annoyance of everyone else.

When I did family law, it felt like about 80% of my time was spent reminding my client to be the non-crazy one. After all (and this ties into my previous paragraph), judges who deal with those cases have seen *everything*. You’re never going to out-crazy or out-manipulate them, so you’re far better off being the reasonable one and garnering sympathy that way. It’s a parallel phenomenon to crying wolf, ultimately.

Days of reckoning are funny things. I don’t really believe in “justice” as we usually conceptualize it, even if I’m as open to schadenfreude as anyone. Maybe that’s why I don’t find those kinds of fantasies cathartic, they just make me mad as I see them as something that’ll never actually happen. I don’t say this to suggest it’s a morally superior position, by any means (fantasies in and of themselves are not morally good or bad IMO).