Tuesday, July 06, 2010

In which I am reminded that work is for suckers...

Late last year, I decided that I really, really could no longer stand to be a lawyer. I had thought about trying to get a sweet government law job, but every time I sent out my resume, there was a deafening silence. I mean, I didn't even get rejection letters. So I decided that I would get my social work license and apply to Americorps for one year of indentured servitude. While I was in the midst of that process, a good friend whom I had worked with before (who shall remain nameless in an attempt to keep us both anonymous) told me about an opening in the government agency that he worked for in New York City.

I had been planning to move in with Jeeves in January, so this seemed like something I should consider. After all, it wasn't that I was totally opposed to being a lawyer, right? It's just that I didn't want to bill my life away, wanted to leave work at 5:30 every day, wanted a significant reduction in my stress levels, right? Right? That's all true. What I had forgotten to take into account was that I actually really hate the whole ridiculous fighting over stupid stuff that comes with being a litigator. I enjoy the intellectual pursuit of an argument with friends or family. And I love research and writing. But so little of what I find enjoyable actually happens in litigation. To me, so much of litigation is bickering over dates and documents.

Anyway, I submitted my resume for the position. I got an interview, and I nailed it. I knew I was super qualified for this job, and the idea of working with/for an old friend seemed like it would be great fun. I got the job offer a few days later, and didn't hesitate to accept it. I started in the winter, and at first, things started off pretty great. I have an amazing office-mate, it was fun to work for my old friend, the work was maybe not rocket science, but interesting enough. There were things I didn't like about it, but it seemed like such a huge improvement over firm life.

In early May, The Powers That Be (as I will call my bosses from now on, or TPTB for short) instituted mandatory overtime for attorneys. We now had to work 5-10 extra hours per week. Sure, sure we got *paid* for it, but I had already left a job where I was paid generously - I don't care about the money. I want my evenings to myself. At first they said this would just be till the end of June. But now we're in July and mandatory overtime continues. Then, about six weeks ago, my old friend announced that he was transitioning from his position as our supervisor to a regular old attorney position, just like the rest of us. TPTB decided they wanted someone with more managerial experience in his position, and in any event, my poor friend was so stressed and fried from the supervisor position that he was actually relieved to be a straight up attorney again.

For the rest of us in the department, things got tough. No longer having my friend as our buffer, we had to answer (or attempt to get answers/clearance) to TPTB. Dear Reader, to say that this has been an unpleasant experience would be like saying the LOL Cats are just a little funny. On top of having to endure regular painful meetings, I have gotten the sense that The Powers That Be want to change the way this governmental unit works. In other words, instead of my sweet 9-5 gig where I have no problem running out for lunch with a friend, they'd like us to work late every night, weekends, and scarf down lunch in 5 minutes at our desk. At least, that's the only thing I can figure based on this continued mandatory overtime and the absurd, absurd amount of work that has been dumped on me and my office mate.

Right now, this job is actually worse than working at the firms I was at before, where at least my opinion was somewhat respected, and managers didn't look at me suspiciously when I assured them I have a lot of work on my plate. I am thinking that now may be the time for me to respectfully bow out of the law, having given it my best shot. But until I figure out where to next, wish me luck.

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