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Ting! We have a winnah!

Yes, seriously, I think you're correct. To a degree I think this kind of mentality is found in many of the “professions.” I think Emerson said it best when he was discussing the tendency of people to self-identify via their profession (which can only encompass, by definition, a narrow range of human behaviors – reducing youself to simply being “a lawyer” (as opposed to a person practicing law) will not make you a good parent, or partner, or cook, or dancer, or spiritually fulfilled human. Well, Emerson said it better in The American Scholar:

“Man is not a farmer, or a professor, or an engineer, but he is all. Man is priest, and scholar, and statesman, and producer, and soldier. In the divided or social state, these functions are parceled out to individuals, each of whom aims to do his stint of the joint work, whilst each other performs his. . .The state of society is one in which the members have suffered amputation from the trunk, and strut about so many walking monsters,--a good finger, a neck, a stomach, an elbow, but never a man.

Man is thus metamorphosed into a thing, into many things. The planter, who is Man sent out into the field to gather food, is seldom cheered by any idea of the true dignity of his ministry. He sees his bushel and his cart, and nothing beyond, and sinks into the farmer, instead of Man on the farm. The tradesman scarcely ever gives an ideal worth to his work, but is ridden by the routine of his craft, and the soul is subject to dollars. The priest becomes a form; the attorney, a statute-book; the mechanic, a machine; the sailor, a rope of a ship."


I would also add that the nature of anonymity itself encourages vitriol and messages sent without thought, pause, or consideration of other people.

So much of it just comes down to "nyah, nyah - they don't know who I am, so I can say anything I like, no matter how spiteful, mean, and often just plain wrong, it is..".

Rufus T. Firefly

I find the commentators on Anonymous Lawyer particularly annoying. Aside from the unnecessary rage that many of them exhibit, very few of them appear to get what I think is the point of the site, and the reason why it is so brilliant: it’s fiction. My opinion is that AL is an elaborate creative writing project that unfolds daily by someone familiar with that kind of large firm. My guess would be a senior associate who has either left or is about to leave is the author. Everything is exaggerated for comic effect. And the tone of the author, the droll snottiness, is perfect, but completely satirical. Take the recent debate about whether only graduates of top schools can work at firms like that. I know from my own personal experience that that isn’t true. I went to a high to mid level second tier school, but I was at the very top of the class and on law review. I got every interview I sought at a big NYC firm, as did the rest of the, say, top 15% of my class. I didn’t feel in the least bit inferior to the Ivy law students I was there with. However, I did get a vibe of superiority off of them. But I chalk that up to their immaturity. Face it, people between 22 and 25, the age of most summer associates, are still essentially adolescents. My experience has been that compared to the population as a whole, lawyers are very insecure people. Many of them are smart geeks and nerds who, despite their accomplishments, carry that socially awkward mentality around with them. I think your hypothesis is close to the point. Many of the AL commentors need to advocate their own superiority and many of them need to rage because of their feelings of inferiority (entirely false) because they’re not at a firm like the one AL describes.


People might seize the chance to act like pricks on line because they spend so much effort trying not to act like pricks in the real world. "Mr. Yalie, I wish I could've gone to Yale." "You didn't miss anything, Ms. Lower Tier; your law school was just as good."


I dunno. I guess it depends on which name-calling comment we're talking about. One commentator stated the following: "The majority of you people are losers. Rankings, top tier, blah, blah, blah. You are the reason that lawyers have shitty stereotypes, and you are the reason I ache to go head to head with you in the court. You make win the testing scores, the business connections, and the goddamn bmw's but you lack souls. Mostly transparent, you are insecure little shits hiding in your pretentious egotistical faux lives. Your children will grow up to be the same piece of shits you all are. Rankings dont mean shit. Dedication, hard work, and integrity show how much of a backbone you really have or lack thereof."

Now, okay, that may be crass, and crude, and childish, and immature. But you can't say that it fails to make a point. And frankly, *I* can't say that I disagree with that point.

Imm A. Fake

I've written before about Unequal Justice: Lawyers and Social Change in Modern America by Jerold S. Auerbach. The very purpose of law school is racist. If lawyers clerked, the jews and the irish could create new lawyers. Thus, law school.

Bragging about whose law school is better is like claiming your klan klaven is the best.


I blame society.

The answer to this question can be found on the AL blog. In one of the threads on that blog a commenter posted a link to an article written by a former corporate lawyer turned law school professor on being a happy and ethical member of an unhappy and unethical profession.

One central element of this article is the lawyer's obsession with competition. For us, winning is everything. At big corporate law firms you have a collection of type-A's who have breathed competition since high school. Get good grades, go top ranked college, get good grades, go to top ranked law school, get good grades, go to top ranked law firm. Their/our pre-professional lives are based on competition. It is understandable that the competition/success becomes hard-wired. Lawyers (yes, including me) who follow this track start to see our success as self-evident and, are sometimes genuinely surprised when people fail to acknowledge our _obvious_ brilliance (probably very good for us to get a shot of reality).

However, I am suspicious of lawyers who tend to pull down academic achievement, university pedigree and firm pedigree. On one hand it is possible that they have managed (aginst all odds) to gain some real perspective on life, and know that none of these things makes you a better lawyer (or more importantly, a better person). On the other hand, I tend to think that many of these detractors are caught in the same cycle of competition, and, having failed to achieve (by, for example, going to a lower tier university, or missing out on employment at a top tier firm) feel jealous, and are forced to attack those who did make the grade (as such).


If it bothers you, just don't think of it as intelligence. Call it something else, anything else. "Illud." Certain legal specialties require more illud than others. Experience shows that people from "more competitive" schools generally have more illud than people from other schools. So firms that do a lot of work in high-illud specialties favor grads from the more competitive schools. Now, the evidence may indicate that you don't have as much illud as the folks who were hired by those firms. But that doesn't matter if you specialize in an area that doesn't need so much illud but needs something you do have -- "hoc." In fact, you probably have way more hoc than all those snooty high-illud types.


For the most part, I think you nailed it. But I do notice a deep-set disdain for biglaw. I can say that a month into a large firm from my former (much smaller) firm, some of biglaw's reputation is not deserved. Then again, maybe I just got lucky and landed in a good practice group. Who knows.

I learned at an early age that if you derive all of your life's satisfaction from your job, you'll be a pretty lousy person overall. (Not as poetic as Emerson, but the same message.)

You are so stupid. Reading you just makes my eyes hurt. Clearly you left firm life because you just couldn't hack it.

P.S. I totally rock.


The snarky, vicious comments can be found everywhere. Just visit political blogs. Or watch the latest political ads, for that matter.

I think the motive for this kind of behavior is the same thing that motivates people to racist behavior - the need to believe that you are better than someone, that despite whatever setbacks or failures or weaknesses you have, you can rest assured that at least you aren't ______ (fill in the blank with your favorite despised group or person).

It's a sign to me of delayed maturity, an inability to accept your own limitations, the reality that there are people who are smarter, richer, faster, better than you. That we are ultimately insignificant and yet life still matters.

Being snarky and mean to someone anonymously somehow makes these people feel strong and smart and better about themselves.

Glib Gurl

No, those comments on AL are a reflection on them, not you . . . you got it right. Man does the truth hurt . . . .

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