What’s wrong with me?

By Legal Eagle

Okay, don’t answer that question. But I didn’t watch either the Debate between our esteemed political leaders, or the Master Chef final. Thus I suspect I am in a minority of the Australian population.

I didn’t watch the GillAbb Debate because I am so shizzed off about the direction politics is going in this country at the moment. I just feel like it’s so much hot air, and unpleasant hot air at that. What the hell is happening when parties are vying to outdo each other on cutting immigration?! Take away the word “sustainability”, and I think you start to get a bit of a Hanson-esque feel. There is very little difference between the two parties, and neither are going in a direction I particularly like. They seem to be focused on the Worm rather than on a long term vision for what’s best for our country or our people.

I didn’t watch Master Chef either. I don’t have anything against it particularly; I just have other things to do of an evening (mainly PhD, and if I’m not doing that I read a book or write a blog post). Apparently it’s full of lawyers who are trying to get out of the law. Why does this not surprise me? In fact, my husband thought he might nominate me – what a dear man! – they do say that the road to a man’s heart is via his stomach, and it seems I have conquered both. Nonetheless, although I love cooking, I wouldn’t want to compete on a show. My meals are a labour of love for friends and family, and I wouldn’t want to compete in that kind of a way.

Someone was asking a lawyer friend and I whether we knew any of the lawyer contestants. Nope, I don’t think I do. Apparently one or two of the lawyers were at Clayton Utz. Both my friend and I did articles at other big firms, 10 or so years ago. We thought about it. Almost nobody we know from 10 years ago is still at a firm. They’ve gone to the Bar, or in-house, to government, to academia, or they’ve quit law altogether and become something entirely different. I’d say about 10% of my Articles cohort are still with a firm.

When I turned my mind to the firm I was at 5 years ago, I could only think of one lawyer at a vaguely similar level to me who was still there (out of 20 or so). Again, there was a similar picture. Some had moved to other firms, but most had moved out of firms altogether. My own apocryphal observations are backed up by a 2008 study, which showed similar results. I’d love to do a long range study of people over 15 years or so, and work out how long they lasted at firms, why they left or stayed, and what their career progression was.

I suppose law firms don’t have to worry about treating graduates well because there’s plenty more fodder where that came from. I can’t see how firms could be happy with the massive churn they experience (apparently roughly equivalent to an entire staff turnover after 5 years). No wonder Master Chef seems like a better option, even if you do break down in tears because your coulis has lumps in it.

As a friend who is still in practice observed glumly, many firms combine the worst of owner-managed businesses with the worst of large corporates. Partners use junior lawyers to line their own pockets, and I suspect that they don’t really care how many they go through as long as the clients keep coming and the money keeps rolling in, because nothing changes.

I just feel that the world is going crazy at the moment and that there’s a distinct lack of sense on the part of politicians, lawyers and the media. Do people (politicians, law firm partners, or whoever) get so consumed in their own reality that they start to believe their own BS? Glah. On that note, I am going to go and read a nice fantasy sci-fi book and escape from this world for a little while.


  1. Posted July 25, 2010 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

    I didn’t watch either of them either, but only because the telly is borked. On the other hand it has been borked for weeks, and if I really cared about telly I would have bought a new one within 24 hours.

    On another note entirely, thank you for the great and rare pleasure of seeing the word ‘cohort’ used correctly.

  2. Posted July 25, 2010 at 9:54 pm | Permalink

    Missed the show with contestants dishing up gourmet food (never watch it) and missed the show with contestants dishing up tripe (at work, and there’s so substance between or in either contestant anyway, so I probably wouldn’t have watched).

    Unless we get a political leader who deserves that label, the dominant politicians in australia continue to be Hanson and Howard. So influential are they that they don’t have to do anything to get their way.

    Is it that the public got changed by Hanson and Howard, or were we as a public /always/ this way, but we once had leaders (on both sides of politics) who tried to, and could, lift our eyes to something higher than our own navels, make us think of our mores not our maws?

    The agenda of both appeals not to a single virtue, but to the vices, probably all of the 7 deadly sins. Those agenda have been developed by close research and therefore can be considered diagnostic of the collective psyche.

    I now feel closer kinship with the decent folk on the “right” wings than the masses, even though my political views move further to the “left”.

    Maybe woof, woof, there’s a full woof woof moon, woof, I’m howl howl morrphing into werecynic, while the general public reaches for silver, all 30 pieces, as payment for handing over their humanity.

  3. Posted July 26, 2010 at 7:16 am | Permalink

    I have to say that you didn’t miss much when it came to the debate. Annabel Crabb summed it up nicely when she said “I’d give the win to TA, just, because he wasn’t as bad as he could have been’. That’s how bad it was. Although I thought Julia came out slightly ahead. But only slightly.

  4. TerjeP
    Posted July 26, 2010 at 7:17 am | Permalink

    So you’re only a cynic when the moon is full?

  5. Posted July 26, 2010 at 8:10 am | Permalink

    For the record, I watched neither the debate nor the cook-off.

    you might find people you knew over on FirmSpy.

  6. Posted July 26, 2010 at 8:13 am | Permalink

    here is a taste … of what to expect at that link above –

    ‘This is what Masterchef winner – and former Kelly & Co lawyer – Adam Liaw said on his (incredibly still accessible) Twitter account (5:50pm, 10/4/2009):

    Free economic stimulus money application form came in the post. Now the inevitable question: Hookers or blow?
    Inevitable indeed .But what will Adam do with the Masterchef winner’s $100,000 … err… booty .’

  7. Posted July 26, 2010 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

    You are not alone! I didn’t watch the debate because the whole race-to-the-bottom-to-demonise-refugees things is too, too depressing, and I don’t care for Mastersooks. As a food blogger called Claire who’s also a lawyer in one of the big Melbourne law firms, I’ve had lots of people asking whether or not I’m Claire from Masterchef!

  8. Posted July 26, 2010 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

    I was in a big firm, for a couple of times. Only a few people who were in the firm when I was there are still there, but a fair few of the stayers who were already there are staying the distance.

    I expect more than half of the people I finished law school with a little under 20 years ago are still practising law one way or another, though I can’t say I have much hard data to back that assertion up. But it could be that more than half are not. It’s very impressionistic, but I include in my assessment a healthy appreciation of the many directions life can either push or pull people and the incompatibility of some of those tugs and shoves with life in a big law firm, which definitely has its own peculiar rigours.

  9. Posted July 26, 2010 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

    PS: too many “buts” in that!

    For more accurate sense, delete the second and third “but”s and insert the necessary colon or stop where the third “but” was.

  10. Posted July 26, 2010 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    hmmm. just considering the the last few election have been running on a food theme: pork and spam. But no sign of sage or rue.

  11. Posted July 26, 2010 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

    Do people (politicians, law firm partners, or whoever) get so consumed in their own reality that they start to believe their own BS?


    What I thought interesting was that The Hun ran the Masterchef story as #1 and the debate #2. Even tho’ News Ltd paper declared Abbott the winner, everyone knew he wasn’t. This morning at Catallaxy when the debate was being argued over those who’re in pain at the thought the government will be returned changed the subject to Masterchef.

    Bright people who have no idea they’ve been programmed by the Electric Blues.

  12. Patrick
    Posted July 26, 2010 at 8:54 pm | Permalink

    LE, my wife nailed that one: ‘he’s a lawyer, there are soo many lawyers on this show, but no wonder, after all lawyers have the money to experiment with nice food, they eat at lots of nice restaurants to learn about and be inspired by nice food and they have so much competitive snobbishness that they love doing new complex things.

    Cynical wife of a kinda-lawyer: 1, lawyers (and kinda-lawyers: 0.

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