Sunday, July 6, 2008
checking up on the overachievers: part one
When I started writing this blog, I didn't really know what I wanted it to be, but I had a pretty good idea of what I didn't want it to be. I didn't want it to be a series of complaints about how hard I'm working, nor a diatribe about how the practice of law is rotting my soul. I frankly don't work hard enough to justify the former, and I'm too fresh and inexperienced to write the latter -- and anyway there are enough of those blogs out there already. I also didn't set out to establish a networking tool to get a leg up in the biz, though apparently this is a popular reason for law blogging. I don't think the biz would be bowled over by my insightful analysis of the R. Kelly trial, or by my refreshing display of empathy for the plight of undercover police officers' families.
In part, I started blogging after an article appeared in my RSS reader about an upstart blog from the summer employees at Cassels, Brock and Blackwell (CSS), a lofty Bay Street firm.
The Cassels summer team seem like nice people. They write earnestly and charmingly about their days, which seem pretty arduous and which I don't envy in the slightest. I bet I would get along with them if I worked there. (In fact, one of them was a friend of mine in undergrad; he doesn't know I've been following his exploits from afar.)
But I don't work there. With my marks, I don't have a hope in hell of working there. I work here, where I have one daily responsibility, followed by several hours of slow, methodical file vetting and once in a while some QuickLaw research. I have more than enough time to publish blog posts about nothing that are read by no one, and lately I go home at five pretty much every day. Unlike the Cassels crew, I don't live up to the stereotype of the frantic summer law student galley slave.
I've tried ... a little bit. I thought for a while that I was doing something wrong, that I was somehow shirking my duties. But today when I ran out of files to vette and asked if there was any more work for me to do, anything, I was told no. I offered to wash the paralegals' cars and was cheerily declined. Aside from video remand court and vetting files, there's just not that much for a student to do around here.
So I read the updates from the Cassels crew. I read their Bay Street at 6 a.m. tell-all, which more than confirmed that I am snoozing the summer away while others are being dynamic and securing a future and an office for themselves in a Toronto highrise. The mere mention of 6:00 a.m. made my ears hot -- I get up at 8:00 and get to work around 8:50.
I read What's the Point and for Whom?, which I was excited to read, thinking it would be an angsty burned-out nihilist screed. It turned out to be a blog-self-analysis not unlike this one. The CSS bloggers, it seems, are likewise staring the oblivion of the internet in the face and are feeling a cold wind blast up at them. The post ended with a message to would-be Bay Street lawyers to find a firm where they are more than rabid automatons, where they are free to explore outlets they might heretofore not have considered -- like blogs. I have none of the all-consuming ambition of such people, and I already have a blog, so this advice is of limited utility to me.
I read One Week by Sarah J. (How are you going to build reputations as rising legal stars if no one knows your last names?) Brash up-and-comer Sarah J. spent her Canada Day reviewing case law. I spent my Canada Day drinking Corona and watching Lost. Clearly we're both winners, only in different games. The game Sarah J. is playing is conducive to a future of wealth and esteem. The game I am playing is conducive to knowing how Lost ends. And quenching of thirst.
I want to have their ability, their ambition and their idealism. I also want to be a snarky blogger, an outsider with a wry perspective. The fact that they have already accomplished both diminishes my already negligible achievement, but it gives me some sense of purpose: where their blog is a marriage of sharp legal intellect with a modicum of blogger malaise, I shall hurl my weight on the other side of the scale, combining feeble legal comprehension with a great deal of wretched blogginess. I hope they keep up their blog, as I will keep up mine. And maybe some day we can be friends.