“Law Grad Working Retail” is a new blog, authored by a 2013 law school graduate who got no-offered by a fancy firm (This means he wasn’t offered a post-graduation position as an associate, after he spent the summer following his second year of law school working at the firm. Such an offer is normally the only way to get an entry-level lawyer job with such firms).
At present, he is spending the Christmas rush season selling perfume at an upscale Chicago department store. The blog seems to be down at the moment, but it is full of mordantly hilarious and sometimes touching vignettes of life as an over-educated and under-employed twentysomething, trying to make sense of what remains, given lifelong exposure to propaganda about the economic value of higher education, a profoundly confusing situation.
The author’s co-workers quiz him regularly on legal matters:
“LawGrad, you a lawyer,” Shaina began, “can Julian sue the store?”
“You know, accusing him of stealing because he’s Mexican.”
“But he was stealing.”
“So he can’t sue?”
Bitterness sometimes threatens to overwhelm him, such as when he realizes that a photograph behind the perfume counter features the very building in which he spent the summer after his 2L year, or when he ducks behind that counter to avoid being seen by a former classmate. But for the most part he retains a healthy sense of perspective on his situation (which includes the practical challenges of living in what sounds like a fairly dreadful $800 per month apartment with his wife, another underemployed recent college graduate, in the Ukrainian Village section of Chicago.)
The blog’s December 28th entry is the best one yet, describing the emotions of people who come to the counter not to buy anything, but to use a bit of the store’s samples of classic colognes to capture a redolent memory of a lost love, or some other moment from their past.
I hope the author finds success and happiness, perhaps as a lawyer, but perhaps more plausibly in the literary world.
Anyway, I let the author know I admired his work, and gave him some unsolicited advice about avoiding repeating some sexist remarks that marred some of his early posts. In the sort of coincidence that poets love and logicians loathe, I shortly thereafter got a call from a very prominent legal academic, who has been vigorous supporter of my work critiquing law schools. Prof. X wanted to give me his view on my two posts last week regarding Prof. Nancy Leong. That view is:
(1) Leong was wrong to file a bar complaint against one of her on line critics.
(2) A lot of Leong’s scholarship is bad.
(3) A couple of Leong’s more recent pieces on remedies, in particular one in the Virginia Law Review, are quite good, and represent the kind of work legal academics in particular can do which may have practical and/or scholarly value.
(4) I don’t know what Leong’s motives were for blogging extensively about her online critics, and filing a bar complaint against one of them, and I shouldn’t have imputed crass careerism as a primary motivator for her actions.
(5) In short, while some of my criticisms of Leong’s actions were justified, I mishandled those criticisms in a way that distracted from legitimate issues (the abuse of the bar’s disciplinary process; what sort of legal academic work has value, and how much should students be expected to subsidize it., etc).
It seems to me on reflection that Prof. X’s observations regarding this matter are just, and that I should apologize to Leong for imputing base motives for her actions, although I still believe that she was very much in the wrong to file a bar complaint against an online critic of some of her scholarship. And so I do so now, in the spirit of the coming New Year.
A snake came to my water-trough
On a hot, hot day, and I in pyjamas for the heat,
To drink there.
In the deep, strange-scented shade of the great dark carob-tree
I came down the steps with my pitcher
And must wait, must stand and wait, for there he was at the trough before
He reached down from a fissure in the earth-wall in the gloom
And trailed his yellow-brown slackness soft-bellied down, over the edge of
the stone trough
And rested his throat upon the stone bottom,
And where the water had dripped from the tap, in a small clearness,
He sipped with his straight mouth,
Softly drank through his straight gums, into his slack long body,
Someone was before me at my water-trough,
And I, like a second comer, waiting.
He lifted his head from his drinking, as cattle do,
And looked at me vaguely, as drinking cattle do,
And flickered his two-forked tongue from his lips, and mused a moment,
And stooped and drank a little more,
Being earth-brown, earth-golden from the burning bowels of the earth
On the day of Sicilian July, with Etna smoking.
The voice of my education said to me
He must be killed,
For in Sicily the black, black snakes are innocent, the gold are venomous.
And voices in me said, If you were a man
You would take a stick and break him now, and finish him off.
But must I confess how I liked him,
How glad I was he had come like a guest in quiet, to drink at my water-trough
And depart peaceful, pacified, and thankless,
Into the burning bowels of this earth?
Was it cowardice, that I dared not kill him? Was it perversity, that I longed to talk to him? Was it humility, to feel so honoured?
I felt so honoured.
And yet those voices:
If you were not afraid, you would kill him!
And truly I was afraid, I was most afraid, But even so, honoured still more
That he should seek my hospitality
From out the dark door of the secret earth.
He drank enough
And lifted his head, dreamily, as one who has drunken,
And flickered his tongue like a forked night on the air, so black,
Seeming to lick his lips,
And looked around like a god, unseeing, into the air,
And slowly turned his head,
And slowly, very slowly, as if thrice adream,
Proceeded to draw his slow length curving round
And climb again the broken bank of my wall-face.
And as he put his head into that dreadful hole,
And as he slowly drew up, snake-easing his shoulders, and entered farther,
A sort of horror, a sort of protest against his withdrawing into that horrid black hole,
Deliberately going into the blackness, and slowly drawing himself after,
Overcame me now his back was turned.
I looked round, I put down my pitcher,
I picked up a clumsy log
And threw it at the water-trough with a clatter.
I think it did not hit him,
But suddenly that part of him that was left behind convulsed in undignified haste.
Writhed like lightning, and was gone
Into the black hole, the earth-lipped fissure in the wall-front,
At which, in the intense still noon, I stared with fascination.
And immediately I regretted it.
I thought how paltry, how vulgar, what a mean act!
I despised myself and the voices of my accursed human education.
And I thought of the albatross
And I wished he would come back, my snake.
For he seemed to me again like a king,
Like a king in exile, uncrowned in the underworld,
Now due to be crowned again.
And so, I missed my chance with one of the lords
And I have something to expiate: