Billing 60 hours a week? That’s something that sucks.

I recently spoke with an articling student about my blog and my crusade to eliminate the crazy amounts of stress in the lives of lawyers, or, as a new friend so aptly put it, to work on “destressing and reinvigorating our manic brothers and sisters”.  After explaining the whole idea, the articling student, whom I would never and could never identify by real name, firm, or even gender, said, “Why don’t you write about billing 60 hours a week? That’s something that sucks.”  Strangely enough, I agreed. So I decided to create this “rants” section in my blog, the idea being that it will be a safe place for all of us to voice the frustrations we feel and the challenges that we face. (In order to prevent any possible identification of my sources, I will only refer to the people I speak with as John Doe or Jane Doe ("JD").)

So I listened.

6 hours Sunday, 12 hours Monday, 14 hours Tuesday, 12 hours Wednesday. A total of 44 hours billed and Thursday had not yet begun.  “I just want to tell the incoming students to run”, JD said. “That life is hell. That they will steal your soul.”

Instead JD will probably end up telling them something like ‘I work hard but I’m learning a lot. The work is interesting and the people are great. I love the challenge.'  And that’s what gets me. The pretending. The schmoozing. The networking with fake smiles and enthusiasm. The false eagerness to take on more.  All the while our insides are crying “No! Just stop. Just walk. You don’t need this. You don’t deserve to be treated this way.”

But the investment we’ve made in this profession through our years of university, blatantly reflected in our bank statements and student loans balances, prevent us from seriously contemplating standing up for ourselves as an option.

When asked if JD would do it again, JD sighed and said, “Yeah, I would. That’s the worst part. Even knowing all of this, I would. I want to be a lawyer. I have no choice.”