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April 24, 2007

Why Are Lawyers Such Snobs?

This wonderful blog post is from a now 'defunct'  blog called 'Stay of Execution' as the author, Sheherezade (Sherry Fowler) has 'shifted direction.' Sheherezade describes herself as a 'recovering lawyer.'  She entered the blogosphere long before most of us knew what a blog was.  Her blog post of the same title (September 17, 2003) is very rich, not just in her well-written content but with trackbacks from veteran well-respected legal bloggers and much enlightening and thought-provoking commentary from her readership.  I encourage those who have never read this post, this blog, or writings from this blogger to do so.

In essence, this particular blog post, discusses the Tier system in law schools, the 'snobbery' in law school and how it is perpetuated and played out in the legal profession. It also gets you to thinking about where you may or may not fit into the realities and myths on your own professional journey.

(an excerpt:)

"I still REGULARLY question my choice of law school and of law firm.

Why? Because our profession worships credentials. We assume people from big, fancy law firms are smarter, and we assume people from fancy expensive law schools are better. You're a big liar if you pretend it's not true. Maybe it goes away or subsides after a career of practicing law, but we young lawyers (and certainly those applying to and attending law school) feel it acutely, and I bet the middle-aged lawyers who might have forgotten this need only check their ingrained assumptions to see that it's still there."

And Sherry's response to David Giacalone's comments:

"David, the point I'm trying to make is that our profession, through a pervasive worship of credentials, makes it very hard to explore honestly (or even to consider) careers away from BIGLAW. People tell us that's where the "interesting work" is and imply, explicitly or implicitly, that "ordinary" legal work for small businesses or consumers is somehow beneath us if we have brains and decent legal writing skills. So asking young lawyers to make other choices is asking us to choose a path that has been deemed intellectually less worthwhile by most of those we look up to".

(Be sure to read Ernie the Attorney's Track back for information on how the whole Tier system started.)

Beyond this blog post, go to Sheherezade's 'about page' and find links to a treasure trove of well-written posts about her experiences as a lawyer.  This is what I love about the blogosphere, when people determine their is value in their personal expression, real heart-felt expression, and gift it to us, whether in books, poetry or on the internet, so others have the opportunity and privilege to learn from their sharing.

Which leads me to the next point:  As more years pass in the blogosphere there is a 'library' being created.  We get so caught up in the current posts and those who are 'talking today' that we forget there is much that has already been written by people who are no longer blogging.  Like books that don't get reprinted, some become classics, others cult-phenomena, others secret treasures to be rediscovered.  Fortunately for us the internet has recorded it all in perpetuity. 

Look back into the archives of bloggers who have been around awhile, follow their links, discover some hidden jewels and share them with everyone through your blog or commentary because there is a new, fresh and expanding audience eager to read what you rediscover.  The Blogger may no longer be blogging or simply moved on to another discussion, but you can resurrect their thoughts and ideas and passions and make them relevant to today's conversation with the press of the 'publish' button.


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Thanks for your kind words. I think the "library" analogy is a good one, and I'm not sure blogging technology is set up well for archiving or retrieval or discovery of older information.

Let me know if there's anything I can do to help you with your own endeavors.

Casey Khan

"Because our profession worships credentials. We assume people from big, fancy law firms are smarter, and we assume people from fancy expensive law schools are better."

I find this an interesting phenomena among people who purport to use logic and reasoning in their profession. It seems as if the old fallacy of appeals to authority is lost on attorneys when it comes to judging their own. Jim went to Harvard so he must be right and a good attorney. Bob only went to Cooley, so we should never in our right mind consider him for SCOTUS.

I guess we shouldn't expect anything less than a highly cartelized profession.

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