the lawyer writer

sometimes legal                     sometimes literary                     sometimes not

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Getting Paid

I got paid. This is good news, as it means that I don't have to transform from my mild-mannered neo- (or is it pseudo-?) hippie self into that bulky green muscled hulk known as The "I-Will-Litigate-You-To-Into-Tiny-Little-Pieces" Lawyer. This plays into the stereotype that, as a lawyer, I am just itching to drag you into court if you give me so much as a stink-eye. Which is ironic as I once thought I might be that kind of lawyer, that kind of legal gladiator circling my hapless Ally-McBeal-type opponent in the courtroom. Funny thing is, not only did I spend my every hour at my big fancy corporate firm billing hours to avoid the courtroom at any costs (that's why, incidentally, you hire a big fancy corporate law firm), but I realized that I don't have the courtroom gene. It felt kind of like theatre. Kabuki theatre. Everybody had their angry eyebrows painted on.

Still, legal training is training, and legal stereotypes are stereotypes, and if it puts the fear of God into someone who otherwise would stiff me (and I have done my courtoom time, actually) then it's all for the best. Because when you're hurting to get paid and you're dealing with jerks who tell you it's the Postal Service's fault, your mind takes some melodramatic turns. Suddenly Henry Miller's account of begging from a particularly rude man in Paris: ("I was really degraded, humiliated, you know. But there I was down on my hands and knees, picking up the change and wiping the mud off.") feels like your life.

And if I feel like the melodrama makes me tougher with the more deadbeat clients--especially when I'd rather relax and put all my faith in fair play and karma--well, it fades when the it's my turn to buy the round. Even happy hour requires some cash, and I don't know how to do anything else but write.


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