Just a Jew. Named Mitch. Writing about his feelings.

Sometimes, I Don’t Think I Like Lawyers

Posted by JewMitch on January 2, 2011

Happy New Year!  Because I’m lazy and because someone requested it– here’s another awesome reprint (slightly edited, for more JewMitch humor) of a column I wrote in law school, that made a large portion of my class question their chosen profession.  A lot of people didn’t believe that this guy was really this awful– but trust me, he was.  The photo above is me wearing a wolf mask and a suit, and is completely unrelated.

One day when I was in law school, my grandmother (lovingly referred to as “Ma”) called me with a favor she wanted to ask me.  Make sure to imagine her side of the conversation in a thick New York/Jewish grandmother accent.


“Hi, Ma. How’s it going?”

“I want you to meet someone.”

“It’s not another Jewish girl is it? Because I told you, you can’t trust a Jewish grandmother when she swears that her granddaughter is beautiful.”

“That girl my friend Sylvia brought to the Hanukah party was very nice.”

“No, she wasn’t. She kind of looked like an overweight duck, and she was mean and weird.”

“Oh, Mitchell. You’re too picky.”

“Ma, I have a girlfriend that I’ve been dating for almost two years.”

“Oh her (lengthy pause to acknowledge my non-Jewish girlfriend).  No, I want you to meet a man. (pause).  He’s a lawyer. (pause).  In D.C.  He’s my friend’s son, and he’s a very sweet man.  I met him over Rosh Hashanah at temple. You would have met him too if you had come to temple (pause).  He’s very sweet, and he wants to meet you.”

Now, for those of you in graduate school who haven’t had the pleasure of sitting down with a family friend to talk about your future career, I can only stress that it’s the worst idea humanly possible.  They usually give such amazing advice as “You should write a cover letter when you apply for jobs,” or “I like ivory colored envelopes.”  But this experience went well beyond anything of that nature.

He made me meet him at 8:45 a.m. at a Starbucks in D.C., which meant I got to leave my apartment in Baltimore some time around 7 a.m.  He was a short man, about 5’4”, which is always a bad combination with being a partner in a law firm.  We chatted pleasantly for a whole of thirty seconds before he asked me if I had read his law review articles.  I confessed that I hadn’t had a chance yet.

“Big mistake,” he said with emphasis.  “You go to meet a man, you read his work, you find out what he’s all about.”

I took a sip of my coffee and nodded.  He then asked me where I saw myself after graduation, and I told him I thought I’d be happy in a small firm, working 40-50 hours a week, with people whom I liked.

“You know,” he said.  “You make more money working in a big firm. I mean, you work more hours, probably 6-7 days a week, but you end up making a lot more money per hour.”

As nice as it was for him to point out this obvious fact, I tried to explain to him that my girlfriend was also going to be a lawyer, at a big firm nonetheless, and I doubted we’d be poor.

“So what, are you going to be a kept man?  Is that what you want?”

I tried to explain that I really cared more about lifestyle than money, and I just wanted to find a job that I enjoyed.  He didn’t seem to understand, and quickly came back to the money argument.

“You know, guys with more money get prettier girls.”

Was he really, to my face, insinuating that my girlfriend wasn’t pretty?

Another fun moment came when I slipped and accidentally referred to the Maryland Court of Special Appeals as the Maryland Special Court of Appeals.

“You know,” he responded, “you have three options when you open your mouth.  You can either say the right thing, say the wrong thing, or keep your mouth closed so I don’t know that you have no idea what you’re talking about.”

If you can imagine a more pleasant way to spend the morning, please enlighten me.  And on top of everything, I couldn’t splash espresso on his $200 tie and leave, because this was the son of my grandmother’s friend, and he assumed that he was doing a favor for my grandmother.  It was like in middle school when a bully sits on you, grabs your arm, punches you in the face with it, and asks you, “Why are you hitting yourself?”

The best part came at the end though, when he gave me various instructions on how I might be able to find a job and then told me exactly which bottle of scotch I was to buy for him.  (“I don’t want the crap you and your friends drank in high school.”)  And then he said, “And always be a mensch.  Like me.”  It was a special moment.  Somehow I managed to smile, shake his hand and leave the Starbucks without getting my first felony.  And then I got to drive back to Baltimore in morning traffic, and be late for class that day.

The best part of the whole experience was that he honestly thought he had been doing me a favor.  It was one of those odd moments where you just can’t understand what happened to the world.  And also that maybe there is some sense to all those dead-lawyer jokes you hear.


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