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Elizabeth Street
9 December, 2008  
Love alone isn't enough

Lizzy has only been married to the law for a few years – but already she’s starting to feel jaded. She knows this relationship won’t go the distance

imageIt is the most special and exciting day in a solicitor’s life: admission to practise.

Last Friday, eager NSW grads gathered in the Supreme Court in Sydney to be admitted as legal professionals.

I sat briefly in the lobby watching them enter and leave, beaming families in tow.

The freshly minted lawyers proudly carried their oversize certificates and were buzzing about the two second moment when Spigelman CJ announced they were “admitted to this honourable court”.

Funny how being “admitted” is that same word used for committal to mental institutions.

I remembered my admission not that long ago.

It was like marrying a rich and famous husband. Suddenly, you are someone.

At parties, if you told people you were a lawyer there were murmurs of awe – as though I’d said I was married to George Clooney.

Yet it is more than a bit like being married to Mr Clooney, when I think about it.

I mean, when I got “married” I was completely in love. Like high school sweethearts, he was all I’d ever wanted since primary school and I worked very hard to ensure he would be mine.

Now that we’re hitched, I don’t want for expensive handbags, glamorous parties or smart company.

But it takes a lot of work – often into the night or up at the crack of dawn.

Of course, it’s thrilling to show off my “husband” to family or friends, but underneath it all I’m quite miserable.

He doesn’t care at all about my mental health.

I could be in my office screaming and having stress-driven hallucinations and he wouldn’t give a damn.

Even after all my hard work there is no guarantee he won’t cheat on me and make someone else his partner.

So I know I have a decision to make.

The same way wives after several years of marriage think, “Can I actually live like this forever?”

I have to to decide whether “status” now is worth the straight jacket later.

Whether it is better to give up the cash, soirées and handbags and still be be happy, or are those things enough to sustain me, despite being unappreciated and downtrodden?

Only a couple of years into the marriage, I’ve decided that I’m young enough to still want the good times and expensive shoes.

I’m not utterly jaded, yet.

But I do know this marriage isn’t built to last.

I’ll save my spare change until I have what it takes to get up and leave.

Having banked something will make the divorce easier.

With whom I’ll end up is anyone’s guess, but it just goes to show that sometimes love alone isn’t enough.




Reader Comments

Posted by: Anonymous
Date: December 10, 2008, 2:54 am

Is there no area of law that has intellectual interest as well as hard work?
Posted by: Anonymous
Date: December 10, 2008, 6:59 am

Your article really strikes a chord with me, and seems to reflect the view of a number of young practitioners I know. It seems that many people enter the legal profession filled with passion and enthusiasm which is quickly dampened by the realities of legal practice - long hours, oppressive deadlines and unrealistic expectations by employers. Perhaps one of the marked characteristics of us "Y-gen-ers" is the fact that we do just contemplate leaving. I think we should fight this urge - if legal practice makes us disillusioned we need to think about why this is the case and address it, after all, we have all made a significant time (and money) investment in becoming lawyers.
Posted by: Anonymous
Date: December 13, 2008, 4:01 am

Not a real lot of sympathy. I am an idealist too, but have been putting in the hours for almost two decades to achieve my and my clients' ideals.
Posted by: Anonymous
Date: December 15, 2008, 7:22 pm

Being a corproate lawyer is soul destroying phoney bullsh*t for people who dont mind being existentially raped
Posted by: Anonymous
Date: December 15, 2008, 11:43 pm

I tend to agree (at least with the sentiment) of the above post. Despite my old company law lecturer’s insistence that corporate practice was really very interesting, there seems to be little stimulation in the mindless pedantry of the factory line lawyering that goes on at the big law shops. Graduates flock to the firms for the promise of riches and prestige, corporate Christmas parties and shiny harbour views, not for the “intellectual interest” or existential fulfilment that Lizzy and her hapless cohorts seem to be searching for. Nobody buys Playboy for the articles and nobody dedicates their mind and ideals to corporate mergers and property acquisitions for the intellectual stimulation. Anyone can be an “idealist”, but if the ideals you hold true resemble something of a different kind than the constant shifting of great blocks of capital, maybe you should question why you chose that path when so many others exist, instead of perpetuating the endless moaning and whining that Lizzy’s blog now seems to uniformly consist of.
Posted by: Anonymous
Date: December 23, 2008, 2:49 am

I too was somewhat jaded as a young lawyer, it was not the ideal I thought as a student. To be honest I strayed into inhouse for a while with the thought of using that as an escape from her clutches. But I came back and worked on the relationship and I am now happily married to the law. Sure there are arguments sometimes, but on the whole it is rewarding, and I can't imagine being with any other career. But have you not thought about the impact of your feelings on the kids? They can tell you are unhappy you know, and will grow up one day to hate you for it and attempt to find a girlfriend/boyfriend lawyer to mother them. Until of course they realise they too don't love what they do, and when they have clients of their own, they will understand and forgive you, hopefully while you are still talking, and ask you to babysit. I am tempted to advise that it is better to be happily unmarried to the law than unhappily married to it, and that if you truly don't love what you do, go find that thing that you do love. Just remember that the constant in whatever you do is yourself so consider loving what you are doing right now.