BigLaw Blues

Vermilion Flycatcher--Tucson, AZ
Vermilion Flycatcher–Tucson, AZ

This week, I bring you the Vermilion Flycatcher. I photographed this bird in Tucson last March while I was there on a lawyer boondoggle (also known as continuing legal education). At the time, I thought I’d photographed a Scarlet Tanager, but I’ve since learned that while the two birds are similar, the Scarlet Tanager doesn’t have the black mask.

Speaking of lawyers, today I’m on Day 15 of my 100-Day-No-Booze Challenge. While that may seem a non-sequitur, once again I learned this week that BigLaw drives me to drink.

The week started out as fairly uneventful. I’m still sleeping the spectacular sleep of the alcohol-free. On Wednesday, at around the 12-day mark, I started feeling a bit zippy. My mood seems to have lifted. As we all know, alcohol is a depressant. What I did not realize, is that it’s a depressant even when you’re not currently under the influence. Either that, or I’m just feeling better because I’m sleeping so well—every single night.

Interestingly, several of my very best drinking pals (i.e., friends) are curious about my 100-Day Challenge. One has even gone so far as to join me. She’s under a lot of stress right now because her boyfriend/fiance/boyfriend/fiance (I think we’ve landed on fiance at the moment) is in treatment for Stage IV NHL. Like me, she tends to manage the stress by numbing it with a vat of red wine. We’re both determined to find a better way of coping. At least for the next 100 days.

So, back to alcoholic lawyers. According to the American Bar Association, as many as one in five lawyers is a problem drinker—twice the national rate. I’m guessing that rate is even higher when it comes to litigators like me. I’ve been working on a case with hundreds of millions of dollars at stake. When you get into that kind of money, it’s almost like dealing with Monopoly money. It becomes a bit difficult to fathom. With regard to this Monopolyesque money, it is my job to come up with legal arguments why my client is entitled to obtain this money from another entity. The client would prefer my legal arguments are successful. I’m under a short deadline within which to identify the arguments and write a coherent brief sufficient to sway a court to grant my motion that the other entity shall give these hundreds of millions of dollars to the client. Sometimes the facts and the law do not support your position. No matter how hard you look, how many cases you read, how much you brainstorm, how you present the facts. Sometimes your case just sucks.

Now, I’m not going to tell you that I’m dealing with one of those sucky cases. Suffice it to say that I had set my sites on a terrific winner of an argument, and was ready to spend the weekend writing a phenomenally persuasive brief. I was almost looking forward to spending my weekend, a weekend when the sun has finally made an appearance, writing the brief. And then late Friday afternoon, I uncovered a tidbit of information that sank my entire argument. Not only did it sink my argument, but it completely wiped out my hard-won enthusiasm.

Friday night (last night), I wanted nothing more than to open a bottle of red and numb my brain. I wanted to bury my complete and utter distaste for my job, if only for one night. I wanted to zone out. Tune out. Check out. Instead, I made myself a dinner of polenta and eggs, watched a tiny bit of tv, read a little, and went to bed. I made it through Day 14.

Here I am now, on Day 15. The brief is not going to write itself. And so far, I’m not going to write it either. But I am on a deadline. It has to be done. And again, the wine is calling my name.

Fuck the brief. I think I’ll go outside and take a walk. Maybe after a walk, I’ll be ready to tackle it. Or maybe I’ll come back and run numbers on my retirement calculator, fantasizing about how long until I can quit BigLaw.


  • You go girl! I could never be a lawyer in your part of the world. Germany has a mostly law based justice, you have one based on exemplarey cases. Sometimes we use exemplary cases to define rather abstract laws, like our constitution. When I studied I found that part very hard to get in my brain – so many cases, some seemingly contradictin the others .. I adore you for being able to remember the precedences – or even find the ones that help your line of argumentation.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! It is amazing. But the anxiety I’ve experienced without it is interesting. I am enjoying the experiment. I’ve got lots more time on this 100-Day Challenge to gather and sort through the data. And now, I’m going to turn out the light and enjoy another night of blissfully deep sleep. Ahhhhhh

      Liked by 1 person

  • It was interference with sleep that played, along with other issues, a significant part in my decision to stop drinking completely. Like you, I was in my 50s. I think that may be the age when this issue starts to magnify.

    By the way, I think the scarlet tanager is physically a good bit larger than the vermilion flycatcher. It’s another way to tell them apart.


    • I’m coming around to the idea of giving it up completely. The sleep is just too good. Interesting how things begin to shift at the half-century mark. I understand how one could pick up and begin anew in Mexico.

      Thanks for the tip. Before running across this bird, the only red bird I’d ever seen was a Cardinal. One of my favorites.


    • Thanks! No real connection, other than I sneaked out of a lawyer conference to photograph him. I seem to do a lot of sneaking out when forced to gather in large meeting halls spilling over with lawyers.


  • I clearly recall those early days when I didn’t know how to handle tasks I always did while drinking. For me it was housework, laundry, kitchen, kid’s shit, but I can see the same coping mechanism at work while you write a brief. I congratulate you on going for a walk and releasing the emotions that alcohol masked instead of picking up a drink. Yeah, You!

    I really enjoy your bird photos. πŸ™‚



    • Thanks, Fern! I don’t do a lot of drinking while I’m writing, but I sure have sat down with a stack of cases or documents at home in the evening and had a glass, or three, of wine. There are some at my office who drink in the afternoon while working. It doesn’t even raise eyebrows. The kitchen at my office is overflowing with booze. I’ve never been one to drink at the office. But once I got home in the evening, all bets were off. I’m thinking giving up the booze is going to encourage quite a bit of change. I don’t see putting up with this shit for long without it.

      I’m happy you’re enjoying them. I have had a good time sorting through them and picking my favorites to share. Now that I’m finally learning the software. Some day, I’ll do a post with all my bear photos. It’s so special, I keep putting it off. Odd.

      Liked by 1 person

  • Wow, you have a stressful job. Thank you for sharing the details of it with us. I think you’re doing the right thing by getting free from ethanol. I’ve seen my share of cirrhotic livers. You don’t want to go there if you don’t have to.

    Our culture seems to have a way of trapping us in jobs that we don’t like. I don’t know why that is. All my life I’ve dreamed of saving money and moving to some country where the cost of living is so low I wouldn’t have to be a pathologist anymore. But finally the stress was too much and I just had to quit. I’m no further ahead financially now than I was when I was young like you. Maybe I should have quit back then. Yeah, definitely I should have.

    Good luck. Be proud of your accomplishments – like freeing yourself from alcohol. That a huge accomplishment! πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • My oldest brother died from a cirrhotic liver. My other brother died from a secondary cancer (AML) caused by treatment for mouth cancer, which no doubt was caused by ethanol and cigarettes. Why I thought it was okay to keep knocking them back is beyond me. I figured I was doing just fine since I don’t have the physical dependency. “I’m not like them,” I told myself.

      You were a pathologist? Now that’s stressful. I want to be like you and be a quitter. I’ve quit the ethanol. The stressful job is next. I like your idea of moving to another country where the cost of living is less. I follow bloggers who did that for inspiration. Some day maybe I’ll have remade my life and inspire someone else.

      Thank you for the well wishes!

      Liked by 1 person

      • The timing is always tough. Most likely courage is the highest virtue, because without it we wouldn’t have what it takes to do what’s right when things become dangerous or uncomfortable. What I’m trying to quit now is the notion that I must constantly push myself toward a huge goal. I’ve spent my life trying not to look down on people who are not addicted to “achievement” the way I am. Lately, I’m learning to look up to that kind of person. Perhaps balance is key. Ambition versus inner peace and acceptance of an imperfect self in an imperfect world. Or maybe I just need to eat more ice cream and stop over-thinking everything. Yeah, I’ll go with that for now.

        Liked by 1 person

        • My current huge goal is early retirement. I’ve wondered how I’ll feel once I’ve achieved that, and there’s nothing “huge” left to achieve. I remember when I graduated from law school, I felt so deflated. “Now what?,” I asked myself. Twenty years later, I can honestly say that the law has drastically reduced my need to achieve. Because with each achievement, the question always remained: “Now what?” I want to stop. I want to just be. I’m beginning to see that achievement isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Chasing one goal after the next, never stopping long enough to truly enjoy what is right now in this moment. I don’t know if “just being” will drive me bonkers. If so, like you said, there’s always ice cream.

          Liked by 1 person

Submit a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s