30 Reasons Why I Was Completely Miserable As A Government Attorney

These days, government law jobs are anywhere from difficult to impossible to get and are sometimes seen as more desirable than law firm jobs. Here are thirty reasons why I hated mine:

1. Sedentary

2. No windows

3. Artificial lighting

4. Redline at rush hour

5. Badge around neck with unflattering picture

6. Opposite of freedom

7. Downtown DC = food desert?

8. Docket of cases

9. Multiple passwords

10. Time to change password

11. Mailbox full

12. Blinking light on phone

13. Pick your “tour of duty” (the 8.5 hour window you will work) then don’t come in late

14. Set of facts to analyze

15. Write memo in order to talk to supervisor and fifteen other people about cases

16. Sit there while boss, who grew up on a farm, makes derogatory jokes about Obama and liberals

17. Sit there while boss calls a young attorney in another branch an idiot

18. No Facebook or Gmail on work computer

19. No expectation of privacy on work computer

20. Work efficiently? Be given more to do than others

21. Resist? Be given less to do than others

22. Witness supervisors roll eyes at the mention of other supervisors

23. How much sick leave/annual leave/credit hours do I have?

24. Taxpayer with serious mental illness on the phone

25. Congrats! You’ve been assigned to a reg project.  This is a very prestigious thing. Here are three boxes of files for it.  Start sending weekly updates on this project and maintain files.  Be briefed by person who is leaving and who does not even try to hide how horrible working on this project is.  Higher ups go back and forth on minute details for years, which creates vast amounts of utterly pointless work for her/you.
26. A week later, be assigned to two more reg projects that are equally horrible.

27. Attend a meeting with the Deputy Chief Counsel on one of the reg projects that you continue to know almost nothing about.  Hear words like “capital accounts,” “special allocations” (“specials” for short) and “allocable share of partnership items” and want to kill yourself.  Want to kill yourself even more when you hear tax lawyers’ attempts at jokes and when the meeting still isn’t over an hour later.  It’s the last straw when you think about how rich these attorneys will become when they return to the private sector.

28. Aforementioned attorneys at least seem to be from the same class as you.  The coworkers at your level and slightly above your level seem to be from a lower class than you.

29. The unique way you think, which before law school was regarded as brilliant, results in a distinct lack of the “precision” required in legal writing.

30. Your unique handwriting, which before law school was regarded as brilliant and which gave you very few issues, results in 1) judgment and 2) you actually not being able to read what you wrote down about a case. (Before there was no issue because what you wrote down was so interesting that you remembered it). TC mark

image – Shutterstock

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