Yale law school now has a therapy dog available to students. A stress therapy dog. I guess it goes something like this – you take an absurdly difficult Torts exam (yes, for you fortunate non-lawyers, there’s a subject called Torts, and it isn’t remotely like tortes), after which you head over to the-well I’m not sure where they keep the therapy dog . . . wherever you must go to sign out Fido the terrier. (No, wait. This is law school. The poor pooch will have some dorky lawyer-y name like Habeas or Res Ipsa. And while I’m at it, a terrier? Really? Seems a bit of a yippy breed to be remotely relaxing, but I digress.) So you check out Habeas, take him home and curl around him in a fetal position. Problem solved? I don’t think so. And I’m not maligning stress therapy dogs. Or therapy. Or dogs. I’ve had plenty of both over the years and I’m a kinder, gentler Kris (or perhaps just a marginally less crazy Kris) for it. But I guess it’s the notion that the profession (as early as the poor budding baby lawyers in law school) is so inherently stressful that we need the likes of a therapy dog to get us through our days. It seems like a pretty clear case of treating the symptom rather than the condition. But how do you treat such an entrenched condition, with its white shoes and top tiers and all that? I don’t know. And in my defense (one can take the girl out of the law firm, but . . .) this blog only promises "tenuously related insights into the legal profession", not answers.
What I do know is that law firm culture, unless it experiences a significant shift, will continue to suck the souls from and ravage the bodies of those ambitious yet naive enough to pursue this path. It’s why David Kazzie’s Xtra Normal Video “So You Wanna Go To Law School” was not only a web sensation, but also reposted on Facebook by every lawyer I know. It’s why my former firm lost four brilliant women in a matter of two months, and shortly thereafter, every man who wanted to see his children, or perhaps just do some pleasure reading. It's why every third lawyer you know dreams of writing a bestseller and jettisoning the whole wretched practice, present company included. And yes, there is personal choice and responsibility, and sure, there are manageable firms and more mellow jobs, and fine, this post might be infused with a tad bit of hyperbole, but doesn’t the stress therapy terrier say it all?