The Firm – Literally and Figuratively

by susanedotcohen

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I worked at a law firm after graduating from college. Prior to this job, I had no legal dreams. I also had no real world experience, but that is besides the point.

Growing up, I never wanted to be a lawyer. I never heard “the call of the law. I never thought about pursuing justice. For me, Law and Order was just a show. Although just a show, I have to say that the show’s chime is definitely something I associate with American justice. If I ever sit in a real courtroom, I envision myself inserting the Law and Order chime as needed. In spite of not hearing “the call of the law,” “the call of employment” led me to a law firm.

My interview was the first time I set foot inside of one. I distinctly remember being asked during the interview if I had been to a law firm before. My interview was also the first time I really encountered the word firm. Sure I had heard of law firm, brokerage firm, but not firm by itself.

During the interview, the word firm was used over and over again. Obviously this is a law firm interview so that makes sense. The only other occasion I had heard the word firm pertaining to the law was the movie, The FirmI am sure you all know where I am going with this story. So what did I do during the interview? I started thinking about The Firm. As a 21-year-old, The Firm was the only firm I knew.

Each time the word was mentioned, I associated it with the film. I repeated the word in my head with a tone that I felt represented the film’s plot well. Each time I repeated the word in my head, I laughed on the inside. I thought I was funny. I should also say I gave no indication of the word association game I was playing in my head.

Once I started working at a firm, The Firm association faded as I adjusted to law firm lingo (or register for linguists). I also started calling lawyers attorneys because in a law firm, you are an attorney, not a lawyer. Even though the association stopped, it did not stop having meaning. I like to think of it as my introduction to working in a law firm. It would join a list of many law firm firsts. A list that includes thinking that attorneys just move bankers boxes around.

I no longer work at a law firm. However, my time there definitely shaped me as a person and as a professional. I am proud to say I know what summary judgment means. More importantly, I understand how hard attorneys work and what it takes to be one. I have tremendous respect for them. I also have tremendous respect for each and every person who works for one. It truly “takes a village” when it comes to firms.

As to whether I ever heard “the call of the law” while working at a law firm, I heard it momentarily.  However, it was a false call. Law and Order is still just a show to me.

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