Guaranteed Salvation?

A friend just forwarded me this one, a little discussion (rhyming, no less) about the intersection of law practice and exaltation. Some of the theology may be a bit speculative, but the last line is quite accurate.

Last night as I lay sleeping I died or so it seemed.
Then I went up to heaven, but only in my dream.
Up there St. Peter met me standing at the pearly gate.
He said “I must check your record. Please stand here and wait”.
“I see that you drank alcohol and smoked a smoke or two.
Fact is, that you’ve done everything a good man should never do.
We can’t have folks like you up here! Your life was full of sin.”
Then he read the last of my record. He took my hand and said “Come in”.
He led me up to the boss and said “Take him in and treat him well.
He used to work in a law firm. He’s done his time in hell.”

29 comments for “Guaranteed Salvation?

  1. SFW
    June 21, 2005 at 12:23 pm

    They just don’t write poems like this about us in-house attorneys.

  2. annegb
    June 21, 2005 at 3:02 pm

    Why is the last sentence accurate? I thought you guys were rich and powerful.

  3. Shawn Bailey
    June 21, 2005 at 3:14 pm

    I have heard that elite law firms are like cities under seige: people on the outside want in, people on the inside want out.

  4. Richard T
    June 21, 2005 at 3:15 pm

    Good poem. My dad recently told me another funny one.

    A Mormon, a Jew, and a Catholic are all killed with their wives in a tragic car accident. As they approach the pearly gates, the Catholic steps up first.

    “You were a good man,” says the guy at the gate, reading from his book. “But you drank too much. You loved booze with such fervency that you married a girl named Sherry. You’re not allowed in Heaven.”

    The Jew stepped up, rather tentatively. “You were an excellent and honest man. You gave to the poor and worked hard all your life. But, alas, your heart was set on riches. You loved money so much you married a girl named Penny. You’re not allowed in Heaven.”

    As the Jew turned away, dejected, The Mormon grabbed his wife by the arm and said “Let’s get out of here, Fanny.”


  5. June 21, 2005 at 3:50 pm

    After 6 years in a law firm, I’m quitting!! Eat your hearts out, all you legal lackeys! I’m done! I’m escaping! I’ll never bill an hour again!!

    Of course I’ll be flat broke.

  6. Shawn Bailey
    June 21, 2005 at 4:36 pm

    Melinda/Janey (no. 5): So what’s the story? “Legal lackeys” everywhere want to know!

  7. June 21, 2005 at 5:26 pm

    Shawn – I had a nervous breakdown due to stress. When I came back to work, I realized I just didn’t have the personality to be a lawyer without having another nervous breakdown. So, in the interests of self-preservation and mental stability, I’ve decided to jump ship. I have only good things to say about the firm I worked at, the people I worked with, and the projects I worked on. Overall, being a lawyer was a good thing, just not something I can do long-term.

    I’m going to go get a teaching certificate and teach high school English. Of course there’s still stress there, but it’s a different kind of stress that I think I can handle better.

    I give you permission to quit too, if you have a nervous breakdown. Of course, it might be better if you quit before that happened. I can assure you it was quite unpleasant.

  8. Shawn Bailey
    June 21, 2005 at 5:43 pm

    Yikes! I feel like a jerk for asking now, but I am glad that you are happy (you seem pretty upbeat to me!) about your decision. Best of luck! My high school English teachers were some of the more inspiring characters in my teenage years. I hope you have the same effect on the students!

  9. June 21, 2005 at 6:08 pm

    Shawn – no jerk feelings necessary. If I wasn’t comfortable talking about it, I would have ignored your question, changed the subject, or confused the issue in the tradition of lawyers everywhere.

  10. Seth Rogers
    June 21, 2005 at 6:54 pm

    I think I’d find this more amusing if I wasn’t currently studying for the Bar exam and still job-hunting.

    Well, guess I’d better get back to studying to get into hell.

  11. HL Rogers
    June 21, 2005 at 7:32 pm

    Seth, lest you get too depressed, there are those of us who genuinely enjoy practing law in a big firm. Granted it is not for everyone. It is very stressful in a particular way and without certain escapes I think it can become unbearable. Also, the bloggernacle is full of unsavory characters like Kaimi and Nate who practice at firms only b/c it is the stop right before teaching, which is their true calling. So don’t let their hate of facts and clients deter you. Some of us really love getting up and coming to the office every day.

  12. Matt Hemmert
    June 21, 2005 at 11:38 pm

    A 2005 law grad–I was thinking law school was hell. Happy to know that the rest of my life will be full of bliss. Pray for Seth and me…

  13. June 22, 2005 at 12:16 am

    And me. Three months into the firm life, and I have already had all sorts of strange stuff happen.

    But I like it. So far.

  14. Lamonte
    June 22, 2005 at 8:53 am

    Just after the Gulf War my wife and I attended the Memorial Day program held at the Vietnam Memorial here in Washington. One of the speakers used a similar line to expalin what happens when a Vietnam vet arrives at the pearly gates and introduces himself to St. Peter, “One more Vietnam veteren reporting for duty, sir. I’ve already done my time in hell.”

    Kaimi, are you suggesting that life in a law firm is similar to the life threatening survival techniques required to survive an actual war?!

  15. alamojag
    June 22, 2005 at 10:04 am


    The difference between war and a law firm is that war kills the body, law kills the soul.

    That said, I practice for the government. I don’t think I would survive in a world of billable hours. I just do my job–I don’t have to worry about those other issues. I could probably make a lot more, but I prefer the lifestyle of actually being able to see my family during daylight hours.

  16. Lamonte
    June 22, 2005 at 10:22 am


    I’m with you. I’m an architect for the government. I got tired of the hire and fire policies of the large corporate firms (who are the only ones that will pay you a living wage – just barely) who survive in a feast or famine business cycle. I also tried practicing on my own but found the willingness of other architects to sell their services short and cut normally reasonable fees in half was more than I could stomach. I now work 40-45 hours a week (instead of 60-70) and if there are deadlines to meet it is the consultants I hire who are up burning the midnight oil.

    I hope you saw the tongue-in-cheek intention of my previous message. Certainly all of our woes can’t compare to the threatening aspect of a soldiers life.

  17. lyle stamps
    June 22, 2005 at 10:49 am

    yes, it’s true. law firm life sux. tomorrow, i actually have to wear slacks and a button up shirt (no tie) because we are having guests over for a political fundraiser. no jeans and flip flops tomorrow.
    :( argh…

  18. Tendril
    June 22, 2005 at 1:43 pm


    (law school class of ’08)

  19. Kaimi
    June 22, 2005 at 2:29 pm


    Your comment is a good example of the incomensurability problem in general reasoning.

    That is, in math, if A = B and A = C, then B = C.

    However, in reasoning, this doesn’t always work.

    For example, say that we are given the following choices:

    1. Stay home and eat a turkey dinner.
    2. Stay home and eat a steak dinner.
    3. Go to the zoo.

    A person may say that he would prefer option 2 (steak) over option 1 (turkey). That person might also say that he finds 1 and 3 to be equivalent (he has no preference between them) and that he finds 2 and 3 equivalent (he has no preference between them).

    (I’m cribbing from work done by Joseph Raz, and others, in this area).

    That’s not a mathematically stable configuration. But because preferences are often incomensurable, this may nevertheless be the configuration of a person’s preferences.

    Similarly, we might say:

    “Which is morally better — an act that kills five innocent adults or an act that kills one innocent child?” The response might be that there is no particular preference between the two. We might then ask “Which is better, an act that kills two innocent adults or an act that kills one innocent child?” And again, we might receive a response that there is no particular preference between the two.

    This does _not_ mean, however, that an act that kills five innocent adults is morally equal to an act that kills two innocent adults. Simply because the two are both held to be a wash when compared to the killing of an innocent child, does _not_ mean that they must be held as a wash when compared to each other.

    So the short answer is no, I’m not equating law to war. That would be silly.

    But it remains valid to say “law practice is hell” and “war is hell.” Other things are also hell. That does not mean that they would all be considered equal if compared to each other.

  20. Matt Hemmert
    June 23, 2005 at 5:05 pm

    < > (for Kaimi)

  21. Matt Hemmert
    June 23, 2005 at 5:06 pm

    That was meant to say “applause” surrounded by these “< <" on the right and these ">>” on the left… Again, for Kaimi.

  22. gst
    June 23, 2005 at 5:16 pm

    The practice of law is not like war–I’m told that war is at least occasionally amusing.

  23. Nathan Oman
    June 23, 2005 at 9:47 pm

    I have to admit that my attitude toward the practice of law in general and its practice in large, international law firms in particular swings. There are days when I think “Wow! I am really working on facinating, important, cool stuff” and there are other days — such as today — when my hours in the office induce existential crisis, self-loathing, acute boredom, and a deep hatred for my employer and my profession.

    Hence, I would be very surprised if I am still working on K Street two or three years from now.

  24. Elisabeth
    June 24, 2005 at 4:33 pm

    Even when I was working on deals that made the headlines, I felt my work was all so transient and meaningless. For example, it was of vital importance and of earth shattering proportions that I make sure Equiserve was on the phone during the closing so that they could start issuing stock certificates.
    Without this successful completion of this task, the world would stop spinning on its axis, and the partner in charge might actually have to show up to talk to the client and know something about the deal that he was supposedly running. But successfully completing that task meant that I had to run around frantically for two hours making sure we got the Certificate of Good Standing from the Secretary of State’s office while wrestling with the infamous “SIGN HERE” stickies and shoving documents in front of the CEO, all the while begging the transfer agent to stay on the phone just a few minutes longer until the CFO gave us the confirmation that the wire had hit.

    And that was on a good day. But I think the 12th circle of Hell (is that the lowest circle?) is reserved for the evil associates who kept clogging up the printer with all their documents and then never, ever replacing the paper.

    The money was nice, though. Good luck to all you law students and recent grads! :)

  25. June 24, 2005 at 6:12 pm

    Yeah, I agree with Elisabeth. There was so much fuss and bother about the stupidest things. My least favorite was working late to meet an unrealistic deadline that a senior partner had set. If he was stupid enough to say we’d have the policy ready by Wed morning, then he should have to suffer through drafting it late Tuesday night. But no, I had to stay and work with him. Then we’d find out the Wed board meeting had been canceled, and they’d forgotten to tell us. So they didn’t need the policy until next month.

    Oh, the meaninglessness of it all!

  26. gst
    June 24, 2005 at 8:01 pm

    Elisabeth–I moved to a small firm and now have my own printer in my office. The practice of law is again fresh and exciting.

  27. Harold B. Curtis
    June 24, 2005 at 9:13 pm

    Is the legal profession legit?
    Are insurance actuaries oddsmakers?
    Do engineers make graven images?
    Do salesman never tell a lie?

    Are stockmen honest in their dealings if they use hormone injections?
    Are stock brokers seers?
    What is the state of the union really?
    Why do they call what a doctor does a “practise”?

    How long does it take to climb mount zion?
    What is the difference between the “the dispensation fullness of times and the millenium if the former is the fullness of time and at the end of the latter “time is no more”

    We looking forward to the secod coming of Jesus Christ , however President Hinckley has said twice, “…And now He has come again…”? if he has come again…..then that would mean…He has come again,,,,,

    To the evolutionist who is created in the image of God, if it was pronounced good in the beginning before the fall why did it have to evolve? If we are created in the image of God, then God looks like…….an amoeba…….a dinosaur…..didi we evolve out of that image into what we are today?

    Just thoughts to consider.

  28. June 24, 2005 at 11:46 pm


    After 6 years in a law firm, I’m quitting!! Eat your hearts out, all you legal lackeys! I’m done! I’m escaping! I’ll never bill an hour again!!

    Of course I’ll be flat broke.

    Wish you luck with that. One of my old partners had a friend who spent six hard years, saved 90% of it, and was able to retire.

    Sorry to hear about your breakdown, wish you well in your continued recovery.

  29. June 24, 2005 at 11:52 pm

    Elisabeth–I moved to a small firm and now have my own printer in my office. The practice of law is again fresh and exciting.

    I have to confess. When we moved things around, I picked up my own print server. But then I type at 120 wpm when I’m going … I threatened to go back to dictating if they took the printer away and I’ve kept it the last four years ;)

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