Saturday, March 6, 2010

The Benefits of a Live Program (chuckle)

I got an e-mail a few days ago from the NYC Bar Association that had this heading. When I saw it, I laughed. I'll tell you why in a bit.

First, let me explain this entry's title for those who aren't attorneys or professionals w/Continuing Education requirements to keep working in your field. If you have a professional license to do something (in my case being a lawyer), part of keeping that license is getting CLE (Continuing Legal Education) hours. There are certain types & amounts that you have to meet in a certain time period or you don't get to renew your professional license. If you're a lawyer, not meeting the CLE requirement usually means you're in hot water w/the state bar committee since they decide who gets to be a lawyer & who doesn't.

To meet these CLE hours, you can either go to a course in person or get DVDs/CDs of the courses in exchange for meeting the hours. In NY, you MUST attend in person for the first 2 years you've been admitted before getting to buy DVDs/CDs and doing it on your own.

Now, just like every lawyer I've met who works on the creative side of this industry, I'm not a big fan of bar associations as a whole. How come? Well:

A) A general problem w/the attitude & mindset of your typical lawyer
B) No one's doing what I'm doing. I'm lucky to meet an entertainment lawyer who only handles the legal side.
C) The utter lack of consideration for new attorneys or the impact the recession has had on them. There are events I'd go to, but I'm not paying $20 to go. I wouldn't even pay that to go to a club.

I also wouldn't go to NYC Bar for basic CLE programs since the price for them is highway robbery. NYCLA (New York County Lawyers Association) is my preferred vendor since their courses are about 1/2 the price of City Bar's & for Bridge the Gap, it was a decent rate. Now I've not taken courses as someone who isn't a newly admitted lawyer & City Bar may have more things for my industry but for basic stuff, I'd recommend NYCLA.

So you may wonder why I'm in ANY bar association? Fair question. CLE discounts, retailer discounts, access to the library & being on City Bar's entertainment committee.

I also figure I'll do much more quality networking through my involvement in City Bar & honestly have had more pleasant experiences at their events than I have at NYCLA's. Lawyers at many of the City Bar events have treated me as a colleague instead of as some newbie lawyer that has to impress them.

I don't have to impress ANY lawyer; in fact, it's not my task to actively impress most people. If I can't stand on my own without schmoozing or brown-nosing then I don't deserve anything from you, right? I generally don't have that kind of problem but tons of lawyers act that way & if you want to make me an enemy, just act like an elitist asshole w/no personality. Telling me to tolerate the game really doesn't make me want to hang around lawyers or have a damn thing to do with them, regardless of my being one. It just makes me cling to my perceptions even harder.

To give you an example of how out of place I am w/most lawyers, I actually left the NYCLA Young Lawyer's committee because I felt ignored. I made comments at the only meeting I went to that weren't even in the minutes. I didn't feel like a valued member or someone whose opinion counted; nor did anyone make me feel like they wanted to talk to me & obviously, no one was doing what I do.

How many people would you think have talked to me at any live CLE event? Come on, guess? Give up?

Two. These weren't even conversations that led to any future contact or friendship, nor went beyond simple pleasantries. So I find it hilarious that a bar association would try to encourage me to go to a live course by saying I can network there.

How can I network when no one bothers to even exchange pleasantries with me? I've heard other people at these events talk about the snobbery of other lawyers attending. To any lawyer's snobbery to me, I say "Fuck you & the horse you rode in on." I've forgotten more about being a snob than you're ever going to know, believe it or not. I was called a prep in middle school despite being tormented by that very crowd & being stuck in classes with them. I'm sure people are STILL calling me a snob since I'm quiet and have to get to know you before I'll even think about trusting you with minor stuff.

People who do the same stuff I do in the industry have told me about feeling the exact same way about going to live CLE events & seeing the exact same attitude. I bet a good chunk of it is envy & jealousy among these jerks since we don't have to impress THEM or play their game.

Let's also get something else straight about networking: when it's with lawyers, you're NEVER on equal footing unless one's years in practice, technical skill or ability to stop you from moving up are a non-issue. I think it's a non-issue in creative stuff like stage performance or playing a game unrelated to the legal field but otherwise, forget it. It's just a dog & pony show.

The creative arena is MUCH more supportive of newer people in the field & doesn't work as a hierarchy with respect to people doing different jobs. Not all actors can become directors or producers & the skills are different for all those jobs. There are directors and producers who were never actors. Yeah there are rules but overall, there's also much more respect & a willingness to pay it forward than I see in the legal field. Not to mention encouraging individuality & doing things differently, unlike with typical lawyers. I see a lot less snobbery among higher ups in entertainment since there's consequences for that.

The biggest thing that bothers me about lawyers is a total lack of loyalty to fellow lawyers. There's so much back-biting, put downs & clique mentality, it's not funny. I left that 7th grade behavior in 7th grade; it was immature then & it's even more immature to see it in grown ups.

So needless to say, I'll be getting CLE credits on my own & through alternate efforts. I'm thrilled I never have to go to a live course ever again. The only lawyer acquaintances or friends I have either worked in the industry, have some creative bone in their body or had similar struggles to mine so they're also calling BS on stuff like this. Those people are cool with me; otherwise, I join in the chorus of people who say they hate lawyers.

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