In Defense of the Slackoisie

May 28, 2010 W. R. Eilers 10 Comments

Lately, there has been a little battle brewing between those who have established themselves in the legal profession and those trying to make their mark.  Somewhere along the way the word, “slackoisie” was created to identify those that work from Starbucks, or tweet more than the per day quota, or write about technology, or be younger than 35 (I am not completely sure of all of the qualifications).  This in turn has been applied to similarly situated attorneys, usually jobless, trying to get some attention, either for their firm or their SEO practice.  The question is thus posed, are these people lazy or really doing their best?  Before we answer this, let’s just get the BS out of the way.

The greatest irony in the never ending assault on the Gen Y crowd is the use of Gen Y created Web 2.0 media to promulgate the hate.  The sheer bulk of content from twitter to facebook to blogs is mind numbing. As is often asked of the slackoisie, “how do you have the time?”  The most comical of the ironic is actually taking the time to post the definition of “slackoisie” on www.urbandictionary.com, a site dedicated to bored people, enamored with their own “creativity.”  Take that slackers.  Now as an overall statement, these critics are well accomplished, well respected members of the legal community.  Moreover, I haven’t read anything or seen anything that suggests that they are not deserving of their accolades and stature.  In fact, I, myself, often turn to their blogs, posts, etc. for inspiration or direction.  Which is why I scratch my head when I hear them say say, “don’t settle” “follow your heart”, but don’t you dare do it from a Starbucks.  It just seems so lazy and disingenuous to assume that these young people are lazy as matter based on who’s internet connection they use.  Of course, the response will always be “I meant those people, not those people.”   But such is the defense of all stereotypes.  So lets be clear, many, dare I say most, of these so called slackers are doing their best trying to eek out a living the best that they can, using the resources they have available because location and tools do not define one’s productivity.  I mean when was the last time you actually saw someone practicing law from a Starbucks or Barnes and Nobles (probably a better choice, free library and better coffee) anyway?

Now as for the question, are these people lazy?  Sure a very small handful are, but most are working hard to get what they can out of their degree, their dreams, and their situations.  Many are strapped with several thousand in student loans.  Few have any sizable stockpiles of savings to fall back on.  All have dreams of what they want to be, and most fear they will have to compromise these dreams to feel “comfortable.”  

Now I have read many a sob story from the lawstacracy (there I coined it, go put it on urbandictionary, I don’t have the time), I suppose to celebrate their accomplishment while demeaning the struggles of others?  I’m not sure. And guess what we all have one.  If you don’t, you are probably a boring person to talk to. Having a sob story is like having an opinion . . .  So why is there the assumption that these people are lazy?  Might I suggest putting it into a sob story narrative:

You kids don’t understand, when I was starting out, I barely had a penny to my name.  I had just graduated, passed the bar and I was $200k in the hole from student loans.  I practically lived at Starbucks because I couldn’t afford internet at my apartment.  I searched for jobs, I searched for clients, I searched for anything.  I snuck duncan donuts coffee in a small thermas so I didn’t have to pay.  I had one suit that I met all my clients with and did all my interviews.  I couldn’t avoid drycleaning so the guys behind the counter let me hang my clothes above the coffee makers so I could steam my shirts.  Sometimes I met clients at the library, at the park, or at the Starbucks.  ………………………….

Why is this story any different?  Its not.  These people are not lazy.  Sure there are a few that don’t give a hoot and sit on their hands, but most are doing their best to get by.  What is different, is the job market.  The current legal market is creation of the 80s and 90s cocaine broker model.  Law firms more and more are becoming legal factories.  In the Big Firms, production is the key, billable hour quotas are the only thing that matters.  This has to eventually trickle down to the smaller firms as the culture of the legal profession changed.  Now the expectation from the general public has reacted, and they want cheap fast legal services.  For those that have established themselves, you can take a deep breath of relief as you do not have to deal with this except as an annoyance for your blog posts.  However, those trying to start out are faced with this market for the substance of their living.  Some other thoughts.

  • Here in Florida, there are twice as many accredited law schools as there were 15 years ago.
  • At my Alma Mater, the annual tuition increase is marked at 5% (last time I checked) which is just about 3% higher than average inflation over the past 10 years.
  • Estimates for the class of 2010 employment are down 10%-15% from 2009 grads who didn’t fare that well either.  WSJ 
  • Summer interns being offered post graduation work is down 20% 

Yes there are jobs out there.  Yes there are slackers out there.  You will have to compromise.  You will have to be humbled.  That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be creative, frugal, and continue to pursue your dream of being a lawyer.  If that means you are going to work out of the trunk of your car or a Starbucks or a fabulous office in Brickell, then so be it.

Check out this story from NPR for more thoughts.

attorneys, getting started, lawstacracy, slackoisie

10 Comments → “In Defense of the Slackoisie”

  1. Dan Hull 6 years ago   Reply

    Nice post–you write well–but Gen Y in workplace has been an all-out insult to the work ethic and standards. Little energy or gumption in good times or bad times. The recession did not even make them act differently.

    I've done the homework on this. They have been very very expensive ($). They are a problem in all Western nations.

    Nice kids. Smart if semi-literate kids. Smart and nice and 50 cents get you a Coke.

  2. shg 6 years ago   Reply

    Sadly, this post reflects a basic misunderstanding, the difference between efficiency and effectiveness. You submit that the Slackoisie are doing "the best they can." That's what the Slackoisie are supposed to do, as effectiveness is a foreign concept.

    Your post stands as quite the monument as to why the Slackoisie don't understand, and can't recognize within themselves, why they wallow in misery and blame rather than strive to achieve. But then, entitled narcissists have no reason to doubt themselves. All of their problems must, by definition, be someone else's fault since they are brilliant and wonderful. They can't be responsible for their own lives, obviously.

    At the same time, it insults those of Gen Y who aren't Slackoisie, who work hard, who can and do achieve, despite all the excuses for failure in which you take comfort.

  3. Jamison 6 years ago   Reply

    Nice post. You write well. Period.

  4. Nicole Black 6 years ago   Reply

    Hear hear! I agree there's a misguided attempt to lump everyone who's objectionable, for whatever reason, under the "slackoisie" title–even those who are Gen X.

    It's not really clear to me who falls under this title, other than that they're "Stupid, worthless, no good, god damn, freeloading son-of-a-bitch(es)…You forgot lazy, stupid, and disrespectful…" (from one of my favorite movies, "The Breakfast Club" circa. 1985).

    I'm not sure why this generation–a generation that was raised by the generation that now despises whatever it is that Gen Y stands for–is worthy of such derision and animosity. I guess I'll never really "get it." Oh well.

    Great post. Thanks for taking the time to write it.

  5. Adrian Dayton 6 years ago   Reply

    I don't know.

    Are you saying that people that don't work in an office, don't park in a parking garage, don't commute to work and don't fit the Biglaw mold could actually be productive members of society?

    I think you might be on to something.

    Thanks for having the guts to share your insights.

  6. blog 6 years ago   Reply

    @Dan Hull I don't know about where you grew up, but in my high school, homework required citations.

    @SHG Thanks for missing the point and for calling my post "monumental". Kinder words have never . . . well yeah they have.

    @the rest of you thanks.

    SGH's response reminded me of this clip from the daily show.
    http://bit.ly/ajTVv3

  7. Brian Tannebaum 6 years ago   Reply

    Niki, what is it that Gen Y stands for? Seriously. I only see that they stand for the lack of desire to work hard for what they want because it interferes with their desire for life balance and the desire for the newest toy from Apple.

    And Adrian as to your question as to whether "people that don't work in an office, don't park in a parking garage, don't commute to work and don't fit the Biglaw mold could actually be productive members of society?" Yes, they could, but you, teaching twitter, with your several times corrected biography of misstatements about your background, are not being very productive.

    Lots of people have the "guts to share their insights, why don't you have the guts to be honest about your lack of experience, the truth about what you actually did on that 450 million dollar merger? Huh, Adrian? Do you really think you have the right to be teaching any lawyer anything when all you do is avoid the questions about the truth about your background.

    W.R. claims that people like me, who use social media to call out liars and 1 year lawyers who think they are "change agents" for biglaw (when in fact they know nothing about biglaw except that they were laid off) are hypocrits. The truth is, I use social media for the purpose of calling it like I see it, which is not real popular.

  8. W. R. Eilers 6 years ago   Reply

    @Brian Tannebaum, like SGH you miss the point.

    Y comes after X, remember those … oh wait.

    BTW, Using "social media for the purpose of calling it like I see it" is not a defense of hypocrisy, its just a statement.

  9. shg 6 years ago   Reply

    Glad you cleared that up for Dan, Brian and I. We ought to keep a young lawyer like you around so you can explain the world to us old guys who don't get much of anything. I barely know how we survived without a fellow like you to explain to us how things are.

    I especially appreciate the Y comes afer X part, though I can't seem to find a question for that answer. I probably didn't get that either.

    There's so much an old man like me can learn about lawyers from a young man like you, with 3 years since you were admitted. No wonder I missed the point. Glad to have you around to explain it all to me.

  10. W. R. Eilers 6 years ago   Reply

    @SHG Seriously? and I'm the young one. Grow up. And for the record Brian Tannebaum asked, "Niki, what is it that Gen Y stands for? Seriously." If I need to explain it more please let me know.

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