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Victoria Mole
27 January, 2010  
The chicken, the egg and the vegan

The Firm is a cerebral wasteland … Senior associate turns vegan … “Holistic” response not applicable to food decisions … Were lawyers always this way or did the law make them so? ... Vicki Mole rips

imageYep. I get it. The law makes lawyers depressed and/or the depressed are attracted to the law.

Chicken, egg, perennially half-empty glass – pick your metaphor and have a little sob.

There’s a far more insidious trait awash in the legal profession: its small mindedness.

Jokes about partners’ anatomy aside (I’m sure they get enough of it at the gym, poor loves), this blinkered view of the world angers and bemuses me on so many levels.

Weren’t we the brightest of the bright at high school? Haven’t we clocked enough frequent flier points to make George Clooney weep? Surely we’ve developed some critical capacity and curiosity throughout this time?

Most of Melbourne’s lawyers had their educations (or a good whack of it) paid for by the taxes of those who could never dream of letting down their hair from an ivory tower.

Surely this brings about some responsibility to society to make an attempt at a Socratic life?

At the Firm, it would seem not.

Case study: my favourite senior associate has returned from the break as a vegan.

imageNo soapbox to speak of – just a request for a few avocado sandwiches at meetings and a new coffee order.

She told me she’d been reading Peter Singer et al (seen here) and, to her, as someone who adores her dog, regularly works with people whose cognitive skills match that of a common piglet, looks after her health and avoids ingesting unnecessary and untested chemicals where possible, and would like to visit Tuvalu one day (or at least not have Tony Abbott make that decision for her), the decision seemed inevitable.

I could follow and engage with her logic, even if it differs from my own more market-driven position on ethical eating.

The rest of the branch? Those who actually look up from their Blackberries and notice, feel obliged to offer insights that make me bite my tongue so hard I’m probably consuming as much blood as the rest of them.

* “Yeah but it tastes good” (and Fritzl liked the sound/sight/feel of his daughter – of course sensory pleasure trumps morality);

* “Animal rights aren’t really my thing” (Officer, the age of consent/speed limits aren’t really my thing);

* “It’s natural” (sickly drug-pumped animals crammed into sheds to fret themselves to death while leaking methane emissions and faecal runoff into the surrounding environs. Très eco-chic).

How can these people claim to offer “holistic … comprehensive” solutions to their clients’ needs when they can’t even think deeply enough to question the decisions they make three times a day?

But then “holistic” only ever meant bottom line, didn’t it?

Were they always this way or did the law make them so?

For me, law school was a Whitlam-esque utopia of grand ideas and interesting people, the Oz to my Kansas country high school.

The Firm is a cerebral wasteland fuelled by small talk about the weather, vampires and home renovations.

My boss proudly hasn’t read a book since university and limits his media consumption to The Hun’s racing pages. He doesn’t like vegetarian food because it makes him fart.

What happened when the chicken crossed the road?



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