Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Paper Chase

Reece Hirsch

The worst job that my protagonist Will Connelly ever had was working as an attorney at the San Francisco firm of Reynolds, Fincher & McComb. The firm was described by one member of the legal community as a “nest of tarantulas” and it lives up to that reputation for reasons that become apparent by the end of my legal thriller THE INSIDER. That part of this week’s question is easy.

The worst job that I ever had was when I worked as a messenger in Atlanta for a couple of months in the summer of 1987. For the prior three years, I had edited and published a free arts and entertainment magazine in Atlanta called Open City. I sold the magazine to Creative Loafing, Atlanta’s much larger and more successful free weekly newspaper (they're still around), and had some time on my hands before moving to Los Angeles to begin law school.

I drove a maroon Toyota with a broken air conditioner around the Atlanta metro area for a couple of months, transporting everything from legal filings to coolers containing packets of blood to hospitals. The heat was miserable and I probably drank about ten bottles of water a day. Delivering packages to law firms was my first glimpse into that world, and it looked pretty good at the time. At least lawyers had air-conditioning.

But the job wasn’t all bad. I was exhausted from the pressures of running a magazine on a shoestring (or, more accurately, the frayed, tattered end of a shoestring). I was also apprehensive about the impending pressures of life as a first year law student and the academic blood sport that is the Socratic method. I never should have watched “The Paper Chase” or read Scott Turow’s “One L” before attending law school. It's not that the portrayals are innacurate, it's just that it's better not to know what you're in for. In short, it was a bit of a relief to spend some time with nothing to worry about but finding a good song on the radio and staying hydrated.

The low moment during my summer as a messenger was when I had to deliver a package to Southline magazine. Southline was another competing free magazine that was much better financed than my little operation. Arriving at their offices, not as the editor of a rival publication, but as a messenger delivering a package, was a humbling experience, even though everyone there was perfectly gracious. Looking back, I probably needed a little humbling at the time. It was good preparation for the indignities of being a 1L.

1 comment:

Kelli Stanley said...

Sounds like you could take that experience and make quite a cool character, Reece ... a young, ambitious, hungry law student who is accidentally given the wrong package to deliver -- which he discovers when someone tries to kill him!

Thanks for a great post!