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by Vault Law Editors | February 19, 2008


I’ve been meaning to see Michael Clayton, but after reading this  review by  Patrick Radden Keefe, I’ve  moved it to the top of my Netflix queue.   Some the excerpts below suggest that students heading into BigLaw might want to give the movie a miss.


"But beneath the expertly deployed suspense lies something more interesting: an indictment of the mercenary universe of white-shoe law firms and a devastating—and unusually accurate—look at the demoralized lives of the lawyers who work for them."


"Michael Clayton offers an only slightly exaggerated portrait of a profession undergoing a kind of slow-motion existential crisis. It does so at a time when in the real world, midlevel associates are dropping out in droves.”


"Do the studies showing high rates of depression among lawyers tell us something about the profession or the people who go into it? [The character played by Tilda Swinton] is a neurotic and a perfectionist; in that respect, she's the kind of lawyer you want on your team. (She will worry so that you don't have to.) But if that's the self-selecting type who migrates to the law, it seems unfair to ask them to be happy as well. "I fear that happiness isn't in my line," Benjamin Cardozo observed in 1933, blaming 'the disposition that was given to me at birth.'"


Yikes.  (Note also that "unusually accurate" and "only slightly exaggerated" are synonyms w/r/t Hollywood movies.)

-posted by brian


Filed Under: Law