Happy Hour Is for Amateurs: A Lost Decade in the World's Worst Profession [NOOK Book]


For some people, happy hour is never enough

This is a book about escape. It's also about laughing gas. And bourbon and dope and sex and mushrooms and every other vice millions of us indulge in to forget our jobs, the office, and the stifling, corporate caricatures we're forced to become for paychecks. This is a book about a decade lost in a senseless career no one likes and all the ridiculous things I did to run from it. In the end, it's probably your story as much as mine. ...

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Happy Hour Is for Amateurs: A Lost Decade in the World's Worst Profession

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For some people, happy hour is never enough

This is a book about escape. It's also about laughing gas. And bourbon and dope and sex and mushrooms and every other vice millions of us indulge in to forget our jobs, the office, and the stifling, corporate caricatures we're forced to become for paychecks. This is a book about a decade lost in a senseless career no one likes and all the ridiculous things I did to run from it. In the end, it's probably your story as much as mine. We're everywhere. We just can't say it out loud.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

In this nihilistic memoir, the author, creator of the Philadelphia Lawyer blog, addresses both the bankruptcy of the American legal system and his own predilection for substance abuse. His pseudonym, he says, refers both to the city where the author practiced and to a disparaging term for an unscrupulous lawyer. A former frat boy, the author entered law school for lack of better ideas only to find that the material bored him and his studies interfered with getting drunk. Still, he persisted, and his quest for big money led him through criminal law, civil litigation and personal injury law. Although he never gets rich, he is able to ingest large quantities of drugs in the company of equally debauched friends. The author writes with intermittent brio, and his critiques of his profession are pointed and astute. However, the endless tales of sleazy sex and drunken escapades might go over well with bar-stool buddies, but on the page they make a depressing blur. Other people barely seem to exist for him: of his future wife we learn little more than that she has a "dancer's ass" and "amazing nipples." With a lot more empathy and self-awareness, the author might have created a devastating portrayal of the current debasement of the American professional classes. (Oct.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Kirkus Reviews

A Gen-Xer's satirical memoir takes sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll deep into the bowels of modern law.

If justice is blind, then "The Philadelphia Lawyer" (a mysterious Pennsylvania blogger, true identity unknown) is the pop culture's new canine guide for the visually impaired. For him, remedial action has as much to do with inhaling nitrous oxide and chasing prostitutes as it does with filing motions. After graduating from law school in Pittsburgh in the late '90s and settling into Philly ("Shyster Central"), he found the halls of justice chock full of irony and unscrupulous sharks. He took a position in criminal defense, but after watching a defendant get 30 years on a drug-trafficking rap, he realized he didn't have "the stomach to tolerate the ‘good v. bad' mythology of that universe." A process of disillusionment began as he moved from field to field. First civil litigation where, like his colleagues, he surfed Internet porn on the clock, scraping together "billable hours" and charging clients to the nanosecond for phantom casework. Business litigation seemed like the next logical move for our restless narrator. As a new associate under a micromanaging partner, he quickly learned that "wringing profits out of young lawyers is one of the most cynical labor exploitation systems ever invented." He took a stab at personal-injury work, hoping to hit "that mythical ‘home run' case, a settlement that would give me enough money to get out of the field for good." He tried his hand as a legal expert, landing talking-head commentaries on CNN. However, on his second appearance, doing a spot on the Kobe Bryant sex assault case with a migraine hangover, he froze on camera and blew his shotat showbiz. Resigned to some kind of life in law, he launched the increasingly popular and hilarious "Philadelphia Lawyer" blog, which caught the eye of lawyer-turned-fratirist writer Tucker Max, who pushed him into penning this memoir.

Sometimes sophomoric, but intensely insightful.

Cleveland Plain Dealer
“Drinking, drugging and the ungallant pursuit of the female form...the author serves up some raucous fun and boozy amusement — just like any happy hour.”
Tucker Max
“I was fired from my first legal job within a month, and this book explains why it was the best thing to ever happen to me.”
Frank Kelly Rich
“A rollicking, booze-fueled joyride through the dark underbelly of the American legal system.”
A.J. Baime
“Raucous, hilarious, and disturbing in all the right ways. I got drunk just reading this book.”
Mark Ebner
“The Philadelphia Lawyer leaps off the printed page like a seersuckered superhero — a literary lothario Hunter S. Thompson would have been proud to call ‘Counselor.’”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061981685
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 10/6/2009
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 672,136
  • File size: 783 KB

Meet the Author

The Philadelphia Lawyer is the anonymous mind behind the popular blog The Philadelphia Lawyer. He lives outside Philadelphia with his wife.

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Read an Excerpt

Happy Hour Is for Amateurs
A Lost Decade in the World's Worst Profession

Chapter One


"You threw it out?" I barked into the receiver.

"I—I—I—" My roommate stammered on the otherend of the line. "I—have—to—go. I have so much shit to do today." Click. The line went dead.

I put the phone on the table and stared out the window at the Dumpster in the parking lot behind my apartment. Could I dive into it? Was there a chance success was still in my grasp, thirty yards and a few feet of trash away?

Ring. I answered. "Hello? Hello?"

"Look, I'm sorry. I'll make it up to you." My roommate coughed and stuttered. "I've had so much on my plate. I didn't. I mean, I didn't mean it—"

"That's nice, but what do I do now?" I pressed hard, but civil. I couldn't attack him. I had to live with the guy. But I had to vent, and the mess I was facing was his fault.

"Why didn't you ask me? Why would you just throw something like that away?" Click. "Hello? Hello?" He hung up on me.

I gulped the last of my coffee, slammed the cup on the table and dialed him back.

"Perimeter Funds, good morning," the operator yip-yipped in a pixie voice. I spit my roommate's name and department into the receiver. "Certainly, sir. Let me transfer you."

After a half dozen rings he picked up. "Why did you hang u—"

He cut me off. "Look, I honestly don't remember throwing it away, I just—"

"Then where is it? Give me your dishonest answer."


"I'm fucked. You realize that." I was hyperventilating; late forwork already, with a mountain of paper to clear off my desk before two. Everyone was depending on me. People were coming in from D.C., New York, and Boston. They were sitting on trains and planes and waiting in traffic. They'd cleared their schedules to make the trip and the one thing I was supposed to take care of for them—the reason they were coming—I'd fucked up, terribly and irreparably.

"Look, I have to go. I'm sorry, but I have a huge project going, and I can't deal with your shit right now. I'm sorry. What else can I say?" Click. He didn't give me a chance to speak another word.

I ran to the parking lot and opened the Dumpster. There was no way to rummage through it in a seersucker suit. Anything worn in the process would be destroyed. The only way to do the dive was naked, and I didn't have the luxury of risking arrest. Still, the mountains of bulging trash bags taunted me. Theoretically it was easy, a matter of finding the right one and combing through the piles of coffee grounds, rotting cold cuts, and junk mail. Then I looked a little closer. The greasy black flies buzzing around my head and the odor of diapers and spoiled fruit dragged me back to reality. It was true—I was a few feet from saving the day, but they might as well have been a thousand miles.

I trudged back into the house and called my assistant.

"I have an emergency. I'm going to be late. No. I'm fine. Just, uh . . . , I'm going to be late is all." Click.

Most of being a lawyer is pretending you know everything while actually knowing next to nothing, "practicing" your trade in the most literal sense of the word. Hoping some elected judge has the facility with English to understand the complicated argument you've handed him. Guessing how the court might rule on confusing language in contradictory statutes drafted by twenty-three-year-old state senators' clerks. Poring over endless pages of rules in volumes of books thicker and denser than Atlas Shrugged to find a simple answer as to when and how some court document has to be filed. You wake in sweats in the middle of the night. Did I have thirty days or twenty to respond to my opponents' motion? Did I file the proper notice of appeal in the Auchincloss case? Does Rule 4:15(a)(6)(vii) supersede Rule 6:17(e)(3)(iii) when they conflict?

These thoughts never leave, filling your head with endless tedium. Being a litigator is living in that nightmare where you're sitting in an exam and suddenly realize you haven't studied and don't know a stitch of The Information. You're as good as your last fuckup, which is just like any other job—except that unlike any other job, you have a pack of adversaries at your throat, angry little shits who live to find and exploit the tiniest error in your work and make you look stupid and illogical. You toil in constant fear of the big mistake that brings down the house of cards and sets a fellow shark or vulture upon you, suing for malpractice. This is Philadelphia—Shyster Central, Electric Lawyerland. Of course we eat our own, and statistically, sooner or later, every one of us makes a mistake.

"I'm totally fucked here." I paced back and forth through the living room, running a pointless postmortem on the situation. "I can't believe this. He threw it away!"

My girlfriend Lisa emerged from the bathroom and stared at me, combing her hair back and fiddling with a towel around her breasts.

"You still haven't found it?"

"Would I be running around like this if I had?"

"You are such a drama queen. Do you know how high your voice gets when you're mad?"

"How could he do that?"

"He was probably cleaning. You're the biggest slob I've ever met."

"Look at me. Do I look like a slob?"

"Oh no. You are very put together. It's everything around you that's a mess."

"I don't need a lesson now. Do you know how much this sucks? This is a serious fucking problem." I buttoned my cuffs and started tying my tie in the living room mirror.

"Great, I spilled coffee on my pants. That stains, doesn't it?"

"That's a cotton suit. It'll come out."

Happy Hour Is for Amateurs
A Lost Decade in the World's Worst Profession
. Copyright © by DeVa Philadelphia Lawyer. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Table of Contents

Author's Note xi

1998 1

Chap Stick 6

Breaking and Entering 17

Hat Trick 28

Ten Percenter 41

How to Not Get a Job Offer 54

Twenty-six 66

Squirrelfucker 80

Thirty Years 97

Lisa 105

The Crab Orgy 117

Marshal? 127

The Train Wreck Defense 138

3-to-1 156

Meet the New Boss 172

The Costanza Method: Part I 182

The Costanza Method: Part II 196

Sudden Asshole Syndrome 210

Everything Went Pink 223

Newspaper Guys 238

Getting Your Money's Worth 245

My Fifteen Minutes of Fame (Well, More Like Ten) 258

Last Roulette Wheel on the Way Out of the Casino 274

"Justice" Junkies 282

Plan B 288

Everything Went Wrong 293

Gone 299

Acknowledgments 307

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