“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.”—Tucker Max, author of I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell
The anonymous author who calls himself “The Philadelphia Lawyer” is an enormously popular blogger with an enthusiastic online fan base. With Happy Hour is for Amateurs, he brings his hilarious, biting, spot-on rants, revelations, and remembrances to the printed page. Part Office Space, part Howard Stern—with a bit of Bukowski thrown in for good measure—Happy Hour is for Amateurs is a drunken and debauched tour through the courtrooms, bars, and bedrooms of the American legal system. As The Philadelphia Lawyer’s subtitle so succinctly puts it, “Work Sucks. Life Doesn’t Have To.”
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About the Author
The Philadelphia Lawyer is the anonymous mind behind the popular blog The Philadelphia Lawyer. He lives outside Philadelphia with his wife.
Read an Excerpt
Happy Hour Is for Amateurs
A Lost Decade in the World's Worst Profession
"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.
Table of Contents
Author's Note xi
Chap Stick 6
Breaking and Entering 17
Hat Trick 28
Ten Percenter 41
How to Not Get a Job Offer 54
Thirty Years 97
The Crab Orgy 117
The Train Wreck Defense 138
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
What People are Saying About This
“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.”
“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.’”
“A rollicking, booze-fueled joyride through the dark underbelly of the American legal system.”
“Raucous, hilarious, and disturbing in all the right ways. I got drunk just reading this book.”
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Why: An allegedly true story by a bitter, disillusioned lawyer. Since I am a bitter, disillusioned lawyer with allegedly true stories of my own, it seemed natural.There are two things about this book. One: it's crude and somewhat debauched, but the debauchery seems like he's trying too hard. Perhaps it is there to demonstrate the lengths to which a miserable lawyer will go for escapism. I wasn't really impressed with this part, but Two: he tells the truth (I could recognize it) about practicing law in this country, and that's the real reason why he didn't sign his name to this book. You might think, What's the big deal, it's not like the legal profession is the Mafia. To which I would answer, hmmm.... I think, that in many (but not all) cases, to be successful in a law firm, you have bifurcate your personality, compromise your integrity, raise your BS tolerance to max level and learn to trust no one (not to mention get real comfortable with boredom), all of which are extremely painful. No one wants you to know this. That's where the value of this book lies.
This book was just ok. It had some very funny parts, but dragged a lot. It seemed like a lot of the stuff was just thrown in, as if the author was flailing around for some filler material and figured he'd throw in another party to eat up another 5-10 pages. I enjoyed it, but can't see myself going back and re-reading it in the future.
At first I wasn¿t really sure about this book. As I didn¿t and still don't know anything about the author, and the cover I must say it is not very compelling. But as they say: "Don¿t judge a book by its cover", so I said to myself: Just give it a try and if you don¿t like it well, you will always have the choice. I thought it was some sort of exclusive treaty for lawyers, something other people wouldn¿t understand. But this is nothing like that; this book speaks about the life and adventures of a guy whose life to the extreme meant ¿life itself¿. It could be grotesque to some, too descriptive to others, also an understanding that life being young and beautiful could be ugly and stupid too.This is a fictional biography, a compilation of situations of a man whose life meant not caring about anything but to have everything. It is well written, smart, hilarious, although unoriginal.
Happy Hour was somewhat entertaining but it would become tedious at times. Perhaps there is a certain appreciation that would be more appealing to those in the legal community where said individuals can more identify with inside dilemmas and situations. Also, there is a level of narcissism that pervades many of the situations. Again, this would be relevant and more entertaining for those in the legal system. Just the same, it was fun in parts and I know there is a more enthusiastic audience out there that would thoroughly enjoy this book. The writing is terrific. I just couldn¿t feel any sense of attraction with the situations and characters.All is not lost, I will pass this book along to those I know will greatly appreciate it.
Philadelphia Lawyer is someone I would probably never know in real life. Reading this book was like peeking into the mind of a person who if I did meet, I would think to myself.. "I just don't get how this guy thinks!" So, even though it's not meant to be, it's very educational.Also, very entertaining, lol. Most of the chapters made me grin or laugh at least once.If you're planning on reading this and walking around with the book, be prepared to explain what it's about. The cover and title got me a few raised eyebrows. (Which I also found entertaining.)
It's important to note that "The Philadelphia Lawyer" thinks that middle-class consists of a $250k salary a year and regards women as sexual objects who he continually insults. If you can put up with that personality, you'll be able to make it through the book. As it was, I almost stopped after the second chapter, but decided to read on because the writing style is easy to read and I figured it important to "understand the enemy", someone who is completely self-absorbed, has no idea what "real work" is like, and whose world revolves around himself. That being said, the rest of "Happy Hour Is For Amateurs" was, for the most part, interesting. The writing is good and entertaining. It was just hard to stomach the insulting personality writing the book. If he would get over his sexist views, he'd actually make for a good writer. The failure to get inside his other characters' heads and see other viewpoints leaves the book feeling incomplete, though, and hard to take seriously. It's hard to believe someone so incredibly superficial and sexist really feels like an outsider and a cog in the machine.
I had mixed feelings about this book. While reading it, I traveled through a spectrum of feelings, from disgust to amusement to ambivalence and many points in between. While this is a memoir, presumably real, I feel that the author was dealt (or made himself) an easy way out. One recurring thought as I read through was the expectation that surely a more interesting or worthwhile tale was right around the corner. However, I didn't hold my breath as the end of the tale arrived, and neither should you.Ultimately this tale is somewhat funny and entertaining- but really just literary empty calories.
While this book might arouse interest for the first few chapters, the entertainment value drops off quickly. How many times can the same tweaked story be retold? How many times can one guy relive the same premise with minor alterations in the details? Here's the gist of the book: the narrator gets drunk/high, gets into a situation, then gets out of said situation, sometimes with wit (but usually through dumb luck). Rinse, repeat. Also, throw in a few easy women, and one friend with an alcohol/rage/drug problem whose name keeps changing for some odd reason... The Philadelphia Lawyer is the kind of guy that rubs me the wrong way. He's proud of getting through college drunk, squeaking through law school and getting high to escape the boredom of legal work. Boo hoo. And to top it off, he thinks he's better and smarter than nearly every person he meets! However, this book is not without merit. It gives what appears to be an honest and intimate look into the legal profession. It's a corrupt system, like many other systems in our society, and I wouldn't be surprised if it scared off some law students. [Disclosure: This review also appears on FingerFlow.com, a site for review and discussion of creative works.]
This novel, written by a wannabe Tucker Max is self-indulgent and incredibly boring. For a so-called party fiend, his life is incredibly boring and uninteresting. I considered putting this book back in my building's library, but truly felt it would be better to just throw it in the trash instead, so nobody else would be stuck reading it. If this is your thing read Tucker Max or Hunter Thompson instead. Don't waste your time reading this crap.