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Every morning, I have a little routine that I call "walking the dog." I check out all of the entries on my "Affinities" list, which, whether you're on the DB's homepage or not, you ought to be be able to see to the left. Partly because I walked the dog last night, after dinner, as a quiet way of unwinding from the weekend's obsession with such expressive prose as

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and partly because I could hardly walk myself to the bathroom (so to speak), I skipped it this morning, zeroing right in, instead, on Opinionistas. Opinionistas - one of the most compelling sites on the Web, if you happen to be an American attorney - is written by a 27 year-old associate at a big Midtown law firm. In it, "O" recreates the soul-crushing atmosphere that makes powerhouse firms so unpleasant to work in. You've heard it all before - the long hours, the suited savagery, the ultimate pointlessness of most of the work - and you've probably responded as one or another of Opinionistas's many commenters has. I don't read the site every day, but I visit once a week, usually to gauge how much worse things are today than they were when Kathleen started out on Wall Street. (In many ways - the work-related ones - not much. In others - psychotic outbursts - rather much.) Lately, "O" has been writing as though it's only a matter of time before she's outed as the author of her widely-read site, and promptly shown the door by her firm. In the Times on Sunday, she went even further, telling reporter Paul Berger that she has received numerous email threats from people who know who she is, "threatening to unmask her."

In the summer of 2004, when I was just beginning to follow blogs, I came across an observation that I've seen borne out time and again. Interestingly, the observation was made in the late Nineties, long before blogging as we know it was common. Here it is: if you're keeping an anonymous blog, assume from the start that everybody is going to find out who you are. The catch, as "O" is finding out, is that when you start keeping a blog, for whatever reason, you hardly expect to be well-known. You may, as "O" was doing, write for the therapeutic benefits of self-expression. Making your journal public increases the therapeutic effect. But it's not a big deal, and you naturally tell a friend or two. Because, if you don't, who's going to read your blog? Or so you think; you don't know that the surest way to find readers is to comment profusely at sites that you like. Even if you did know this, it wouldn't register, because you're just getting some stuff off your chest, not conducting a marketing blitz. You're happy with your circle of ten loyal readers, all whom ring changes on "Hang in there! We love you!"

As it happens, however, Producers-style, you write pretty well. You cover a humiliating episode with suspense and verve, and your ten friends link to ten of their friends. Very quickly, everyone in a situation similar to yours - and, if you're a third-year associate at a big law firm, you've got a potential readership of thousands of similarly-situated miserable but literate young lawyers - everyone in your boat is reading your site. You find yourself, as "O" recently did, overhearing your colleagues speculate about who "you" really are. 

You start thinking of writing a novel, at least partly because you fear that you're going to need a new line of work in the near future. But it needn't come to that. You may have to take a pay cut, and work at a smaller, less hysteria-driven firm, where the partners get along with each other (for the most part) and genuinely foster their associates. You may have to take a job that allows you to like the practice of law, perhaps even to love it. You can tell your new bosses about the Web log on the way in. The only problem is that you may not have anything very exciting to blog about.


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