Competing Visions of Angst Among Elite Lawyers

24 Pages Posted: 6 Oct 2006 Last revised: 13 Aug 2014

See all articles by Michael L. Rustad

Michael L. Rustad

Suffolk University Law School

Thomas H. Koenig

Northeastern University


This review essay contrasts the explanations provided in two recent books for the existential anxiety suffered by many lawyers in top national law firms. Jean Stefancic and Richard Delgado's How Lawyers Lose Their Way: A Profession Fails Its Creative Minds, and Milton Regan's Eat What You Kill: The Fall of a Wall Street Lawyer, provide provocative case studies of different aspects of schizoid alienation at the highest rungs of the legal profession. Stefancic and Delgado explore the complex relationship between elite attorney Archibald MacLeish and Imagist poet Ezra Pound to demonstrate that top lawyers have struggled for many decades with the conflict between the demands of corporate law and the desire for self-fulfillment. Regan provides a riveting account of the downfall of John Gellene, a leading bankruptcy specialist in a top New York corporate law firm. While Stefancic and Delgado locate the core of the spiritual malaise among top corporate lawyers in the ideological cage resulting from the conceptual blinders of legal formalism, Regan takes a more economic-based perspective, portraying the hypercompetitive elite law firm as a soul destroying work environment.

Keywords: history, legal profession, corporate practice, alienation, law schools, corporate practice, Boston's law schools

JEL Classification: K10, K41

Suggested Citation

Rustad, Michael L. and Koenig, Thomas H., Competing Visions of Angst Among Elite Lawyers. University of Illinois Law Review, Vol. 2006, No. 2, p. 475, Available at SSRN:

Michael L. Rustad

Suffolk University Law School ( email )

120 Tremont Street
Boston, MA 02108-4977
United States

Thomas H. Koenig (Contact Author)

Northeastern University ( email )

220 B RP
Boston, MA 02115
United States

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