Great fun: “Bay Street” by @PhilpSlayton about @PiperFantouche – More #lawyersgonebad

The article in the Globe and Mail includes:

His mystery novel, Bay Street, is billed as a story of “money, sex, madness” and “murder,” set at a fictionalized top Toronto law firm where the backdrop includes scheming senior partners, insider trading and a blockbuster corporate takeover.

But author Philip Slayton, a former law dean at the University of Western Ontario who spent 17 years as a partner at Blake Cassels & Graydon LLP in the 1980s and 1990s, says his book is too close a rendering of Bay Street’s elite legal scene to be considered a caricature. Indeed, at points, the book describes some of the granular details of life inside Bay Street’s most prestigious firms – with a dash of murder added in.

Almost every lawyer in the book is unhappy, and appearing desperately either to climb up in, or escape from, the firm. Mr. Slayton, looking over his plate of cod covered in colourful vegetables, says this is only natural. Despite pay that can shoot from six figures to past $1-million, many lawyers in big business law firms are unhappy, he says. Studies show lawyers have much higher rates of depression and suicide than other professions, he points out. And high pressure for profits and the notoriously long hours are part of it. But so is boredom.

“A lot of the law is, and, particularly the law done on this street where we are sitting having lunch right now, is tediously boring,” Mr. Slayton says. “[It] consists of sitting at a desk and moving around stacks of paper. And the stacks of paper are not inherently interesting. … And you have to do a lot of it. So if you spend hour after hour after hour, day after day after day, doing what is essentially boring and tedious work, after a while you get a bad headache, right? You may start wondering, am I in the right place?”

Plus, he adds, some lawyers who went to law school thinking they would right wrongs or help free the wrongly convicted but instead ended up on Bay Street begin to question their role as handmaidens to the powerful.

“I do think that family physicians, for example, can go home at night and console themselves with the idea that probably some people are a bit better off for what they did that day, and that in some way they are contributing to the world’s welfare,” he said. “I don’t think certainly business lawyers, as they like to be called, can really say that. I mean, their job is essentially to make the rich a little bit richer. And in the process of making the rich a little bit richer, maybe get a little rich themselves.”

That feeling led Mr. Slayton to abandon his practice in 2000, mystifying his partners at Blakes with his departure after a 17-year career that included work on some of the biggest insolvency cases of the time, including the demise of Robert Campeau’s real estate empire. He had arrived at Blakes fresh from academia at the age of 39 in 1983, after a stint as law dean at Western that he found miserable, he says, because his job was to listen to complaints without any power to fix them.

More info here.