“I spent ten years in a federal prison running a jailhouse lawyer practice for my fellow prisoners, preparing everything from habeas petitions to certiorari petitions filed in the U.S. Supreme Court. It wasn’t the appellate practice at, say, Mayer Brown, but I performed similar work (and got my first cert petition granted). After having listened to the stories from friends at Biglaw firms, I think Biglaw and Con(vict) Law are closer than you might think.
There are physical hazards to each job. Last fall, I heard a story from a friend working at a Biglaw firm about a woman who suffered from edema because she sat at a desk for 18 hours a day. The edema was so severe that her ankles looked like they were encased inside a waterbed. And we’ve all heard the stories about associates who work 100-hour work weeks until it quite possibly kills them. Me, I once had a high-ranking member of the Vice Lords street gang tell me that if I didn’t get the Court to grant him an evidentiary hearing, he would stab me in the eye socket (I guess the eyeball wasn’t scary enough so he had to go with the socket).”
Read, Law Firm Associates and Federal Prisoners: A Comparative Analysis by Shon Hopwood, a bank robber turned jailhouse lawyer turned law student, and now a 2L at the University of Washington School of Law, where he is a Gates Public Service Law Scholar.