"I work in a commercial law firm and love working in the law, but I hate lawyers. Why?"
Good question! Of course this isn't meant to be career advise- if you need that, go talk to someone less biased ;-).
The law is a wonderful thing. It really is, a respec for the rule of law is fundamental to our civilisation. Imagine if people did not respect the authority of the state, the courts, or the government! Sure we probably don't like to do this at times but we agree it's the price we pay for stability and for not being ruled by the power of a few.
Unfortunately, as I see it you can draw a big fat line across the legal profession and lawyers in general, as follows:
The legal industry: doing law as a business.
The legal profession: doing the business of law.
They are not the same thing.
Lawyers mostly work in law firms, they are like the administrators of law. A lot of lawyers are to the law what accountans are to the economy, not really out of choice but because they're running a business.
Every lawyer in a firm is a cog in a big machine whose primary aim is to make money, it's secondary aim is to be efficient, it's third aim is to use all of their employees to make as much money as possible so that they can grow even bigger. They sell their knowledge of the law to their customers to make money and hopefully win their case, if they don't well, they don't but you still have to pay.
Law firms are under a lot of pressure to perform because their market is shrinking. Law firms are hiring less and less lawyers while law schools are pumping out more and more.
There's also a nice cache to saying that you're a lawyer. People treat you differently. At law school we are taught that the law is what underpins our society and we will be the custodians of it. Which sounds lovely but this nice idea doesn't fit nicely with the other idea, to make money for your firm.
Yes- lawyers are under a lot of pressure, first to perform and then to get good outcomes and hopefully strengthen the rule of law. If they don't, well as long as someone is making money then that's fine.
Not all of them mind you. A lot of lawyers go in to law school attracted to the beauty of the rule of law but are hit in the face with the realities of modern legal practice: money, money, money!
You're right to love the law, it's wonderful! What other profession makes it it's daily business to decide the rules, freedoms and liberties of people, companies and countries?! It's a brilliant invention. However this invention doesn't always see eye to eye with making moolah.
That's why there can be a big disconnect between the legal industry and the legal profession. The idea of blind justice doesn't always make good money.
So, there's that, the other reason why the people you work with might be so unpleasant is because they're assholes. There's that too.