*disclaimer* This post may anger a lot of you and I tried to write it so that I didn’t come off sounding pretentious or insulting – but I often fail miserably when I do that. So please don’t take offense. It’s just an observation.
Spending two years in graduate school and meeting a lot of people in law school was a very interesting process. So many people I talked to I’d ask “so why did you go to law school?” and their answers would be things like “I don’t know.” This always caught me a little off guard. To invest three years and massive quantities of money in something you weren’t entirely sure about seemed a little goofy to me. It seemed like a choice that would eventually lead to doing what you don’t, or never did, want to do.
Then came the time for the more focused question. “What kind of law do you want to practice?” No one seemed to know that either. In fact the lot of girls that would talk to me about this would say “well I had a summer job at a firm doing X kind of law so I guess I’ll do that.” I guess I’ll do that? Yikes.
I’m not trying to piss anyone off here – even though I’m positive I have – but being back in State College has been really refreshing because everyone I talk to is doing what they want to do. They are studying what interests them (aside from the general ed courses) and they’re all really excited about it. It’s a very positive situation for learning and one that I never realized before.
I feel like a good majority of the people I met while I was doing my graduate work just wanted to step into the upper-income bracket. That the JD was their pass to a future of financial opportunity. And that’s not bad at all. You can want to make money, I have no problems with that, I want to make lots of money too. But at the same time I can’t imagine being an engineer just so I could make money. Or being a farmer just so I could make money. I could never do that. I can’t imagine ever accepting a job that didn’t seem interesting to me, just so I could make a good yearly income.
When I used to read the stats in newspapers about people that are happy with their jobs vs. those that aren’t I thought “there’s no way this is right, that many people can’t be unhappy” but I realized recently that it can be possible.
Comprimises are made. Decisions are made. Bang bam boom and you’re 30 making good money but the only reason you work all day is so that you can go home and bitch about how much work sucks.
On the other hand there are a lot of people I met who had a goal in mind when they went to law school. I really admired the work ethic of these people. They had a specific goal or job in mind and did their best and now a lot of them are unemployed – and I think that’s great. It’s great because they’re not settling for some shitty job because of pay. They’re living at home with moms and pops holding out for that job that’s gonna come along and be a good fit, or at the very least a great stepping off point and aim them in the basic direction they want to go. Some people are even working for free right now just because its in a field they’re interested in. How cool is that?
That’s why I always liked being around musicians. Musicians always seem to be focused on one thing: music. Yes they dream about landing sweet jobs like everyone, but at the same time the reason the jobs are so sweet is because they’re getting paid good money to play music. I love that.
I had a steady orchestra gig in Bucknell one semester with my buddy Dave and we had a great time driving there and they paid really well. One time Dave said to me “Imagine that fat bastard (the orchestra maestro) sittin’ right next to ya, slappin’ a dollar down on your leg every minute that went by. That’s what he’s doing!”
And it was true. We were getting paid a dollar a minute to play in an orchestra. We didn’t even play that much during some rehearsals.
The lot of you, like me, who are struggling looking for jobs – I know, it seems desolate. But it could be worse. You could’ve made a choice, taken a job you didn’t want, and be wondering “what if?” I emplore the lot of you who have gotten slighlty off course to take a real risk. Step back towards the direction you wanted to go. I want to see all my friends be happy in what they do and really let work become a part of your identity. Not because its something that drags you in, but because it makes sense. Becuase it SHOULD be part of who you are because of who you were before you took the job.
I take issue with your characterization of people in law school. I was one of those people that thought it would be a good idea and for whom it turned out to be a disaster. With the information I had at the time, it seemed like a good plan. Plus, law schools advertise themselves to all kinds of majors and portray themselves as a path to a decent, well paid job. I am taking a rough estimate to say that perhaps for about a third of graduates, there are no, or scant opportunities out there. They don’t tell you THAT when you go in and sign up to give them $100,000. Also they don’t exert themselves very much to sell the law degree to employers, who often don’t know what it is (?!) outside the legal field. They leave that to the individual graduate, which often translates to an ant against a mountain situation. If law schools were corporations selling a service, they would be sued into oblivion by so many disgruntles clients.
You made the choice that law school wasn’t right for you though after going there.
But I guess you should take issue cause it seems like you went to law school sheerly for job security. Yikes. That’s exactly what I think is lame about so many of the folks I met.