Monday, March 25, 2013

Non lawyers

" Can you like my Facebook profile?- said a message I got a few months ago- "I've decided to pursue a career in comedy instead of law". And it got me thinking: A law degree is good to have- we were told during our first year orientation dinner- Even if you decide not to practice. Many see it as a source of recognition and prestige - something people respect and respond to me. But it's an education. A time consuming, ultra expensive endeavor, that requires far too much dedication and too great of an investment to be something you only keep in your back pocket. Americans end up tens of thousands of dollars in debt just to get it, with loans that paid for their lifestyle through their undergrad days still hanging over their heads. Foreigners and non-Floridians pay as much as three times more for the experience of going to law school. The question always remains: was it worth it. I'm not sure how many of my friends actually practice law. Most of them are American, bright, motivated, able-bodied and eager. And yet they struggle. Out of the friends who practice, I'm not certain how many maintain a regular office. I know a few who, like myself, grab a client here and there, occasionally.  But this is no way to have a career or to plan a life. What really struck me is when I attended the ethics mandatory workshop in Tallahassee was how many people do anything but practice law for a living. Some because they're still trying to get their foot through the door, some because they're still waiting for the door to even crack open for them, others because they discovered they have no to very little interest in law. Few write books with professors, volunteering in hopes of recognition. Few give their time helping others in hope of getting experience. So many people frustrated and lost, hoping for their moment to come. To what end? I have the benefit of going through law school in America twice. While my recently graduated friend have not been practicing for too long, my other class has been at it for a bit longer. While the younger ones are frustrated with no opportunities to get started, the older ones often tell me that they are not happy with how and what they do, how their days and tasks look like and would much rather do something with more purpose and meaning. Tired and burned out.  Part of it is that what we think our life would turn out, what our strengths and weaknesses are and what actually happens are completely different things. I have a friend who was convinced he's meant to ne a trial attorney when he first started. Now he does taxes. I have another friend who never sat for the bar exam. After school he decided simply that he doesn't need it. A different friend became a policeman and put the exam on hold for I want to say five years. It doesn't stop to amaze me how many started off thinking they really don't want to practice law. And good for them. Florida Bar has  statistics that they use as cautionary tales for young attorneys. Suicide rates for the profession are much higher than the general population. Depression is common. Many people don't see purpose in their work or any future for themselves. But these are just numbers. Statistics. My friends are real people. And amazing ones I might add doing things that makes them happy. I have a friend who's a California DJ and wouldn't imagine a day behind a desk. I have a different friend who makes and sells a cottage cheese substitute for organic food outlets. You can see her in her apron at a local farmer's market on Wednesday. Perhaps one day she will be a lawyer again, she says. But not today. And I understand it. What is the point of  going into something if it doesn't make you happy? What is the point of doing law if not to benefit other people. A lesson learned perhaps sixty thousand dollars too late?

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