Rufus maintains the weblog Running With Lawyers, where he exorcises his legal demons. He presently holds an in-house position at the Ginormous Corporate Entity, where he is recovering from ten years practicing law at the Evil Defense Firm.--Ed.
I read a few law student blogs. Not a lot; and some more than others. Some really amuse me; some provoke a lot of thought; some annoy the hell out of me. The ones that annoy me annoy me for different reasons. It’s not their politics. It’s their air of panic about on campus interviewing, their stress over where their careers will take them, or their decisions during first year as to what their practice areas are going to be. Everyone needs to calm down. I’m not doing today what I thought I would be doing when I was interviewing for 2L summer positions, and it’s not what I thought I’d be doing when I graduated, and it’s not even what I thought I’d be doing two years ago. Careers like lives have twists in them. You really shouldn’t plan too much beyond doing the best job you can and being alert to opportunities and open to possibilities.
I wrote a post several months ago where a law student left a comment to the effect that he though it was really interesting but that he was not going to do insurance law because he was going to be an intellectual property lawyer so it didn’t really apply to him. Putting aside the fact that the point of the post cut across all practice areas, I don’t see how he can be so sure that intellectual property is what he wants to do and, more importantly, that it’s what he’ll find himself doing. I hope that’s what happens for him. But it might not. Or it might for a while, but he may find himself doing something completely different five years later. Who knows? So put in your resumes or send them to the places where you think that you’ll like to work and which are realistic for you given your credentials – it’s a sad fact, but a fact nonetheless, that the initial screening mechanism in this profession is credentials, fair or not – and not to the places where you think you should work or where you can make the most money.
Remember, most lawyers who aren’t schmucks make a decent living. If you’re certain that you need Skadden Arps partner money in order to be happy, you should first take a look at what else is wrong with your life, because you’ll probably find out that the money isn’t as satisfying as you thought it was going to be. A low six figure income is a helluva lot more than most Americans can ever hope to make, and it lets you live pretty good in most of the country, and even not half bad in New York City. What I’m saying is that a job is not a marriage. For a long time I thought that it was and that, therefore, I was trapped in a firm that I hated, locked in the by the title partner and all that went along with that, even though it was no longer who I wanted to be. When I finally found the strength to leave though, it was the easiest thing in the world. If you don’t like your first job, or if it turns out to be the wrong practice area for you, then look for another one. It’s allowed. And if you have to “settle” on a job that isn’t really what you wanted, be open to learning whatever you can before you move on.
Now, more of my thoughts on what’s the matter with kids today. Oy, the crazy music and the skimpy clothes on the girls, with the low rise jeans and the belly piercing and the tattoos; and all the time with the Internet and the blogs and the IMing. When I was young lawyer during the early Clinton years blah blah blah harrumph harrumph harrumph hock up phlegm. Hey, where’s my nitroglycerin? My heart. I got angina. Oy!