Saturday, June 17, 2006

What should I do with my life?

Po Bronson wrote a fascinating book about the young person's least favorite but most important question to answer.  According to the people whom Bronson interviews, the difficulty of the question is rarely eased with age (only the person's sense of possibility is diminished).  While this is bad news for people like me who hope that life's experience will push me in the right direction, it has caused me to think about my future and what I want to do.  (As if I weren't doing that already.)

The one thing I know is that I want to be a lawyer: I want to go to law school; I want to wear suits; I want to be able to speak with authority and confidence; I want to know how things work.  But that only partially answers the evil "WSIDWML" (pron. "wuh-sihd-wuh-mill") question because the legal profession is incredibly complex with probably thousands of different specialties and different jobs that must be performed.

So question 2: what kind of lawyer should I be?  Before I worked at my previous job, I thought that family law was a horribly boring field of law that no one should get into except for the money (it pays surprisingly well for those who are good at it).  Part of my job involved legal research, though, and I even wrote a brief for an appeal of a termination of parental rights.  (Which we won, dadgummit.)  Through that experience, I discovered that even family law can be fascinating.  I won't go into specifics here, but I learned that any area of law could be fascinating if you gave it enough attention.  Conclusion: looking at different fields of law to find one that's interesting just won't work for me.  I need to consider more about the practice of that particular field.

So question 3: what kind of law would I enjoy practicing?  Alas, this is the hardest question so far.  No lawyer wants to talk about their daily routine.  I have searched hundreds of blogs and find only commentary on law.  Blogs very rarely discuss the ins and outs of actual, daily practice.  Fortunately, I have worked in two law firms: one a solo practitioner family lawyer and the other a small insurance defense firm.  At this point, I prefer the people interaction of family law and the research possibilities of insurance defense.  I dislike the hours of family law and the relative lack of court-time of insurance defense.  (But I'm told that family lawyers outside small towns spend very little time in court.)  As my old logic professor used to say: I am stuck in the horns of a dilemma.

The answer, I think, for now, is that I don't know.  I don't know what I want to be.  I have several "options" or "theories of the future."  For example, I could become a property investor/developer, or I could practice insurance defense, or I could practice family law, or I could get a job with the Travel Channel writing about what to avoid in other countries' legal systems.  What will probably happen is that I will get a job out of law school and be ushered into a specialty which I will either love or hate.  If I love it, I'll stick with it; if I hate it, I'll find a different specialty.  I call this the pinball approach to life.

I think it's what most people do.


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1 comment:

Professional Women's Network of Southern California said...

It's a long life; if you follow your heart, you'll probably get to do all of the things that you love. Here's the good thing about all of the ways in which you can represent people or businesses as an advocate -- you get to read and write; you get to act (for the jury!); you get to advise; you get to explore; you get to strategize; you get to learn how other people's businesses work; you get to pick up technical and other random knowledge -- at depth -- that you doesn't have to be your career or even your part time job; you get to be relied upon and so become reliable; you get to be of service and so become useful; you get to stand your ground and justify your position without being pushed aside or shut down and so become courageous; you get to fight injustice and so become just; you get to empty your mind out of all of your preconceptions and so become wise. It's a good life. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Go get 'em!

Best, Vickie Pynchon
Negotiation Law Blog