Have you read about the firm offering new associates a $10,000 annual salary? Yes, I agree. It’s scary. It is also a clear example of how some firms can feed off of attorney desperation.
After recent lawsuits and news-reports, I hope that many of you measured the costs and benefits of attending law school. And, hopefully, your decision making calculus resulted in a question similar to this: Who cares if I am hoarding debt if I know that I am pursuing a career that I find engaging and fulfilling?
I feel insecure when I read articles like the one above. I don’t know what to expect when I graduate.
However, I can offer myself some comfort:
- If I’m doing something that interests me, I’m in a much better position than a person working in a field that bores him or her.
- A law degree doesn’t mean that I’m stuck in law. I can have a back-up plan. Sure, debt can be a controlling factor, but a J.D. can set you apart from other candidates only holding a bachelors degree. You can still pursue a career outside of law.
- Portland has community: people want to help each other. If I help others, others may help me in return.
- Most importantly, if I try my best, good things may come my way.
Finals were over about a month ago. I survived — this time, I was about 97% certain that I didn’t flunk, so you know, my confidence level is improving. However, if there’s one thing I learned in my 1L year, it’s that the answer is always, “It depends.” I can’t imagine there’ll ever be a semester where I’m completely sure everything was great.
Recently, I said to my spouse, “You know, they say law school really changes the way you think. I don’t know — I don’t feel any different.” He laughed at me — and I mean full-blown side splitting, belly laugh. He then pointed out how many times I’ve gone on about assumption of the risk (Torts) and excusing minors from obligations for incapacity (Contracts), that I’ve argued for something I knew was right legally, though I disagreed with it (L/A/W appellate brief) and actually explained the concept of Erie problems in a way a non-law student could understand (thank you, Prof. Bob Miller!). How I read news stories and immediately try to suss out whether there’s a case there. So I suppose it’s really that I’m too close to the new, more ‘lawyerly’ me, rather than that I’m not changed or that I don’t know anything.
But I do know that being here at L&C still feels right. So much so that instead of spending this first summer lounging around with my family, I decided to spend it here on campus. I’m not taking a class; Anne Nguyen and I are co-directors of orientation for the class of 2014. We’re here answering questions for new and prospective students, giving tours, updating the admitted students’ web site, updating the “welcome to L&C” booklet for new, transfer and LL.M. students, planning events, and lots of other things. It’s been a cool job thus far, and I expect it will be even better as summer finally comes to P-town and we can get out to do some fun stuff with the rising 1Ls.