Archive | June, 2010

The Future Bitter Lawyer?

25 Jun

What is an almost-law-student to do when coming across things like this?

I think I, and most other future or current law students, would be foolish to not consider what truth and universality might be found in lists like this one. As always, I wonder how any of us are really supposed to know whether we are suited to practicing law without having ever actually, you know, practiced law.

Why I Want to be a Lawyer When I Grow Up

23 Jun

What should every aspiring law student know before they start law school?

Well, I certainly don’t know, but I have a vague idea that aspiring law students should know whether they want to be lawyers or not before beginning 1L.

Maybe I am in a minority of pre-Ls, but it’s hard to say if I want to be a lawyer because I don’t really know what lawyers do all day. I have a very strong feeling that I want to be a lawyer, and I am willing to endure three years of law school to become one (because I still haven’t figured out a way around law school). I interned in a tiny law office that did criminal defense (pass) in college, but since I know I don’t want to do that kind of work, I’m not sure it really keyed me into what my day-to-day would be at a firm.

Based on my admittedly slim knowledge of what I might end up doing as a lawyer, this is why I want to be a lawyer:

  • I want to do something that matters to people. Not in the warm and fuzzy sense of saving the world, but just the basic “someone is relying on me” kind of work. I spent all of college writing papers and doing research on subjects that were of absolutely no practical value, and I hated it. No one cares about my literary interpretation of The Tempest. Someone might care about my interpretation of their rights and duties to or from an employee or client. Maybe. If I’m good at what I do.
  • I realize I can do meaningful work without getting a law degree. But I think the law is interesting. I like rules, and I like structure. The law is a pretty big set of rules, and it gives a pretty large society a non-barbaric structure (most of the time). It behooves me to understand the rules so I can play the game.
  • I want to do work that engages my mind every day. Period. I know that part of my work (until I can foist it onto junior associates or interns) will be made up of drafting formulaic motions. OK. But part of Britney Spears’ job is to get on the treadmill every day. There are pros and cons to every job.

I’m also fully aware that the law is a service profession. Good thing I (a) am not socially inept and (b) do not expect to be left alone in my library with books.

Am I missing good reasons for wanting to be a lawyer? If you have some goodies that you used to rationalize attending law school, feel free to share!

Upgrading

11 Jun

When making decisions, people are prone to placing more weight on negative outcomes even when those outcomes are significantly less likely to occur than positive or neutral outcomes. (See Scott Plous.) In January, I bought a 15″ MacBook Pro with a Core2Duo processor. (A few short months later, an upgraded MBP was released with the new Intel i5 processor. Figures.) By the time I begin law school, this computer will be a year and a half old. It is currently covered by the AppleCare warranty (which only lasts for up to three years, if purchased), but to extend it for two years (which would cover it until midway through 2L) will cost $350.

I recently read a report that there is approximately a 17% chance that my MBP will have reliability issues within three years. Although I used an iBook G4 for four years (and my parents are now enjoying it without trouble), I have heard negative things about the most recent Apple products’ reliability — notably, that reliability is decreasing.

My concern, because I am focused more on the less than 1 in 5 chance that my computer will have issues than on the 80% chance that it won’t, is that this computer, new though it is, will not last through law school. I am terrified that it will crash at a very inopportune time. I also am unsure about dropping $350 just to cover my computer until halfway through 2L.

I am strongly leaning toward buying the MBP bundle offered by my school next summer. The bundle includes a 13″ MBP (the diminished screen size is not much of an issue for me), a three-year warranty, and loaner laptops should my computer ever crap out on me. I don’t want to replace the computer I have now. I really, really don’t. It just seems silly to spend $350 for what amounts to half-time coverage, especially when I may have to buy a new computer before the end of law school anyway (mine would be over four years old).

The three-year warranty and loaner laptop really pushes me toward buying a new computer before 1L, despite the sense of waste I will have about my current laptop. I will, of course, religiously back-up all of my work, but I would feel more secure knowing that if my computer fails before finals, I will still have a machine to work on.

As usual, I get the sense that I am over-thinking a purchase that, if it occurs, will not occur for a calendar year. Sigh.

Pre-1L Gap Year Reading

8 Jun

Among other things, I was an English major in college. (I was also a Political Science major and a borderline alcoholic. Red wine helped me write papers a la Hemingway.) I have read a lot of things I never wanted to read and will never read again. I have not read a lot of things I want or wanted to read because my time was spent reading and re-reading The Tempest. (Three times in three semesters.)

For the next two months while I am an unemployed college graduate, I am going on a reading bender. It started with Lords of Finance, which I recently finished. Having absolutely no background in finance or economics (I read The Tempest three times in college. Do you think I have any affinity for numbers?), some of it was hard to muddle through. I caught myself repeatedly thinking, “OK, so deflation is a general decrease in prices. What does that mean for the real cost of money? Uh…” But the book’s profiling of the major central bankers of the period is very easy to follow and quite interesting. I shouldn’t mind seeing a similar work done about the central figures of the most recent crisis.

I am now blitzing through The Nine, which is easier for me to understand more in line with my interests. The book profiles members of the Rehnquist Court, though it also provides some background for other justices. I am very impressed with the author’s seamless flow from one story and anecdote to another while integrating important information about the mood of the country and political movements. Overall, the book is a joy to read. Although I am two years late (thank you, English major, for ensuring that I read nothing of interest in college) and most people who were ever going to read this book probably already have, I feel an obligation to insist that my readers (Hi, Mom! … My mom totally doesn’t read this blog. Nor does anyone else.) pick it up.

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