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!

4 Responses to “Why I Want to be a Lawyer When I Grow Up”

  1. Paralegal Hell June 23, 2010 at 4:25 pm #

    You want to do meaningful things for people. That is good enough for me!
    Boss (at XYZ Law) does this all the time. He loses money on many Bankruptcy filings because he wants to help good people out of a desperate situation.
    If you keep that mantra in your head, you will be a wonderful lawyer.
    Also, be nice to your paralegals 🙂 They save your ass a million times a day 🙂

  2. Off Law Paralegal June 25, 2010 at 1:56 pm #

    I’m only an undergraduate, but I plan on going to law school when I graduate. I’ve known the exact path that I plan to take since early in high school, confirmed with a job as a paralegal/intern. (The short of it is that I started as an intern in high school and have continued working there since. My job is a bit difficult to describe.) However, this definitely let me see that I, without a doubt, wanted to follow not only law, but what type of law.
    From this post (I plan to read through your older posts, but haven’t yet!), I would say that you seem rather like me in that I also want to be a lawyer to help out the world. I don’t mean this in the change the world way but instead in the make an impact on people and help the community out kind of way. They way I think is best for this, for me personally, is to go through school and then work in my favorite field (personally, I am looking at corporate law, but there’s always the chance this will change) and then work in a small general practice. (The practice I work for is one such, which is how I know that I want to work at one such.)
    Something else that I think is great about law is the fact that no two cases are exactly the same. In some areas of law, we joke in my office that only the faces and names change. However, the details really do change, and, in reality, you get such amazing and interesting cases that you would never have exposure to unless you worked in this field! My friends who work in other fields still have no idea.
    I agree with Paralegal Hell, though – always be nice to the paralegals! Not only can they be a tremendous help, they know and can apply a great deal of research and knowledge. With people who have to mulitask, it is a good idea to make sure that they like you, so that your work doesn’t end up at the bottom of the pile! (I don’t do that, but I do know of some who do, unfortunately.)
    Anyways, I didn’t mean to write so much, but good luck and such! 🙂

  3. Keith Lee July 3, 2010 at 10:42 am #

    I’d only say that be sure that you are passionate about it. The practice of law can eat you up if you let it.

  4. Ty July 21, 2010 at 4:00 pm #

    First year, you want to save the world. Second year, you want to get out. Third year, you want to get paid 🙂

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