“I don’t know what to do with myself”: My Post-Law Life
I shudder as I see the flashing icon of a fellow law graduate pop up on my Facebook. Don’t get me wrong. I absolutely adore my fellow law alumni; I just don’t want to be faced with the feigned confusion and pity that I know I’ll receive. The conversation typically goes like this:
Them: Hey dude, what’s been happening?
Me: Nothing much dude, just bumming about. What about you?
Them: Just working through the current matters for Leo’s. It is SO intense.
Are you doing College or something?
Them: Oh, you’re doing placement at a firm? That’s sick dude!
Me: No no. I’m just working to save up some cash.
Them: Oh. Really?
It’s the sympathetic confusion that I get when people think that my post-law life lacks direction. The problem is that I don’t know what I want to do with my degree. Well degrees, as I also have a Bachelor of Medical Science. In fact, I have been studying for nearly as long as I have been alive; entering the educational system at four, high school at 12, and uni began at 17 and continued for the following seven years. I’ve written papers on policy, criminal matters and even the horrific effects of an autosomal recessive metabolic disorder called “Maple Syrup Urine Disease”. My brain is spent.
The thing I found is that when you’re surrounded by the textbooks, the highlighters, the competitive drive, it doesn’t feel as though you’re making the decisions for yourself, but the decisions make themselves of their own volition. When it comes to which area of law I want to practice, I’m clueless, and rushing into this decision doesn’t appeal to me in the slightest.
I’m not sure about anyone else, but I know that without a doubt, my major area of interest will change as certainly as the sun will rise tomorrow. People begin law school thinking that they’re going to be legal superheros and Denny Crane the crap out of their competition, saving criminals from death row and sleeping with sexual innuendo spouting co-workers. Then when you get into the workplace and discover that law mostly involves hard work, you begin to focus on what area of law interests you. When you think you’ve found it, it changes. You meet a lawyer who discourages you fervently about the area of law you simply mentioned in passing.
I’m a realist. I know the job market is tough at the moment and there are very few ways one can obtain the elusive spot in the area of law of their choosing, but I want to take the time to decide on which area of law I should be working towards. I want to have a solid idea because I don’t want to simply start in tax law and thirty years from now wake up and realise that I’m still in the area of law that I started in and never got to work in the practice area that I really wanted to.
If you don’t know what you want to do after law school, it’s no big deal. Take your time to make this decision; take some time off, travel, find yourself. For those of you that do know exactly which area you want to get into, good work. As fellow law alumni we’re all proud of you and the hard work you’ve put in, but for goodness sake, please stop looking at us with those sympathetic eyes. We’ll be just fine.
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