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pjm

"...[W]e talked about how many of our classmates have become lawyers and bankers and doctors, and are so far along on their paths in these professions. We talked about how it feels to be different than those peers, and the times we doubt ourselves."

I find myself doing this (to myself) all the time. Doesn't help that I'm casting about for direction soon. It's hard not to compare!

PG

Do you miss the human interaction you had with clients at all, or was that such a small part of your time compared to research and colleague-interaction that it doesn't weigh much into the decision?

be

Great reflective post. I am in my 3rd year of law school and casting about myself for where I want to be... I really enjoy law, but I am realizing I actually am not willing to be chained to a rigid heavy duty work schedule (even though I thought previously I would be willing). I have limited myself to thinking that working in a firm is the only 'real' way to practice law, perhaps being scared/nervous to step out of the box (although ironically I have been out of the box my whole life--I though I would go 'straight' with law! Guess not...) So, anyway, your comment about being a clerk resonated with me. I assume you mean a law clerk, like for a judge? That is what I'm strongly considering, as well the option of being a contract lawyer. I know I want to practice law---I just want to do it in a way that works with my life.

abl

I've never yet practiced law w/my degree, and wonder not if I'll go back to it, but if I should've started with it. That, and, will I ever want to.

I agree very much that going into debt to get the degree make a very large difference on weighing options.

Scheherazade

PG, the human contact I have in my daily life as a coach is so, so, so much better -- more meaningful and real and spontaneous and thought-provoking -- than anything I had with clients that it is never part of any nostalgia I have for the practice of law. I love being part of a college staff, where thinking and talking about student life is valued. And I have time and space for the other relationships in my life: volunteer work, friendships, etc. So human interaction isn't something I associate particularly with law. I did enjoy a certain kind of banter, and a certain level of trading and testing and kicking ideas around with people who shared a specific rigor in their thinking, and that collegial interaction is something I don't have in quite the same way. But "human contact" isn't something that is exclusive to, or even particularly strongly featured in, an attorney-client relationship.

turboglacier

I often wish I could find a way to be outside while I practice psychiatry... Lucy, the Peanuts therapist, is the only shrink I know who succeeded at this. But maybe there is some way to be an outdoors lawyer?

Deb

I have never used my law degree for practicing law -- it's now been a year and a half since I earned it. I struggle a little, still, with feelings of inferiority. I realize that's a particular problem of mine that has nothing to do with law, and everything to do with how I've always felt about myself. Even if I was practicing, I'd find a way to make myself feel inferior to others. Asinine habit. I'm working on it.

But really, I've loved keeping myself freed up from practicing. I've been working as a newspaper reporter -- and am a candidate right now for a position at a local university that appeals to me a LOT. I think the law degree helped boost my creditibility for that position, but I also got several questions about why I am not practicing.

I don't see myself ever practicing -- and I don't think I had my heart set on it when I attended school. But thanks to NOT practicing, I have time for my fiance, our small farm, his kids, Irish fiddle (another of my passions), and my own family, including parents and a gaggle of nieces and nephews.

There's no certainty in my decision, but I definitely think I'll continue to lean this way.

Carol Anne

There are some who have questioned why I am a community college instructor, teaching developmental studies, rather than a tenure-track professor at a university doing sophisticated and esoteric research.

Sure, what I'm doing is far less prestigious. But I like it better. Like Scheherezade, I gain immense pleasure from the personal interactions I have with my students, the same way she does with her athletes. I like the flexibility to structure most of my day in a way that suits me, and to focus completely upon my classes. I don't think I could really do that if I were under the "publish or perish" edict.

And while I can't actually teach classes outdoors, two of the three campuses I teach at have big walls of windows that look out at stunning views, one of the Sandia Mountains, up close and personal; the other of the peaceful woods of the Rio Grande Bosque.

PG

Scheherazade,
Thanks for the answer. I worry about whether I will make a good lawyer because sometimes I shy away from client contact. At my clinic placement, I was better at brainstorming litigation strategies (get them on administrative law! what about an antitrust threat?) than at calling clients to talk about their legal concerns. I had the same difficulty in college when I had to survey people about the services a dead child had received from Medicaid. Part of this is due to procrastination, but I did better when I was working as a pollster -- I think I'm just shy about being told people's problems. I have sought out volunteering that doesn't involve working on people's legal problems with them directly, doing appeals research and tutoring kids instead. Ditto work; I'd rather get paid to be a TA or direct an educational program. I'm not too bad once I get a conversation rolling, but I'm terrible at picking up the phone, which is not a good way to help people. In a way, working for corporations instead of individuals might be easier; they still have problems, but not the kind that really hurt any of the people I'll talk to (well, except maybe the opposing side :-P).

Will

I read your blog on and off again during the first year of law school. Three years later, I tune back in again to more of your excellent writing. I went to law school and didn't go into massive debt, graduated, and the biglaw firm said, "Here's your room - we'll check back again in a few years." Because I didn't have the debt, it was easy to turn around and do something else.

Thanks for your writing and thoughts.

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