Earlier this week, a law student showed up at our office in downtown Louisville. She was interviewing for a job as a summer law clerk. I was asked to sit down and speak with her. Like most tasks in my first six months as a lawyer, I had about 15 seconds to prepare. But unlike some of the more nerve-wracking ordeals of my rookie year — motion hour, the first few depositions, mediation, trial prep — this one was a piece of cake. Shoot the breeze with a law student for half an hour? No problem. In fact, the experience gave me an excuse to take a short and wistful stroll down memory lane. Just a year ago, I was in a similar position, scratching my head over employment prospects in a dismal job market and wondering if I had made the right choice.
With all the negative press about law school — click here for my previous posts, or here for Exhibit B in the Huffington Post —I felt compelled to offer this student my unsolicited thoughts about why being a lawyer is so great. Even after just six months, I can't imagine not being a lawyer. Sure, it's stressful at times, and the hours are long, but the experiences I've had since last August have been among the most rewarding of my adult working life. I've sued a bunch of giant companies like this one and this one and this one on behalf of injured people who otherwise would not have recourse. I've had the privilege to learn from some fantastic lawyers and judges with decades of war stories and experience under their belts. I've learned about wide-ranging areas of the law — train derailments, banking, medical devices, worker's compensation, prescription drugs to name a few — and gotten a taste of how much more there is to learn.
Although some of it has been terrifying, I can't think of a more invigorating experience than going head to head with another smart attorney, with my client's interests on the line. I realize that not all law students are looking for that pressure. There is plenty of other legal work out there that can be rewarding. At the same time, I'm sure there are many law students and freshly minted lawyers out there who are kicking themselves about the huge level of law school debt, the terrible job market, and the stressful/disappointing/unrewarding nature of their newfound careers. Just don't count me among them.