f/k/a archives . . . real opinions & real haiku

September 4, 2005

the road to “L” is paved with inattention

Filed under: lawyer news or ethics — David Giacalone @ 1:13 am

from:  Prof. Yabut
to:  All Law Students
re: Assess This!!
prof yabut small flip What the L are you waiting for?  Two weeks ago, I poured my heart out at this
website, advising each 1L to immediately begin the process of self-assessment,
which is absolutely necessary to find out whether a legal career is right for him
or her.  See 1L of a decision, which sets out the need for self-assessment and
points to many good places to start.   Having been around this planet (and the
young of our species) quite a while, I can confidently say that virtually none of them has taken that advice.
Nevertheless, I am going to increase the likelihood and scope of failure by preaching
tonight to all law students — 1-, 2- & 3Ls — with the same message:  “only a silly
a$$ doesn’t self-assess.”  Frankly, there are enough lost, unhappy souls practicing law
as it is, without you — yes, you! — adding to the numbers by blindly careening toward
a painful, depressing legal career.   But, don’t just take my word for it.
donkey Donkey O.T.
The folks at New York Law School have obviously hung out with lots of law students.
On the NYLS Career Planning page, they note, “Many law students and graduates spend
more time planning a one-week vacation than they spend planning a career that will last
over 30 years.” Why is that important?
“The time you take between now and graduation to plan your career will pay
off later with job satisfaction. Your job search will be most effective if you first
identify your interests and career goals and determine what you need to do or
learn to reach these goals. Students who fail to take the time to set the ground-
work for their job searches often end up without the focus they need to find and
obtain satisfying work. Take the time now to start planning for your career to
ensure that it is a satisfying one.”
Similarly, Angelique Electra, a lawyer who created the [apparently no longer online] JurisDoctor Profile Assessment has diplomatically pointed out:
[H]ow many people out of every hundred considering law school or a
law career undergo a self-assessment program to determine “why” they’re
considering it and whether it is appropriate to their long-term well-being to
do it?  You can probably surmise the answer is next to “none.”
The folks at JurisDoctor Profiles go on to explain:
For the new graduate willing to chip away at old maxims and consider career
alternatives, s/he must first be willing to create the mental and emotional “space”
for an alternative way of being — a new view or perspective of life and “life-lihood.”
First, you must make the quiet time for self-assessment, introspection and discovery.
Then you must engage inner courage to make honest assessments and truly accept
“as truth” what is uncovered or created through that process.  . . .
For the law student or new law graduate, or lawyer in the first training stage of career
development, cracking the egg before you are “cooked” means that you have a better
shot at directing yourself into an arena, environment, or area of the law that is most
congruent with who you are and want to be. It provides baseline criteria for those initial
career decisions – which decisions profoundly affect the course and quality of your career
Look, I’m not trying to sell you anything — and won’t make one cent if you follow up on this little
diatribe.  The reality is that there really are a lot of satisfied lawyers.  However, they got there
because their jobs fit who they are as individuals.  You can’t have career satisfaction without
personal satisfaction. As Lisa Abrams, Esq., (author of The Official Guide to Legal Specialties)
points out in Encouraging Law Students to Pursue Career Satisfaction (Dec. 2002 NALP Bulletin):
What do satisfied lawyers have in common? I found that this group of satisfied lawyers
had three things in common:
1. They have a sincere interest or passion for the subject matter on which they work.
2. They enjoy the daily rhythms of their job.
3. Their work appeals to the core of their personality —their work is aligned with
their values and allows them to work with their strongest skills.
Abrams emphasizes a key point: “Students see job satisfaction as a luxury rather than as an ingredient necessary to career success. During and after my programs, students have identified numerous concerns related to job satisfaction.  Yet, interestingly, students see their questions as separate from the issue of finding satisfying work. It’s as if they see satisfaction as a luxury rather than as a necessary ingredient to finding success in a legal job.”  She asks:
What can law schools do to help students seek satisfaction?
The most important thing we can do for law students is convince them that
considering satisfaction isn’t a luxury but a necessity. Finding a job in which
you have a degree of satisfaction sets you on the road to success. Says Virginia
Vermillion, Assistant Dean for Career Services at the University of Illinois College
of Law, “The closer your first job to your long-term goal, the more likely you are
to be happy. The happier you are, the more likely you are to succeed. There’s a
cumulative effect of success.”
boy writing
The best way to be on the road toward a legal career that is in sync with your passions, values
and rhythms is to know who you are.  Honestly, almost none of us can do that without making a
real commitment of time and energy in the process of self-assessment.  In 1L of a decision, you
will find some free, online resources that can help greatly in that assessment.
You might also check out Deborah Arron’s website to see which of the “7 lawyer types” described in the JurisDoctor Profiles Assessment seems to best describe you and which career options best fit each type.


What the L are you doing this weekend that’s more important than a personal self-assessment?
Do I have to come over and kick-start your assessment personally?
windowless classroom
the blank look
same as last term
evening class
a toddler comes in
with her mother
fund drive
the ivy covered building
has a new name
winter evening
a cafeteria tray
at the end of the slope
wrong way smN
around and around
learning the names
of one way streets

“winter evening” (2003/I); “windowless classroom” (2002/I)

“fund drive” & “evening class”  (2002/II)

“around and around”  (2001/II)

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