Ordinarily I like Thanksgiving. I like eating and turkey and its related side dishes are some of my favorite foods. Usually, I can live without the company, but I guess that comes with the territory. In law school, I either skipped the holiday or went to a friend's house to avoid driving on the busy roads.
This year, however, I am back at home, and I am not looking forward to the day at all. You see, at my parents' house there will be two Thanksgiving turkeys - the actual bird and me. There will be a bunch of people coming over (some of whom I don't even know). I may have never met some of the guests, but I'm sure they know one thing about me - I'm a "lawyer". Though I haven't been formally admitted, they know that I graduated and passed the bar.
On top of all of this, of a reasonably well educated guest list, I stand out as arguably the best educated. Personally, I'd give the edge to my dad who has an MBA from an Ivy League school, but in term of shear years (particularly including the bar), I edge him out. I believe my dad and I will be the only people with graduate degrees. I'd say between four and six guest will have college degrees from respectable school. Three went to a small TTTT state college and two have some college or technical school credits. Guess who is the only person who isn't a retiree or housewife and doesn't have to worry about going to work on Monday?
(I also assume the combined student loans of everybody else at the table is less than the interest I owe on my loans.)
This anomaly won't go unoticed or uncommented on. Sure, some of them have jobs working at supermarkets that I could get myself (if I'm not "overqualified"), but I'm the only person presently living in a guest bedroom. Anyway, I anticipate a barrage of embarrassing questions. Obviously, I need to be polite when I get asked (and I can't let the cat out of the bag yet that I'm looking for non-legal employment), so I'm going to going to use this opportunity to give my Thanksgiving Answers (TA) and my Real Answers (RA) to a list of anticipated questions.
Q1: So, you're a lawyer?
Q2: Where are you in the process (becoming a lawyer, looking for a job)?
TA: Well, the market is a little tough right now, but I'm searching for opportunities and talking to various people about different places to work. I have to get sworn in first before I can practice.
RA: The swearing in ceremony is a sham and this year will double as an unemployment convention. I'm just using it as an excuse for not aggressively seeking legal work. I spend most of my time reading/writing blogs and forum posts about how awful this industry is. I'm also conducting a covert campaign to get out of this mess of a profession.
Q3: What type of law do you practice?
TA: Well, we don't really specialize in an area of law in law school. I'm open to different avenues. I have some experience in criminal law and estate law.
RA: Aside from contemplating ways to sue the ABA, US News, and maybe my law school for fraud, I don't practice any law. In fact, I don't know anything about practicing law. Most legal secretaries would be more help to you in solving legal problems than I would. If you'd like a lecture on 16th century property law and the history of substantive due process, then I'm your man. Apparently, writing wills or actually representing clients isn't something law schools feel an attorney needs to know.
Q4: Can you offer me free legal advice about [some issue]?
TA: Well, I'm not really familiar with that area of law. [Gutless Offer] Maybe I can do some research for you at the local law library, but I can't officially offer you any advice until after I'm barred.
RA: As much as I'd like to get disbarred before I even get my law license, I unfortunately never acquired any practical skills in law school, so no, I can't help you. I probably could look it for you, though. Maybe when I come over in December to shovel your driveway for free and vacuum your house without charge, I can share with you my pro bono research.
Q5: Congratulations on passing the bar. That's a real accomplishment.
TA: Thank you! I really appreciate it.
RA: That's nice of you to say, but all it proves is that I'm not a complete moron. Almost nine out of ten first time test takers had their results rubber stamped. In high school, the percentage needed to pass the bar is what we would call a "D+". Even the vast majority of the students at the local barely accredited TTT's who couldn't crack a 150 on the LSAT passed this test.
Q6: I can't believe there is a shortage of work for lawyers. There are so many laws and such a demand for legal services.
TA: Well, the economy is tough for all fields. I'm sure things will pick up soon.
RA: Yes, there may be some demand, but there are 200+ laws schools pumping out J.D.'s like a politician pumps out platitudes. Do you really think the PI and DUI attorneys on TV are doing that work because they love it? Did they go to law school and think, boy I hope I can dedicate my life to chasing ambulances or defending drunkards who have no respect for other people's lives? Right now there are thousands of law students groveling to work in windowless basements to review boring documents for $20 an hour.
Q7: You should talk to my [some relationship] who is an attorney at [BIGLAW Firm]?
TA: Thanks for the offer. Unfortunately, I don't know if BIGLAW is right for me and they are facing some real economic challenges.
RA: Do you also have a cousin who plays in the NBA. Maybe he could get me a spot on the Cavs or the Lakers? I'd say the odds are about the same that either could help me out.
Q8: Wow, I'm thinking of going to law school myself! Have you ever heard of [some TTT]?
TA: Well, good luck with that. I'm sure you...No, I can't stand by and let you destroy your life no matter how annoying you may be. Everything I said was a load of malarkey. I have no prospects, and I went to a half decent tier two. I hated law school and most people don't realize what it's like. It's too much work and too much money for such a small return. I'm actively looking into entry level jobs geared towards people with just BA/BS degrees. I'll be lucky if I end up making $40k, and I'll be paying at least 10% of my salary to Sallie Mae until I'm as old as my dad is now. Run! Save yourself before it's too late! Oh, and can you pass the gravy?
RA: Uh, see above.
I'll let you know how many of these questions pop up.