Friday, November 20, 2009

To Be or Not to Be

I know some people who went to college who ended up majoring in drama. They're what we call future law school students! Ba da ching!

Is this thing on? No seriously, I actually know some people who went to school with the intention of becoming actors. Now becoming a professional actor/actress is one career path that's actually more difficult than becoming an attorney. None of these people are currently (or likely will ever) be able to make acting a full time career. They either work in retail, teaching, or on the business side of the theater/entertainment industry.

Now, some might be disappointed that there aren't more opportunities (particularly compensated opportunities) to use their skills. Nonetheless, only the most quixotic drama majors with visions of being a Hollywood celebrity actually think there's a good chance he or she will make any money following this path.

Nonetheless, many still flock to this industry in droves in hopes that they will end being the fortunate ones who will live a life of fame and fortune. They do this because they have a dream and have a passion for what they do. Good for them.

Budding attorneys, on the other hand, flock to law schools not with romantic visions of stardom in their minds (for the most part). They go to law school for the exact opposite reason: to be pragmatic. They want stable, well paying careers.

Almost everybody knows about the starving artist/actor. It's common knowledge that only about 1% of the actors guild is employed full time. Parents don't encourage their children to go into drama. If anything, they encourage their children to forsake their naive dreams and pursue more practical skills.

We, of course, all know how lucrative everyone thinks being an attorney can be.

Starving actors and actresses are starving because they're waiting for something better. Starving lawyers are in the poor house because they have to pay student loans and can't find good paying legal work. Actors can always leave their dreams (and service oriented jobs behind) and join the full time workforce (usually with experience in customer service). Lawyers have been typecast into one career, being an attorney - they're "overqualified" for most other positions.

Actors and actresses can go to bed at night with the (albeit remote) hope of making it big and having fame and fortune. What can an attorney dream about? Hourly document review wages rising back to pre recession levels? Doing well enough as a trial lawyer so he can one day slave away for a big firm? Not exactly what we fantasized about doing when we were in elementary school is it?

The moral: If you're not going to pursue practical skills and career development, at least do something you love. (NB: I don't have any interest in being an actor.)


  1. Great contrast! Parents dissuade their children from throwing their lives away on some far-fetched dream. "Don't be a drama/music/dance/acting major. There's no future in that. Go to school to be a doctor or a lawyer. Those are rewarding professions that you can actually get into with hard work and dedication."

    This is WHY it is so important for JDs to get the word out to the greater public. The law schools produce far more graduates than there are available positions in the law.

  2. I was a classmate of a theatre major who went to Notre Dame. He was also a B actor in Hollywood. He really came off as a slacker in school, and I'm sure he finished near the bottom of the class. Today, he works for his father's bank. He just needed the law degree to look good on paper. He knew he had it covered after graduation.


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