March 10, 2010

Seven alternative legal careers

I recently went to a seminar given by a senior partner at a prominent corporate law firm. He leaned against the blackboard, sighed, and began his presentation:

"Law is very, very, very boring. I don't suggest any of you get into it. Find something you like and go with that."

I promptly got up and left.

This criticism should be one of the first things that law students learn about the mainstream practice of law. It doesn't matter how attractive or clever or personable you are; you will only get ahead by putting your head down and working until you forget how to get an erection. Career counselors give lawyers a spate of alternatives to practice which draw on the skills one develops as a lawyer, but these suffer from intense lack of creativity. Best to think about three miles outside the box:

1. Bounty hunter- You're outside, you're administering justice, you have a lot of non-lethal weapons. While your law school classmates are poring over a room full of contracts, you just tazed a drug dealer with a $10,000 tag on him.

2. Corporate Bagman- This gives you all the prestige of corporate life without worrying about billable hours. When the CEO of the firm's biggest client is arrested the pediatrician's office again, you'll be down at the station bribing cops and threatening expectant mothers with lawsuits. If you had the guts to sit through Corporate Taxation, then you definitely have what it takes to yell at a child who's just been molested.

3. Host of your own reality show- Do not worry about having a sharp premise. These days, any idea will fly. Replace your wife with an ostrich. Start a meth lab. Sponsor a family of Indian pickpockets and have them live with you. Remember, we are outside the box.

4. The new Oprah- Oprah is retiring soon. Who will tell women what to wear, read, eat, and think when she's gone?

5. Party lawyer- People hire you to go to their parties and pretend to be a lawyer. There might not be much of a market for this.

6. Hostage negotiator- A boardroom is really no different from the lobby of a bank, an airplane, or a double-wide trailer. Identify your opponent's weak points and use them to your advantage. When they threaten to kill everyone if their demands aren't met, tell them they are being unprofessional.

7. Beauty pageant judge- Justice is blind, but you thankfully you are not, because Miss Quaker State Oil is not going to pick herself.

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