Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Why I'm Not a Lawyer

Some of you may not know this, but there was a time, not too long ago (2004, to be specific), when I was considering going to law school. And by "considering," I mean that I studied for and took the LSATs, applied to law schools, accepted admission to UCLA, and packed up to move to SoCal. I was only about a month from going when I decided that it wasn't right for me and decided to stay here in the Bay Area.

I was that close.

But the thing is, I never wanted to be a lawyer. I never wanted to do anything even remotely connected to law. It's just that, well, I was an English major at Stanford University, and when you're an English major at Stanford University, law school is just what you do after you graduate. I didn't have any other plans, and I was worried about trying to get a job in the "real world," so I gave in and accepted that I was meant to be a law student.

To this day, I'm certain that there are elements of law school that I would have found interesting. I like a healthy debate, and I particularly like playing devil's advocate to the "popular" side of an argument. I like looking for loopholes and obsessing over a word's meaning only to make the entire topic moot by citing a technicality. And I like constitutional history and defense. But, unfortunately, that's not all law school is - there's a lot more to it than that. There's contracts, corporate law, intellectual property, procedures and policies, blah, blah, blah. God, that stuff would have driven me CRAZY. And the thing is, I would have been so bored with it that I would have ignored all my work, given up, and either dropped out or flunked out. So why waste the time in the first place?

(I know what you're thinking: "Why the hell is she telling us this story? Where's the point?" It's coming, I promise.)

I was explaining this all recently to an acquaintance who is considering law school. He was curious what made me eventually not go, and I put it to him this way:

In every job or area of study, there are good parts and bad parts - the things you like more and the things you like less. What makes a good match is when the good is SO good that it's worth all the bad. I'm a nanny, which means I spend my days changing poopy diapers, listening to tantrums, getting jumped on, picking up dirty socks, listening to "The Wheels on the Bus," and washing art supplies and accumulated dirt out of little hands and clothes. Is that stuff fun? Not usually. I wouldn't say wiping butts is a great passion of mine, and songs with hand motions are not my music of choice. But I also get to make pretend ice cream sundaes, build cars out of Tinkertoys, have tickle fights, paint pictures, read stories, and get kisses and hugs from adorable little kidlets. And the greatest honor of all is that I'm helping these kids become the people they'll be when they grow up, helping them on the long road to becoming an adult.

Next to all that, a few poopy diapers is a small price to pay. That's why I'm a nanny, and not a lawyer.

Your turn: What are the goods and bads of your job? Why is worth it to do what you do?


Hanlie said...

Nice post, Lara. Anyone who takes the time to invest in children has my respect. I'm almost 40 and the only thing I want to be is a mommy...

Anonymous said...

aww, and such a good nanny! cute.

Anonymous said...

I too like you was and English major and close to going to law school. I chose teaching instead for many reasons. I left teaching to become a mom and there is now greater and more rewarding job. You sound like an awesome Nanny. The family you work for is very lucky.

I teach because I want to change my student's lives and help them learn about themselves and the world that they live in. I want to help them down the road of life, etc.

nutmeg said...

Holy shit! I could have written this post. I was an english major, did the whole lsat/ application thing, and backed out one month before starting law school. I have NEVER regretted this choice. And now I change poopie diapers!! Could we be twins and you sort of hung out in our mother's womb for like twenty years before following me out?

Anonymous said...

There is not much good to my job, which is why I'm looking into grad schools. :)

Great post.

Lindz said...

I think that you of all people already closely relate to the pros and cons of my job (to be). teaching is insanely rewarding when your kids are into what you're presenting, when you see them light up with that ah-ha of understanding and to watch them grow with knowledge but MAN are there a ton of pros.

For example, there's no being in a bad mood, feeling like crap or hiding out cuz you had a bad night. You have to be on all of the time. Second, high school kids in particular like to test you and push buttons. I could write an entire post on this topic.

flutter said...

Damn it.

I had myself talked into thinking that what I was doing was ok. Then I read this.

Damn it.

Mrs. Chili said...

I'm an English teacher at a small, no-prestige community college in my hometown. I do this job because the hours don't interfere with my primary gig as Mommy.

The goods of the paying job are many: I get to interact with students and, hopefully, have a positive impact on their lives. I get to demonstrate how responsible adults behave. I get to read and write and talk with students about reading and writing, and I get to watch and discuss movies and speeches. In short, I get paid to do the things I'd do on my own for free, anyway, and I get to make some friends and change some lives in the process.

There are plenty of not-so-good things about my current employment, but I choose not to dwell on them...

Lara said...

hanlie - being a mommy? that's the ultimate goal. :)

nutmeg - yeah, that womb was just too damn comfy to resist. but i roamed out eventually...

flutter - ooh, um... i'm sorry? :-/

Kennethwongsf said...

The not-so-pleasant aspects of being a technology columnist:

The obligatory travel to trade shows and conferences (many of which takes place in Vegas, which is punishment in itself)

The PR people who chase me down on the trade show floors to pitch stories while I choke on a piece of dried muffin

The fact-check delays that compromise my ability to meet deadlines

The loneliness of working from home

The rewards:

Once in a while, I get to travel to an amazing place, like Paris

Many of the PR reps who chase me down at the trade shows are cute, single women with lively smiles (sometimes they offer to buy me lunch)

I can blame it on fact-check delays when my own laziness causes me to miss a deadline

The serenity of working from home

I think I just love my job in its entirety--the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Ali said...

best part about my job...being able to comment on blogs ;)

Lara said...

kennethSF - dood, don't knock vegas so much! of course, i'm partial to it only because my family is there. :-P

Lindz said...

Come on over yet again and vote. Tell me... do you think I am going to far away from reality and a "true" name, like yours?

Angela said...

I really like this topic.

I love being a designer because I seem to have some sort of need to create. You feel such a high when you can finesse an idea into something that actually connects with people.

What I don't like about it is that I'm not always creating whatever the heck I want. There are always creative directors or clients or focus groups who have other things in mind, and it's sometimes really hard to swallow criticism when you've become so attached to your work.

Either way, the highs certainly outweigh the lows, so until I win the lottery, I suppose I'll stick with it.