So, here it is. I’m closing it out, formally. Just in case anyone spent the last 2 years hoping I’d write another post.I meant to write more, I wanted to write more, so I’m going to tell you what the heck happened.
Basically, I stopped being the Unemployed Lawyer. No, I didn’t land a job at BigLaw. Or SmallLaw. Or HangYourOwnShingleAndTryNotToCrapYourself.I did pro bono work for a while, hemmed and hawed and basically stalled for a while. And then I finally figured it out. I didn’t want to be a lawyer. Not now, maybe not ever.
Thus, I wasn’t an unemployed lawyer anymore. I no longer identified with wanting to practice law. Instead, I was a directionless twenty-something. And that wasn’t fodder for a blog I was interested in writing.
Okay. Directionless may not be 100% accurate. I was spending a lot of time thinking about the future and my goals, but the career piece was fuzzy. I decided I wanted to teach. I decided I wanted to get a MA in psychology. At some point, I probably wanted to be an astronaut. I was confused. And I didn’t have a strong desire to become un-confused. All the while, I was working full-time at the same under-employed position. Except I was spending a lot of my day working beyond what that position entailed. I was lucky enough to be working with a team that saw that my value lied in things outside my job description. It wasn’t clear at the time, but I had a job I liked, so it’s no surprise I wasn’t trying to hard to figure something else out.But, what I loved doing at work really wasn’t my job. So, I wrote a job description for a position I wanted, that we didn’t have, and passed it up to the powers-that-be. I was encouraged to keep trucking away and pushing boundaries, but it was clear that I wouldn’t be moving into a new position anytime soon. But, as it turns out, hard work and scrappiness and dedication do pay off, because a position similar to the one I proposed was created (though it took quite a while). And it’s mine. And I love it. And I’m good at it.
Good for me, but what are you supposed to get out of this warm and fuzzy little story?
First, figure out what you actually love doing – you can’t be good at something you hate. It doesn’t matter how much that JD cost, or how much interest your student loans are racking up. If you don’t want to practice law, you’re not going to be very good at it. And your job search is probably never going to get any better. If you love practicing, do it. Figure out a way to do what you love, because you will do it well, and you will be noticed.
Next, money isn’t everything. My student loan debt is high. Crazy high. Ca-razy. And my salary isn’t BigLaw-esque. How do I manage? Right away, I got on the payment plans that let me make the lowest payments possible, even though that meant paying interest-only on some loans. I was paying on time, so I wasn’t killing my credit or surviving solely on ramen. And most months I could throw some extra at my loans. My payments have gone up since I first started paying, but I’m still making them on time, paying extra toward the debt, and saving each month. I’m not on track to pay them off in 5 years or retire at 40 or anything like that, but my debt doesn’t own me.
Part of this is that material things don’t own me either. Sure, there are times when I want a ton of new clothes and I lust over the iPad2. But I get over it pretty quick. There’s a million personal finance and frugality blogs out there, and I suggest you look at those for tips – they’re the experts, the enthusiasts. Even if you only do ½ of what they suggest, you can be more in control of your money and life. A lot of freedom comes from that control.
And finally, go on living your life. If you need a job, take one. And make the best of it. Don’t look down on it because it doesn’t pay $150k a year and isn’t what your education prepared you for. You’ll only be hurting yourself and missing a learning opportunity. Outside of that, do the things that matter. Get married, start a family, hike the Appalachian Trail or whatever you really want. Those are the things that’ll matter, that you’ll regret not doing. You really can do these things. Career craziness aside, I’ve had an amazing few years, and more excitement is right around the corner.
You paid a lot of money for that diploma – don’t let it hold you back. Don’t let the things you ‘should’ be doing, the life you ‘should’ be living, hold you back. Live your life.
That’s it. Thank you for reading. You somehow keep finding me, and you keep commenting. I’m glad that this blog can provide a little bit of help or comfort to anyone weathering the shitstorm that is today’s legal market. I’ll still keep posting comments as they come in, so you can help each other.
Good luck. Keep on keeping on.