I read this article http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303714704576383641752966666.html?KEYWORDS=lawyers+settle#articleTabs%3Darticle, “Lawyers Settle…for Temp Jobs” in the WSJ and was infinitely depressed. Not that it’s a new idea—overeducated people demeaning their talents and skills, because they don’t understand their value, nor do they see how to make use of said skills in a difficult economy—but because it’s so prevalent.
We all have talents, right? Yes, we all have skills, or talents that make us unique. But what many people aren’t grasping is the idea that until you acknowledge this, and understand your worth, you will, more than likely, be trying to make your skill a one-size-fits-all model…which never works. It ends up ruining your confidence, your competency and lowering your worth. No me gusta!
So, for example, the attorneys profiled in this piece went to good law schools, probably graduated with decent, if not sterling grades, and due to the horrendous state of the economy, they believe that contract work is the best they can get. *shudder* “Each lawyer reads thousands of documents online and must quickly “code” ever one according to its relevance in litigation or an investigation. Supervisors discourage talking and breaks are limited. The computer systems count each lawyer’s speed.” (Just typing those words made my skin crawl.)
This, I think we can all agree, is not law; this is not why anyone, anywhere went to law school. By now I suppose you’re rolling your eyes and saying, “Right, but people need to eat and pay rent, so what are they supposed to do?” Here’s the thing: we now live in a world wherein the people who will do well, are those who create. Specifically, create opportunities for themselves, and hopefully others, to advance, to use their skills and potential, to keep on creating. You can either rejoice in the freedom that offers…or , I guess, be terrified, but life goes forward and keeps getting cheaper. So, what else could these people do, besides continuing to work at jobs that offer no future, no room for personal growth and improvement, and no stability?
How about: temp by day, and do volunteer legal work in the evenings and weekends, thus creating a viable resume, enhancing your skills and networking? You think that’s a fantasy? Okay, say hi to all the partners and senior associates trolling the “coding” rooms for new talent. Or, how about you start consulting for small smart-ups, thereby creating a client base? They can’t pay much, but you’d be using your degree, and if one of these start-ups take off…guess who gets to be senior in-house counsel with the corner office?
Or, how about you get a laptop, a Lexis-Nexis ID, a card table and make a sign “Legal Clinic” (a la Lucy Van Pelt) and take up a position on the street and start answering legal questions for $25 a pop? In NYC, you’d probably end up on the local news and publicity equals cash, so what’s your ish? You’re too good for that? Right, I’m sure those associates were treating you with tons of respect…tons.
Any of those seem preferable, and all at least have the possibility of helping you network into a real career (whatever that means nowadays), that would allow you to grow your skills and achieve your goals. Be an attorney, dammit…not a coder…