“Is Law Boring?” Be a Paralegal and Find Out
At least that’s the advice of Larchmont Gazette psychologist and “Career Doctor”, Jacqueline Homor Plumez, in her answer to this week’s request for career advice:
IS LAW BORING?
Dear Career Doctor: I think I would like to become a lawyer, because I always fight for what I believe in. My problem is that I know a couple people who happen to know lawyers and they say it is really boring. I’m the kind of person who always likes to talk, and hates being bored. Should I become a lawyer? ~ Kristie
Even though Plumez is not a legal professional, she does a nice job of explaining the demands of a legal career from a layman’s perspective. She points out that law school is expensive, the attrition rate is high, a great deal of research and writing is required, and television provides a distorted view of trial work. I’ve always thought that the general public believes that complex civil disputes can be resolved in less than 45 minutes, including commercials.
Plumez advises Kristie to “figure out what area of the law would most interest” her and “get a job as a paralegal in a law firm that specializes in your area of interest.” To help Kristie figure out areas of legal specialization that might appeal to her, I suggest that she talk to some area legal professionals, including attorneys and paralegals. If she is not ready to make a long term commitment to a job in the legal field and is not already employed, she could try temping or interning at different law firms to see if she finds the environment and the daily activities appealing.
She could also do some intensive online research, and read legal blogs in different specialty areas to learn what attorneys do and how they feel about their work. And there’s no better way than attending a real civil trial at the local courthouse to find out that it takes a lot longer than an hour to try a case and there will be no Denny Crane “reasonable doubt for a reasonable fee” pyrotechnics.
But I’d also tell Kristie that even more important for legal professionals than the ability to talk effectively, is the ability to listen well. If she finds constantly listening to others’ legal (and non-legal) problems mind-numbing, and wading through a sea of facts, paper and case law to help find solutions to these problems tedious, then, yes, she’d likely find working in the legal field boring.