Last semester, I had a powerful conversation with my friend Julia while we were sitting outside the law library during a study break.Â I looked up at her and said, â€œI don’t want to be a traditional lawyer.â€Â She responded by giving me a look that screamed, â€œDuh.â€Â I was spending the semester working part-time at a big law firm in Phoenix, and while the people and the projects were top-notch, it was not an environment I could thrive in long-term.Â I understand that being a lawyer involves a lot of research and writing, however I am not meant to spend my waking hours alone in an office surrounded my other people who are equally isolated in their offices, and where there is little collaboration.Â I realized that I need human interaction and laughter to be happy.
One of my classmates told me that there used to be a law firm where the lawyers frequently shot each other with Nerf guns.Â Unfortunately, that firm no longer exists, but I was so glad to hear that there are non-traditional lawyers out there.
Despite how untraditional I am, I thrive in structure.Â I like guidelines, road maps, and guarantees when it comes to achieving my goals.Â In law school, there are suggested strategies for getting a job.Â The ideal way is to work a summer job at a firm between your second and third years of school where they offer you a job for after graduation.Â Having a job offer like that provides a huge sense of security going into the last year of school.Â For me to say that I don’t want to be a traditional lawyer or work at a traditional law firm makes me feel like I’m operating without any type of structure, a road map, or any sense of security when it comes to building my career.
It’s a bit frightening to operate with only vague ideas about what I want to do career-wise.Â I know that I want to work on problems that have a significant impact on people’s lives, and not just a significant impact on their wallets.Â I like the idea of trying to figure out how the law applies to situations that lawmakers never imagined when they were drafting the laws.Â I have mental image of my clients calling me on my webcam and saying, â€œHey Ruth.Â We have a great idea for X, but we need to know how to do it without getting sued or arrested.â€Â I want clients who want to push the envelope without crossing the line.
I appreciate Google’s dress code policy.Â According to rumor, their dress code is simply, â€œYou must wear clothes.â€Â They encourage employees to do what they need to do to be effective and creative whether that means showing up in a suit or pajamas.Â Some law firms believe that they get higher quality work when their lawyers wear suits and professional attire every day.Â I work better when I’m comfortable.Â If I’m not meeting with clients, I’d prefer to work in jeans and a hoodie.
When I think about seeking a firm that suits my personality or hanging my own shingle, I have fears about money and having enough work to make a living. Â I try to temper those fears with the excitement and freeing sensation that come with the prospects of being professionally happy.Â When I worry, â€œWhat will happen if I try for my dream and fail?,â€ I try to counter it with, â€œHow much will I regret it if I don’t try?â€