#DearFindLaw: 1L Orientation, Stuck in a Dead-End Career

By William Peacock, Esq. on August 15, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

#DearFindLaw - Advice for New Lawyers and Law Students from @FindLawLP

Greetings from Louisiana, where I got to laugh along as my brother spent $300 on a single Contracts casebook -- what in the blue-bound hell is academia coming to when a textbook costs more than my second car? At least he isn't paying California rent.

Speaking of law school orientation, one of our regular readers wants to know what to expect when he enters those hallowed halls. (Hint: It's mere puffery.) And another desperate and anonymous reader wants to know what exactly he should do about his dead-end job.

Here's our take on those topics in this week's edition of #DearFindLaw:

Orientation: Where Everyone Talks a Big Game

What should you expect in orientation? Speeches from important people on campus that will contain messages about honor and the profession and stuff like that. Chances are, 2Ls and 3Ls will wow you with tales of their 200-hour work weeks. (They also may or may not have done lines of Adderall off of the pages of their casebooks while walking uphill in the snow both ways.) Other 1Ls, the gunners, will talk all about the 100 pages of reading they did the night before.

It's all a bunch of crap. Get your assignments. Read them. Know that class participation is only a fraction of a percent of your grade in most cases, if it counts at all. Reading and class time is a means to the actual end -- understanding the material for the final -- and not an end in and of itself.

Don't freak out, don't worry too much, but do take class seriously. From personal experience, the more I was engaged in class, the easier cramming for finals was. The day-to-day grind is important, but nobody is spending 200-hour weeks in the library -- not even the meth'd out gunner.

Other than that, just focus on getting your life in order: apartment set up, books and supplies bought, etc. You'll want to have as few external stressors as possible once classes begin.


Stuck in a Dead-End Job

Our second question comes in anonymously (the reader didn't want to talk smack about his boss on Twitter, for obvious reasons). He wants to know what he should do about his miserable, soul-sucking job, which lacks any room for advancement. Yeesh.

A dead-end job, huh? Boy, do I wish I had a solution to your problem.

Well-meaning relatives will tell you to apply for more jobs, to think about changing careers, or hell, why not grab an LLM, an M.D., or an MBA while you're at it? I've done the job hunt in this economy and I get it -- there's often nowhere else to go.

Here's the main question: Can you do your job competently? You may hate your job, but if you can do it -- represent your clients to the fullest, show up and eek out sufficient work so as to not stain your professional reputation -- then don't quit. (Unless, of course, you have a big, huge safety cushion -- i.e., a sugar momma.)

If you can't suffer through work without ruining your name, or worse, your clients' cases, then walk away -- a dead-end job shouldn't end your long-term career.

Beyond the day-to-day grind, ask yourself this: Is it the employer, your practice area, or the law itself? You need to locate the exact problem and plan accordingly -- do you need to change jobs or professions? From there, if you have any vacation time stored up, use it and put your plan to work, whether that means applying for new jobs or applying for school.

It's easier said than done, especially in this miserable economy, but hey, think about how miserable you were when you were unemployed -- things could be worse.

Going solo out of school? Spend more time developing practice skills and leave the marketing work for the experts.

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