Monday, July 12, 2004

Why do I want to go to law school anyhow?

I should probably have done this earlier: talk about why I'm going to law school.

My short answer: to assert positive change and fight corruption.

My long answer: A book I was reading recently mentioned the term "valence." It claimed that if philosophy students thought that getting a PhD in Philosophy had the same valence as getting a degree in law, then people wouldn't go to law school (I hope I got that right). As a Phil Major, that spoke to me. In my 4th year, one of my profs suggested that a paper I wrote on Aristotle's Nichomachean Ethics could be the start of a Master's thesis. So I thought about the PhD route. But, after much deliberation, I decided that wasn't for me. So I thought, what other profession allows its members to assert positive change? Law. It was basically a process of elimination.

What is social justice anyhow? I think many students go into law because they think they want to change the world (for the better?) and/or contribute to social justice. But, without having studied law, do we really know what we're talking about? Honestly, I don't think it matters. Some Christians (not me) are guided by "what would Jesus do?" while others ask themselves "what would my mother think?" I believe we are all capable to knowing right versus wrong - even lawyers.

Two points I should make (just in case you're wondering):
- I'm not an aspiring politician.
- I'm not going into law to make money.


At 3:50 PM, Blogger The Tiger said...

Ah, idealism.

I think it definitely gives us the tools to operate much more effectively in whatever we want to do. Whether that's in legal practice or elsewhere, who knows, at this point. (You've got years' more experience than I have in all this stuff.) We probably have no idea what careers we'll end up in -- I've always surprised myself till now, so why should it stop? :-)

Re valence: I only know the scientific def'n from high school chemisty. Is that sort of what you mean by it, in a figuative way, or something else?

At 10:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wish I could claim to have idealistic reasons for entering law. For me, I just sort of gravitated towards law when I started to consider my interests and my future.

I was a biochemistry undergraduate student--I liked being in science, and towards the end of my BSc, I decided that I wanted to be a scientist (ie, PhD, prof at a university). So, naturally, I started an MSc.

This was not a great experience for me. I _strongly_ disrespected my thesis supervisor--not only was he a difficult person to get along with, but he was so wrapped up in his own ideas that he closed himself off to all other areas of science. Afer a while, i realised that he was an extreme example of something endemic to scientists: they are often at least somewhat antisocial/uncommunicative and they are likely to be narrow-minded. To succeed in science (and probably most academic disciplines) you really have to carve out a niche--which means do one thing really well, to the exclusion of others. This did NOT suit me; there isn't a single thing that interested me enough to spend the rest of my life at it.

In addition to all of the above, i was also REALLY tired of doing minipreps (mol. biologists out there--you know what i'm talking about)....

So, while completing my MSc, i began to look around for other options. I didn't want to abandon my interest in science, but i also didn't really want to do bench work anymore. I gravitated to law after realizing that:

1) Law is interesting. It affects everything we do.
2) Among the more interesting aspects of law (to me) are those that intersect with science & technology. (ie, law in the age of the internet, intellectual property, health law, etc)
3) I like reading and writing, and am pretty good at it (by scientist standards).
4) Law is a lot like science. (not the content but the structure. Precedent in law, for example, is a lot like understanding what has been previously discovered in science. It's impossible to interpret a new case without knowing the case law; similarly, it's impossible to plan a new experiment without knowing the outcome of previous experiments)
5) The career path for a lawyer is more appealing than for a scientist, both in terms of time and monetary sacrifices required. At 27, i'm not that young anymore...

Do, I decided to go to law school, and here I am. It was not a lifelong dream of mine; there are no lawyers in my family, and I'm not -entirely- certain about what lawyers actually do. But just the same, i'm excited about going and look forward to meeting my fellow students in the fall.

Sorry this was long-winded...

At 3:04 PM, Blogger kristine said...

It's true that people go into law for all kinds of reasons—I'm glad to see I'm not the only one who isn't necessarily doing it for FIP—future earning potential.


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