Help: law school has ruined me for a career in law!

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Q:

 

Dear NLL,

I have a pretty big issue – at least I think it is. Having just finished my law degree and graduate diploma, it has dawned on me that law has sucked the life out of me and I really really don’t want to do it anymore.
I am/was a mature age student, I have 3 children, all under 10 and I have progressed through my degree over what feels like a century. Though I’m incredibly proud to finally fall over the finish line, I feel so drained.
What would you recommend? Does this feeling mean that I will never want to utilise my law degree as a solicitor, or will it pass after a break? Help: Law school has ruined me for a career in law!

 

KD

A:

 

Dear KD,

Let me begin at the end by saying this question is ultimately impossible for an outsider to answer. Nevertheless, I have some observations that will hopefully make this whole process a little easier.
Firstly, the study of law and the practice of law could not be further apart than if they physically inhabited polar ends of the earth. It is almost twenty years after finishing my law degree and I’m still struggling to make the connection between what I studied and what it is I actually do on a day-to-day basis. When you say ‘law has sucked the life out of you’, I think what you really mean is that the study of law has sucked the life out of you. It is an important distinction because distinguishing the two creates the possibility of a completely different future. Put another way, more likely than not, there is a promised land awaiting you out there and it will not in any way resemble the ordeal that you have already been through. It will be another ordeal altogether. (Stay with me here…)
You see when you start actually practicing as a lawyer you will be undertaking a completely novel role. There will inevitably be a steep learning curve and it is highly likely that you will find that the new experience and unique challenges invigorates you; piquing your interest in law all over again.
That’s not to say that it will be easy. Promised land or no promised land, it is still new territory and it will take time to establish roots and get comfortable. Happily, while you are experiencing this new adventure, you are actually getting paid. Now if that isn’t a silver lining I cannot say what is.
Look, if you completed your law degree and GDLP whilst raising three children I’m tipping you can do pretty much anything you put your mind to. And this is where you probably need to do the hard work: Where is your mind at the moment? What do you really want? What makes you passionate? What drives you? Where is your heart at?
The answer to these questions may well be different to how you might have answered them at the beginning of your law degree; but I doubt it. In my experience, more often than not, the law degree has just provoked in you’re a temporary amnesia. Don’t worry. It does that to the best of us. It will pass.
I recommend you try to reconnect with what made you want to study law in the first place. What was all that about? Chances are, whatever it was, it’s still a big part of you. Sure you feel drained, so by all means, take a break while you try to work it all out, but don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater just yet. Now if, as sometimes happens, you find after careful thought that you have changed so much over the years that practicing law is no longer where you’re at then that is perfectly fine – there are countless ways to put a law degree to good use – think politician, law lecturer, mediator, policy adviser, government, legal journalism, law librarian, business development, banker, motivational speaker, legal reporter, and entrepreneur, to name just a few.

 

I hope this helps.

 

Arna