Jeremy's Weblog

I recently graduated from Harvard Law School. This is my weblog. It tries to be funny. E-mail me if you like it. For an index of what's lurking in the archives, sorted by category, click here.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

A Pointless Conversation With Myself About The Meaning Of Life In A Law School Context

“Intellectually, I know I shouldn’t feel this way, but, honestly, there are certain people, when they tell me they’re going to work for a law firm after graduation, I’m sad. Creative people, who I know have something else to offer, who don’t have to just settle for being an interchangeable part, but have a voice, have a point of view, have interesting things to put forth into the world, and instead are going to work eighty-hour weeks and lose their spirit. And either be miserable or be forced to become people I wish they wouldn’t be forced to become. So I’m sad.”

“Come on, you’re not giving law firms enough credit. You’re demonizing them. There are awesome people at these places, doing interesting, challenging work. There are ways to make a contribution; there are ways to add unique value. And there’s also a lot to be said for the stability and security. And not everyone has something else pulling at them. Not everyone is looking for something more than what these places are offering. There are all sorts of ways to have a fulfilling life.”

“But for the people who do have something else pulling at them, something else that gets their blood flowing, it’s such a shame. Some really smart, really talented people go to law school. And most of us had all sorts of things that interested us, that motivated us, that drove us in the past. But, somehow, here there’s a tendency to forget about a lot of that, and let ourselves be herded toward a life that’s very one-dimensional, and very much lacking in ways to express what really makes you special.”

“But that’s not always what’s driving everyone. This can be enough. There are happy lawyers.”

“I had a conversation with a friend the other day. I was saying that there’s a culture here where people don’t really talk about their passions outside of the law; where doing interesting things is not always seen as a positive; where ambition is expected to be focused in a very narrow direction. I talked about pursuing things you care about; my friend said he doesn’t feel like he’s lacking in outlets for those kinds of things. But then he talked about playing computer games and watching TV, and that being a balance of sorts."


“But that’s not exactly what I meant. Computer games and watching television are not passions in the sense I’m thinking about it.”

“But, look, not everyone is creative in the sense you’re talking about. That’s not a bad thing. It’s just a fact. And so maybe it can be that a life outside of the law doesn’t need to involve great ambition, but just satisfaction and contentment and happiness. Those aren’t bad things either. You can have hobbies and pursuits, but for some people law school gives them an actual direction. There’s nothing competing with the law. It’s just a way to pay the bills so people can keep on enjoying the other things they enjoy, as would any job.”

“But if there IS more... if there IS something else out there… that’s when I’m saying it’s sad. It just seems like a waste. But I know... I know I’m not really being fair... and that it’s my own view of the world that’s informing these feelings, but still....”

“There’s no right or wrong answer. It works for some people, it doesn’t work for other people. For some people, the tradeoffs are worth it. For other people, they’re not. I don’t know.”

“I don’t know either.”

“Okay, so at least we agree on something.”