Thursday, August 24, 2006

Why are you working as what you are?

Fabien and I were talking about my imminent return to the working population.

One of the key issues was whether I should be a private practice lawyer, a PSL (professional support lawyer), or public sector lawyer (e.g. in NGO) or whatever?

It's contrary to popular belief that lawyers are an unethical money-grubbing lot. But it is true that there is alot of emphasis on money (e.g. I just worked on a gazillion dollar deal! Resolved a mega-million dollar dispute! Hire me, and give me a whopping great bonus!), probably much more than emphasis on ethics. The interesting part is WHY?

One theory that I have heard is selection bias. People who are naturally competitive tend to be lawyers/investment bankers, and whatever else makes a lot of money. And the entire purpose of making alot of money is not just about IWC watches and Manolo Blahniks, but because the amount of money you make equals points scored. You took exams and competed to get into a good law school, then took more exams and competed to get into a good law firm. Once you are inside that good law firm, are you going to just suddenly stop competing?

Alain de Botton has a great book about money and competition called "Status Anxiety". It's a well recognised phenomenen - you see status anxiety in chimpanzees as well as law firm associates.

In an ideal world. I would like to be the happy private practice lawyer who responded to the negativity about the legal profession in Jeremy Blachman's book review of "The destruction of young lawyers" The fact that this lawyer had time to read blogs and email was a good sign...

So in a completely personal context, the question is : Do I want to spend all my time in the office? And probably miss out on many monents like this?

Sophie is getting so cute - she has long and intense conversations with her parents now. We just need on working out how to translate all that she says into English and French - she seems to speak Shyriiwook and Elvish.

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