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Suddenly I See…

This isn’t what I want to be.

The precise reasons why I chose law are still a mystery to me. With the exception of LAWR, I actually do like my course, contrary to popular opinion. And I really cannot imagine doing something else, especially not engineering like my parents wanted me to. For the first time, I actually feel like I belong in a course and with the other people taking the course, as contrasted to my two horrible years as a double maths student completely out of her depth. I used to like maths, and actually be quite good at it until F Maths [Now I’ve completely forgotten how to integrate or find vector spaces].

About five minutes after people learn I am a law student, the inevitable question that comes my way is “what kind of lawyer are you going to be?”. I’ve answered this question with a patiently evasive technique, saying I don’t get to choose my modules yet. Or I tell them I’ve two years to make up my mind, and I haven’t yet. And that is indeed the truth. I haven’t made up my mind. The only thing I know what I potentially will not like. The only thing I know is that I am not interested in an economics degree, nor in any business/finance crap. Law of Contracts kinda beat that out of me. I am really really not interested in figuring out complex financial dealings or corporate mergers, or spend not just my April 15th, but the entire year filing taxes. I won’t deny I am interested in human rights laws, but it is not like it pays a lot.

My parents are putting pressure on me to take a double degree in economics and then go for a analytical/consultancy position, as they are not very interested in me practicing. *I* am not sure whether I am going to be practicing in the future. LAWR isn’t exactly making practice look extremely appealing. I do not want to work 12-14 hours a day until I am 40. If there is anything I realised lately, is how I really want a family of my own, with kids and all. And if I do have kids, I don’t want to be missing their childhood, or growing distant from my partner, while slaving away in the office over some stupid brief. I think its the combined effect of Grey’s Anatomy Season 3, and Street Lawyer by John Grisham, that brought me to this revelation, when all this while, I had been mentally putting my career at the top of my priorities when thinking about the future. And my commitment to activism is absolutely life-long – this is not a adolescent/young-adult phase, and I would like to continue making a difference.

The second consideration is financial independence. I am not going to live with my parents until I am 35, in the vain hopes of being able to buy a HDB flat then [thanks to another one of our screwed-up laws]. That’s just sad and pathetic. I plan to move out as soon as its possible, preferably right after I graduate and get a job. But if I am going to be striking out on my own, I cannot be subsisting on the non-existent salary of a human rights lawyer. Seriously, why is it so hard to find a specialty that is sufficiently rewarding, but still pays adequately?

Am I asking for too much – trying to have it all?

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February 10, 2008 - Posted by | Law |

1 Comment »

  1. Answer to Consideration #1:
    I have it on good authority that an economics degree does not really do you much good in terms of being in the financial sector, so don’t bother taking it unless you want to look impressive on your resume and are willing to slog for it. This advice comes from a friend’s friend who was a DDP person and found out later on that it doesn’t actually have many benefits in the working world. You could probably tell your parents that freeing up more time for you to do internships plus reducing the potential stress for you might be a better idea.

    About work hours — it’s unavoidable. But often there’s the possibility of balancing your time between work and life. Any kind of profession saps your time away; it’s just a matter of balance. If you worry about deadlines, then litigation is not a good idea because litigation is all about deadlines and extensive research. (But of course litigation is the “challenging” area of law in the first place, as opposed to the “softie” areas of conveyancing and corporate law.) What you could do is initially start out in a bigger firm, get your bearings and client base down, and then go to a small/smaller firm, maybe set up shop on your own. That’s what my ex boss did. There were days when he worked late, but most of the time he made it home at six or a little later. You can set your own hours when you’re the boss. This matters especially when you have side concerns, such as activist work on the side.

    Answer to Consideration #2:
    One way you could become involved in human rights could be to work in international law or sell out for some time and be an activist on the side. Then do whatever you want once you’ve got enough of a nest egg. It won’t take long once you get past the associate slogging years, I believe, especially if you are a high-flyer.

    Hope my two cents’ worth helped. =)
    And of course this comes out of the sheer goodwill of already knowing what I want to do muahaha…

    Comment by zark | February 10, 2008 | Reply


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