1. It is never as prestigious as it sounds.
The minute you tell people you study law, they are in awe of you. To them, you are that fire-breathing, brimstone-raining holy terror they see on TV who always knows what to say and wins every case. Never mind that you will have to study for four years, go to law school for another three years, do all the grunge work for some mid-level attorney for another few years, then get assigned to a shitty case that will drag on and on….No. YOU ARE AWESOME.
2. It is not the same as on TV.
The main reason I chose to do law was because I wanted the fantasy. That was around the time when Drop Dead Diva came out. I remember looking at Jane and thinking, “She’s so cool. I want to be her when I grow up” And if my coworkers would be as hot as Grayson…sign me up! Don’t even get me started on Boston Legal (I had the BIGGEST crush on Allen Shore).
When we got to class, the first thing they did was to crush my dream. No bright colors were allowed in court, there were no juries to chat up, and definitely no bizarre and interesting behavior was allowed in the courtroom. Basically, you couldn’t just have fun with it. Which totally blows.
3. Cue all the narcissists and megalomaniacs.
I remember we were called into a classroom by our lecturers a week after joining the law program so that they could introduce themselves to us and tell us about our curriculum. After all had been said and done, they invited questions from us. This guy raised his hand and asked a question using terms I’d only heard on TV. Of course I had no idea what they meant so I waited expectantly for the lecturers to answer. Surprisingly, another student answered using more of the same terms. As they started an argument between themselves I found myself wondering if I was at the right place. I mean, was I the only one who didn’t understand what was going on? We hadn’t even started classes yet and already we had a pair of showoffs.
That was one of many incidents over the years. There was a lecturer who would never respond to a mere ‘Mr.’ He wanted to be addressed by his full title — Prof. Dr. What’s-His-Name’. Some people just liked to hear themselves talk. Such inane questions would be asked in class that I would feel like screaming out, ‘YOU HAVE GOOGLE!!!’
4. People fear you.
Most people have a misplaced fear of lawyers. Every time someone new learned about my profession it was always the same pattern: an otherwise calm person would suddenly become shifty and start giving me side looks. Then, in an am-kinda-joking-but-deadly-serious voice, they would ask me not to send them to jail. Sidebar; we don’t do that.
5. You meet guys that don’t respect what you do.
If I had a penny for every guy I met who thought my being a lawyer gave him carte blanche to be a criminal, I’d be rich. I mean, sure, dearest. I have studied for almost ten years on the off-chance that when (when, not if) you get arrested, I will ride over on my unicorn, wave my magical wand, and make it all go away. Assuming, of course, that you didn’t somehow fuck up things between us before then.
6. You are expected to win every argument.
It doesn’t matter if you just walked in and you have no idea what the points are. Somehow you should know and make the winning argument. The slam dunk. IT’S WHAT LAWYERS DO.
7. Your parents will find every opportunity to brag about you.
At church, at school, at your former school, at your sibling’s school, in the house, when guests come over, on the bus, train, random strangers…everyone will know about the wonder that is you. Anyone who doesn’t show the appropriate enthusiasm over the news will be labeled as jealous and effectively ostracized by your family.
8. People will assume you know everything about the law.
It doesn’t matter if you’ve gone to class for a day, five days, a year or four years. People will drop by your house unannounced or stop you on the street to ask you about some legal problem they have. They will also not understand when you explain to them why they have no legal grounds for a day on court. The trick here is to use big words and tell them you’ll look into it.
9. Law, much like medicine, is a calling.
You have to have a passion for it, otherwise you’ll just fall on the wayside.