Why am I the youngest guy at the law library?
Although most do their legal research online, about 25% of the time I'm in books. This is especially true when learning a new area of law. Finding a case online is helpful, but how will I know whether the case is only one of numerous subparts? Books are useful, and so I spend too much time in libraries.
Meanwhile, I hear young lawyers and recent law grads say they can't find a job. Why aren't they in a law library?
Graduating law school in May, 2010 was horrible. There aren't many law jobs out there, and many lawyers have no found jobs in almost a year of looking. Imagine each job searcher took two different approaches:
- Read Above The Law, Temporary Lawyer, and other sites revealing that law schools are frauds. (They are, and it was your parents fault. Even so, you gotta ask yourself: Now what?)
- Went to law library five days each week. Each day the lawyer read legal treatises and newly-published opinions for 6 hours.
Who, at the end of the year, is going to have a job?
Lawyer 1 will send out many resumes, but why should anyone hire her? What does she know? What value can she add? She's a nothing.
Lawyer 2 will have had 1,500 hours of legal knowledge in his brain. The law isn't rocket science, and if you can't develop a working understanding of an entire area of law within 1,500 hours, you are too stupid to be a lawyer.
Consider, too, that you seem the same people at the law library. People recognize you. I had to switch locations, since people kept trying to talk to me.
I've had more job offers in bars and libraries than from sending resumes. Today, I wouldn't even know how to find a job. I don't have a resume. If someone asked for a resume or law school transcripts, I'd have to consider whether they were worth the trouble of digging that stuff up.
If you're a jobless law grad, you're going to see the same people. They will see that you possess the most important skill of a lawyer - a hard ass. If you can sit the fuck down for several hours a day in a law library, you are going to be at least a workmanlike lawyer. You will get a job offer. At the very least, you will get "case overflow," i.e., cases the lawyer is too busy to work on herself.
Yet the post goes well beyond jobless lawyers. It covers everything. One of the best metaphors for life comes from Eats, Shoots, and Leaves:
[People who tell me they want to learn, but don't actually start learning] remind me of the deathless line in Wood Allen's Small Time Crooks: "I've always wanted to know how to spell Connecticut." I tend to feel that if a person genuinely wants to know how to spell Connecticut, you see, they will make efforts to look it up. Or, failing that, if a book announcing itself as The Only Way to Spell Connecticut is This is to be found in heaps on a table in front of them, they will think, "Hang on, I might get this!"
If people want to become a lawyer, or get into better shape, or lose weight, or whatever: Start doing it. There really is no secret. You show up, sit down, and start working.