Moneytrees wrote:I never said you shouldn't critically analyze the legal field or the motivations people have for going to law school. But to assume that most people who go to law school have not undertaken any form of self-reflection, and then to claim that this state of affairs leads to a cycle of apathy and intellectual enslavement, is a bit of stretch in my opinion.
You're trying to tackle too many disparate issues all at once, which leads to generalizations and blanket statements that may not apply to all students. In my experience, both with friends in law school and on TLS, law students don't equate landing a Biglaw gig, or a prestigious clerkship, with achieving the American Dream or fulfillment. Many people are aware that the legal field is ridden with stress, challenges and a stream of never ending work.
There are too many law schools, too many students in debt, and not enough jobs. Fair enough, the legal field is in need of a major shake up. But I think it's a mistake to assume that most students are a bunch of sheep that have never considered the downsides of the legal profession.
It's not that people don't do any self reflection. It's that that reflection has likely taken place almost exclusively within the dominant success ideology. For an example see almost any reference to jobs coming out of UG on this board.
Stress and challenges are good things. But only when in service to something valuable. The issue isn't that people don't know that the legal field has a particularly high level of these, it's that they don't seem to be accomplishing anything. The closest response I've typically seen (other than the reflexive desire for a "good career") is stability/providing for family, but that's self-deception: law has a strong tendency to ruin relationships and your mental health. If family and stability is truly your highest goal, you should steer clear of law.
Definitely. The notion that people can be misled by a variety of factors to believe that they are doing something worthy or fulfilling is a legitimate concern.
My response to that, and this is clearly subjective, is that I believe the vast majority of jobs don't actually accomplish anything of value. What is truly valuable? Very few things/professions. To save people's lives, or move them in a way only art or music can? I don't believe, for instance, that Steve Jobs changed the world in any genuinely important way. I don't see how creating a better or more efficient computer is inherently more valuable than being an attorney, social worker or small business owner.
This belief is based on the assumption that there really isn't any real purpose in life, no natural order or inherently purposeful endeavors. Existence precedes essence, as Sartre would say. You give your life meaning through your actions; if you live your life in accordance to what you genuinely believe will make you happy, then you are creating value through that choice. The importance of introspection, in my mind, is that it allows you to critically look at your life and thus take responsibility for your choices.
So while I admit that it's very important for people to critically examine their lives and their motivations, I don't think law is inherently less fulfilling than other professions. The hard work that you put into building a successful law career can be valuable. It can be a source of pride and fulfillment. It can also be a source of misery. It depends in large part on your motivation for choosing law as a career path, and on whether you are aware that there is nothing inherently fulfilling about being successful.