Robert (gurdonark) wrote,

Negative Force

Last night I noticed that one of my favorite law messages boards now features new appearances by its local Negative Force. I think that just as each political message board has people of incredibly radical politics and impossibly uncivil speech on it, each law message board has someone whose function in life is to be a kind of Greek chorus of "unless you went to Harvard, you'll never work in law", a premise which no doubt would surprise the hundreds of graduates of my own, definitely non-Harvardesque law school, who all toil away at jobs in law firms, neither impoverished nor wealthy, but living comfortably.

I think that such voices have advantages. For one thing, their patter is easy to manage. If someone reports being less than the top of their class, then the Negative Force can post "Drop out! You'll never work in law!". Whenever sheer doggedness fails, then the Negative Force can say "I finished less than in the top 25 percent, with all sorts of other appealing traits, and I never worked in law!".

I know that with internet things, it's wrong, as a reader, to take things as more than words on a page. As a reader, one never knows if one is reading truth or fiction, if one is reading earnest truth-telling or desperate delusion. I normally follow the philosophy that one just posts one's own perception of life, and that readers must then filter as appropriate.

But a part of me wants to know the back story. Why did the poster never latch on? Was it a matter of the legal market, as he claims, or was it a personal flaw, or both? Aside from personalities, I find that schools are great about teaching abstract things, but not so good about practical skills in finding a job. I always think that placement offices could do much better jobs than they do. To me, the one true test of any school is whether it places its graduates.

The funny thing is that law is not like, say, getting a Ph.D. in English or trying to sell a novel. It's much easier to get a job in law than an associate professorship in English (though that market has improved for those who are willing to teach grammar) and it's certainly easier to work as a lawyer than to sell a novel (indeed, if you work as a lawyer, you can self-publish, an off-kilter "two-fer"). Law, since the dawn of time, has been something that one needs a little nurturing to break into and do.
But compared to getting an art work into a top gallery, law is a snap. Some folks, though, do fail to get on at a firm, and have to go solo when they start. I'm always a bit surprised that people did not realize this when they began.

Lots of people work in law, and Heaven love us all (for few people on Earth do). It's a difficult, daily-grind, hands-in-the-machinery-of-the-culture profession, in which one can make a bit of money and, with more effort, do a lot of good. It's not some impossible dream.

I read message board posts by Cassandras with a J.D., though, and I'm sad for career plans that veered off course. Yet I can't help but wonder--what is the truth, what's really going on here?

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