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Recent Graduates: Coping with the misconceptions of your friends and family [by Danielle D. Hansen, J.D] This week, we examine how you can cope with friends and family members who don’t quite understand what it means to be a recent law school graduate.

If you’ve just graduated from law school, you

“true” nature of what we’re going through,

building and hang up a plaque with “Attorney

know the familiar questions all too well. If

it’s almost forgivable that our friends think

at Law” after our names. Clients will come

you’re currently a student, prepare yourself

we’re rich the second we step out of law

out of the woodwork with open purses, eager

to hear these same questions. The words

school. Forgivable, but annoying.

to hire us and quickly make us rich. It always comes back to lawyers being rich, doesn’t it?

may vary slightly, but all in all, the topics remain the same:

The legal field can indeed be lucrative, but most recent grads are years away from

What the hell do you mean, you don’t want

• So you’re a lawyer now. You must be rich,

achieving those kinds of results. What our

to be an active attorney? Why did you go to

right?

friends don’t understand is that even if we

law school then?

• How come you’re not in a courtroom today?

were to land great jobs fresh out of law

Here at LawCrossing, we’ve often explored

• You are still looking for a job? Why don’t

school, still the Specter of Student Loans

alternative careers and how your J.D. will be

you open up your own shop?

hangs over us, requiring healthy chunks of

helpful to you in other endeavors, but that

• What the hell do you mean, you don’t want

whatever salary we’re fortunate to earn. And

is something that many people just don’t

to be an active attorney?

unfortunately this may last for years to come.

understand. In many ways, I see their point. Just the fact that you went to law school

• And (my personal favorite). Can I ask you a How come you’re not in a courtroom today?

implies that you want to become an attorney.

Another question from those who don’t know

But they don’t realize that things change

Perhaps no other profession has as many

the vast variety of jobs in the legal world or

during those three long years. There are so

misconceptions surrounding it as does the

watch too much TV. Again, it’s the media who

many interesting career options available to

legal profession. Many of us formed strong

rarely shows attorneys anywhere except for

you in which your J.D. will prove useful, but

friendships with our peers in law school;

in courtrooms, slugging it out with adversar-

the people closest to us sometimes don’t

others have attorneys in our families. These

ies and saying, “I object” all the time. Our

want to hear any of that.

people do not count for this article, because

friends don’t realize that many attorneys will

they know what we have gone through.

never set foot in a courtroom. We deal with

Can I ask you a quick legal question?

Instead, we’ll focus on all those people in

contracts, discovery, settlements, and many

It’s utterly amazing how many family mem-

our lives who have no clue about the rigors

other things that keep our clients from ever

bers and friends expect free legal advice for

and demands of finding legal work. No clue

having to go to court.

life. Furthermore, they want their answers

quick legal question?

whatsoever!

immediately and don’t understand why reYou are still looking for a job? Why don’t you

search is required if we choose to help them

Let’s start with the first and perhaps most

open up your own shop?

at all. I imagine it’s like being a mechanic

misguided question:

True, there are many job openings, but there

and having your friends call you the moment

are also many more lawyers than there

their car acts up. It’s great to help someone,

You must be rich, right?

are openings. It’s an extremely competitive

but we all want the freedom to choose our

Since we were all children, we’ve heard that

field. Yes, lawyers will always be in demand,

pro bono cases at will, rather than having

doctors and lawyers are supposed to be the

but for many of us, perseverance in look-

them thrust upon us by a distant uncle angry

wealthy ones. Movies and television shows

ing for a job will be required. And as for the

with his neighbor’s dog barking all the time

rarely portray attorneys as anything other

second question here, that one never ceases

or by an aunt who needs her lease reviewed.

than high-priced, high-profile lawyers. With

to amaze me. It’s like our friends think it’s

That “quick” legal question is never quick,

all this media perception working against the

the 19th Century where we can simply buy a

but no one seems to realize that. And even

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if it is quick, it’s still an imposition. You can really judge people at times like these by seeing if they offer you compensation. We may not accept their money, but still, it’s a great sign when they offer. What to do. In dealing with these misconceptions, the main thing to hold onto is your patience. People may be a bit ignorant about what you’re going through, but rarely do they mean anything maliciously. Try to explain your situation. Point out that thousands of law school grads have made the exact same decisions you have. You’re not the only one in the world who chose this path. If all that fails, then tell them that you’ve only been fooling with them: you’ve secretly opened your own practice and have a big trial downtown tomorrow. Oh, and you’re wealthy beyond their dreams. After all you’re an attorney, and, with some hard work and maybe a little luck, it could all be true someday.

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Recent Graduates: Coping with the misconceptions of your friends and family  

How you can cope with people who do not understand what it means to be a recent law school graduate. In coping with these misconceptions, th...

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