Tuesday, July 22, 2008

What Law School Didn't Teach Me...

Today I heard a senior partner in the office next to me say the name of my friend in high school. At first I thought I was just imagining it, but the partner was talking about golf and my friend was a really good golfer. I asked him about it, and sure enough: the partner was at a golf tournament my friend was competing in. Of course, golf.

Having worked in a few different legal environments over the past two years and after talking some friends in the field, here are a few things that you should know for the legal practice but are not taught in law school:
  • How to Play Golf: Now on my to-learn list. Almost all of the lawyers in my office play regularly and I had to pass up on a Vietnamese lawyers networking golf night. At least I can keep up with their conversations thanks to having family members who watched golf.
  • How to Follow College Sports: I am glad that I actually like UCLA sports because over half of my job interviews have started with college sports talk. In fact, the first question I got for my current job was whether UCLA basketball beat Michigan in the season opener (of course).
  • How to Play Fantasy Sports: Because your office will probably have a pool for football and March Madness.
  • How to Not Feel Guilty About Billing Clients: I have discovered that the more I want to fight for a client, the more I feel bad about billing them. You just want to shake some people and ask them why they want to blow their limited income on a silly fight. But I am sure people get over this when they realize that they actually want to get paid for what they do.
  • How to Eat Sushi: Luckily I started eating sushi. Otherwise, I would be eating a lot of chicken teriyaki because lawyers always love going out to eat sushi.
  • How to Be Conversant in Politics: Most lawyers are pretty politically aware and the latest news often becomes a topic for conversation. You always want to be up to speed on what is happening in the world. This summer I have had a lot of discussions and wagers over the 2008 election.
  • How to Identify a Fellow Lawyer's Political Affiliation: Related to the last point, you need to know who agrees with you and who does not. Unless you are ready for a fight, because lawyers love to debate, tread lightly with lawyers on the other side of the aisle.
  • How to Drink without Turning Red: Ok, this is not a problem for the vast majority of law students, but I am just happy that I am not at one of those firms that drinks at the office.
  • How to Play Poker: Despite the reputation that lawyers have of being control-freaks and are risk adverse (something about how we picked a law degree because it is the most stable), lawyers love to gamble. Many professional poker players are/were lawyers. Rounders anyone?
Ok, the law field is not as much of a "boys club" as this list makes it sound, and I have certainly felt comfortable everywhere I worked. But there are some indications of how this is still a male-dominated field.

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