So you want to be a lawyer or thinking of law school?
But what is a lawyer’s life like in a “typical day” and what types of career paths, both domestic and international, exist with a law degree or as a lawyer?
Before law school, I had a fuzzy idea of what the law as a profession actually meant. Law school itself, especially in the United States and increasingly in Korea, trains people to “think like a lawyer.”
As part of this, most if not all American law schools offer a series of course offerings, from broad to more specific, to train students to think like a lawyer.
But relatively few courses are offered related about the law as a career, or some course to that effect. It’s almost as if once you knew what thinking was a lawyer was all about, that the rest was the easy part.
In fact, it’s often just as challenging. And in part this is because, for many, it’s fuzzy and unclear.In my particular case I always knew that I wanted to enter into investment banking (before entering academia), not a law firm. This set me apart not only from the rest of my peers, but from the rest of the thousands of others who were also attending law school across the country and the world. At the same time, some part of me was also curious about the typical day of those actually practicing law. But it was hard to discern exactly the schedules of working professionals in so many career fields.
As a law student, I heard of many success stories of those who went on to become law firm partners. Yet I also heard of people who were equally “successful” in careers outside the traditional areas of law. But where did they work, how did they get there and what do they do every day? This I wasn’t quite sure of as a law student.
After law school, I was fortunate enough to enter into investment banking, the profession that I originally wanted. But what I discovered – like with many if not most other careers – is that the “insider” view can sometimes clash with the “outside” perception of a particular career field.
* Professor Jasper Kim is department chair and Associate Professor at Ewha Womans University. He has worked in various traditional and non-traditional careers as a lawyer, banker, consultant, author, columnist, and academic since graduating from law school. This article is adapted from an excerpt from professor Kim’s just-released book, “24 Hours with 24 Lawyer: Profiles of Traditional and Non-Traditional Careers.” His previous books are “Korean Business Law: The Legal Landscape and Beyond” and “Mini Messaging: The Art of Smart Texting.”
♦To be continued in next issue