Ever since I quit my law job three years ago, I have noticed a disturbing trend. People seem to have more respect for unemployed JD’s who are looking for attorney gigs than for gainfully employed JD’s who work in non-legal positions. I’m not sure why. Growing up, I got the impression that becoming a “productive member of society” included bringing home a paycheck and paying taxes.
These days, though, people are preoccupied with labels and appearances. A few weeks ago, I was at a birthday dinner for an older lawyer. He got a little tipsy and asked me, “Do you ever wonder what a brilliant attorney you might be today if you just stuck with it?” I didn’t have the heart to tell him that the more appropriate question was how much happier I’d be today had I quit sooner, or never went to law school to begin with. The point is, this man didn’t care what I was doing with my life; he was only concerned with what I wasn’t doing – practicing law. He couldn’t get over the fact that I gave up the "prestigious" title of Attorney. In his mind, the title should be worth it, no matter how much I hated practicing law with every fiber of my being. (His line of thinking betrays a deeper insecurity of many attorneys: Why don’t you want to be like me?)