Monday, November 18, 2013


I've had several jobs that were merely tolerable. Once I got to the office, I could tolerate my work and my work environment. But I would often hate having to go to bed because it meant accepting that I had to work the next day. I would wake up and dread having to go to work.

I felt this way about classes. I felt this way when I took orders at a pizza place in Chicago. I felt this way when I was a file clerk for a city's HR department. I felt this way when I worked for a year as a paralegal. I felt this way when I was a legal intern.

When I graduated from law school and started my first job as an associate attorney, I thought my excitement would eventually fade. And it did. A little. But in the 1.5 years that I worked for that law firm, I couldn't remember a single day where I dreaded work. Even if my assignments were unpleasant, my clients rough, my schedule packed, I enjoyed going to work every day. I looked forward to it, in fact. I thought I was a sick, soulless person.  But when I worked as an associate attorney for my second law firm, I felt the same way. Even when I hated my work environment, I enjoyed my work. I was anxious to complete my 2 hour commute and arrive at my desk full of Important Things.

I assumed it was just litigation. I must be a sick, sick human who loves litigation, complete with lengthy motions, court-imposed deadlines, and strategic maneuvers. I love litigation with a passion (as long as I get to be on the defense side, anyway). I was very worried that my love for my work would turn stale upon taking a "general counsel" type position as a civil prosecutor. It turns out, I just really love being a lawyer.

I still favor litigation. We won a summary judgment dismissal recently and I'm in withdrawal from the case. To my co-workers' disgust, I'm hoping upon hope that they appeal the decision. I told you I'm a sick person. Also... APPELLATE BRIEFS = love. I also happen to love contract and insurance law above anything in the world so....that probably makes me certifiable.

But, I'm finding that I love my job even when I'm not handling litigation. In fact, I love how exciting and interesting my work as a "general counsel" for a government entity really is. In my two months in the new job, I've handled such a random collection of issues spanning the entire spectrum of law. Every new assignment involves a new area of law or a different nuance to an old area of law. I had no idea how satisfying this work would be. It turns out that civil prosecutors (in my county anyway) literally do everything. Even though I'm a newbie at the office, the fact that I've handled one or two assignments in a specialized area of law already makes me the resident expert in those areas. The fact that the scope of our work is so broad really does level the playing field for junior attorneys.

For a long, long time after lawschool, I was very bitter about my career path and the huge amount of indebtedness it caused. I has assumed, like most of my colleagues, that a law degree would bring a six-figure salary. If I knew then I'd barely be making HALF that upon graduation, I was sure I would have ran for the hills. I felt like my law degree was not worth the price I paid. I felt cheated. I had buyer's remorse. I regretted my decision. I had so much bitterness.

But looking back at everything now, I realize that it WAS worth it. Because I love what I'm doing. Absolutely love it. I know there is a career like that for everyone. A job that you love to do every single morning. A job that isalmost too good to be a "job." A job that you would continue to do even if money was not an issue. And law, as expensive as it may have been for me to get my foot in the door, just happens to be the perfect career for me. To have that passion and that love and that enthusiasm for the work that you will do everyday for the rest of your working life, is simply worth it. (P.S. if you are listening Direct Loans: I still wish I could keep more of my salary and not give it all away to you.)

Also, how can you not love coming to work to cabinets like this:

I know this post is sap-tastic. Sorry for that. I'm just feeling so incredibly blessed right now. In the morning, leave home for a job that I absolutely love that both challenges and fulfills me. And at night, I get to return to a home full of love and giggles and two sweet children. You know what? As much as I hate the phrase and the rhetoric that surrounds it, you really can have it all.*

*Caveat: I would like to qualify by saying that "having it all" is different for all people. It also isn't about being perfect or having things easy. My house is almost always a mess, we eat a lot of leftovers, and my kids wear the same clothes until they fail the smell test. God knows it is NOT easy to get both myself and the kids out of the house by 7:00 am each morning. And, oh Lordy, are they cranky as hell some evenings. But, despite the flaws and failures, I do have it all. And it's absolutely wonderful.

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