A former hippie type now writes the television program The Street and an occasional Ally McBeal. He has no job security, but he's happier than hell and couldn't fathom going back to law. A woman who loved science fiction and crossword puzzles left law to sell cruises and is now a part-time secretary with a temp agency. "A failure, I know," she says, "but I'm finding myself--and at least I'm out of the firms." One partner at one of the country's fanciest firms confides that he's finalizing plans to quit his job. "I'll go crazy if I stay," he says. "But please don't print anything more about me. If my plan folds, I'll still need the firm.This phenomenon is not limited to Harvard. Many law graduates who obtain legal jobs "quit" the law, and take up other tasks--often successfully--and there's nothing wrong with that. Law school is supposed to open doors, not close them. Yet it does make one wonder why everyone and their brother is dying to leave the legal profession (at least before the economy tanked). There are countless obvious answers: the hours, the stress, etc. Put simply, young lawyers may really be "in trouble."
Let me advance another subtle, yet possible, reason: the law school mentality. Increasingly, students are leaving law school with a compulsive nature that manifests itself in an obsession of self-control. It's a tiring obsession that leads to self-loathing and scorn when we ultimately realize that there are simply some things we cannot control. Swine flu's a good example. The panic was widespread across the globe, but was especially concentrated in our ranks. I'll be candid about it--I was terrified. Not because I thought I was going to get sick or die, but because I couldn't control my fate.
Maybe law graduates who leave the profession are liberated from this Foucault-esque obsession I've observed in myself and my colleagues?