LAW – The Ghastly Profession

Go back four decades and there were few, if any, more interesting careers than law. Then the world changed, law became the domain of huge firms and specialisation turned it into a career for dullards.

Nowadays every man and his dog has a law degree, God only knows why.

My company is hammered by young lawyers desperate to flee from their plight for a more interesting career.

I’ve argued, with university bosses that they have a duty to warn law aspirants of what lies ahead. These days the majority are young women. As a result we’re awash in lawyers, as the figures show. Forty years back there were 3,800 lawyers in New Zealand. Todays there’s over 14,000 holding a practising certificate. Unsurprisingly, a disproportionate number by a country mile, can be found in Wellington.

The argument that studying law is useful for other careers is nonsense. Only studying history has that value.

While women now dominate the profession, statistics show they’re significantly less likely to become a partner and flag it quicker than their male counterparts, probably because of motherhood, or, alternatively, greater wisdom.

The root of this problem lies in the unfortunate reality that unworldly teens are obliged to choose a career at far too young an age.

For example, as with law, to a bright 16-17 year old, journalism sounds exciting. By the time they’re in their mid-thirties they awake to the cruel reality of their relatively low paid observer function which explains their bitterness towards successful people and desire to pull them down.

So too architecture. To a 17 year old with Sydney Opera House visions, too late they wake up to the reality that most of their work is a kitchen extension and the like.

It would be interesting for a study to be done of say the percentage of 50 year olds still engaged in the career they opted for at 17 and gained university qualifications for.

I suspect as many as a quarter will have jumped ship for something more interesting. We all know of such individuals.



My partner has commenced a counselling degree. Part of her course involves putting together a 500 piece jigsaw puzzle. She also has to learn about Maori culture and Christianity. I would take a law degree any day of the week that subjecting myself to that!

    Hmm. Ya pays yer money and ya takes yer pick.

    In hindsight I’m glad I didn’t do my tertiary degree until I was in my mid-20s and knew what I really wanted to learn – Theology, the “Queen of Sciences”. And irrespective of the religious aspect which is not everyone’s cup of tea, it interacts with so many other disciplines: philosophy, literature, grammar, history, rhetoric, politics, economics, anything to do with human nature or behaviour both personal and corporate…

      Good for you Kimbo. Have you watched “The Psychological Significance of The Biblical Stories” on YouTube.
      An enlightening experience that changed my POV on Christianity for the better.

Solicitors are everywhere now.

You’ll find allot in local government, where the work is process driven and compliance; and I dont mean compliance with regulation. They are generally good at report writing and hiding or being very economic with the truth. Not surprising, dont you think.

The rest are creating arguments between themselves, to keep themselves fed, and breed their clients for as much as they have good.

Like allot of professional, morals, ethnics and integrity become a poor second these days. It guess its what you get when its the survival of the fittest.

Very true. When young girls say “I want to be an xyz!”…what they’re really saying is “I want to have an xys career based on my [probably wrong] fantasy of what I think it will be like”.

Ideally, a career should be something you grow into, without the silly degree prerequisites. Every profession should be apprenticeship-based today. And women would be very wise to get on with making their babies young when absolutely everything about them reeks of ‘I should be a mother’, and then worry about the career once their youngest has tuned five – and their real interests (and independently acquired knowledge) have matured.

One problem though. This is a recipe for going back to big families. So we might need to borrow a bit of China policy to stabilise native birth rates, directly.

The interesting stuff always happens in the gaps. Started languages in school,
switched into science then into the new field of computing then into business IT now country living, nature, hospitality, building.

No regrets at all – learnt from everything and had lots of fun. Be prepared to change and learn. Always work with good people seeking quality, efficiency and getting stuff done fast.

I have a law degree (in fact two) and a history degree! Never been in private practice, did some in-house which quickly trains one to look at commercial realities; but for the last many years have enjoyed a career in government and public affairs (aka ‘lobbying’). I think there are elements of the legal education that certainly help – the ability quickly to read and find the key items in documents; and the ability to think about opposing arguments and develop counters to those. Not to say that these cannot or are not taught in other disciplines but a good law school (i.e., not Waikato) will develop these skills. Exposure to other legal systems is also important; the civil law thinking process is quite different and these skills are also useful.

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