on careers

At our introductory dinner Thursday night, a professor spoke on the importance of doing what you want to do and avoiding the risk-avoiding*, herd-following behavior that all lawyers fall into when considering careers. It was a nice speech, and I do hope a lot of people listen to her. Unfortunately, we won’t- something like 97% of my classmates (according to a dean who I spoke with the same night) will go through the traditional sheep-like hiring process the school provides. There are a lot of reasons for it- kids too young to understand what will or won’t make them happy in a job; kids with $100K in debt when they graduate; kids getting offers of $145,000 when they walk out the door; law schools that basically admit that you need big-firm training in order to be a useful lawyer. So there is no blame there. Still something I desperately hope I can avoid, ideally by finding the right open source/peer production firm to fall into. We’ll see :)

Relatedly, the next morning Kathy** posted this piece about using Venn diagrams intead of hierarchies to measure success. It strikes me as one of the more blue-sky pieces she’s written, because the Venn diagram needs three circles- what you are doing, what you want to do, and what the company needs you to do, which she basically ignores. But the nugget is there- if you ran a small company, and could afford the time and money to hire the right people from without to fill management roles, the three-circled diagram might be a preferable first metric for thinking about hiring and raises. (The heirarchy isn’t going away in a firm of more than 7-10 people.) Now if only a law firm (*cough*) would figure Kathy’s balancing act out, maybe the first problem would be lessened :)

* you thought QA people were bad about risk avoidance. Lawyers trump this badly.

** you shouldn’t need me to tell you this, because everyone on earth should be reading Kathy’s blog, but just in case…