Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Parsing a fork in the road

I'm trained in law, I find it interesting, but am also a bit of a political junky. I pushed my employer for ages to give me some experience in policy, and now that's what I'm doing.

These are pretty nice people. I'm the only lawyer. My boss chats to me about wine, my nearest co-worker updates me on her pregnancy, which is at that late 'he's playing drums on my belly again' sort of stage. The pay's more than adequate. In the past couple of months I've already added a plethora of experiences to my CV: I've written part of a speech, drafted bits of legislation, written explanatory memoranda and ministerial documents, and spoken at meetings as the legal guy.

It's law, but definitely leading me in the direction of policy, law reform, and ultimately politics. A new direction, one I find very attractive.

Opportunities have suddenly brewed elsewhere. Specifically advocacy- running litigation in Court. There are a couple of these potential opportunities, and they would be ideal for building a career as a courtroom lawyer, something I have aspired to for years. They are in very interesting and sought after areas of law, blending criminal law with complex white collar issues. Long term this path would also lead to a lot more money. Exponentially more.

I could be making a decision that will be almost irreversible, and will shape my future for decades. Both of which lead to things that I've wanted to do, both are interesting.

Having good options can be more stressful than picking the best from a bad bunch, because the potential to squander a fantastic opportunity is so strong.

Sorry to be so navel gazing. After reading my blog, would you point me in either direction, or toss a coin?


Anonymous said...

Coincidentally, I was just thinking about the lawyers who work here and how they need to be workaholics in order to enjoy their jobs. I reckon that’s also the case for working in politics.
If someone who works in politics/business is not a workaholic they don’t enjoy their jobs because they are asked/told to work very long hours while they actually have a life (which the workaholic doesn’t of course) so you would constantly be compromising yourself to the people you love (such as partner, kids, friends, family).
If you don’t compromise these people you will have to compromise your job because your boss will expect you to be at his command AT ANY TIME and most people who are also workaholics don’t mind this of course (they welcome it to feed their addiction).
When I went to work on Monday (after the party) I was feeling very confused walking on Collins Street. I came from an environment (for 2 days) filled with people who are very warm, kind, non-judgemental, and very together (in my view – and most of them) and Collins Street was filled with people who came across as very cut off, cold, stressed, irritable, avoiding eye contact (let alone smiling). The contrast with the last 2 days was enormous. This made me realise (even more so) that I really don’t want to work in a corporate environment any more.
So … sharing information about wine and pregnancies, ie being with people who can be people (and maybe themselves) instead of having to be a on-the-ball nutcracker is much preferable in my opinion.
Love n hugs, Hannie

MrLefty said...

Sounds like a dilemma I'd love to have. Sure, if you pick the wrong one you're giving up a great opportunity - but no matter which one you select, you're also going to enjoy a great opportunity.

I'd be tempted to go with the non-politics one at my stage of life - I think I'd prefer to go into politics when older, and once established. (Given the young family and all.) Politics will take you in middle-age. The other probably won't.

Guy said...

Don't put yourself in a position where you are effectively relying on politics for a career would be my recommendation at this point. You can engage with that peripherally if you want to and still earn a crust, establish a strong career, etc.

Dave said...

My entire experience of work in politics comes from The West Wing, but they seem to work 7 days a week and around 18 hours a day. (Yeah, the show's a bit romanticised but it's like smack for political junkies.)

Zoe said...

Which one would you regret leaving behind the most? Think about that place studying guitar ...

FWIW, and as someone who's also a lawyer, and has worked in policy and politics ... politics will always be there. It's a disappointment you can save for much later in life. Latham is right to point out it's horrible to work in politics if you have little kids.

Brownie said...

I'm with everybody above.
except dave. I thought West Wing was reality.

Armagnac Esq. said...

Thanks all.

The long hours are unfortunately tied up with both political advisory stuff and high level lawyering. Neither my current job or the one I'm looking at would be too bad with hours, but I guess there's a question of where you end up.

I have been watching west wing too- I went out and bought the second series on DVD for inspiration/clarification, to accompany my daily readings from the tyrannicide brief about the trial of King Charles I.

Zoe, I've been thinking about that exact comparison. But I'm honestly right where MrLefty puts it; unlike that previous decision, neither stands out as the risky but creative or the safe but comfortable option. But that doesn't mean my dream career isn't embedded in one of them, waiting to set me up with regrets and lost opportunities.

Hannie- true, but oh you throw the best parties in Melbourne, so nothing else is going to compare!!

Aleks - Anarcho-Syndicalist said...

As I see it there are two things on which you should decide;

1. Do the job you would enjoy most


2. (not mutually exclusive to 1) do the job that you believe will do the greatest amount of good for the greatest number of people

Armagnac Esq. said...

Funny, i think my current path meets both of those. The other may pip it for excitement and bloody minded satisfaction though...

AnanaMs said...

I have been practicing law for over 15 years and it took me almost this long to find a job that gives me the law (areas of law and nature of position) and the money I want. However, at my last job, the law I did was boring/not challenging, other lawyers looked up to me and I had lots of friends. You need to figure out what is most important to you. You may be changing the nature of your practice as your career evolves, anyway. My advice to my children will be to do what you love, the money will follow. Also, I just found your blog and read a couple of entries so I'm not sure what the nature of your business is. How does that area compare to your interest in criminal law? Are you interested in criminal law only to develop your skills to eventually practice as a civil litigator?

Armagnac Esq. said...

Hi ananams, welcome. I'm currently in government, doing legislation and legal policy stuff relating to criminal law.

My main attraction to the area has come from wanting to be an advocate. I wouldn't say I had it in mind as a stepping stone- i'd view white collar crime, along with defamation, administrative appeals and 2 or 3 other areas as one of those interesting niches I could actually spend some time in.

I'm weighing it up against going down the more policy, political advice and research based route my current job points in.

Anonymous said...

^^ nice blog!! ^@^

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