As I've mentioned to the privileged few who decide to come hang out with us on IRC, I grade essays for people getting ready to take the bar exam in my state. This can be an interesting experience; you can tell who passed law school by the skin of their teeth, who were the gunners, and who doesn't really need the practice but is doing it anyway. I've gotten answers where I don't need to say anything, others that are not even wrong. I also have folks who have waited 'til 3/4 of the way through the class to turn in their first one. It's not too late, but it ain't great, either.
I have really mixed feelings about doing this. I myself regret becoming a lawyer, and would gladly change career paths were that a viable option. So it seems strange sometimes to be helping people to become lawyers themselves. Sure, different strokes and all that, but at the same time I think our profession is fundamentally broken. There's definitely a 1% within it, and while most of us are far better off than many of our peers, there're a lot of us who aren't (depending on where you draw your comparisons). Sure, I made well above the median income in the U.S., but I also owe more in student loans than my wife and I owe on our house. A lot of us were also lied to before we went to law school about what the employment picture was: all they would say is the percentage of graduates that were employed, but not where. So my classmate who went to work in a grocery store, because that was all he could find, got counted as "employed." This has since been changed, but obviously that didn't help my classmates and me (of course, neither did graduating in 2009). Meanwhile the ABA, ostensibly our professional organization, has long since signed off on outsourcing legal work (provided one U.S.-licensed lawyer is involved), and has done nothing to stem the oversaturation of the market. When I was admitted to the bar, I got two pieces of mail within a couple of weeks of each other: the letter telling me I passed, and my first dues statement. I'm a lot less bitter than I used to be. I'm doing fine, and by global standards I'm doing incredibly well. I have things that I enjoy outside of work, and my job leaves me alone for the most part. I don't come home wanting to drink heavily, which has not always been true of my career.
So, again, mixed feelings. But it's a nice extra dose of cash (the fact that I need a second job to have any kind of spending money is a whole 'nother thing), and I have a lot of flexibility. Plus I get to tell people when they're wrong, and who doesn't love that?
On a less frustrating note, I've taken the first steps towards ditching Windows. After talking with Cedar, AshleyR, and others on IRC over the weekend, I decided to go for it. The turning point was seeing that there's decent Wacom support, combined with some decent painting programs (Krita, specifically). So I installed Debian with an xfce front-end on my laptop yesterday, and have spent far too much time customizing things. I mostly use this laptop for media and some word processing, so the switch has been easy. But I've also been pleasantly surprised at how many games, especially among the indies, are getting native ports. So I can still play Prison Architect, Rimworld, FTL, and the like without having to mess with wine. And that's not even counting DOSBox and console emulators.
I've enjoyed the balance with Debian: I can tweak whatever I want, but don't necessarily have to. I'm a bit of a nut when it comes to my GUIs, and I love being able to customize everything. Xfce is pretty ugly by default, but it's lightweight, and can use GTK themes so that's easy enough to fix. The default compositor is also rubbish, so one of the first changes I made was to replace it with compton. One of the things I like most about Debian is that it has a huge software library behind it, since Ubuntu began as a fork of it. But by going with Debian I don't have quite the same level of corporate influence as with Ubuntu (remember the Amazon search results?) or Fedora. But at the same time, it's not quite as high-maintenance initially as a distro like Arch or Slackware. I am just not hardcore enough for those. But I've been pleasantly surprised; I've dabbled with Ubuntu in the past, but typically found it to be unstable and clunky (plus I dislike Unity).
Excerpts from tonight's music playlist:
> My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult - Bettie
> Ministry - TV II
> Joy Division - They Walked in Line
> Coil - Titan Arch
> Stromkern - Fall Like Rain
What kind of law do you practice?