Vail Daily column: Do it for the right reasons
Clad in a sports coat and bowtie, I strolled expectantly into high school. I was not present in a recurring nightmare, but for the annual Career Fair at Battle Mountain High School. A truly spectacular affair, it brought out over 100 local businesses to talk to more than 400 (and it seemed like so many more) local high schoolers about their prospects for the future. The organizers, particularly the Vail Rotary Club, the Vail Valley Partnership and Eagle County Schools, all deserve kudos for working to groom the next generation of the Vail Valley’s workforce. As a representative of the legal profession, I had an excellent chance to evaluate what it was about lawyers that piqued the kids’ curiosity.
Armed with questionnaires, the students ambled around the gymnasium, inquiring about the particulars of the businesses. One of the questions on the sheet prompted them to ask about potential incomes for the various professions. Certainly, the financial prospects for a job are an important consideration. Many of the kids with whom I spoke were particularly interested to hear my answer to that question. It was a bit awkward at first, but I realized that I was provided an opening to share an important thought. Yes, the law can be a lucrative career, but those attorneys that make millions often do so at the expenses of their families, their health, their sanity and their souls. I explained that it was possible to make a good living while still maintaining the balance that is going to be key to their happiness.
That insight resonated with a lot of the attendees and, for that reason among many, I am thrilled that I participated. Still, the relationship between money and the law is a thorny one and, despite understanding it intellectually, the students’ focus on funds was disconcerting for me. One of the profession’s problems is that many choose the career purely for its payoff and quickly become disenchanted when they realize that they may have entered a devil’s bargain. The loans necessary to afford legal education put budding attorneys in so much debt that they have no choice but to toil under the banner of mega-firms or megalomaniacs. If the only reason for becoming a lawyer was to make a ton of money, then this cycle becomes vicious as distasteful things may have to be done in order to further the cause.
Against my increasingly dystopian visions, two young women stood as a beacon of hope. Their interest in becoming attorneys was fueled not by champagne wishes and caviar dreams but by more noble motivations. The first was a young lady of Native American descent who wished to earn a law degree so that she could do legal work on behalf of the downtrodden cruelly herded onto reservations. Not content with simply doing the lower-level legwork, she is dreaming big and hoping to use her legal training to influence Native American policy on a regional and national level. We discussed ways that she could gain experience while earning her undergraduate degree, so I am hopeful that she contacts me for potential shadowing opportunities.
The second female inspiration is likely to be a district attorney in the not-so-distant future. She was intensely passionate about enforcing the law and putting criminals behind bars. I respected her no-nonsense approach and clear sense of right and wrong. It was refreshing to speak to someone who had not been jaded by the realities of daily law practice. Her youthful enthusiasm will carry her far, though I suspect that she will be no naive pushover but an ardent advocate for the State.
Finding Internal Job Satisfaction
Even though I routinely grumble about the pitfalls of practicing law, the fact remains that I continue to do it because it offers me an internal satisfaction that cannot be sullied by any of the detritus that I lament. If I had chased the pot of gold that was often offered to me as a law student and young attorney, then I would be in a much different place, both literally and figuratively. I doubt that I would still be a lawyer. I know that I would not be half as happy.
Instead, I entered into the profession with the goal of helping people and businesses through difficult times and that continues to bind me to my job. In order for our youth to have the same chance for contentment, they need to follow their own path and heart, with only a realist’s nod toward questions of finance. No matter the prospective career track, make sure to follow it for the right reasons.
T.J. Voboril is a partner at Reynolds, Kalamaya & Voboril LLC, a local law firm, and the owner and mediator at Voice of Reason Dispute Resolution. For more information, contact Voboril at 970-306-6456, email@example.com or visit http://www.rkvlaw.com.