I’ve been considering a career in law for a while now, and that’s the track I’ve been following, more or less, here as an undergraduate. But, lately, I’m not so sure that I want to practice law for a living. I feel like it’s my responsibility to use my talents to help people, and I’m worried that I won’t be able to do that in law, or that I’ll be doing it for the wrong reasons. I know that lawyers can make a lot of money, but what sorts of things might I be able to do with my skills that could actually make a difference in people’s lives?
Lawyers get a tough rap from a lot of people: polls show that we don’t think they do much to contribute to society. But, as every good lawyer knows, members of the public only hate lawyers until they need one —and when they do need one, they’re certainly happy to have them around!
That, of course, is because lawyers of all types are in business to help their clients! While our economic system may not be perfect, it’s fair to say that someone has to benefit in order for one’s services as a professional to be useful, so we can say with confidence that a lawyer is always helping somebody.
Of course, whether or not all types of law exist to serve the greater good is a matter of debate. And we are entitled to different opinions: for instance, one person might see an estate lawyer’s efforts to preserve an inheritance as a way to unfairly make the rich richer, while others might see the same actions as a valiant effort to help someone’s hard-earned cash avoid the “death tax.”
If your own personal beliefs and politics are pushing you toward career options that will help disadvantaged persons, then good news: there are a ton of ways to do that within the world of law. You could help your clients build better lives and defend against deportation, for instance, suggests one well-regarded immigration lawyer Toronto. Immigration law can involve everything from helping wealthy immigrants get paperwork in order to helping undocumented immigrants legitimize their status.
Or you could work as a public defender, where you would ensure that the legal rights of accused persons are always available — even when the accused cannot afford an attorney of their own.
And you should also remember that your professional life and your volunteering efforts don’t have to exist in entirely separate spheres. Even if your legal career leads you in a lucrative direction, it will also arm you with the knowledge and skills you need in order to be a valuable volunteer for organizations like The Legal Aid Society.
It’s clear that you have a strong moral compass and are not willing to settle for a career you can’t be proud of. But think twice about abandoning law for reasons of morality. If you stand firm in your values, you’ll find that there is a wealth of ways to practice law morally and charitably and to use your law degree to help a lot of people along the way.
“Giving is the master key to success in all applications of life.” — Bryant McGill