Holidays and Seasons

Gradenfreude: An Underemployed Law Grad’s Guide on How to Achieve Mediocrity in 2013

With 2013 approaching, people will begin to start to think about what potential changes they may make for their New Year’s Resolution. Now, I personally am not a big fan of New Year’s Resolutions because I don’t understand the point of wanting to better yourself only once a year, simply because the earth has made a full rotation around the sun. We’re probably going to die on Friday anyway because of that Mayan garbage, so what’s the point? But for the sake of quality journalism, I’ll ignore that for the moment to give out-of-work law graduates a couple of ideas for their own resolutions.

First, there are some things that you should consider before taking on any resolution. Don’t pick something that’s too big for one person to conceivably achieve — like Tannebaum said, aim low, and strive for mediocrity. Also, don’t pick something that requires you to completely change yourself overnight. While it’s very admirable, doing so will likely result in you dropping the resolution and getting back to life as normal in February. A diet that lasts for only a month isn’t very effective, people.

For that same reason, whatever change you do choose, make sure that it’s something that you’re actually interested in doing. In other words, do a little research and realize what you’re getting yourself into. Thinking about it, maybe I should have taken my own advice and did a little more research before attending the “unaccredited law school” the commenters keep referring to. And by the way, I went to an accredited cesspool, thank you very much….

As for ideas for the resolution itself, here’s what I’ve come up with. Number one: try harder to get a job, and I don’t mean just any job. I have just any job, and it’s awful to have just any job after working towards becoming an attorney. It’s demeaning to apply for any old job — did I mention I got an interview to be a magician’s assistant? Maybe I’d be good at that, because TADA!, I made six figures disappear with nothing to show for it.

At least try to find a job that’s remotely related to the law. And then, even after you get a job that’s “related to the law,” keep searching for the job that you actually want. A lawyer actually advised me as much, saying that it’ll look better to see that you were willing to take a job in a field that you don’t actually like. Simply having a job in the law in order to maintain some connection after graduation shows all potential future employers that you’ll do whatever is required, and that they can count on you when needed.

With the tragedies that have occurred recently, many will be moved to volunteer to help others. Take some of your free time to go volunteer at a local nonprofit organization. Many organizations likely fight for causes that are near and dear to your heart, and using your free time to volunteer can only help them. Helping others can also give you some joy in that you may actually get the chance to see what going to law school got you besides that $150,000 piece of paper on the floor of your closet. Plus, we all know how important networking is, so getting your foot in the door could be the first step to bigger and better things.

But as I said at the start, I think that the best idea is to better yourself each and every day, rather than once a year, simply because of tradition. We can all take a moment to reflect on our lives and strive to make ourselves better, taking little steps each day. Eventually doing so will lead to good things, and you’ll become happier — at least that’s what I have to tell myself to keep from losing my damn mind.

When not writing about life after law school for Above the Law, Tristan Taylor Thomas (not his real name) works at a retail job stocking shelves — which he admits is slightly better than being a shoeshiner. You can reach him by email at

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