For a short, wonderful time at the end of the last century, during the dot-com boom, before kids and homeownership, it looked like Andrea and I would be able to retire. What, I asked myself, would I do with my ample remaining time, once I’d had enough of sipping rum drinks on white-sand beaches? Surprisingly I had a single clear answer in mind: law school. I wanted not to practice law per se but to become a legal scholar so that when I wrote essays and gave lectures about the U.S. Constitution, which is what I saw myself spending my retirement doing — never mind why, I’m not entirely sure myself — I would know what the hell I was talking about. Plus, academic credentials would give people a reason to pay attention to my work.
It didn’t work out that way, which is probably just as well, because I know myself too well to believe I could devote the necessary focus to a single subject for the necessary length of time.
Only after I decided to study the law, then abandoned that idea, did I discover how strangely unoriginal that idea was among my cohort.
My closest friends in elementary school were David, Jon, and Sarah. At the time of Jon’s early death he was studying for the bar. When I reconnected with Sarah after a quarter century I discovered she was practicing law. David recently left his long-time job and is about to start law school himself (congratulations and good luck, David).
My closest friend in high school was Chuck. Upon graduating and moving to Israel, he too became a lawyer.
One of my two best friends in college, Bruce, after a somewhat dissipated lifestyle and careers as a computer programmer, saloon owner, and wrought-iron craftsman, is now also pursuing a law degree.
What gives? Apart from Chuck, I didn’t know about any of these career choices until after I’d decided (and then undecided) to go to law school myself; nor did any of them know that I had briefly considered it; and none of us was the type of person you might have expected to grow up to become a lawyer. So how did the same idea end up in all our brains? What is it about the law, or about my group of friends?