Monday, April 14, 2008

Career Day

Last week I spoke at "career day" at Townsend Harris High School. Each career presenter had 30-35 students in their class for three 45 minute periods. My classes were fully booked, though I was not as popular as the guy from Homeland Security. He was decked out with enough equipment and weapons to take over an entire lunchroom.

As the first group filed in, I had a vision of my favorite scene from Ferris Bueller's Day Off.
Fortunately, my teaching day went much better than that. I made some notes and had a few themes, as follows:

1. Lawyers are involved in many more things than people realize.
2. For any area of law, there are two sides. When I asked the students to name some areas of law, someone said "medical malpractice", and I noted that for every lawyer representing a person claiming a medical malpractice has occurred, there is a lawyer who represents the doctor or hospital, and "most of those lawyers know more medicine than a lot of doctors".
3. A person considering a career in law should really think about what area they are interested in, and get some exposure to it. As a general practitioner, I noted that its not just about working at the biggest firm for the highest starting salary, in a career, it's important to like it.

I also brought souvenirs......enough New York Law Journals to give one to each of the 100 students. Everyone had a different one, and I showed them around the paper. There is a section of columns by experts in different legal fields, and I asked the students to raise their hand if they found an interesting article. This was very popular, and we had discussions about.......
"proprietary rights on Youtube"
"DNA testing in posthumous paternity issues" (I actually HAVE a case with this issue)
"a trademark claim on some cartoon character I had never heard of....but the kids all had"
"the prisoners at Guantanamo"
"a products liability case involving a collapsing ladder"
"a contested will"

In each class one of the social studies teachers was present, sitting in the back. If the students were not asking questions, the teachers bailed me out by asking good questions. This happened once in each class, and having them there was very helpful.

When I have a rough day of lawyering (in other words......"every day"), I wonder how things would have been if I had gone to a Career Day way back when, and had gone to the session on "teaching". I know lots of miserable lawyers, but few (if any) miserable teachers.

Maybe I should have considered teaching. After all, one of my favorite TV shows as a teenager was "Room 222". Anyone else like that show?

I'm not quitting my day job.....but I did sign up to do another career day, later this month at Russell Sage Junior High School.

One last thing, I'm not going to do a full review, but I saw a great movie from last year, which I thought did not get the notice it deserved. It was "Freedom Writers" with Hilary Swank Rent it and let me know what you think.

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