As baseball season approaches, my attention turns to the Baltimore Orioles and spring training. Recently, I read an article in The Baltimore Sun about Orioles players working odd jobs to make ends meet before reaching the major leagues. It reminded me of my own experiences in becoming an attorney.
When I could not find a job as an attorney out of law school, I decided to start my own law practice. I knew that it would take time to find clients and develop the practice, so I needed a plan to make money and pay my bills until the firm started generating money.
I needed an overnight job that would allow me to practice law during the day. I thought about bartending or waiting tables but I had no experience with either. My background was in food services, having worked at fast food restaurants and grocery stores in high school and college.
So, my first job out of law school was working overnights during the week at a Royal Farms in Baltimore City. I worked Monday through Thursday nights from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. making $8.50 an hour. It likely was not what my alma mater, the University of Baltimore School of Law, wanted me to report as my post-law school job.
Orioles catcher, Caleb Joseph told The Sun there were times when he questioned why he was working for $9 per hour in the freezing rain when he is a professional athlete. I, too, had similar thoughts as a lawyer while cleaning the fryer and making sandwiches at a convenience store. This was not what I imagined myself doing when I was a law student sitting at orientation.
But, like Joseph, I took the approach that I am never above it. Joseph said he needed work and took whatever was available to help pay his bills, even if it meant he had to flip burgers at McDonalds or work at a bowling alley. Sometimes, we need to be willing to make sacrifices and do things we would not ordinarily do in order to make ends meet while we pursue our dreams.
I had an expectation going into law school that I would be able to secure a good, paying attorney job when I graduated and passed the bar. When I learned that my expectations were not aligned with reality, I decided to do what was necessary to create my own opportunities.
I know that there are other young attorneys out there like me who have taken side jobs to supplement their income or have full-time, non-lawyer jobs and practice law on the side. You do not have to be ashamed. There are many of us in similar situations.
Feel free to share your own experiences in the comments section below.