Lawyers Are a Profession of Babysitters and Paper Carriers – Literally

And farm-hands, servers, warehouse workers, lifeguards, and so much more.

If the feedback of a couple hundred of lawyers and other legal professionals are to be believed, a very significant proportion of us got our start delivering the local news paper or watching the neighbourhood kids. And most of us had a wide variety of pre-law experiences that forged a formidable work ethic from an early age.

Building off a tweet and first collection of replies from LexBlog CEO Kevin O’Keefe inquiring about the existence of any study into “blue collar – get your hands dirty” jobs lawyers may have had before becoming lawyers, I tweeted a link to his collection along with the question: What jobs did you do before law?

The responses poured in!

Over 200 individual responses from lawyers, judges, law students and others as of this writing some 60 hours after my tweet.

My summary of the immense diversity of experience won’t do justice to the replies, so I encourage you to click through and read for yourselves. Go ahead and add yours for the benefit of future readers if you’d like!

It struck me and others how many of these “life before law” job lists began with paper routes (mine included). So much so, that side conversations formed about what was special about paper routes, with one of the more compelling theories being a “sociology of spaces” insight about how those jobs signal the presence of certain factors about neighbourhoods and interactions with particular spaces, institutions and communities from an early age that themselves may have a high correlation with advanced education and professional opportunities. And as several others pointed out, paper routes, along with pre- or early-adolescent work like babysitting and farm-life highlighted a certain degree of hustle, independence and responsibility necessary to surviving and thriving in legal careers.

The same, of course, could be said about many of the other roles we took in our lives before law.

Although there are too many other jobs to mention, I’ll offer a sampling:

  • Ice-cream server
  • Dishwasher
  • Receptionist
  • Camp counselor
  • Patio Furniture Specialist
  • Life guard
  • Stock boy/girl
  • Fitness instructor
  • Group home worker
  • Janitor
  • Gas station attendant
  • Door-to-door encyclopedia sales
  • River boat tour guide
  • Phone company salesperson
  • Political assistant (lots of these)
  • Woodcutter
  • Rock-picker
  • Vegetable seller
  • Bartender (so many bartenders!)
  • Call centre agent
  • Retail (in all forms)
  • Research Assistant
  • Residence Dons
  • DJ
  • Video store clerk
  • Corn de-tassler
  • Fast food (nearly all the majors you can imagine)
  • “graveyard maintenance worker”
  • Doorman / Bouncer
  • Drugstore delivery
  • Trout farm labourer
  • Host / Hostess
  • Military (all branches, including reserves)
  • Auto assembly
  • Carriage driver
  • Cab driver
  • Truck driver
  • Actors, singers, and buskers
  • BBQ Equipment Packer
  • Ditch diggers
  • Stable hands
  • Baristas
  • Library book shelver
  • “photo wench” at Medieval Times restaurant
  • Software developer
  • Florist (many)
  • Carny and legislative researcher (same person, different employers I presume)
  • Radio host
  • Tire jockey
  • Professional / Olympic athletes
  • Tallow tank cleaner at meat packing plant
  • Windsurfing instructor
  • Business writer
  • Tomato canner
  • Every job you can think of at golf course
  • Brass musical instrument repair
  • Maple sugar bush tree tapper
  • Concrete and masonry work
  • All the defunct department stores (Woolco, Simpsons, etc…)
  • Dog kennel cleaner
  • Person who converts microfiche into PDF
  • Rock climbing instructor
  • Pizza chef
  • “assembler of particle detector”
  • irradiating fruit flies
  • Demolition
  • LSAT instructor
  • Paperwork at a sketchy Brooklyn stock brokerage
  • Rib fest prep cook
  • Videographer
  • All manner of landscaping and lawn mowing
  • Concert security
  • Phone company operator
  • Friendship bracelet artisan (for $)
  • Film producer
  • Washing hearses at the family funeral business
  • Peace Corps
  • Commercial fisherman
  • Blackjack dealer
  • Knife sales
  • Insurance adjuster

And on, and on….

Seriously, take a look. We’re a pretty interesting group of people once you get to know us!

Comments

  1. Any comparison to other occupations? Are lawyers more likely than accountants or doctors or professors or teachers or (name of occupation) to have had this variety of youthful employment?

    Without comparative figures, one cannot form any conclusions about the nature of the youthful work and where the person ended up.

    It does show that there are lot of ways to scrape together some money, whether pocket money or funds for an education.

  2. Hi John

    Seriously?

  3. Well, today perhaps not …

  4. :)

    You got me

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