By J. DeVoy
Metalocalypse is one of my favorite shows* for many reasons, among them being its extreme social commentary. The music video, while graphic, invokes themes that have been addressed in mainstream offerings like Office Space and The Office, such as the futility of working jobs we hate and the soul-killing duplicity that corporate advancement entails.
In light of this message and increasing internet chatter about “going Galt” due to inevitable tax increases, many are questioning whether the rat race of an aggressively upward mobile career is for them. For recent college and law school graduates, opportunities to work tirelessly and acquire new skills are hard to find. Technically, any new attorney can open a practice upon being barred, but he or she will lack all but the most basic skills to handle legal work, assuming the fresh attorney can find clients. Having bounced my plans and rough business model off of others in recent weeks, many are beyond scared – and clueless – about how to begin their futures.
Thus, keeping with the Galt meme, one option is to turn subsistence-level underemployment into Funderemployment. While not only ensuring that others will not receive the benefit of individual labor, Funderemployment entails choosing a path that maximizes personal enjoyment, however bohemian and novelty-seeking its nature. Though the official measure of underemployment, U6, is at 17%, some sources predict it is significantly higher; that number may be even worse for recent graduates in all fields except Pharmacy, Dentistry and Medicine (excepting those Caribbean med “schools”). With the options for all but subsistence living almost gone, it seems like embracing this fate and channeling it toward something fulfilling is logical.
Just as Lathamed associates masked the career setback of losing their jobs with lengthy, sometimes lavish vacations last year, recent grads can find other means of modest living while maintaining or starting some form of law practice. Although malpractice insurance will protect new attorneys in the state where they practice, a significant amount of legal work may be handled remotely. With the advent of technologies like Magic Jack and Skype, even client communication can even when separated by entire continents. Thanks to PACER, litigation in federal courts can be done almost entirely over the internet. And, because of the ubiquity of cheap WiFi, research and drafting can be done from the patio of a café in the country of your choice.
In the meantime, new esquires can follow their true passions. When not busy with legal affairs, they can make paintings or other artwork for sale in galleries or on sites like Etsy. Contract writing gigs may be available to others. Teaching english, a foreign language, or tutoring for the LSAT or SAT, which may be comparable to another language for some, are also options. On good authority, roadies can make money that previously rivaled the pre-tax takings of BIGLAW associates, and may again be competitive as salaries drop at large law firms. Or, there’s always the option of slumming it in Norway, joining a black metal band that plays two nights a week, and earning just enough to get by while tending to your legal practice by day.
In this economy, unemployment and underemployment at graduation is not the kiss of death it was in 2007. Among Millennials, there’s much wailing and gnashing of teeth about the need for a student loan bailout. Dear Leader will have to confront these pleas eventually, or indirectly quell them with Weimar-style hyperinflation. In light of these circumstances, there has never been a better time for people to do what they truly desire. If they work hard enough, get noticed and are a little bit lucky, their opportunity to work like dogs will come, and they will relish every moment of it. Until then, though, there is enjoyment to be had – and money to be made – in pursuing one’s bliss.
(* One of Metalocalypse’s main characters, rhythm guitarist Toki Wartooth, is my GChat avatar.)