Many years ago I was seated at a table next to Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas at a Columbia Law School luncheon in Washington, D.C. He was an impressive man and looked not unlike Spencer Tracy. At some point, I asked him what a young lawyer should do. His answer came back in a short. “Practice law and go into politics.”
There are numerous young law grads in search of work who also owe thousands in student loans. They have no idea what to do or how to pay back the loans. They need to use some imagination to get out of their predicament. They should search Martindale-Hubbell and find single practitioners in small towns around the country and contact them and ask them if they could work for them, without pay if necessary, to learn the ropes. The older the single practitioners, the better because that would give you a chance to take over their practice when they retire. Get involved in the community and join a church. When you are ready, register in one of the two major political parties. If you are in a red state, register Democratic because there are always people in those communities who want to change things and upset the status quo. Get around, join Rotary and the like.
Then get into politics on the local level where ideology is not important. Learn the issues and appear practical. Go to as many meetings
and community luncheons and dinners as possible. Be sure to have lots of cards to hand out. If the lawyer you are working for still doesn’t pay you, open your own practice with your own clients. Don’t worry about your student loans. You can start repaying them as soon as you start to make money, which you will. People say there are too many lawyers but there is always room for a good one. Small-town lawyers tend to be lazy so be anything but. They will resent you, but so what? Take any kind of case and get to know the assistant DAs so you can plead out speeding tickets.
Get married to a local girl whose family knows lots of people. Be terribly nice to everyone and get elected to some local body. Keep at it and keep your eye set on higher targets, like the state legislature and even Congress. Don’t be surprised is you find yourself nominated for higher office. And laugh at all those so-called successful grads from the top law schools toiling nights at the big firms in the big cities. Most of them won’t make partner and the ones who do will be stressed and depressed. And don’t ever forget that the world is your oyster.
You will need some money to start so ask your parents or other relatives. Don’t be shy. They will be making a good investment.