My Career Path (or Why I’m a Lawyer and Not an Academic)

Over at my Who’s Your Daddy? thread Deep Sea asked me the following question:

This is off-topic entirely but I don’t know where else to ask the question. I’m curious about your career path and your decision not to become an academic. You have an immense capacity of knowledge and learning, and many of us readers are grateful for your continuing willingness to share it so generously.
For the benefit of younger LDS scholars deciding on career paths, would you mind sharing–perhaps in a separate post??–what led you to take the path of the part-time (but still prolific and influential) scholar? thanks in advance!

This is my attempt to answer the question. My hope is that others will similarly tell the tale of how they ended up where they are now.

Through First Year of BYU

In middle school and the first two years of high school, I wanted to be an astronomer, or some other stripe of scientist. My uncles were physicists (Los Alamos, Argonne) and my cousin turned me on to astronomy with a backyard telescope. I subscribed to both Boy’s Life and Sky & Telescope. While still in junior high I corresponded with a grad student at Harvard concerning a question I had about escape velocity. I was definitely a science geek.

About halfway through high school I made the foolish decision to try to appear less bright than I was. I stopped reading school assignments or doing much homework. For a lot of classes this really didn’t matter, but it did in math. I could have been a mathlete had we had such a thing (think Freaks and Geeks), but when I stopped studying my math abilities went in the toilet. And science almost always requires a strong capacity in math. So in my youth I really kind of limited my future career options to things that didn’t require a lot of math. This was all youthful stupidity on my part.

Freshman year at BYU I had no idea what I wanted to do, so I concentrated on general ed requirements. I think I was probably partial to psychology at that point, as many freshman are. I got good grades my first semester and let it go to my head, so I spent my second semester just partying and not studying at all. My grades that semester were terrible and I temporarily lost my scholarship (I would gain it back after my mission).

Mission

I served in Colorado ’77-’79. That is where I was first introduced to scholarship. The first month I read what I wanted to of the old reference library, and it wasn’t close to being enough for me. I needed more.

It seems as though no one actually read anything on my mission. The fashion was to collect and listen to tapes. My instructor was an aficianado of Dead Sea Scrolls/Nag Hammadi Codices tapes, most by Einar Erickson (produced by the Simi Valley Stake Seventies Project). I was fascinated by these tapes at first. But I did a couple of things no one else did. First, I actually bought translations and books about the Scrolls and read them. Reading the actual scrolls was a very different experience from listening to pie-in-the-sky lectures about them.

Second, I was introduced to Hugh Nibley’s work. I immediately saw the difference it made when a scholar who actually controls the languages deals with something compared to one who is limited to secondary literature. So I gained an interest in ancient, especially biblical, languages. I started to study Hebrew and Greek even on my mission, learning the alphabets and various words. I used a Berlitz reader and a Strong’s Concordance for my initial forays into such study.

Post Mission

The short answer to the question is that my post mission schooling took place during the recessionary early 80s.

When I got back in October of 1979 I spent several months working moving an auto parts company. I was thinking at that point that I would like to study history. But jobs were hard to come by, and I was doing backbreaking labor, long hours, six days a week. I knew I didn’t want to end up doing that the rest of my life. So I decided to major in Economics with the idea of going to law school.

My first semester back at the Y, I took economics courses, accounting, and yes, math.

I stayed at school that summer to catch up so that Fall Semester I would be a junior. I needed an extra major skill for my general ed, and I wanted to use the opportunity to take New Testament Greek, to actually learn the language as opposed to just playing with it as I had on my mission. My father, who was a professor of education at NIU, persuaded me to take Latin instead, reasoning I could always take Greek later if I still wanted to. So I signed up for the accelerated Latin summer program.

Latin was a bear for me. I had had a total of one semester of Spanish in high school; that was it. I was in a class with returned missionaries who were fluent in romance languages. The professor kept talking about genitive this and ablative that, and I had no idea what the hell he was talking about. It was brutal.

But I had learned from my mission (my academic salvation!) how to focus and study. So I rolled up my sleeves and went to work, and ended up getting one of the best grades in the class.

It is traditional when learning Latin for your first post-grammar course to be spent reading Caesar’s Commentaries on the Gallic Wars, and that is what I did Summer term that year. And I was smitten. The text was an Oxford Classical Text–not a stitch of English in it anywhere to be found. I was reading the actual words of Caesar as he wrote them, not trusting some intermediary. I fell in love. So I decided to switch my course of study to classics. (I ended up majoring in Latin and minoring in Greek.)

Fall semester I dived in. I was taking second year Latin, introductory Greek and introductory Hebrew, and ancient history classes, all at the same time. It seems insane, but in retrospect studying all of that language all at once was good for me, as I could compare and contrast the different languages as I went. I loved it. I thought I would go on and get a Ph.D. in classical philology and become a classics professor.

Then reality interfered. We got pregnant with our daughter, Emily. I had to take a cold, hard look at my plans and hopes, and decided that the risk of me driving a cab to actually make a living was unacceptably high if I didn’t change my plans. So I kept on with the undergrad classics degree, but I went to law school instead of grad school. I spent three years at the University of Illinois, then in 1985 I started practicing public finance law in Chicago, where I’ve been ever since.

My father was an academic by day, but a frustrated lawyer at night. He loved Perry Mason and murder mysteries and read a lot of legal literature. Conversely, I became a lawyer by day but a frustrated academic at night. But I really don’t regret the way things turned out. I am able to support my family; I am able to retain my passion for scholarship, since it isn’t my day job, and I can study and write pretty much whatever I want, without worrying about tenure committees and that sort of thing. So while part of me would like to be in the ivory tower, most of me realizes that things worked out for the best.

Comments

  1. Julie M. Smith says:

    Thanks for sharing that. While I have a different day job than you (I’m also a smidge younger–I was watching Sesame Street when you were on your mission), I too, feel lucky to get to play academic on my own terms as you describe in your final paragraph.

  2. I enjoyed your story. Thanks for sharing. I entered college planning to be an economics professor (it was the first class in high school that engaged my interest in a meaningful way), but when I sat in the economics class I had a clear sense that it was primarily used to justify greed (I know there are economists–Jeff Sacks and Amartya Sen probably the best known–who defy this generalization, but that is how it struck me then), so I lost interest within a month. I decided to pray about declaring my “concentration” (the horribly pretentious name for major then) and had something like a revelation tied to my patriarchal blessing. It was a dark revelation, a vision of myself as an academic in the humanities. There wasn’t much to the revelation, but it shook me up: I was an atheist. As I had just become a rather dizzily fervent theist the year prior, that was not a future I could accept.
    So I chose a different path, a career in a service profession, in the hopes of balance (I did allow myself in college to study something gloriously abstruse and impractical, theoretical syntax). I am an academic at the end of the day, but I chose a type of research with more immediate or intentional application to limit human suffering and with the mandatory balance of human contact and service. That has felt best to me.
    I do love the humanities, however, and still think about a late career PhD. The thing that keeps me away from that even in imagination, though, is grading.

  3. Sorry, I realized that my story could be used as ammunition in the character assassination of Progressive academics by the Right-wing conspiracy. I did not mean that a) atheists or bad, or b) academics are atheists. It was a very personal realization that I doubt very much is generalizable.

  4. Kevin, you get to go to several movies every week. As a denizen of the ivory tower I can’t afford it. You made the right decision!

  5. When I was younger (middle school and early high school), I considered being a scientist. I enjoy science, and I have an aptitude for math. However, I intensely dislike math, and I slacked off on it as well. I joined the debate club in high school and fell in love with debating. I decided that I wanted to become a lawyer.
    I went on to college, where I majored in political science, and minored in philosophy. I found that I liked philosophy better than political science, and I was influenced by some great professors. I went to a Catholic university, and most of my philosophy professors were Jesuit priests.
    In my last quarter, I took a graduate level seminar in Constitutional law, and I knew I had found my calling in life. I was all excited to apply to law school, and I had my applications filled out and ready to send in. Just before I sent my applications in, I felt the desire to serve a mission. I prayed about it, abandoned the application process and filled out mission papers. Just before graduation, I got my mission call.
    As my mission was nearing its close, I was deciding what to do. I really wanted to extend my mission, but the Lord told me that I shouldn’t. My mission ended in December 2004, and I started law school 3 weeks later, in January 2005.
    I had a difficult first semester. First, schoolwork had always come easily to me, so I didn’t think I had to work as hard as everyone else. Well, it turns out that in law school, everyone has to work hard. Second, I had a difficult transition into the normal world after my mission. Third, I was going to school in San Francisco, which gets little sun. SAD runs in my family, but since I had always lived in sunny climates, I never discovered that I had it, too.
    When my first semester grades came out, I was devastated. I spoke with one of my friends (who was also a classmate), and he offered to give me a blessing. It was an amazing experience, and the main point of the blessing was to tell me that I had made the right choice, and that I was on the right path.
    My grades began to improve, and at the end of my third semester, I received an award for excellence in the field of Constitutional law. The very next day, I received a letter from the university, informing me that I would not be invited to return. Of course, I did what any aspiring lawyer would do, and I contacted the university administration and appealed the decision. I lost.
    After leaving law school, I considered several paths. I thought about going to grad school to become a professor, and I thought about taking some science classes so that I could become a patent agent. I always kept coming back to my feeling that law is my calling. Now I’m working as a legal secretary to pay my bills, and I’m trying to get back into law school.
    It would probably be easier to treat my law school years as sunk costs and go into academia, but in the end, it doesn’t feel right for me. So, like a few of the other posters, I’ll be an academic in my spare time.

  6. Anyway, sorry for the long comment. It felt good to get that off my chest. Getting kicked out of law school has sort of been my secret shame for the last 9 months. Confession really is good for the soul.

  7. Keri,
    For what it’s worth, your experiences should not bring you shame of any kind–private or otherwise.

  8. Thanks, Costanza. I know that intellectually, but sometimes emotion doesn’t listen to reason.

  9. Why I’m not a lawyer or an academic: they both sound painful to me.

    I can relate to your high school experience, though. I dropped out of the honors classes because I was tired of teachers saying how bright we were when I didn’t really grasp most of what they were teaching, and getting good grades just because I could write and test well (while not learning much). I later regretted doing that.

  10. That sounds devastating, Keri. I’m sorry to hear of your struggle and wish you the best as you map out your future path.

  11. Kevin, Thanks for responding so graciously to a reader’s request. I’m glad your happy how things have turned out (although, no doubt many a student would have benefitted from your tutelage had your become the classics professor…)

  12. I just like hearing your story Kevin, thanks for sharing. I wonder how all of us got to where we are. I love that remorse over the lost opportunity to be a mathlete.

  13. Kevin – it is an interesting story you tell and it is always interesting to see what decisions led individuals to their chosen profession. I wanted to be an architect when I was ten years old and that is what I am today (43 years later) although I am doing work that I never imagined doing as an architect. My oldest son received his undergraduate degree at Hampden Sydney College here in our home state of Virginia. One of his professors, Dr. James Pontusso, told me at graduation that many parents hate him because they send their sons to Hampden Sydney (it’s an all-male school) with hopes they will go on to law school. But after taking his classes they decide on a PhD in Political Science and they are thus confined to the salaries offered by academia. My son will receive his PhD in Political Science this spring! But it’s what he’s wanted all along.

    I have a friend who plays jazz piano – loves playing Jazz piano – but he felt the life of a musician, perhaps especially a jazz musician, was not conducive to a good family life so he became a lawyer. He plays with a trio on the weekends.

    Congratulations on being satisfied with your choice.

  14. I always wanted to be a scientist. I chose not to pursue an academic position when I finished my Ph.D. coming up on three years ago for a number of reasons…first the pay is way better in industry, but also, the level of collegiality among young academics is not particularly high right now and that turned me off.

    I had dabbled in Mormon Studies while a student, but when I graduated, I filled the void of full time research/publishing with Mormon Studies on the side. The last three years have been a crash course. Fortunately I came online just as everything was being digitized. I’m not sure what the future will hold, but it is fun to play the historian and I look forward to offering several contributions to the field.

    I still wouldn’t mind going back to academia at some point. Who knows?

  15. Steve Evans says:

    I’m a lawyer because I lack the talent to be a professional writer, I lack the patience and discipline to have gotten an MBA, and I’m too greedy for academia.

  16. Thanks for sharing your journey. I was wondering that about you and J. Stapley and John Welch and others. I am amazed at the writings of part-time scholars. How do you have the time and expertise to be as good at Mormon Studies by night as you are your profession by day? And as good as the full-timers academics? Keep it up!

  17. My lawyer brother asked me why I didn’t go to law school. I told him I already had an ego and a dictionary.

    Just kidding. It’s nice to know a little bit about the people you read. Thanks.

  18. These are so interesting to me! I hope more people will tell their stories.

    Here is mine. When I was in high school, I was very unsure what I wanted to take in college. At one point I thought I might like to be a social worker. We had this program called executive internship where we skipped half a year of school (in my non-academically challenging school this was a great idea) and spent the time as a helper to an executive in the field of our choice. I worked with the County Mental Health agency, and found out that my picture of this field was quite wrong. I had thought I would be working with people and making almost 100% of them better. Instead I found that most mental illness by people in long term care is pretty intractible, and successes are rare. I also found out that I don’t have the right touch. I wanted to fix things. People with unfixable problems made me feel uncomfortable and useless. So that internship program was great, because it saved me from going into the wrong field altogether.

    I also considered majoring in music, for some reason. I was not thinking about having to make a living someday, I guess. I was taking piano, and I loved it, but I had started formal training my Junior year in high school which is far too late, really. I’d been playing various instruments by ear since earliest childhood but the formal training matters too. I couldn’t read music well at all, so I was just too far behind, luckily.

    I loved math and science, though. When I was 10 my father had gone back to school to get his math degree, and I would help him memorize his equations and stuff he needed to know, by calling them out to him. When we were done I would ask what it meant, and he would explain it to me. It was always fascinating to me, everthing I learned about math, and I grasped it easily.

    Then in high school I discovered science fiction. I read pretty much all of Isaac Asimov, Arthur Clarke, Robert Heinlein, and the other classic hard science fiction types. Larry Niven was a favorite in college. Also Ursula K. LeGuin, and Orson Scott Card. I read all of Isaac Asimov’s science for laymen books too, as well as any other science for laymen books I could find. Stephen Jay Gould is brilliant. George Gamow wrote a great book called “One, Two, Three, Infinity”. I also was crazy about astronomy, and read as much as I could find about cosmology and the large scale features of the universe. My driving curiosity was to know how everything worked, how it fit together. So I read about quantum electrodynamics (Richard Feynman) and relativity, and basically all of physics. I also read about evolutionary biology, and artificial intelligence (Hofstadter), as well as learning about computers and how they work, and learning to program them. My dad had a subscription to Scientific American magazine and I read it cover to cover every month, starting in high school. I loved Martin Gardener’s mathematical games column, and all the astronomy and physics articles. Gradually I came to understand the biology articles too. It’s a great magazine and I still read it today.

    So when I started college, I picked engineering, which has been a really great choice for me. I loved building things when I was a kid, and I always had to know how things worked. I dissected my toys to figure them out. Part of me wants to be a scientist, still, but I’m such a hands-on person, and the value of science is more than just knowing, to me, though that’s a huge part of it. Another really cool part of science for me is that when you understand how things work, it means you can make cool toys and machines and stuff, and transform human life with it.

    I took a history of technology course in college and it was so fascinating. It was the first time I realized history was interesting. Before then it seemed so dry and boring, just memorizing what had happened. This course, though, made sense of things. It showed how the society we have at any point is largely a result of the technology we have. That course and science fiction taught me a lot about how to engineer society to be better than it is. Now for my career I do design work on nuclear power plants. I’m fascinated with infrastructure and what makes the difference between stable, just, economically viable societies and total anarchy and anomie. I think we should study these things in great detail, so we can reestablish order and peace after times of war or natural disasters. It’s sort of a Relief Society function, to my mind. I was attracted to the church in part because it seemed to me that Mormons carry their civilization inside themselves, and even if they found themselves in a war zone, or in chaotic lawless times and places, they would still act with compassion and respect and civilization.

    So far in my career, in addition to a lot of general industrial work, I’ve done design for water and waste water treatment plants, power plants, medium sized generators (like 375kW) for hotels and office buildings. I really like infrastructure. So far I’ve not done any roads or natural gas lines, and no cell phones or internet yet, but plenty of fiber optic cables on various things. I want to learn more about all those things.

    I think I finally have realized in just the last few years, what I want do when I grow up. I want to transform the world into Zion. =) I want to help with third world development, and with disaster relief, and with establishing peaceful, safe, healthy, and well-provided homes for all the people of the world. I think such ambitious goals are achievable, because I know I don’t have to do it all myself. I just have to be the pebble that starts an avalanche, or the mustard seed that can sprout and multiply into a forest. I don’t worry about having enough hands to do the work, because it’s not my work, it’s God’s work, so there will always be plenty of hands willing to do that. =)

  19. he felt the life of a musician, perhaps especially a jazz musician, was not conducive to a good family life so he became a lawyer.

    So what is it about a lawyer’s long hours that make it a profession more conducive to family life over a musician’s?

  20. Peter: your “living widow” drives a nice car. Kevin actually chose a quieter type of law, from what I understand, but you’re right in general terms that this appears to be a euphemism for predictably large salary. It’s not just greed, though. Someone should do a post on “providing for your family” and the fear of emasculation associated with economic privation.

  21. Peter wrote ” So what is it about a lawyer’s long hours that make it more conducive to family life over a musician’s?” – I should have mentioned that my friend – the jazz musician/lawyer – has never worked in a law firm, only as a corporate lawyer. It was 30 years ago when we both graduated and started our professions so I can’t recall what requirements he had to meet to pass the bar. What I’m trying to say is that I don’t think he ever had the 80 hour work weeks that new lawyers have when they start practicing in a private firm.

    I think his feeling about being a jazz musician also assumed that there would be a lot of out-of-town travel and the work is most often conducted in the evening or late at night in venues that can sometimes be less than uplifting. I think it is fair to say that even with long hours at the office, an attorney at least gets to go home at night (well, at least most nights) while a musician – one that is successful enough to provide for his family – is often miles away. On the other hand, I may be wrong.

  22. My story has not yet been written. I’ll report back when it is.

    My current path in academia has been guided by two things: I like the free time and the holidays, and the poverty has more than been offset by the really huge amount of time I can spend with my family; and a really desperate desire to do something “interesting” — studying ancient Near Eastern history and living in America and then Vienna definitely qualify.

    I’m surprised when I hear Americans extol the virtue of lawyering from an economic angle. Maybe it’s because I have a European suspicion of excessive wealth, but mostly it’s because the American professor seems to be quite well paid to me. So, really, it’s got to be 5-6 year grad school and the less secure career path that must be the real killer for the Mormon family man academic. That I can sympathise with, but money…? Bah.

    That so many Mormons feel compelled to leave the PhD alone for financial reasons is a shame. But I understand it. Still, Mormon Nobel winners vs. Mormon millionaires? Zion’s heart it easy to see!

  23. Steve Evans says:

    Ronan, that’s also because in Europe, the wage disparity between professors and lawyers is much smaller. Euro-lawyers get paid far less than their American counterparts.

  24. When I was 6 my father was completing his post doc work at Wash U in Missouri. He had a PHD in Chemistry and wanted to develop Pharm. drugs. He entertained 2 job offers.

    1. A research job at Riker labs a division of 3M
    2. An Academic job at the U of Michigan.

    As an adult he has told me that the reason he went with the private sector job and embarked on a succesful career developing drugs is that at the time he was 30 yrs old had 4 kids and had lived in poverty for 8 years as a married man. It was time to provide financial security for the kids and his wife regardless of his personal desires.

    I have heard similar stories from other LDS PHD’s

    How common is the scenario above? What impact does it have?

  25. Well, as a wife of about to be soon PhD – we’ve been married for 8 years, have 3 kids – but I’d still rather Ronan went into academia, even though it’s not that well paid (in England anyway), because I know that’s what’ll make him happy. We’ve survived for 8 years as students, so I don’t really see the need to opt for a more lucrative job. His job will provide for our needs and some of our wants too! I’d rather see my husband and my kids see their father, and have a husband who’s happy in his job. :)

  26. Not that you can’t be happy in a lucrative job – I’m speaking personally about MY husband!

  27. bbell,
    That is very common, I imagine.

  28. Kevin Barney says:

    For me the amount of money was never really a consideration; it was just the prospect of getting a job at all. If I hadn’t gone to school during recessionary times, and if I had picked something more marketable than classics (such as Arabic is today), I might have stayed on the academic track.

    When I graduated from the Y in 1982 I moved to Champaign-Urbana in Illinois to get settled for law school and to try to get a job over the summer. I applied all over the place; there was nothing to be had. They actually laughed at me at McDonalds.

    I worked as a telemarketer for one day. I hated it; I was supposed to be selling these $35 coupon books, but everyone I called seemed to be retired on a fixed income, and it wasn’t something I was comfortable pushing. It didn’t matter, because the second day when I went in to work the phone bank was totally gone. It was a boiler room. I never got paid for the one day I spent making calls.

    Then I tried driving one of those ice cream bicycles. (We have a great picture of me riding the bike with my big afro I had at the time.) I had to drive all the way across town to pick up my bike, and I wasn’t allowed to sell until I reached my area, which was back on my side of town. It was a one-speed bike, loaded down with ice cream, so it was not easy to pedal. And I had to buy a $15 license to do this. After the first day, working hard all day from dawn to dusk, I realized that I wasn’t even making $1.00/hour. So I quit that job. I didn’t even break even, since I had had to buy the license.

    The only decent job I was able to get that whole summer was detasseling corn (something I had done as a teenager growing up in Illinois). That was a real job, but it only lasted about two weeks.

    That summer’s experience sort of propped up my decision that I needed to prepare myself to get an actual job someday.

  29. John Mansfield says:

    Ronan, for every Nobel prize winner who ever lived, there are 10,000 current millionaire households in America alone. Millionairehood and Nobel prize winning are vastly different levels of achievement.

  30. John Mansfield,
    You are ever quick to correct. I still hold to the basic point that Mormons overachieve in business. I think we probably overachieve in education through the B.A. too, but then it tails off. I don’t know one LDS male grad student (non law/medicine) with a family who is entirely comfortable with his prospects and situation.

  31. And thanks, Rebecca, for kindly validating my existence!

  32. For a smart and college educated person the barriers to law school entry are low, no required courses like in medical school, no specific undergrad degrees required. The time committment is low, no decades long process of grad school and post grad training. And the rewards can be high, both in money and in security. So law school becomes a form of intellectual entrepeneurship without the uncertainties and risk of commerce.

  33. Jonathan Green says:

    Ronan, BYU grads go on to earn a lot of PhD’s. It’s in the top 10 for American universities. I don’t know if that makes us over- or underachievers above the B.A. level, but the numbers are not small. And grad student dissatisfaction with prospects or situation is not exactly restricted to Mormons, no? I don’t know what you saw in grad school, but I thought that the guys in my ward, married and with 0-5 kids each, were more likely to finish their degrees for having a family, at least compared to the general population’s high dropout rate from my program and programs in my neighborhood.

  34. OK, man, that’s strike two for my theory. Let me narrow it down further: all my Bible/Near East male LDS grad student friends are quivering wrecks of insecurity. Everyone’s gunning for BYU…there aren’t enough jobs…for some, it will end in tears.

    In five minutes someone will tell me how wrong I am about that too.

  35. *snif*

  36. You see!

  37. This is a really interesting thread to me–neat to find out how others choose their professions.

    I was happy in my profession as a stay at home mom. I received my undergrad degree in Film (Media Arts Studies) from BYU. I thought that I would eventually get an advanced degree in film studies, be a movie critic someday, like Elvis Mitchell, but I got married and my husband got into graduate school and we moved to the MidWest so he could get a Ph.D. While he went to school, I worked full time as a library clerk and decided that I should go to graduate school so I wouldn’t waste this time I had before children came along. I started grad school part time, working towards my Masters in Library Science. Along the way I had a baby, quit work, and finished my degree. A few months later, my husband and I seperated and I had to stop being a stay at home mom and had to get a job.

    I guess I am a poster child for what President Hinckley says about women getting all of the education they can. You never know where life will take you. Because I got my MLS, I was able to get a librarian position in a university library that pays far better than any kind of clerical work could, and I have great benefits and job flexibility. I can take care of my child, pay for our rent and expenses, be self-sufficient and not crazy stressed about money, during this already turbulent time.

  38. Kevin, thanks for this post. I have really enjoyed reading your story as well as of the others who have contributed.

    I think it is interesting that Ronan cites becoming an academic as a career that will give him more time with his family. I deliberately left academia because of fears of the opposite. That being said, I joined the Church/was a new member during this period, and was probably very influenced by President Benson’s call for mothers to stay home.

    I like how Mormon Studies is open to part-time scholars and it has given me an opportunity to ease back into some academic work. I think because of it, my interests have changed and this will affect my approach to doing a PhD.

  39. Ronan #30 — Re: Mormons overachieving in business. I recently went through the church almanac and highlighted the education/occupation of every apostle and seventy. This is a little off topic, but the church hierarchy is mostly made of men with careers in business/law/medicine who hold a variety of different undergrad degrees. I don’t know that many are moonlighting in Mormon Studies. :) If the info is correct and complete, it doesn’t appear that any GA was called away from being a professor (in any field). What does this mean? I don’t know, but it sounds like the stuff a good bingo game is made of. Just hope you don’t get stuck with “PhD in a Humanities field” on your card because there’s only one such GA out there!

  40. Not that all GAs have to be super scholars. I don’t mean that at all. But some diversity is good.

  41. I have a question about academia. What % of the workforce would be considered members of academia?

  42. Jonathan Green says:

    Ronan, I think you’re correctly sensing that there are weird dynamics that affect the Mormon academic career path, including marriage and family and the prospect of a job at BYU, maybe, somewhere over the horizon. How it all works out is complex, but I agree that there are a good number of quivering wrecks along the way.

  43. My current path in academia has been guided by two things: I like the free time and the holidays, and the poverty has more than been offset by the really huge amount of time I can spend with my family

    Of course this depends on your field. My husband is a scientist and he worked every holiday and 60 hour weeks for years to build his career. Free time and holidays are not much of a reality for us. I guess it depends on what is required for tenure, etc. in your field and whether you have a 9-month or 12-month appointment.

    We do travel with him, and that does provide some family time and opportunities. But as the children get older and have their own schools schedules, etc. that gets more challenging as well.

  44. Why would anyone want to work at BYU. The only thing worse would be attending BYU.

    In seriousness, I wish that people realized the impact they could have by instructing at non-Mormon schools. The member missionary oppourtunities are huge.

  45. Tatiana –

    I loved your story (#18) and laughed out loud at your concept of Relief Society. I currently have a calling with the Enrichment Committee, and yesterday, we talked about upcoming activities: cooking classes, Book club, a volunteer night at the food bank. I suddenly imagined the reaction of my fellow committee members had I suggested that we hold a class on designing nuclear power plants or how to rebuild the necessary infrastructure for a stable society after a nuclear disaster. I love it, and think you are brilliant and fabulous. But I kind of somehow think they would have looked at me funny. Thanks for catching a vision of Relief Society that exceeds what mine has been. If there’s a nuclear war, I’m moving to your ward.

  46. I am a lawyer because, since my Dad was a lawyer and several members of his family were also, it was always my default setting. Had I followed my heart, I would be a full time writer. As it is, I struggle to write in my “spare time” while trying to practice law and raise two kids with a wife who also works full time. (Speaking of that, someone should post on how women in the church who work full time are not-so-subtly looked down upon by the stay-home-moms. Not okay, in my book.)

    I would tell Keri not to give up on lawschool if it’s what she really knows she wants, but I would also say that there is much about being a lawyer that is frustrating and unfulfilling at least for me. The law is certainly no guarantee of riches, but there are a lot of potential career paths, many of which provide good incomes. I know nothing about academia, so I cannot compare it with that. My general feeling, however, is that no one should go into any field of endeavor strictly for the supposed income it will provide, because in the end you will probably not make money doing something you don’t like.

  47. Thanks for sharing some of your personal trail in life. As an evangelical here in the midst of you all, I am noticing a lot of lawyers have a side hobby of academic LDS blogging.

    This is not an anomaly in bloggernacle. :)

  48. re: phds having to chose between academic or private industry positions, I am left to wonder what would posess someone living at the poverty level to have 3-4 kids? This is the reckless behavior that we all frown upon for people who are not in college. What makes being in college/grad school any different, particularly if those choices affect end up handcuffing a father or family into a less desirable but more lucrative position. Why can’t the kids wait until the person is more settled? I see it in my ward: young married grad students with 2-3 kids and the mom stays at home. I wonder how in the world do they afford it. I know they must be incurring massive loads of debt that will dog them for years to come and affect what they do post grad school.(Some of these people are the first ones to sniff at some of the poor people in the ward who are in the same income bracket with kids and need financial help.)

    Fascinating topic though, and I enjoy reading KB’s candid walk down memory lane, as I do most of his posts and thoughts. My path is much more pedestrian. I was attracted to the law; got an undergrad degree in American Constitutional History; went to law school; sweated out a couple of years at a big firm billing like crazy; got an opportunity for a fed govt position with loads of litigation and have remained there for several years. Got married along the way and three kids later sometimes wonder if I should abandon law for some business opportunity.

    Sorry for the threadjack about impoverished grad students spitting out kids and then complaining how family size and obligations limited their job choices upon graduation.

  49. jd, the Relief Society totally can do that! I’ve met so many sister missionaries to whom those things would be no terrible challenge. Cooking things is great, but first you need running water and electricity and markets that are stocked with flour and all the other commodities you need to cook. All that stuff is just part of the delicious meal we end up providing for our families. RS kicks butt and gets it done! Chyea! =)

  50. rc,

    They “spit out kids” because they believe that’s what God wants them to do, even in their poverty. The mother stays at home because they believe that’s also what God wants them to do.

    No church leader that I’m aware of has publicly counseled people to wait to have kids until they can “afford it”; usually, it’s the opposite. Your points are well made, but we are talking about Mormons here. Should yours become the de facto position in the church, I know a lot of people in my generation who are going to feel alienated by it. In my Baltimore ward, there were perhaps twenty student families; virtually all had children. Should it now be church policy to teach that what they are doing is foolish?

    In other words, if you think that they are being foolish, note that they are only doing what they think the church teaches them: “have children, have faith, the Lord will bless you.” If I followed your advice I would still be childless or I would have chosen a different profession. Trouble is, I would then have missed out on doing what I do (and I like it) and and my darling J, W, and M would not be part of my life. Forgive us if we occasionally admit that it’s a struggle, though. You may be right that for many, it simply will not work. But the effort to “seek knowledge” whilst also “replenishing the earth” is a Mormon calling. You make it sound like the path of the deranged. We are Mormons here. We don’t like being called deranged. Our Gentile colleagues think we are crazy; therefore the moral support of our fellow Mormons is vital. If we lose that, well, it will be disappointing.

  51. True, but I also don’t believe that any church authority would advocate intentionally bringing children into a situation where you know you have no ability to provide for them. I doubt very much that is your situation. “Poverty” is a very relative term. To KB it might mean only being able to see one movie per week. In any event, I don’t think you should leave the impression that faith and family planning are mutually exclusive.

  52. MCQ,
    Good grief, no. I am delighted that Mormons got over their family planning aversion and that 3 is the new 6 (or whatever it is). You are right that it would idiocy to have a tonne of children if you really are in poverty. (Of course, feeding, housing, clothing, and providing “basic needs” for children need not be half as expensive as people imagine.)

    But it would be a major re-write of Mormon practice to suggest church leaders have not spoken laudatory of people who do not “postpone” having children and who have children even when not all the stars have aligned. I remember a talk given by Elder Holland about his beat-up old car breaking down with his family inside when he drove to grad school. He confessed to the weight he felt on his shoulders, but it was clear that the collision of family, poverty, and school had been, in the long run, a good thing. He was treating with reverence what that break-down meant, not condemning it as foolish.

  53. In case my last comment is misinterpreted: I don’t think you are deranged and you have my full support, moral and otherwise! I just don’t want those who choose to wait to have children until after grad school (as my wife and I did) to be labeled in some way less faithful just because we felt less able to endure the struggle that you signed up for. I am certain that you are blessed for your willingness to endure the struggle, but some of us doubt our ability to likewise endure and chose not to run faster than we have strength (or at least confidence). Don’t hate us for that.

  54. MCQ,
    Double good grief! I say each to his own; family timing and size is no-one’s business but your own. I’m not saying kids-in-grad-school is the right way or the wrong way (it’s certainly the harder way and it may well be detrimental to academic careers, which is a major worry). I’m just saying that there’s a good reason why Mormons do it and I felt rc was missing that.

  55. Thanks, I love that talk and it reminds me of a favorite by Holland, “The Inconvenient Messiah” which I practically memorized. I also thank you for your sentiments on family planning, partly because I am always stunned by the number of people in the church who seem to feel just the opposite way. These people appear to believe that “everything not forbidden is compulsory” to borrow an apt phrase from TH White, and they seem determined to belittle the choices of those who are not sufficiently orthodox in their lifestyle choices. I may be too sensitive, or this may be be a phenomenon that is experienced only within shouting distance of “Happy Valley” but I doubt it.

  56. I didn’t want to threadjack b/c I think KB’s post is much more interesting and I am very interested to hear other stories of folks.

    Ronan, please calm down. I’m not going to second guess anyone’s prayerfully thought out family planning. I was only commenting on the whining and complaining that comes after the fact about how future choices are limited b/c of family size as if children somehow magically appeared out of nowhere. And, if your post reflects current Mormon thinking then we are imposing a huge double standard on those parents who are not and will never be in college, to say nothing of grad school, but feel the same spiritual promptings to have a lot of children. Ronan, think about all of the hand wringing that goes on in EQ, HP and RS when a new convert from the lower socio-economic strata with a lot of children and no visible means of support joins the church. Do we count those same kids and family situation as a “blessing from the Lord?” I’m with you in that I do, but many of the self righteous who are in similar situations, even if only temporarily, do not and look down their noses at the new converts “poor” past choices. One last point, being Mormon does not mean making choices that are going to leave one with life long regrets. To be sure, children are a gift and mine are the primary reason I stay with the govt. W/o kids I probably would have stayed with the large firm, billing like crazy and making at least twice what I currently make. But, I’m not complaining. I was in a position to make a choice. When I’m able to chaperone a youth conference, camp out, coach a sports team(s), do pro bono work for poor members of the ward w/ little difficulty, I’m glad Uncle Sam is so understanding about my time.

    I sure don’t want to alienate anyone in the church w/ my position. IMO there’s already too much alienation in the church, subtle and overt. (Although w/o alienation, perceived and real, there would be a lot less to discuss in the bloggernacle.) Rest assured, if I ever find myself in a position to set policy for the church, something will have gone terribly wrong to have to reach down to me.

  57. Well, I’ll just say that you’re right that there may be a double standard. The difference, I suppose, is that one demographic has a hopeful financial future, and the other doesn’t.

  58. And you’re right, these grad student kids didn’t arrive via a stork. People know it will be a struggle, but as this struggle is often romanticized in the church, it’s often more than they realised. Anyway, I’m not whining. I have delightful kids and I live in Vienna. Pretty damn good.

  59. Future financial aspirations don’t feed,clothe and educate infants/children that are in the present.

    Living in Vienna, even with difficult children, would be nice. You’re lucky. Quite a change from Charm City.

    Sorry for the threadjack, I want to read more stories about people’s career tracks.

    I also think I want to switch to the dark side and become a plaintiff’s lawyer so I can sue a large drug company, make tons of money from the settlement, and then fund a bunch of apsiring Mormon academics like KB and others in the bloggernacle so they can continue to produce quality, informative and entertaining work.

  60. rbc,
    Yes, we certainly need a big, phat Mormon humanities endowment.

    Also, how much money do you think a person needs to feed, clothe, and educate children?

  61. I have no idea how much money is required, but would posit somewhere in the neighborhood of not much. Time, IMO, is much more important to raising healthy children. More money makes parts of the parenting job easier or allows for more activities, but a lot of money is not a prerequisite to raising healthy kids. Thrifty Mormons prove that time and time again.

    Time with children is far more valuable than the latest clothes from Abercrombie or other expensive consumer good.

    Of course, if the time together is spent in box seats at a major league baseball game (Braves in particular), the final four, or a football game (monday night football, naturally) then all the better. Lots of teaching moments occur during the course of an epic sporting event. (I would also throw rugby matches in, but draw the line at cricket.) However, that requires money or a company with season tickets or friends who work for a company with season tickets.

    For most of us, though, a lot of family time together is spent in the car shuttling back and forth from one game to another or one church activity to another. This is especially true in areas with large geographical wards. Someone should write a book, or at least a blog entry, about how to raise kids in the car. Sometimes it seems like our SUV is our living room, complete with DVD player. At the same time, our family has had some of the most fun, revealing conversations while driving in the car, usually to or from a church function like the temple, a dance, mutual etc. (I can’t include Sunday church b/c our family never rides together to church-thank you PEC and other endless meetings, but that’s another blog entry.)

  62. Also, how much money do you think a person needs to feed, clothe, and educate children?

    According to the Finnish government, 103.52 EUR a month for the first child, and additional 107.36 EUR for the second.

    When I finished my BA, I felt I needed some time out of school before deciding between law and an MA in folklore or composition theory, so I got work for a publishing company. I made loads of money but I was bored and lonely (I telecommuted). I fell into teaching high school, and found it challenging and morally satisfying. After I got my MA it paid well enough to live on, and the fact that I believe in my work appeals to my idealistic side.

  63. Norbert,
    What do you teach? And how did you land your Finnish gig?

  64. Ronan,

    I have never heard such a good defense of the long standing tradition of RM’s getting married early, having kids early, struggling, and then eventually becoming somewhat successful.

    I walked that path myself and would not trade the exp for the world. In fact I would say it was one of the happiest times in my life.

  65. Thanks bbell,
    Again, I’m not advocating it, I’m just defending it (as you say) in Mormon terms.

  66. It may sound kind of old fashioned but I have heard numerous GA’s state similar things in person.

    In my view here is what is going on.

    1. The church is struggling to maintain a healthy birthrate.

    2. The church sees a spiritual benefit to having its members marry young and start families young

    3. Members of the heirarchy tend to have married young, had lots of kids, struggled and eventually succeeded. They see this model as the “true path” or the ideal.

    I personally think that as time goes on and the culture continues to shift against marriage, childrearing etc. that this tendency of early childbearing will gradually get less and less common amongst the membership in general. This will please some members and concern others.

  67. It’s about time someone who isn’t an academic or lawyer lays down their career path. It’s actually a good way to introduce myself, the weird guy who just stuck his nose into your blog a short time ago. I actually feel my career chose me.

    I went to a small private college, and upon return from my mission couldn’t afford to go back. I went back to working on ranches and riding bareback broncs in rodeos around the northwest. I was supposed to be saving money to go back to school, but there wasn’t very good at riding broncs. Then, one winter, I got cold, and I knew I would have to get a job.

    I’d been using computers since I was eight, so I felt that would be something I could do. I marched into a PC manufacturer one day, and left with a tech support job. I got engaged 4 weeks later to a gal I never dated, and we married one month later. When my wife got pregnant a few months later, we had only used couch from the DI, a mattress on the floor, a crappy TV that was sometimes color, and a radio-flyer wagon we walked to the grocery store with. I couldn’t have my child come into that kind of poverty, so I bought a $450 1970 Buick LeSabre, and I went to work for a software company.

    Fast-forward a couple years later; I’m a DBA/Project Manager. I make less where I am at than I could elsewhere, but we are very comfortable in a nice city near Seattle. I walk my kids to the bus stop in the morning, and I’m home only an hour after they are in the afternoon. My employer also lets me coach high school football in the summer and fall. It’s not the career I would like to have, and it’s certainly not my dream job. I’d like to go back to school and finish a degree. I’m happy, though, and providing well for my family while still being around.

  68. Melissa De Leon Mason says:

    My career path is constantly changing, but with everything I do, I feel like this wide path in front of me narrows just a little bit as I find things I love and things I don’t. I’m enjoying the journey, but sometimes I wish I could just figure out where path is leading.

    I came out of college wide-eyed and idealistic, knowing I was going to change the world in some grand way. I took a job running the children’s division of a local homeless center. It was a fantastic place and we had more resources and support than most similar places. But even as I tried to make a difference in my families’ lives, the abject poverty and misery that surrounded me every day took an extreme toll on me. I literally couldn’t stop thinking about the people I worked with and situations I saw. I developed serious insomnia and cynicism. Frustrated with the emotional burden and lack of resources needed to really break the cycle of poverty and not just put a band-aid on it, I left. I just couldn’t do it.

    Finding myself unemployed I became convinced that law school would be the way to go. Then I could work through the legal system to address the gross injustice that my kids dealt with as they were filed through the systems of CPS and welfare. I took the LSAT, put in applications, and got in. When it came down to making the decision though, I felt like I was having an anxiety attack. After months of obsession and planning, I realized I just really didn’t want to be lawyer.

    So now I work in a university, counseling mostly low-income and first gen high school students who want to go to college. I love it! It’s not the grand saving the world I expected but I feel like I’m making a difference in my little corner of South Bend.

    I like to imagine Michelangelo chipping away at his Captives statues. He was certain the finished image was inside, he just had to keep refining until he got there.

  69. re: comment 67, struggle is a relative term in a worldwide church. The “struggles” of an LDS undergrad or grad student with a family in the United States are almost laughable when considered against Mormons in the less developed parts of the world who also happened to have married young and started having kids. In fact, the two “struggles” really are not even comparable. Whatever struggles you and others similarly situated endured probably look like an early version of the celestial kingdom to many, many bishops and stake presidents in the developing part of the world.

    KyleM, tech support managers are subversively taking over the world. My office virtually comes to a grinding halt whenever there are computer/internet issues. We are entirely dependent on our computer/IT department. My home computer recently crashed and in the week or so it took to upgrade and get our new computer, my kids had all the symptoms of a drug addict going through withdrawal. I wonder if they could exist without instant messaging and text messages, but,it was nice to have them back for about a week.

  70. re 67, is it true the church is struggling to maintain a healthy birthrate? What is considered a healthy LDS birthrate? I know LDS families are noticeably smaller and come in many different forms these days than a generation ago, but is that something church leaders are concerned about? If so, why?

  71. From Elder Oaks recent dating talk:

    In his address at the BYU spring 2005 commencement exercise, Elder Earl C. Tingey of the Seventy referred to an article in a recent issue of Time magazine. It states that the years from 18 to 25 have become “a distinct and separate life stage, a strange, transitional never-never land between adolescence and adulthood in which people stall for a few extra years, [postponing] … adult responsibility.” The article describes these transitional individuals as “permanent adolescents, … twentysomething Peter Pans.” 1 Putting this analysis in terms more familiar to his audience of BYU graduates and their families, Elder Tingey spoke of “the indecision some college graduates have in … accepting the responsibilities of marriage and family.” 2

    This tendency to postpone adult responsibilities, including marriage and family, is surely visible among our Latter-day Saint young adults. The average age at marriage has increased in the last few decades, and the number of children born to LDS married couples has decreased. It is timely to share some concerns about some current practices in the relationships of young LDS singles in North America.

    and this: http://ce.byu.edu/cw/womensconference/archive/2006/pdf/Children_of_God-President_Packer.pdf

  72. I had the same question about #67. It doesn’t ring true to me that the church is struggling to maintain any particular birthrate, healthy or otherwise. And I agree that defining the term “healthy” is problematic, as well as determining what to do about it: Ban the pill?

    I also agree wholeheartedly with #70. We must look like complete wimps to both our ancestors who crossed the plains and those in the developing world who are wondering where their next meal is coming from and whether the water is safe to drink.

    Blinding death struggle in the US = 1 week without HBO

  73. I will surrender to a complete threadjack w/ apologies to KB. Why is it the church’s business in any way whatsoever how many children I and my wife, or any other LDS couple, chose to have? What business does a church leader have telling Mormon couples how many children to have and at what life stage the children should come? Do we surrender our free agency in this most intimate of decisions to church leaders who are far, far removed from our particular circumstances? How well do you think Elder Tingey’s exhortation, or at least strong implication, about family size would go down in India or China? Or, do those suggestions/hints only apply to American Mormons, or Mormons at BYU or wherever it was he delivered that address.

    About struggles, anytime I am forced to watch tv w/o TIVO it is a monumental struggle. I have become so TIVO conditioned, I find myself almost impulsively trying to instantly skip back 8 seconds during sacrament meeting talks or lessons when I miss something or want it repeated. Alternatively, there are times when I want to pause a meeting to deal with my kids so I don’t miss anything.

  74. With all due respect to Elder Tingey, I’m not conviced that the cure for permanent adolescence and twentysomething Peter Pans is parenthood. From the perspective of the innocent child or those of us who will have to pick up the pieces, that is a scary thought.

    Indecision with respect to having a child may not be such a bad thing.

  75. Well, OK, threadjack notwithstanding, I just read the address by Packer and I guess I stand corrected. I think he IS advocating for a particular birthrate and, contrary to rbc, I think it IS the church’s business, if it chooses, through it’s leaders, to get involved.

    I guess I never interpreted “multiply and replenish the earth” to mean “keep the birthrate above the replacement rate,” but I suppose a case can be made for that interpretation. That does not, IMO, preclude my exercising free agency, it just gives me some counsel to apply when planning the size of my family. Note that the Proclamation on the Family also still stipulates that it is the father’s duty to provide for such family. If you no you can’t (yet or ever), I still believe there is a virtue in forbearance.

  76. sorry, I meant “know” not “no” in the last sentence.

  77. Why is it the church’s business in any way whatsoever how many children I and my wife, or any other LDS couple, chose to have? What business does a church leader have telling Mormon couples how many children to have and at what life stage the children should come?

    And for that matter, where do they get off telling us to do our home teaching and not to go into debt? Don’t they know we have free agency? It’s almost as if they think they have some special insight into the Lord’s will that might be useful for the average member.

  78. Kevin Barney says:

    Like any institution, the Church has an interest in growing and preserving itself. So there will always be subtle (or not so subtle) encouragement for bigger families, which tend to serve that end. But these days that encouragement is going to be rather vague and general, not specific. The days of bishops trying to dictate family planning matters for individual families are long gone, and such interference would not be tolerated well anymore.

  79. re 78, I guess we’ll add families with less than two kids to our PEC agenda and maybe even discuss this during ward council. Then we can assign the home teachers to call these families to repentance and admonish them to start having more kids, but to avoid incurring debt in the process. Let’s hope the pregnancies go as planned and there is no extended hospital stay.

  80. Re 80: I think you’re missing the point. I was out of law school before we started trying to have kids, largely because I didn’t see how we could do it without a crushing debt load afterwards. So I’m not sure I disagree with your overall thrust. But that’s a far cry from your intimation that our leadership shouldn’t have any perogative to instruct the membership on guidelines about bringing God’s children into the world. If we believe in an inspired leadership, we also believe that they might have relevant things to say about a great many topics the Lord finds important–and it’s hard to think of a topic more important to the Lord than children and the bearing and rearing thereof.

    I think the better tack for your argument is to assume that the Lord could speak on that if he chose, but that he hasn’t chosen to do so in a while. Otherwise, the logical extension of your comment 74 is that church leaders have no right to instruct us on any matter we find to be of a personal nature, which would somewhere in the neighborhood of 4 out of every 5 commandments.

  81. I Agree with that jimbob. There’s a big difference between giving talks encouraging members to have as many children as they can financially, physically and emotionally support on the one hand, and dictating family planning to specific families on the other.
    BTW rc, you could add that item (#80) to your PEC agenda right now and not increase the meeting length by more than thirty seconds.

  82. re; 80 and 81, good points, especially about specifics. I’m more of a spiritual libertarian: live and let others live, but be prepared to always help. Church leaders walk a tightrope between cranks like me and those who hang on their every word. Far more often than not, they do it very well-but they get a lot of divine intervention/help.

    I think discussing family planning in PEC would be the most interesting 30 seconds of the meeting.

  83. “… you and your spouse will be prepared to prayerfully decide how many children to have and when to have them. Such decisions are between the two of you and the Lord.”

    2004 True to the Faith resource booklet. You can access it in the gospel library at lds.org.

  84. Re 84: I’m not disagreeing with that Julie, if your comment is an oblique retort of mine. And it’s not the first time I’ve read that comment. I’m just saying that that policy in TTF has not always been the case, and it certainly doesn’t constrain leaders from giving more specific advice in the future. More importantly, those leaders certainly would not be outside their mandate in so advising, particularly if they’re speaking for the Lord.

  85. I doubt very much if we are going to see church leaders doing anything on this beyond giving talks encouraging a reversal of the trend toward smaller, later families. Again, I don’t see anything necessarily wrong with that trend IF it’s what is right for your family. I personally could not have done it any other way. I also recognize and believe that those who follow the counsel of church leaders on this issue are very blessed, precisely because of the difficulties and struggles involved. My point is only that I see some in the church who look down their collective noses at those who make choices that are different from their own and I would like to do everything I can to discourage that un-christlike and unwarranted behavior.

  86. Here is my career path towards self employment.

    I initially entered college wanting to be a lawyer as a freshmen. I did very well and enjoyed the pre-law and poly sci classes I took.

    That next summer I sold shoes in Chicago on 100% commission to fund my mission. I was soon making $1000 weekly.

    I went on out into the mission field convinced I could talk anybody into anything. Was then quickly disabused of that notion. But still managed to serve a successful mission in a low baptizing area

    After earning a business degree after deciding that I did not want to spend my entire 20’s in school and hearing about 80 hour work weeks that were required to make it big in law I convinced a chicago based equipment finance company to hire me.

    After a succesful run and a move to Texas in sales I realized that I was making my employers large amounts of money and that the money could be mine. I also got tired of corp pressure. Silly sales meetings and obstacles to satisfying customers.

    I partnered up with a “money man” and have succesfully become a small business owner in my early 30’s. This is the ideal situation for me. I work much less now and have freedom to go home and take my kids fishing or to soccer. My wife plans to join me part time out of our home office whenever we stop having kids in the house not at school. Could be years…..

  87. You are my idol.

  88. This thread looks like it’s been dead for a few weeks now, but I wanted to follow up to my #5 comment.
    I just got a letter yesterday from my law school giving me the opportunity to petition for reinstatement on academic probation. Basically, if I can convince them that I have what it takes to succeed, they’ll let me back in, provided I jump through their hoops.
    I have one month to prepare the petition. I want to have enough faith for this to work, but with how many blows my plans have already been dealt, it’s really hard for me to want to get my hopes up again, for fear that they will be dashed.
    I’m going to put in my best effort, and my faith and prayers. (Including prayers for increased faith.) I would like to ask you, my fellow brothers and sisters of the Bloggernacle to join your faith with mine to pray for my re-admission to law school.
    Thank you. :-)

  89. Kevin Barney says:

    Good luck, Keri!

  90. Keri, I wish you all the luck and blessings in the world, but one caveat: just be sure it’s what you really want. I think if it is, you will be successful.

  91. good luck, Keri.

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