Entering the Golden Years

BY TAYLOR DASHER

Like a fair number of law students, I came here directly out of undergrad. I spent no time dilly-dallying or trying to find myself. I already knew where I was. And more importantly, I knew where I wanted to be. I was not distracted by a wide range of career options that lay before me (which, admittedly, was mostly due to the fact there was no range at all due to a poor choice of college major.) My path was clear: I wanted to be a professional. A professional student, that is.

Although the government initially conscripted for me the job at a tender age, I grew to enjoy being a student and I continued well past my required tour of duty. I’m not sure how the career can be beat. It offers fabulous, flexible hours, and casual work attire. As an “employee,” you are practically guaranteed an annual promotion unless you simply don’t bother to do any of the reading, attend any of the classes, or refrain from committing serious felonies against “co-workers” or faculty. And if you pick the right work environment (e.g., this one), you don’t even have to worry about that.

And now I am entering the final year of what has been a great career. After approximately twenty years – give or take a kindergarten – I am approaching retirement. I’m expecting some sort of commemorative pen or gold watch from the Dean, but a fat pension will also do nicely (and no, LIPP does not qualify as “fat.”) It was a good run, and frankly, it would have been substantially longer had I realized that the checks between the school and me would have been travelling in the opposite direction if I’d been more prudent in choosing a field of study.

But this year is a good time for my career to end. I feel I’m getting old. I’m retaining less and less of what I learn. As a high school senior taking calculus, I could recall most of geometry. Now as a third-year law student, I can’t remember what “separation of church and state” means.

Even worse, I have a strange desire to be a productive member of society. I now find that I enjoy work – though certainly not the hours that accompany “work”- more than school, and there can be no clearer sign than this that I have reached an age where dementia has set in. Like any old nag, sitting and complaining has become my pastime. My vision is going as well — the lofty view I had from the ivory tower is less clear than it used to be.

To celebrate my retirement, I had originally planned to buy an RV and a trailer in Boca Raton after the end of this year, but it appears that my 401k is not what it should be. In fact, I don’t have one 401k at all, or for that matter, the faintest inkling of what one is. I do, however, have a lot of other people’s money firing out of my checking account, and this sounds similar enough to Social Security that I am hoping I can change it into a permanent retirement stipend simply by filling out a few of the right forms. But just in case that plan does not work out, I have decided to start a second career, and this time I’m making sure the checks are travelling in the right direction.

Yes, I’m going to a law firm. I’m selling out and becoming an evil minion. And you know what? I feel fine about it. I know it’s probably just the dementia, but I don’t care. I’m getting on in years – I have to seize every moment of “feeling fine” that I can, regardless of cause. Besides, although it was probably due to a need for trifocals, I really didn’t see anything evil about working for a law firm. Or more precisely, my law firm. The other side’s law firm inevitably consisted of denizens of Satan who played pedestrian pinball with their giant German cars and nuns pushing baby carriages. But save for a few overcaffeinated litigators who failed to get their rabies shots on time, my firm seemed to have a lot of decent people who did decent work for a decent number of hours and got a decent amount of money for it. But when you’re old, I guess everyone seems like such a nice boy…even when they’re girls because at some point, trifocals really can’t quite fully compensate.

Taylor Dasher is a 3L. He was only kidding about the trifocals. But not about that pension, Dean Kagan.

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