The Prestige of My Profession
Apparently doing what you love is in, and having a traditional high-paying job is out, at least in terms of using it to show off. At least that’s loosely what the Times suggested this weekend.
In a culture that prizes risk and outsize reward — where professional heroes are college dropouts with billion-dollar Web sites — some doctors and lawyers feel they have slipped a notch in social status, drifting toward the safe-and-staid realm of dentists and accountants. It’s not just because the professions have changed, but also because the standards of what makes a prestigious career have changed.
This decline, Mr. Florida argued, is rooted in a broader shift in definitions of success, essentially, a realignment of the pillars. Especially among young people, professional status is now inextricably linked to ideas of flexibility and creativity, concepts alien to seemingly everyone but art students even a generation ago.
“There used to be this idea of having a separate work self and home self,” he said. “Now they just want to be themselves. It’s almost as if they’re interviewing places to see if they fit them.”
In particular, the article beats up on lawyers a lot. My personal experience has been that the number of people who enter law for the “higher calling” is small — and about half the time they don’t even like law! Nearly everyone I meet who goes to law school either heard having a law degree would be a good idea or they want to make boatloads of money. If my anecdotes are even close to the truth, it’s no wonder students are bailing out in favor of flex hours and meaningful work.
[Update 1/7/08: A reader points out that it might be a good thing for the “higher calling” people to abandon law — if people hate law as much as the article suggests, perhaps it’s best left to the moneygrubbers!]