People are generally surprised when they learn I am a lawyer since, not only am I not practicing, I have also chosen a career path that is seemingly unrelated to my education.
I work in athletics compliance. I have never filed a motion, taken a deposition, faced a judge, or squared off with opposing counsel. Truthfully, I never plan to do so. The logical question, at least for most people, then becomes: why spend three years and tens of thousands of dollars on a legal education if you do not plan to use what you have learned?
That is the million dollar question, one I have been asked repeatedly. I struggled with that particular question for a long time and have defended my choice frequently. But in the end, the answer for me is simple: I am doing what I love. And, as dissimilar as my occupation may seem to lawyering, it still provides me with the opportunity to utilize some of what I learned in law school.
I have always loved the logic of the law and the satisfaction of crafting an unbeatable argument. NCAA legislation is by no means as expansive as US law, but the ever growing 300 page manual and accompanying database, boasting interpretations and case precedent alike, provide creative fodder for compliance staff and coaches alike.
Drafting a waiver, whether requesting an exception to a rule or petitioning for a student-athlete’s eligibility, can be a feat of ingenuity tantamount to fashioning a successful case. Also, answering a seemingly simple question can turn into a full blown game of reasoning, trying to marry NCAA directives with the realities of working on a college campus.
College athletics is a profession that thrives in the gray area and in finding imaginative happy mediums. For me, it is like lawyering lite—while it is not the same as engaging in active legal work, it provides me with the cognitive calisthenics I found so intriguing about law school.
I opted for a unique path, driven by my personal interests, but do I regret my time in law school? Absolutely not. My education has provided me with a unique point of view and a translatable ability to reason and debate.
So, if the courtroom is not for you, do not feel alone. Even if being a lawyer is always what you have dreamed of, I would encourage everyone to think about your passions and motivations. Take the opportunity to explore all of the options while you have the chance, and a world of possibilities (and careers!) that you never imagined may be opened up to you.