Torn between two practices

Lawyering was not my childhood dream.

When I was a small boy I stood up during nursery school graduation and shouted “I’m *Punzi* and when I grow up I want to become a pilot!” Then my parents promptly pinned a gold medal on me (for the “Most Outstanding” honors).

When I was in grade school, I listed “Structural Engineer” as my ambition. Then my parents pinned an “Academic Excellence” ribbon on me during that graduation.

But then when I was in high school, I attended the graduation of my cousin, the valedictorian of the State University’s Law School. My dad just planted something inside me. “Try considering a career in law.”

At that time, I excelled in mathematics and the sciences. Although the grades could never be better, English, both as study of language and literature were not my strong points.

I was even one of those few students who were computer literate back in 1983 when my first computer was a Commodore VIC-20 with (get this) 5k of RAM and a tape drive. One of my teachers, my computer teacher, even encouraged my to take up computer science.

My life would have been soooo different had I taken the path that is not law.

Had I taken a career path than was not in law, I would probably be writing this blog somewhere outside the Philippines, in a comfortable first-world country and on a state-of-the-art laptop instead of this Celeron 433 clunker that I affectionately feed viagra to because the lcd panel cannot stand up anymore.

Just to give you an idea of what could have been, I have a cousin that is merely a year older than me that shared my interest in computers at a very young age. He had a Commodore 64 during my VIC-20 days. Unlike me, he chose the computer career path. Where is he now? Well, somewhere in Japan, a highly-valued (and pressumably highly-paid) expat for AIG (the New Jersey main office and not he measely Philippine branch). He’s just serving a tour of duty there before returning to the New Jersey main office.

That could have been me… Instead, I’m a struggling law practitioner deep in financial, emotional and situational debt due to the events of the past year. (More on this on another blog.)

Well in fairness, he’s far more intelligent and gathered far higher honors and grades that I did in my academic career but that’s beside the point. Had I chose another path, I would probably experience, even to a lesser degree, a life similar to my cousin’s

So instead, I ended up in law practice. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a terrible lawyer. Had my fair share of triumphs and losses, but I’m probably batting in the middle 90’s. That’s not bad. And I have not grown tired of being a lawyer. As a matter of fact, I can’t imagine doing anything else.

Which brings me to the topic of this blog…

Why torn between two practices?

Right now, I’m living a double life insofar as my law practice is concerned. On the one hand, I am a consultant for a government agency catering to the urban poor. Here, it’s called alternative lawyering, a break from mainstream practice where the focus is mainly revenue/fees generation. Here, the service is public service in its truest form. Here, I’m helping the people that need legal protection the most– the helpless, the powerless, the people that do not have places fit to be called homes.

On the other hand, I have a mainstream law practice where I handle “traditional” cases like collections, family cases and some criminal cases. This is my “bread and butter,” where I get my money to pay for my 6 year old’s tuition and my 1 year old’s milk and diapers.

The reason for my being torn? Sometime’s I feel that I’m a jack of all trades but a master of none.
Looking back, as seen above, it seems that I have been allowing life to take me where it wants me to go. To use my native tongue, nagpapadala lang sa agos ng buhay. I’m just letting life take me where it wants to go, like a paper boat thrown to the mercy of waves.

Sometimes I feel that I have to stop going where the waves take me and start steering and plotting my own course. I feel I have been sitting on the fence, playing safe for all too long. I feel I have to take control of my life.

But where? Alternative… or Mainstream? Have not decided yet. I’ll let you know.

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1 Comment

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One response to “Torn between two practices

  1. Hello Torney Punz (obviously, I didn’t opt to use your mainstream nick. I made an alternative! Hehe!)! First of all, congratulations on your new blog! It’s a very interesting read! Juicy posts! You actually inspired me to update my own blog over at rottentomatoes! Thanks!

    It’s amazing how life drastically change with the simplest of decisions. The continuous “what-ifs” playing in one’s head is a delight to ponder, but they’ll continue to be “what-ifs” if not acted upon. I guess, the most important thing is taking the responsibility of your choice, alongside with being satisfied with it. I don’t want to sound so existentialist, but it all boils down to that choice you made. If things don’t go right, there’s only you and your choice to blame.

    Law may not be your childhood’s cup of tea (or more aptly, a glass of milk)…but I’m guessing you learned to appreciate and love it. I’m sure you did or else you would have turned your back and looked for other options. “Kung ayaw, ayaw.”

    Funny you said, “I’m a jack of all trades by a master of none.” I recently filled up a profile which asked what my expertise is. I thought for a while and then it hit me. I can’t think of what I’m expert at! You know what I placed on the field? “I know a lot of things that I don’t excel in one. It’s frustrating.” So if it’s any consolation, at least you are not alone.

    Mainstream or alternative? It’s your choice. Just remember that you now have other factors to consider. It’s not only YOU anymore. Your family has to live with your decision as well.

    Have a wonderful week!

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