Fig 1. Bad law
Fig 2. Bad ad
Last summer when I announced my decision to go on sabbatical from the real world in order to become a full-time law student it was met with understandable side eye. My close friends had known that it was an idea I had been incubating until the right time, but others were pretty stupefied. I had a fairly cushy, work from home if I wanted to, position, and my clients were pretty cool, which almost never happens. Advertising is not the most lucrative position, but after years of scraping, I was freelancing on the side and was pretty financially comfortable going out most nights of the week.
Law school was such a seemingly unrelated, expensive, potentially useless career move that to some it made little sense. I mean, I was/am starting all over from square one. (Case in point: at the moment I am applying for unpaid internships. I am 30 years old).
Now it’s been a while since I’ve seen square one but its not a bad little place to hang out every once in a while. It tends to bring out the opportunistic idealist in all of us. (Case in point: I am applying for unpaid internships and am not totally hostile at the fact that they are unpaid because of the experience I stand to gain).
However, the further I get into my studies and understanding of the legal profession, the further I am realizing that advertising and law are kind of exactly, 100%, the same, except not. The language is different but the struggles are parallel.
Here is why*:
1. Advertising is primarily a client service industry.
If you don’t make clients happy, you don’t stay employed. In law, if you can’t make your clients happy, you won’t stay employed, either.
2. The billable hours are just as vast.
Christ if I could tell you the hours I used to work when I was a young, upstart account executive. Evenings, weekends, I occasionally even got up super early to get to the office and that is something I am pretty much abhorrently against.
Similarly, from my understanding, once you work at a big corporate law firm you are almost never heard from again.
3. The “work hard, play hard” mentality is thankfully also vast.
Of the people I know that can out drink my advertising friends, most of them are lawyers or lawyers-in-training. Thats a damn tall order too because you should see my advertising friends.
Additionally, never have I attended so many school-oriented functions that were centered around happy hour.
4. You work yourself to death for years to ultimately either make partner or go in-house.
5. You speak in Greek.
This is a relatively inconsequential similarity, but often times advertising agencies will present concepts for mail pieces or artwork in which the copy is “greeked” in. This tactic is utilized to show the general layout, even if all the information needed to create the copy is not yet known.
Therefore, advertising clients are often actually reading Greek, whereas legal clients just think they are.
Har har har.