To law or not to law: End Note

When I started this series, Dean told to me right away that I am not the lawyer type. He is right. But at that time, I said, even eventually I decided not to do law, at least I want to know why I am not going to do it. This is a big decision, and I don’t want to rush it through without knowing exactly why. Looking back, I think figuring out why is a pretty good experience. I went through the analysis of myself by doing personality tests and examining personal values. Also I analyzed the job market by looking at prospective career paths, comparing incomes and work environments.

I have to say that my biggest motivation for considering doing law was the high income and the social prestige associated with lawyers. I realize that those things are from outside of myself. On the other hand, the biggest motivation for pursuing a scientific career path is simply that I enjoy it. And I know that I enjoy it. Even it does not make much money, at least I will be happy going to work every day in the rest of my life.

People say that those things that you do not do are the ones you regret the most. Fifty years from now, when I look back, I want to say to myself, I do not regret not doing law.

To Law or Not to Law: The Pursuit of Happiness

…I don’t know if Momma was right or if, if it’s Lieutenant Dan. I don’t know if we each have a destiny, or if we’re all just floating around accidental-like on a breeze, but I, I think maybe it’s both. Maybe both is happening at the same time.
— Forrest Gump, in Forrest Gump 1994

Kindergarten, elementary school, middle school, high school, college, and now grad school. Every stage of my life seems to be a preparation for the next. Such preparations are necessary in learning, for one cannot learn calculus before knowing how to count, or cannot read before learning characters or the alphabet. Preparations imply a goal, and all the trainings I receive seem to be just milestones in a long journey that eventually will lead to a destiny. But after years of training, I look into the future, still with doubts about where my destiny is. And this feeling of doubt often creates worries and sometimes fears, which for the most times are unnecessary.

Luckily, there is another perspective of life, that life is a journey, and that it is not about the destiny, but about what is on the road. This perspective is relaxing, comforting, often joyous, for anything that happens on the road is interesting if one is curious enough. But since it precludes any fulfillment of  predetermined goals, it can be aimless and sometimes wasteful of energy.

Now I think that a certain degree of doubt is inevitable and necessary, but at the turn of life, when a decision is to be made, I learn to trust my gut, and ask myself, “will you be happy doing this?” And if the answer is yes, I will do it. And I also realize that enjoying the journey is as important as achieving goals. And from time to time, I ask myself, “are you happy at what you are doing now?” If the answer is no, I will start to make changes.

To Law or Not to Law: Values

They are the hardest things to figure out, and yet require the least amount of thinking. Steve Jobs’s resounding statement “you know it when you find it” makes it sound so simple, but it does require quite certain amount of inner struggles, as Jobs himself exemplifies. Knowing whether or not I love what I am doing now isn’t hard. Intuition, gut feeling, or inner voice can readily tell me the choice. But projecting whether or not I will love what I will be doing in the future requires a certain amount of foresight. Circumstances can change, priority in life can change, and personal experience will also continue to influence the choice. But there are certain values that have repeated influenced my choices in life, and they lead me to where I am now. Figuring them out will give me a better chance in predicting where I will be. So here is the list.

Curiosity. I always interested in new things, be it new places, new people, new food, or new ideas, new experience, new challenges. Finishing something is never as interesting as beginning something new.

Honesty. My parents have taught me the lesson well. Even one can lie someone else, one can never lie to himself. And it is the latter that is going to kill oneself in the long run.

Fair play. It is the lesson learned from soccer. It is also about one’s self-respect and dignity. This value extends to any kind of competition I have been involved in.

Making a difference. To do something no one else has done before, to be somewhere no one else has seen, and to see something no one else has seen. It is not the egotistic desire that is trying to prove I am better than anyone, but rather a way to distinguish myself from others, to fully realize my unique potential in order to achieve something new in the world.

To Law or Not to Law: Personality

  1. Accountants: 64% ST; 23% SF; 4% NF; 9% NT;
  2. Bank employees: 47% ST; 24% SF; 11% NF; 18% NT;
  3. Sales, customer relations: 11% ST; 81% SF; 8% NF; 0% NT;
  4. Creative writers: 12% ST; 0% SF; 65% NF; 23% NT;
  5. Research Scientists: 0% ST; 0% SF; 23% NF; 77% NT;
  6. Law students: 31% ST; 10% SF; 17% NF; 42% NT;

–Gifts Differing.

I am a NTJ with a median value of E and I. This confirms some of my personal convictions: for example, I dislike sales or customer relations or accounting. More importantly, this finding simplified my career search by eliminating a large number of negative options. As a result, I concentrate on two categories mostly: scientists and lawyers.

PS. This post should be the first one in this series of posts in terms of logical sequence. And in fact it is the first thing I investigated, see my previous posts on MBTI theory and applications about two years ago. To re-post it here is to put all relevant information together in order to gain a wholistic viewpoint before reaching a conclusion.

To Law or Not to Law: Advancement

From Bureau of Labor Statistics:


Most beginning lawyers start in salaried positions. Newly hired attorneys usually start as associates and work with more experienced lawyers or judges. After several years, some lawyers are admitted to partnership in their firm, which means that they are partial owners of the firm, or go into practice for themselves. Some experienced lawyers are nominated or elected to judgeships. (See the section on judges, magistrates, and other judicial workers elsewhere in the Handbook.) Others become full-time law school faculty or administrators; a growing number of these lawyers have advanced degrees in other fields as well.

Some attorneys use their legal training in administrative or managerial positions in various departments of large corporations. A transfer from a corporation’s legal department to another department is often viewed as a way to gain administrative experience and rise in the ranks of management.

Chemists/Materials Scientists:

Advancement among chemists and materials scientists usually takes the form of greater independence in their work or larger budgets. Others choose to move into managerial positions and become natural sciences managers (covered in the Handbook statement on engineering and natural sciences managers). Those who pursue management careers spend more time preparing budgets and schedules and setting research strategy. Chemists or materials scientists who develop new products or processes sometimes form their own companies or join new firms to develop these ideas.


For faculty a major goal in the traditional academic career is attaining tenure, which can take approximately 7 years, with faculty moving up the ranks in tenure-track positions as they meet specific criteria. The ranks are instructor, assistant professor, associate professor, and professor. Colleges and universities usually hire new tenure-track faculty as instructors or assistant professors under term contracts. At the end of the period, their record of teaching, research, and overall contribution to the institution is reviewed, and tenure may be granted if the review is favorable. Those denied tenure usually must leave the institution. Tenured professors cannot be fired without just cause and due process. Tenure protects the faculty member’s academic freedom—the ability to advocate controversial or unpopular ideas through teaching and conducting research without fear of being fired. Tenure also gives both faculty and institutions the stability needed for effective research and teaching, and it provides financial security for faculty. Some institutions have adopted post-tenure review policies to encourage ongoing evaluation of tenured faculty.

The number of tenure-track positions is declining as institutions seek flexibility in dealing with financial matters and changing student interests. Institutions are relying more heavily on limited-term contracts and part-time, or adjunct, faculty, thus shrinking the total pool of tenured faculty. Limited-term contracts, typically for 2 to 5 years, may be terminated or extended when they expire and generally do not lead to the granting of tenure. In addition, some institutions have limited the percentage of the faculty that can be tenured.

For tenured postsecondary teachers, further advancement involves a move into an administrative or managerial position, such as departmental chairperson, dean, or president. At 4-year institutions, such advancement requires a doctoral degree. At 2-year colleges, a doctorate is helpful but not usually required for advancement, except for advancement to some top administrative positions, which generally required a doctorate. (Deans and departmental chairpersons are covered in the Handbook statement on education administrators, while college presidents are included in the Handbook statement on top executives.)

To Law or Not to Law: Job Growth

From Bureau of Labor Statistics


  • Employment: 2008 –759, 200; 2018 — 857, 700; Growth: 13% .


  • Employment: 2008 — 84,300; 2018 — 86, 400: Growth: 2%

Materials Scientist:

  • Employment: 2008 — 9,700; 2018 — 10, 900; Growth: 12%.

Professors: “Job openings will stem from faster than the average employment growth and many expected retirements. ”

  • Employment: 2008 — 1, 699, 200; 2018 — 1, 956, 200; Growth: 15%.

Note: Tenure-track positions is declining. See the next post.

For comparison:

Biochemists/biophysicist: “Biological scientists enjoyed very rapid employment gains over the past few decades—reflecting, in part, the growth of the biotechnology industry. Employment growth will moderate somewhat as the biotechnology industry matures, with fewer new firms being founded and existing firms merging or being absorbed by larger biotechnology or pharmaceutical firms.”

  • Employment: 2008 — 23,200; 2018 — 31,900; Growth: 37%.