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How do I choose between two careers?

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I'm a community college student, who will be transferring soon. I have wanted to make movies ever since I was a small child. It's the only thing I have ever been good at. I make short films in my free time with my friends, I go to the movies twice a week. I analyze the box office, and the careers of directors and producers. Its the only thing I have ever loved.

Cut to my freshman year of community college, and I took a tort law class. Im not gonna lie, I love it. Nowhere near as much as I love movies...But I do like Law. Im good at law. I have gotten straight As in all law classes, and spoke with my Contract Law teacher who thought I should end up in law school, and it got me thinking. Im now torn becuase a career in law is stable. Its interesting. Im really good at it. But a career in filmmaking is all I've ever wanted. Its my passion. Its my dream. How do I pick between my passion and what I'm good at? I also don't know If I will be able to afford law school, due to the fact that Im having trouble affording undergrad. Im really torn. I come from a very poor family, and dont want to end up poor and miserable later in life. I want to make the right decision. In a perfect world, I would be able to do both...

#college #lawyer #film #movie #law #director #producer #cinema #law-school

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Dhairya’s Answer

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Hey Tyler,
It's great to see that you've found a passion Law and you're also excited about making movies. I take it you're transferring to a 4 year college next correct? The beauty of law school is that it accepts all majors regardless. If you are moving on to a 4 year programs, I'd recommend seeing if you can double major or minor. You can take prelaw classes and film studies as well. If you are serious about going to law school, also recommend you take a logic class from the philosophy department which will be very helpful to get you into the mindset for taking the LSATs.

Honestly, it's very early to worry about making career decisions and its seems you've set up a false dichotomy. You should continue to explore both. Look for internship opportunities at both law firms and film studios and see if you can get sense of what's involved into both careers. I'm not super familiar with the film world but I know its takes effort and luck to become a film director. While you can't control luck, you can control effort and you should be writing scripts, creating shorts, editing movies and build a portfolio if you haven't already. College classes will certainly film refine your skills, but if you're passionate, there's nothing stopping you from producing your art. Find friends who are also passionate, pool your resources and make your art! There are many career in the space of filmmaking. You should look into editing, visual effects, lighting, and the other aspects of filmaking outside of writing and directing as well during your career search.

On the law school side, it can a high risk high reward scenario. I have a friend in corporate law who made high six-figure salary after graduating law school. But he also worked extremely hard both in undergrad and in law school. He did well enough on LSAT to get a scholarship to a lower ranked school which chose over higher ranked school with no funding. At law school he was single minded in his efforts to get a job in big-law. He worked hard to get on the law review and be the editor, applied for and completed an internship every summer, attended every networking event and finished in the top 1% of his graduating class. Law school is a commitment and has many great upsides.

Honestly, its a bit early to be worrying about the cost of law school. I'd suggest first looking for opportunities to intern and get a sense of the legal world. If its something you want to pursue, work hard to keep up a high gpa and get good LSAT scores. Worrying about choosing to move forward with law school when you actually after law school admissions offers in hand. Until then, put yourself in the best place to succeed by getting good grades and experience.
Thanks for recommending Logic! I always recommend that as well! Kim Igleheart Translate
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Micaela’s Answer

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Go into entertainment law. Then you are focusing on the legal aspects of movies and music that are super essential to our sector. Or, pick one and do the other for fun.
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Kim’s Answer

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Whoa Tyler, slow down!

Let's look at film first: "Making movies is the only thing I've ever been good at." There is a LOT of knowledge that goes into making movies, knowledge that could be relevant in other realms - you have to know about people, and lighting, and sound, and editing - what people will like, etc.

Now, about law. I have taken law classes in community college, a university, and, as part of a master's program. I don't have any idea what your community college is like. I do know the one I attended was not anywhere close to the reality of law school. It was very introductory. Law is exciting, there's no doubt about it. And, when you have good professors who really make it come to life, it is really exciting! But, I guarantee you there will be at least one boring monotone professor in your future.

Law is not a guaranteed job. Every year, I read articles about how many law graduates cannot find jobs. It's a staggering number.

Ideas for consideration: There are at least two areas of law where you can learn a lot, but, not be a lawyer. That means not having to work 60-80 hours for at least the first two years, and, not taking on massive amounts of debt. If you really feel called to law, I'd recommend you take a Paralegal program. There are various ones. Some give you certificates. Some give you two year degrees. And there are others. You want to find one approved by the American Bar Association, as that opens a lot more doors for you. Ideally, you'd find a job working for a firm that specializes in film, but, something tells me that would be in California, where, the cost of living is really high. Paralegals do a lot of the work for the lawyers. The link is too long for the directory. Google " Directory of ABA Approved Paralegal Education Programs".

Another idea! Litigation Support Services! I think this might be your best bet. Litigation support services help law firms to prepare for trial. They gather documents, review electronic data, AND make videos, often called "a day in the life" videos. These are professional videos designed to showcase how the client has suffered . . . since the traffic accident, since the on-the -job-injury, etc. I honestly believe this would be the perfect intersection of law and video for you! How to get the job? I don't know! See if they have Litigation Support Services near where you live, look to see if they are hiring, and see what the job entails. Perhaps you could work there part time while still going to school, even if doing non-related work like filing or custodial work, just to get a foot in the door? You may try to reach out to some of the companies for feedback on how best to prepare, see if you can go meet them or shadow them or something.


Two other things.

One, people change jobs, and careers, a lot now days. Don't feel like you have to decide your whole future right now (of course, a commitment to law school would usually mean you stay in that field to recoup your investment.)

Two, about being poor. What I am about to say is not a reflection on your family. I do not know their circumstances. It is important that you take steps now to learn to handle money. Budgeting, distinguishing between wants and needs, saving, investing, insurance, "emergency funds," all those things.I have known some people who made really good money and were still basically poor because they had so many bills for sailboats, and airplanes, and horses, and. . . . learning to handle money takes a few years!

Anyway, Please let me know if this has helped!
Kim
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Kristin’s Answer

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Hello Tyler,

I agree with Micaela. Entertainment law can have you focus on both what you're good at and what you love! Every major film studio has a Legal department and they are incredibly important to the process of filmmaking.

Legal assists with everything from development (contracts for scripts/screenwriters, deals with talent, intellectual property), production (arranging crews, location contracts) and post production (clearances, credits, editorial/vfx contracts). Sometimes Legal can even lead you into a more creative position. For example, Josh Grode, the CEO of Legendary [Studio for Detective Pikachu, Godzilla (2014, 2019) and the upcoming Dune] started his career as a lawyer.

Before you make a final decision on what you want to do, I highly recommend taking internships in both fields (film and law). Since you're transferring schools, try to find one that has both film and law studies. Perhaps take Law as the major and then minor in Film? Law will definitely be a longer school commitment but if you're good at it, it will likely be more rewarding financially than a career in filmmaking.

Hope that helps and best of luck!
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Tiffany’s Answer

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Hi Tyler,

I am a corporate attorney and, like you, attended community college for two years before transferring to a four-year university. From my experience, the courses I took in law school were considerably different from the few I took in community college as those were merely introductory courses that scraped the surface of a particular subject. With that said, if you love tort law, that is great since it is a required first-year law school course and is tested on the Bar Exam.

Regarding your concern of which of the two industries is suitable for you career-wise, I would recommend shifting your perspective from a "passion vs. financial stability" mindset to a "which career would best utilize my skills/interests" one. Of course, while I completely understand that your family's financial background largely informs your future goals and plans, a career in law is not 100% foolproof. Many law graduates are unemployed following graduation and are unable to pay off their student debt. The reality is that there are more attorneys as there are jobs. However, I would not want to deter you from a career in law if it is a profession you are seriously considering. Many law schools offer generous academic scholarships and will assist law students with career search and development opportunities. If you are interested in becoming a lawyer, understand that the profession requires a lot of attention to detail and critical thinking. Do you enjoy reviewing and editing papers? Debating with colleagues? If "yes," then a legal career might be great for you!

I would also recommend reaching out to local law firms, companies, and public interest organizations to see if they have legal internships for college students. Such internships will likely give you the opportunity to see what the job is really like.

Unfortunately, I would not be able to comment on what a career in the film industry looks like, but would agree with the rest of the commenters above that this would be a wonderful time for you to explore and do some research about the two different career paths.

Best of luck in school (and beyond)!

Tiffany

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Cheryl’s Answer

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I agree with Kim. I work at a law school and some graduates find it difficult to gain employment. However, if you attend a reputable law school (think Harvard!), continue to do well (graduate at the top of your class), and remain focused (which should be easy since you are good at it and love it), you should have not problem finding a job. Some law schools also offer a substantial scholarship if you score high on the LSAT and show potential. They are looking for potential graduates who will pass the Bar exam and enhance the image of the law school which will entail an increase in future enrollment.

I also agree with Micaela. Combining law and film will give yield the best of both worlds. You will mostly succeed in what you are passionate about because you will bring the positive energy necessary to excel.
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