For 22 years, Orange County has been paying back a massive debt caused by the County’s shocking declaration of bankruptcy in 1994. Today marked the final debt repayment. To see an article on the subject, please take a look here. For some important lessons to be learned, please see below.
The lessons to be learned from this extraordinarily unfortunate event go well beyond how to run a County effectively and wisely. The primary reason for the whole mess was an imprudent willingness to take enormous long-term risks for the sake of short-term profits.
We all can benefit from appreciating the danger of taking unreasonable long-term risks for the benefit of short-term gains. In particular, students considering law school would be wise to do what the leaders in Orange County did NOT do a couple decades ago: i.e., think seriously about the long-term.
There are a series of obstacles on the way to becoming a lawyer: preparing for the LSAT, filling out law school applications, three years of law school, and studying for the State Bar chief among them. In addition, there is the added challenge of finding a job in an unpredictable legal market even after successfully completing each of these steps. However, if one wants to be a lawyer and has a realistic view of what the profession entails, the long-term rewards can be substantial.
Orange County endured an awful lot of long-term pain as a result of County leaders unwisely focusing on short-term gains. Future law students should consider doing the opposite: focusing on the long-term gain that can come from some short-term “pain.”
I personally would not call the LSAT, law school or the State Bar “painful,” but they certainly do involve short-term challenges. But with those challenges comes the long-term benefits of becoming a lawyer for a lifetime.
The decision of what to do with one’s career is a deeply personal one – consider the time and cost involved in the process of choosing any career. But when making your decision, be sure to also think seriously about the long-term!