This summer, I participated in Passport to Practice. The focus was on competencies outside of legal know-how needed for success in the legal profession. It was great! I felt vindicated (I am selfish, I am wrong). But one major take-away? So. Much. Jargon.

For instance: valuation. What does that even mean? According to Oxford Dictionary, valuation is “an estimation of something’s worth, especially one carried out by a professional appraiser.” Since I’m not a professional appraiser, I’m going to think about valuation as: what do I value and why?

Step 1: Choose Your Big 8. Which values from chart below resonate to you when it comes to your career? Initially, I found myself making arguments for adopting as many of the poor, defenseless values as I could. (Note: not a helpful exercise). My Big 8 are:

  • Accountability;
  • Adventure;
  • Compassion;
  • Diversity;
  • Enjoyment/Fun;
  • Flexibility;
  • Generosity; and
  • Learning.
Advancement Competency Enjoyment/Fun Efficiency Security
Adventure Individuality Loyalty Dignity Influence
Aesthetics Equality Credibility Collaboration Learning
Affiliation Integrity Honesty Stewardship Compassion
Artistic Creativity Service Innovativeness Empathy Friendliness
Diversity Responsibility Teamwork Accomplishment Discipline/Order
Autonomy Accuracy Excellence Courage Generosity
Respect Accountability Wisdom Persistence
Dedication Empowerment Security Optimism
Improvement Quality Dependability Flexibility

Step 2: Apply Those Critical Thinking Skills, Work Edition. Why do you work? What defines worthwhile work? How does it related to the individual, others, and society? What does money have to do with work? What do experience, growth, and fulfillment have to do with work?

These questions are basic… and tricky. Why I work? Capitalism means I need resources to obtain Maslow’s staples: food, water, and shelter. I have to work to survive. Oddly, survival is not one of my Big 8. I like to work, too, especially when I get to help someone figure something out. Like when a student and I talked through a math problem. The student needed a different perspective, a translation of the instructions, and someone they felt safe asking for help. Or when I helped someone complete the gauntlet of obtaining their food handling certification (5 hours and $47 dollars later). I work because vulnerable people are being taken advantage of everywhere. It’s just not right and I have the opportunity to try and do something about it.

Step 3: Apply Those Critical Thinking Skills, Life Edition. What is the purpose of life? What is the relationship between individual and others? Where do family, country, and the rest of the world fit in? What is the role of joy, sorrow, justice, injustice, love, peace, and strife in your life?

Step 4: Find the Rub. Where do your views on work and life complement one another? Where do they clash? Does one drive the other (and if so, how)?

I honestly was not expecting such a deep dive. Why aren’t these conversations happening as part of law school? Why is thinking about my life, how my values impact my work, not part of law school?