I’ve already mentioned that I don’t think much of most academics. While most of them suck, some of them are really cool and interesting though. Professor X was one of them. He was a visiting professor at my law school (which I won’t name because then you might figure out who I am and I would have to kill you) and I got a job as his research assistant for $8 an hour (which is minimum wage today, but was considered beer money 7 years ago). I took the job to add another line to my resume and because I figured that working for a nationally known expert in a high-paying field of law might come in handy because he probably knows a few people in big firms that would be willing to pay me more than I was worth for doing less than work than I should.
The money wasn’t great, but it was a cool gig. I got to pick my own hours and I could work between 10-20 hours a week depending on how few hangovers I had that week. I also had 24 hour access to the law library and the right to take out any book I wanted (even rare books and reference materials that other students weren’t allowed to touch). I took full advantage of that when I was writing my graduate thesis. I even had them recall a book that a student had checked out because I needed it for my paper. I guess I could’ve waited ‘till the student brought it back on his own, but what good is power if you can’t abuse it and be an asshole?
Most people know that I’m a big economics geek. What I found the most interesting about Professor X, was that he had attended the University of Chicago (the Jedi Temple of Economics) and had taken classes with Nobel Laureates like Coase, Becker, Stigler and notables such as the legendary Judge Posner. And I would ask him questions about what they were like. (it turns out that even among economists, most academics are assholes, but a few are really cool and down to earth. I won't say which of the people above fall into which categories, because I don't want to get sued for calling a Nobel prize winner an asshole).
The good parts about the job were that I could work whenever I wanted for as long as I wanted. If I had insomnia and wanted to work for two hours on a Wednesday, that was fine. If I wanted to skip a week, then work 30 hours the next week, that was fine too. I also got to learn about the obscure areas of the law that he was writing about. For instance, there are probably less than 20 lawyers in the entire world who know more about Islamic finance than me (since I don't even practice in that area of the law, that makes it even more impressive).
The bad part was the money. I don’t think you can live on a research assistant’s salary unless you live in a free dorm on campus and eat in the school cafeteria and date the freshman chicks (which are probably the only kind of chicks (except the drunk ones) who would find a 28 year old research assistant hot). I don't want to end up an overeducated, underemployed guy living in his parents basement--that would reaaaallly be pathetic.
I think working as a research assistant honed my legal research skillz, which is something that has helped me other jobs. Professor X also cited me in a footnote to an article that he had published in the Harvard Law Review. That's right, bitchez, HARVARD!!! And you know that whenever someone reads a prestigious legal journal like the Harvard Law Review, the first place they look is in the footnotes. And having your name in print is exactly the kind of exposure that creates positive experiences in life. When I meet people in the legal profession, sometimes I resent how they pretend that they've never seen the footnote. Jealousy is a terrible, terrible thing. Don't hate the playa, bitchez, hate the game. (I'm not really sure what that means, but I think my 'street cred' just went up almost as much as if I'd "busted a cap" in a snitch.)
Anyway, it wasn't the perfect job, but it helped me get closer to figuring out what kind of job I did want. I would have one more job in law school (on Capitol Hill), before ending up at the law firm that would shape (warp?) my mind for the rest of my legal career. Sooooo...next time: Mr. Ninja goes to Washington.