Another use of an English degree (HT JoVE)
JoVe likes to send me articles every now and then. They are always wonderful! Today she slipped the following one into my in-box related to another use of an English degree. This one shows how one academic found a career teaching writing in a big law firm. I got a special kick out of it because my dad is a lawyer and I’ve long argued (ha!) that my bent toward academic writing was fostered and nurtured through his rigorous approach to any debatable topic at the dinner table. I grew up, essentially, learning how to create an argument from my earliest memories. Not only that, lawyers do a tremendous amount of writing. The care with which trial lawyers must prepare opening and closing statements is every bit as conscientious as any academic preparing a thesis or scholarly journal article (if not moreso since justice and money are always on the line!). Think how many lawyers-turned-best-selling novelists there are, too. 🙂 I remember my dad writing a novel into his dictaphone when I was in high school. (He never did get it published though.)
A big litigation firm like ours is filled with nothing but writers. One lawyer here, in fact, tells people that he is a writer when they ask his occupation (insert joke about lawyers’ public perception here). My main duties are twofold. I travel to our offices around the world twice a year and conduct seminars on all aspects of the writing process, from punctuation to Aristotelian argumentation. I also work with associates and partners individually on their writing (what the corporate world calls “coaching” and academe calls “tutoring”), either in person or over the phone. They contact me at any point during the writing process. I sometimes answer questions on the spot, but it’s much more common for lawyers to send me a draft, which we meet to discuss.
My job is endlessly rewarding. I work in a five-member office of professional development. Three of us have Ph.D.’s, all in different fields. I teach an enthusiastic population: Professionals, especially those who write for a living, are eager participants in the learning process. Some of the intellectual-property and antitrust cases are fascinating; unfortunately, I am not permitted to tell you about them.