UBC Philosophy BA ’07
Lawyer, Government of Ontario
For a while in undergrad, whenever someone would ask me what I would ever do with a philosophy degree, I would lie and tell them that I’d go to law school. After a master’s degree in philosophy, and contending with the economic recession’s impact on an already stressed academic job market, I decided to get a professional degree: I swallowed the lie, and went to law school.
As it turned out (and unsurprisingly), the study of philosophy and the practice of law are often notionally similar: much of lawyering is analyzing and constructing arguments; clear communication and argumentation—often in writing—is crucial; and various eccentricities are occasionally welcomed.
I ended up in philosophy in part due to a wide-ranging curiosity, and an unwillingness to commit to a major—I figured if I became interested in “X”, I could do “philosophy of X”. Along the way I encountered students and teachers who unabashedly, and relentlessly questioned and probed the world around them, and often with good humour. I still strive to carry that with me. I’ve also found that a field as sweeping as “law”, despite a propensity for specialization in the profession, can also be fertile for those with wide-ranging interests.
Generally, whether you join a recognized “profession”, or take a more entrepreneurial path, you’ve got to expect to jump through some hoops, regardless of your undergraduate degree. What is important is having an open, curious, flexible, and critical mind as you take on new challenges. I think philosophy is great for that. It’s tough to avoid the hurdles on any path, but a fearless intellect can only help, right?