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Quitting the law to pursue a ‘dream job’

By September 2, 2003Humor, law practice

Most of the time I love practicing law, even on days filled with hectic chaos that lead to incomprehensible injustice. But sometimes I wonder what it would be like to work in a dream job, one where you get paid to do what you love and you have millions of people who appreciate your work.

I like to write, and so I’ve always felt that my dream job would have to involve writing. But writing is hard work so it would be best if I didn’t have to do too much of it. Writing headlines would be a nice gig; you just crank out a catchy title that grabs the readers’ attention. Not much heavy lifting there. But, still, I’d like to do more than just write boring headlines for a typical daily newspaper. Even the New York Times’ headlines are, for the most part, pretty vapid.

I had been thinking about this dream job for a long time in a sort of unconscious way when one day I was standing in line at the grocery. I started looking at the headlines for the National Enquirer. That’s it! I exclaimed. I could write for the National Equirer.

Over time I studied the handiwork of the Enquirer’s headline writers. The topics were sort of limited: Elvis, Aliens, disgraced famous people, and lazy ungrateful ‘hubbys’ The National Equirer’s whole schtick is about the headlines; no one ever reads the articles. So I figured if I learned the task of writing headlines I could go in there and make a pitch to become the Head Headline Writer.

Obviously, this is a competitive job. But I’m a lawyer and I can write creatively, so maybe I could pull it off. I focused even more intently on the headline writing technique used by the maestros at the Enquirer. I learned that the best headlines actually have two parts: the first part makes a tantalizing statement (e.g. “Elvis spotted at exclusive Spa in Montana”) followed by something that is even more tantalizing, perhaps because it raises an important question or something.

One day, however, I spotted a masterpiece headline that completely stunned me. It followed the pattern I’m describing perfectly. The main headline began with a boldly creative assertion, perfectly tailored to the National Enquirer’s readership:

Pickup Truck Found In Orbit Around Earth

Reading this I was a little dismayed. It dawned on me that I might not have the elite mental faculties needed to create the truly captivating headlines. And, as I went on to read the secondary headline that followed I knew that I was out of my league. The thought provoking sub-head was simple and yet brilliant: “Still had full tank of gas!!!”

Yep, that was it. A man’s got to know his limitations, and much as I’d like to think I’ve got the talent, I know that I can’t write headlines for the National Enquirer. So, if I can’t have my dream job, I might as well keep practicing law.


  • Janice Smith says:

    Dear Ernie:

    I ventured upon this site by accident and realize the bio is two years old therefore I don’t know whether it is valid or not.

    As a paralegal for approx 7 years and a Court Clerk for aSummary Court for approx 5 years,I am always curious about the public, justice and injustice; I wonder, have you found whether the public,senators, congressman, etc., really want to know the truth about injustice?Having worked for, note for and not with, City Government for almost 5 years before “It’s Just Politics” kicked in, I learned a very valuable lesson, employees who have quieter voices than mine and who have lesspassion about justice and injustice remain victims of the employer always.

    As a former attorney, I am sure you are quite aware of the injustices that run rampant nationwide.

    Should you ever come across a journalist/writer who is willing to tell astory filled with fact let me know. I, too, love writing, but my writing is usually filled with too passion and emotion, therefore, my editing process takes much time. I also know that unsolicited material is rarely welcomed.

    I attempt to ensure my words convey professionalism and truth withoutsounding as if I’m screaming sour grapes. One other insight provided byworking for local government; I can fully understand why our State and Federal Governments are such a mess….it begins on the local levels withthe Mayors, Judges, City Council Members, City Administrators, Chiefs of Police, Sheriffs, etc. We continue to make our cities “pretty” on the outsidewhile the inner workings are a mess. It compares to purchasing a book with abeautiful cover, yet the contents are incomprensible.

    Thanks for the voice. Good luck with your writing.

    Janice Smith

  • Do you love blogging? Get paid to do it then.

  • S. Kowalski says:

    The New York Times is perhaps slightly more prosaic than the Enquirer. As recent history has demonstrated, however, the Times has been almost equally denuded of credibility and, hence, would be an almost equally appealing opportunity for a creative writer (especially where the writer lacks the expansive imagination required for the more stunning Enquirer peices). So don’t give up your dream. Send a resume to the Times.

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