I'm about as far "on paper" from a CS career as you can get right now, a law student about to start studying for the Bar exam. But if I'm honest, I kind of hate the law, and am kicking myself for not going after my hobby/love of computers. Is there any reasonable way to start inching closer?

Former AmLaw 10 or 20 (depending on the economy) partner here, currently on day 4 of learning html and css.

Feel free to AMA, but in answer to your points, what I can tell you is the instincts you express seem very familiar to me. You're basically saying, "I want to make stuff".

You need to decide whether that impulse is stronger than your needs for material satisfaction, or professional standing, or whatever, that you think is going to press your buttons in the law. I can't tell you law is all bad or all good. It's a good path for the right type of people. It is a terrible (and terribly destructive) path for the wrong types of people. I was somewhere between those two poles.

What I will say is that your impulse of "I want to make stuff" will only grow, rather than diminish. In particular, if you're successful at law, you'll have the dubious pleasure of mixing with your clients who will be a reminder that every day, they are making stuff, while you're not.

For that reason, I advise against doing something like IP law, thinking that it would be some happy compromise. The brutal reality of IP law in a big firm is you will spend a lot of your time looking at immensely dense documents and very little time looking at code. You could try going solo as a tech / IP / startup lawyer. That will get you closer to the action, and it is satisfying helping other people through what can be really interesting and difficult challenges. But still, as far as a compromise for your inner instincts to be the "doer" yourself, it would be a bit like giving chocolate to try easing someone off of narcotics.

For me, those same impulses you describe became impossible to ignore. Everything felt pretty meaningless next to that ... Money, once you are in the clear and able to ease the grip around your neck is a particularly dubious thing, and for some people going into the law they get stuck there because it can be a hard habit to kick.

[There's a good law blog, a bit dated now, by someone closer to this in your years: everysixminutes.com. Start all the way back at the first entry.]

Others here are obviously better placed to advise on that optimal paths forward for you. [I have found, from r/learnprogramming, that the paths sufficient for my aspirations to be even the lowliest jnr dev sometime this year making web apps, are surprisingly accessible]. I can only encourage you to grab the considerable opportunities that lie in front of you with both hands. But above all, just be true to yourslef. Honestly, at the end of the day, just nothing else matters.

/r/cscareerquestions Thread