Saturday, April 26, 2014

Ambition never sleeps.

For the past year, I've been scheming and plotting my possible career moves beyond retirement.

It started about 3 years ago when a good friend asked me to perform some sort of "valuation" for a Doctor of Jurisprudence qualification from SMU. I had to compute his increments and current salary and make a projection for the future and compare it with the scenario whereby he gets a legal qualification and becomes a lawyer. The exercise was interesting and I told him that he had to work till about 51 years old to break even and if I were him, it'll be worth a try. I thought that for a single guy, becoming an A-grader might be useful in a singles bar situation which can't really be quantified by a financial model.

Result : He thought he'd be better off with his current career. ( And, on hindsight he did the right thing, he has been doing well today. )

Two years later, I was struggling with my day job which is mainly ordering food for activities in Block 71 and thinking about how pathetic my engineering career turned out to be while my investments were starting to able to replace my day job without me writing a single line of code, my friend, over coffee, returned the favor and asked me to pursue the advice I gave him some time ago. 

I was quite surprised at how that idea took hold of me then. Becoming a lawyer at age 43, after 14 years of engineering work and managing my own portfolio - it was ridiculous, vain, impractical, audacious, suicidal and borderline insane...

...which was exactly what I wanted to do in life !

As I have already "retired" there was almost no opportunity cost. Most engineers at my age are looking at a bill of $500,000 to attend law school, mostly from lost income. They will never recover from this financial cost and most will end up being apprenticed to someone half their age upon graduation.

I don't need my financial models to know this is the right move for me. If anything, it may resurrect my career. Furthermore,  SMU's Bloomberg terminals alone makes my fees a bargain.

I am a very old candidate, the preparations to be admitted were extensive. I started casually taking writing classes in Coursera and started reading books on Rhetoric. I started networking with current students of the course. Closer to the essay and interview round, I crammed the LSATs as if I was planning for a US University so that I can catch up with the younger and more energetic dudes. I still have doctor's handwriting.

So, two days ago, SMU said yes. 

Therefore, if everything works out, I will become a lawyer in 4 years. 

I may not choose a traditional career path and may rope-in  my lawyer friends ( all super-smart and motivated individuals ) to see if the industry can be disrupted by legal prediction tools which perform natural language processing and statistical analysis. This could mean a start-up with both programmers and lawyers ( Think about the couples that will form in my company ! )

Starting August this blog will also become a study blog to talk about how we can keep learning  as a student or a working professional. I will complete the Data Science Specialization track in Coursera to ease myself into my life as a full-time student. Moreover, since my Engineering and Finance student days, we're starting to learn a lot more about cramming for exams. Scott Young completed an MIT Computer Science course in one year. 


  1. Hi,

    I chanced upon your blog and first of all, congratulation on embarking your journey to a second career! I like reading your blog and hope we can do a link exchange.

    Thank you.

    SG Wealth Builder

  2. Thanks ! I have no idea what you mean by a link exchange but welcome anyway !

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