My Daughter, the Lawyer

Dear Rabbi Daniel Lapin,

I am an avid listener of your podcasts and videos. Thank you for your wise words and teachings that you share, they have helped me immensely and also my family.

Do you have any advice for parents providing career ideas to their high school children? I have told my daughter I want her to study law as I think she would be very good at it, she can provide value to society through this profession, there are an array of jobs she could pursue with a law qualification, and it can provide good income in years to come.

What are your thoughts on stipulating what career your child should pursue? Are there any Jewish teachings in this area, or is there any guidance or wisdom you can provide?

Thank you.


Dear Gigi,

I am delighted that you enjoy the podcast and videos. My wife, Susan, is an active full partner in the creation of these resources. Our columns are a product of our total collaboration and she and I openly write this column together.

We both thought that your question would interest many of our readers. To answer what you ask in your final paragraph, one of the religious responsibilities of a Jewish father is to make sure that his sons have the skills and knowledge to earn money and support themselves and their families.

That is very different from what you say in your second paragraph. We discourage you from trying to guide a child into a specific career path, such as law. Firstly, the world is changing rapidly. Someone who trained as a doctor, lawyer, or in a number of other professions one generation ago, had entirely different expectations from someone training today. Secondly, increasingly, many training programs and professions today will only work with those who ‘sign on the line’ to support many anti-Biblical ideas. You have no way of knowing if in another seven or eight years, your daughter might get a law degree that she does not want to use or cannot use. What she will have is a great deal of debt. Finally, by telling your daughter that you want her to study law, you’re putting a lot of pressure on her to do so, and later, you will have inadvertently provided her with a ‘failure-trapdoor’ as in, “My mother made me do this–it was nothing I ever really wanted.”

What we do need to make sure our children have are thinking skills, the ability to work hard, and keep going through disappointments. Furthermore, we must ensure that our children possess fluency and literacy – both language and numeric. Finally, they also need a thorough understanding of money and of male/female relationships. If they have all that, they will be able to pursue whatever makes sense for them as an integrated part of a successful life. We want our children to have successful lives of which work is a legitimate component rather than wanting them to have successful careers of which a good life may or may not be a component.

We are sure that you noted that we spoke of a father’s obligation to his son. Girls also need all the skills that we spoke of in the previous paragraph. However, we recommend that parents also stress the wonders of being a wife and mother. Our culture deprecates both of those paths which places emotional pressure on young women to forego marriage and family, often permanently by choice or as an unanticipated consequence of relentless postponement. Your daughter needs to learn to value herself as a woman, and how to separate the knights from the knaves when she meets young men. She should be looking for a job/career path that will allow her to put building a family first. If she marries wisely, then she and her husband will have both income and family. Too many couples today have two careers and no family. Certainly, things happen, and women sometimes must take sole responsibility for income or contribute greatly to the family’s income. However, that is entirely different from planning for that as a first choice.

Gigi, you obviously are a caring mother who has her eye on the future, as you should. Please be aware that young women are being fed terribly destructive messages today by an anti-family culture and you would be advised to be very cognizant of what your daughter is hearing and internalizing. Do not assume that she is receiving basic skills or higher thinking level mastery in school. If you can work to ensure she has the building blocks for growing into an intelligent, mature, emotionally, spiritually, and physically healthy adult, then that will be more valuable than directing her on a specific career path. With the tools we describe, she will pick the right career path for her and make you a very proud mom.

Wishing you success,

Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin

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8 thoughts on “My Daughter, the Lawyer”

  1. Bethany Haynes

    I learned from my parent’s actions more than their advice. I learned the importance of true forgiveness. They were pastors who loved even this those who hurt them.


    God bless you for placing family and motherhood on our societal platform.
    This is getting drowned out with the noise of the world.

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