2013 and 2015 T10 dropouts - Taking Qs

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StarFish346

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2013 and 2015 T10 dropouts - Taking Qs

Postby StarFish346 » Sat Mar 12, 2016 5:10 pm

Dropping out was one of the most trying and emasculating experiences of my life. It was also one of the most liberating. Someone who works with me is a dropout of a different t10 school and we were discussing how a thread like this would be for admits or current 1Ls who are questioning whether law school is for them.

I'm here to answer questions about what life after dropping out is like and help give those who are about to make a horrible mistake (staying in vocational school for a career they don't want) the confidence to get the hell out. My coworker will stop by and answer questions too. I think he is going to post his story after I post this.

I have a feeling that keeping any amount of anonymity will be impossible if we answer questions truthfully, but I'll try not to spill all the beans at the start.

My Quick Story: I went straight to law school from undergrad. Frankly I can't piece together a good reason why I decided to go anymore. Junior year of college I decided I didn't want to do consulting because most consultants I knew were either unhappy or total dbags. A couple friends had gone down the law path and I decided I'd take the LSAT just to see how I could do. Enter TLS - the infectious community that was like a blackhole for me. As soon as school rankings, LSAT/GPA 25th-75th %iles, biglaw placement %s, unemployment %s, etc. were revealed to me, law school admissions became a game to me. Inertia kept me going and I didn't really stop to think what law school would actually entail. "Hell, I'm smart, like to read and am ok at public speaking so I'm sure it will be awesome!" Besides, I was guaranteed that 160k job at the end, right?

Law school sucked. The people were great, which was surprising. There were a few "gunners" but my class and section was full of smart, kind, and fairly grounded people. In fact, most had pretty compelling reasons for being at law school. Their mature, well-reasoned decisions to go to law school ripped open a hole in my universe. I went because I did OK on a multiple choice test and because some fuckers on a forum let me think that HYS or T14 meant something.

The classes were mildly interesting, but the reading sucked. So did the exams. I've always had a knack for taking complex things and distilling them into simple concepts, but it felt like law was the opposite. The only thing that kept me going as long as I did was that I thought biglaw would be the prize at the end. I made the smart choice to actually speak to people in biglaw and most of them were unhappy or calculating how long it would take them to pay off loans so they could take a job they actually wanted. So, I bailed. From the first time I actually entertained the idea of dropping out to packing my bags and leaving was about 8 days. The school was awesome - they gave me the opportunity to come back anytime in 7 years, start right were I left off, and keep my scholarship. There's no way I'll take them up on their offer, but it was nice to be treated so well. Professors were understanding as well. My classmates probably thought I was insane. They were so hunkered down into surviving 1L that I kinda just left in the night. I tried to keep in touch with a few but it felt like some plato's cave shit where I came back and got wrecked for challenging their views.

I took a few weeks off and then started applying to jobs with the same vigor that I approached law school admissions. I applied mainly to rotational, marketing, and sales jobs at tech companies. Surprisingly I got a lot of interviews and was able to effectively spin my decision to leave law school. If anything, I got offered jobs that I would have never been in the running for straight out of school. Now, 2.5 years later I am happy and make a good living. I've been promoted a few times, I've had the opportunity to try a couple different disciplines within my company, and now manage a team of 8 (yes I know this paragraph is vague and probably what a lot of you are interested in. I'll be happy to answer more questions if you ask directly - didn't wanna put everything that gave away my identity in post 1).

Leaving law school was the best thing that ever happened to me. Please ask me anything!

swizzy432

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Re: 2013 and 2015 T10 dropouts - Taking Qs

Postby swizzy432 » Sat Mar 12, 2016 5:24 pm

Similar experience, slightly different starting point:

A little more than a year ago, I dropped out of law school with no backup plan and a “net loss” of about $40K in sunk tuition / living costs. I did, however, leave with the conviction that staying in law school was going to be a huge mistake for me personally. Based on my experiences in undergrad, working as a paralegal BEFORE law school, and in law school itself, I saw many people who resembled me and probably still continue to exist out there. Hope this is helpful.

My “quick” story: I went to law school after a few years of working in public interest. But, I started barreling down the law school path back in undergrad.

The college I attended drew a lot of go-getter-types who neatly sorted themselves into buckets from the get-go. There were techies pursuing their IPO dreams, future doctors, I-Bankers, consultants, and everybody else, many of whom wound up in law school, like me. The game was on, so, I chose a side.

Looking back, here’s the unvarnished truth of why I started skipping down the merry path to law school: it ticked off a lot of boxes. It was “prestigious,” it fended off post-collegiate questions, and I thought professionally, it played to some basic comprehension / speaking / writing skills I possessed. Leaving undergrad, I also had vague notions of public service, which I strangely thought could only be attained by being a lawyer.

One thing I think I did correctly was working for a public interest organization instead of attending law school right away. My time there was eye-opening, humbling, and certainly useful in terms of law school application ammo. But, what I secretly learned, and, was unwilling to confront at the time was that I didn’t really want to be a lawyer. Back then, I simply told myself I didn’t want to be a public-interest lawyer. In reality, I had no compelling reason, outside of my carefully built resume, for being a lawyer at all.

Essentially, at the end of my public interest stint, I went to law school out of sheer inertia. It just seemed so wasteful to say “fuck it.” I had multiple summers of legal internships while I was in undergrad + relevant post-collegiate experience, already lined up my recommendations, taken my LSAT, and navigated the gauntlet of getting in.

I took all the right steps but the most important one. Truly asking myself if becoming a lawyer would be satisfying to me. Not in a “yes, absolutely sir”-knee-jerk-reaction-to-an-admissions-committee sort-of-way, but in a let-me-drop-200 g’s-and-decades-of-professional-investment way. Table stakes, yo.

So, I went. And, it wasn’t too bad at first. The people were actually kind of awesome. Tbh, I continue to like and got along w/ more people in law school than in undergrad. But, the law school stuff itself was first tolerable, then aggravating, then horrendous.

I hated the material. And there was so much of it. Being surrounded by tons of aspiring lawyers also jacked my most competitive, perfectionist, neurotic, etc. tendencies to ridiculous, sky-high levels.

After my first semester, I spent a lot of time thinking about why I was in law school. I spent hours scanning the blogs of unhappy ex-or-current attorneys. And, one day, I decided to calculate exactly how long I’d have to work to hit net-zero and do something else with my life if I finished law school. It came out to a crazy # of working years with the assumption that I’d be able to (1) secure a big-law gig (2) last long enough to pay it off.

So, I left. And, it was the best decision I’ve made so far. Ask me anything.

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zot1

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Re: 2013 and 2015 T10 dropouts - Taking Qs

Postby zot1 » Sat Mar 12, 2016 5:25 pm

What's your salary range?

StarFish346

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Re: 2013 and 2015 T10 dropouts - Taking Qs

Postby StarFish346 » Sat Mar 12, 2016 5:37 pm

zot1 wrote:What's your salary range?


Sorry for the big range but someone who will read this works for me. 120-180. Started at 80-120 a few years ago.

My law school class will be starting their biglaw jobs in August/September.

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zot1

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Re: 2013 and 2015 T10 dropouts - Taking Qs

Postby zot1 » Sat Mar 12, 2016 5:38 pm

That's big alright. I'm just gonna use the low end as the closer amount. Thanks.

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Re: 2013 and 2015 T10 dropouts - Taking Qs

Postby swizzy432 » Sat Mar 12, 2016 5:41 pm

At my entry level position, salary range is 70-100K. If anybody is wrestling w/ questions of salary when evaluating dropping out, I'd recommend looking at it in a slightly different way. Compare 160K starting vs 70-100K starting + 2 to 3 years' of aggressively working for promotions / associated salary bump. If you drop out relatively early on, you have 2+ years of work to boost income level, not to mention significantly less debt compounding at 5-6% interest (say 100-200K depending on your situation).

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zot1

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Re: 2013 and 2015 T10 dropouts - Taking Qs

Postby zot1 » Sat Mar 12, 2016 5:44 pm

I'm not asking because I personally want to drop out. I'm an attorney now and love my work. You guys just welcomed any questions and that was the only thing I was curious about.

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A. Nony Mouse

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Re: 2013 and 2015 T10 dropouts - Taking Qs

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Sat Mar 12, 2016 5:50 pm

Thank you guys for doing this.

What was the hardest thing about dropping out for each of you?

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Re: 2013 and 2015 T10 dropouts - Taking Qs

Postby swizzy432 » Sat Mar 12, 2016 5:51 pm

:D . Absolutely. Happy to try and answer any questions. Just want to post a caveat. While many folks have different reasons (many which are perfectly justified) for attending law school, this thread is mostly geared for the archetype I feel I belonged to: the person who shouldn’t be in law school OR begrudgingly goes to law school already suspecting it’s probably not the best idea.

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zot1

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Re: 2013 and 2015 T10 dropouts - Taking Qs

Postby zot1 » Sat Mar 12, 2016 5:54 pm

I agree. I met a 1L when I was looking at law schools who was only attending because his dad was a judge and would disown him if he didn't follow in his footsteps. That was one depressed dude. He graduated and works at a firm now.

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Re: 2013 and 2015 T10 dropouts - Taking Qs

Postby swizzy432 » Sat Mar 12, 2016 5:55 pm

A. Nony Mouse wrote:Thank you guys for doing this.

What was the hardest thing about dropping out for each of you?


For me, the hardest thing I was expecting turned out to be not a problem at all. On the lead up to law school, I prob internalized a lot of perceived expectations from my family re what I should do after college (prestige / money / stability / etc.). So, I thought bailing on this course I had charted wouldn't go over so well. But, when I gave them the heads up, I got nothing but support.

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Re: 2013 and 2015 T10 dropouts - Taking Qs

Postby Hikikomorist » Sat Mar 12, 2016 6:01 pm

Did either of you have a particularly employable major/UG institution? To swizzy: how hard was it for you to find employment after dropping out? Was your experience similar to the other guy's?

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Re: 2013 and 2015 T10 dropouts - Taking Qs

Postby swizzy432 » Sat Mar 12, 2016 6:07 pm

Hikikomorist wrote:Did either of you have a particularly employable major/UG institution? To swizzy: how hard was it for you to find employment after dropping out? Was your experience similar to the other guy's?


I found work about one month after dropping out. I went to a "good" school but didn't have a particularly employable major (classic humanities major w/ law school as the eventual plan).

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Lexaholik

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Re: 2013 and 2015 T10 dropouts - Taking Qs

Postby Lexaholik » Sat Mar 12, 2016 6:07 pm

This thread has a lot of promise. Thanks for doing this.

My question: When exactly did you drop out (e.g. after 1L year, etc.) and how well did you do on your exams? Did your performance play a role in your decision to drop out?

swizzy432

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Re: 2013 and 2015 T10 dropouts - Taking Qs

Postby swizzy432 » Sat Mar 12, 2016 6:15 pm

Lexaholik wrote:This thread has a lot of promise. Thanks for doing this.

My question: When exactly did you drop out (e.g. after 1L year, etc.) and how well did you do on your exams? Did your performance play a role in your decision to drop out?


I dropped out after my first semester. GPA-wise I believe I was more or less on track to stay in contention for biglaw. That said, the extent of my research on this was limited to anecdotal advice from fellow peers. Not sure about Starfish. Believe he's out atm, but will let him field his own responses after he gets back.

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Re: 2013 and 2015 T10 dropouts - Taking Qs

Postby Hikikomorist » Sat Mar 12, 2016 6:18 pm

If you had it to do over again, would you search for a post-law school job before dropping out, or was it more important to maximize your performance so you'd have a backup option if the search didn't go well?

Thanks for taking questions, by the way.

swizzy432

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Re: 2013 and 2015 T10 dropouts - Taking Qs

Postby swizzy432 » Sat Mar 12, 2016 6:26 pm

Hikikomorist wrote:If you had it to do over again, would you search for a post-law school job before dropping out, or was it more important to maximize your performance so you'd have a backup option if the search didn't go well?

Thanks for taking questions, by the way.


Hmm, I wrestled with this a lot during finals. I think there are a couple main junctures that are most "effective" for pulling out of law school. Depending on where you are in terms of starting law school, I think the answer shifts. Here are just a few examples from say, Day 1 to Winter Break:

(1) at the very start / first few weeks (2) first tuititon reimbursement deadline for whatever fraction you can get back (3) end of first semester

By the time I decided to bail, it made sense to just sit through finals as I couldn't recoup any cost of attendance. So, I did my best to trudge through something I was not incredibly motivated to do and try to maximize academic performance. This way, I'd at least have the option of still being in the running for prestigious PI gigs / big law.

However, I knew that if I finished the whole year, then the inertia would keep piling up (e.g., why not just go through OCI, why not finish 2L since it has to better than 1L, 3L is such a breeze, etc.) as well.

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Re: 2013 and 2015 T10 dropouts - Taking Qs

Postby swizzy432 » Sat Mar 12, 2016 6:30 pm

When I was able to sort through my thoughts over winter break and collect myself, I knew that it was a better call for me to drop out after 1st semester rather than finish out the year.

Every situation is unique, but, I think the second you realize you don't want to be a lawyer, you should try to drop out if it's possible.

IMO, staying in school and simultaneously looking for work is A. really hard B. only adds more inertia / piles up sunk costs.

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Re: 2013 and 2015 T10 dropouts - Taking Qs

Postby StarFish346 » Sat Mar 12, 2016 7:17 pm

A. Nony Mouse wrote:Thank you guys for doing this.

What was the hardest thing about dropping out for each of you?


Coming to the realization that I would be better off if I left didn't take that long. Knowing that I would have to tell my family and loved ones kept me from making the decision. Basically, answering "What am I going to tell people?" and "What is my family going to tell people?" were the hardest parts.

By the time you're in law school, you've set up expectations for your family and loved ones (in my case, a long-term s/o, who I am still with). They've told everyone how excited they are for you and how brilliant you are, because law school means you're the shit to old people. I worried that I would let them down. I worried that my friends, future employers, and randoms would think that I failed. I worried that dropping out would be like some scarlet letter shit.

When I did tell everyone they were shocked and perhaps disappointed for a while. Not disappointed in me, but disappointed that I wasted so much time driving towards something I didn't want. For some color - I did the same thing in undergrad. I went to a fancy-ish school and then dropped out after a semester. My family was disappointed but it ended up being much better for me in the long run. When I left law school I told them that I've always been quick to make a change when I'm unhappy and that it would all work out again. They trusted me.

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Re: 2013 and 2015 T10 dropouts - Taking Qs

Postby StarFish346 » Sat Mar 12, 2016 7:21 pm

Hikikomorist wrote:Did either of you have a particularly employable major/UG institution? To swizzy: how hard was it for you to find employment after dropping out? Was your experience similar to the other guy's?


I graduated from a state school. Not a prestigious one like a cal or UT, but not a shit hole. I have a BS and took classes that would have qualified me for the patent bar but not one that is particularly employable. My UG brand and major did not help me find employment. Grades/UG extracurriculars probably helped me get a job though.

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Re: 2013 and 2015 T10 dropouts - Taking Qs

Postby StarFish346 » Sat Mar 12, 2016 7:24 pm

Lexaholik wrote:This thread has a lot of promise. Thanks for doing this.

My question: When exactly did you drop out (e.g. after 1L year, etc.) and how well did you do on your exams? Did your performance play a role in your decision to drop out?


I dropped out in the first semester. After I couldn't have gotten any money back but BEFORE finals. I read Swizzy's post and don't disagree, but my choice was best for me. I worked hard when I was at lawschool and don't have any reason to believe I wouldn't have been fine but since I didn't take the tests, I have no idea. I was getting good grades on BS writing stuff and was working on outlines like everyone else.

I was unhappy and I knew it. I didn't think grades would make a difference in my employment outcome and I was 100% sure I wanted to gtfo so I made the decision, had an awesome Thanksgiving, and then started applying to jobs like a madman.

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Re: 2013 and 2015 T10 dropouts - Taking Qs

Postby StarFish346 » Sat Mar 12, 2016 7:33 pm

Hikikomorist wrote:If you had it to do over again, would you search for a post-law school job before dropping out, or was it more important to maximize your performance so you'd have a backup option if the search didn't go well?

Thanks for taking questions, by the way.


I think it would have been really hard for me to look for a job and study for finals. I didn't think the law school grades would have made a difference in my job search (most t10 use some fake grading system no one would understand anyways) and I knew I didn't want to be a lawyer so that was not a real "backup" for me.

I felt the time was better spent practicing interviewing with mentors and crafting great answers to every question about why I left law school. I reached out to a lot of people on LinkedIn and had coffee with a few new people every day to try to get my foot in somewhere. Dropping out was a good hook for VP-level people to want to speak to me - I was surprised. I also spent a LOT of time on cover letters as I applied, trying to make sure I had a story that tied UG to LS to leaving to why the company was a good fit for what I REALLY wanted (although I don't think I knew what I REALLY wanted then).

if anyone has questions about finding a job after dropping out but doesn't want to post here, please pm me I would love to help you. Also, I'm hiring... law school dropouts have been a good bet for my company :)

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Re: 2013 and 2015 T10 dropouts - Taking Qs

Postby jbagelboy » Tue Mar 15, 2016 7:02 pm

Thanks for making this thread. I hope this guides a lot of 1Ls to the light and saves their money and time, but more importantly, I hope it saves the money and time of a ton more 0Ls who can avoid having to even be in the position to drop out entirely.

Keep this energy coming guys. And way to get back on your feet.

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Re: 2013 and 2015 T10 dropouts - Taking Qs

Postby Xiannaicha » Wed Feb 07, 2018 1:48 pm

Hi StarFish346 and swizzy432,

I've been considering leaving law school and making a career change, and this thread has been very helpful in addressing many of my concerns and fears. I noticed this thread hasn't been active for a while, but could I PM both of you to ask some more specific questions? I'd really appreciate any and all help and advice!



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