Pass your wisdom

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YellowWolf
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Joined: Tue Feb 28, 2017 2:49 am

Pass your wisdom

Postby YellowWolf » Thu Dec 07, 2017 3:54 am

Does all the negativity surrounding law school still apply to a top tier school? There is a lot of negative talk on the web and in the media about the cost of law school being too high and not worth it... yatta yatta yatta. The talk we have all heard. I have written my LSAT and I am all set to apply, I am still having doubts, I decided to take a year off to really ask myself if this is what I want to do. I don't want to sink a ton of money and realize in 1st year that I hate it! I have a shot at HSY. I am just wondering for all you folks who have taken the plunge, if you could have done something else would you have done it? I am literally sitting 50/50 on the fence. I have quite a few options because my grades are high. Sadly I went into undergrad as a naive young buck and aspired to be a lawyer because it was a socially acceptable career and the people around me supported my decision. Like most people who are fresh out of grade school I knew nothing about the real world and just thought "hey I'll be a lawyer because it supposedly pays well and is a ticket to the good life". During the past two years I have realized that it isn't as glamorous as it may seem, that you make less money than you think you will, and that you work a lot harder than the average person (I think these 3 things apply to most professional careers). I am glad I have come to these realizations now and not after I have enrolled. I am just wondering if anyone has been 50/50 and taken the plunge and loved it/hated it and why... I came across a post about BigLaw about a year ago. It was someone just ranting about how hard they work and how miserable they are. I know this is anecdotal evidence, but does it really suck that much?

Please don't be sassy, I am just a normal person trying to find my way like everyone else on here. Like many people I don't really have a dead set passion.

For the record my background is in finance and math so I feel like I would just end up in Biglaw. I don't have much interest in doing public interest law or working for a government institution. No real rhyme or reason, I am more of a writer/thinker and less of speaker so I just think that environment would suit me better.

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UVA2B
Posts: 3155
Joined: Sun May 22, 2016 10:48 pm

Re: Pass your wisdom

Postby UVA2B » Thu Dec 07, 2017 8:14 am

Whether others have been 50/50 and loved or hated it is pretty inconsequential in deciding whether you should go to law school. This is the second time you've asked whether you should go to law school, so you should really ask yourself: do I really even want to be a lawyer? Do I know what that even means? Not "do I want a socially acceptable career?" Not "will I make enough money as a lawyer to be happy?" And certainly nothing like "will my family approve of this career?"

DO YOU WANT TO BE A LAWYER?

Do you know what that even means? Have you looked into various practice areas, and if so, have any caught your eye? Since you have a math and potentially finance background, do you want to work on deals on the corporate side? If so, do you understand the role of an attorney in a major transaction when compared to the business side of the deal? If not, what other areas have you looked into that might interest you?

It's a really good thing you're questioning your own motivation for going to law school, because far too often people go to law school for bad reasons like those you mentioned and end up disappointed because the reality of the profession is something they never wanted. But instead of seeking validation one way or another from people who decided to go to law school, you need to spend your time figuring out what it is you want out of a career and what career will best give you those opportunities. You're right that law school is far too expensive to go in completely blind with no expected career path, but unfortunately many people still do it. Some of them are successful and end up loving it, while others will inevitably regret it because they invested their time and money into something they had had no idea whether they actually wanted. Whether you're in the former camp or the latter camp shouldn't factor in when you don't have to be a part of either camp. You can do your research into practice areas, talk to practicing attorneys about their practice areas, and see if the things you're looking for are available in those practice areas. That's still no guarantee you'll personally love that practice area once you get into it, but you've at least done all of the due diligence you could prior to making the investment and you're really unlikely to feel extreme regret because you made every effort to make a principled investment in your future. You're much less likely to be so disappointed in your choice at that point because you made it deliberately based on your own research.

There is plenty of negativity around the legal profession because of the cost of entry and the long, hard, and stressful hours. You're also right that those stresses aren't exclusive to law, so that alone shouldn't dissuade you. But it should help you in analyzing whether the cost is worth the benefit to you personally of gaining entry to the career, which means you need to understand why you want it and whether the benefits of becoming an attorney to you personally outweigh the costs, both monetarily and personally.

So take the time to figure out what you expect out of a career, then spend the time and mental energy looking into whether you'll find those things in a legal career.

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3pianists
Posts: 288
Joined: Sun Dec 07, 2014 12:56 am

Re: Pass your wisdom

Postby 3pianists » Thu Dec 07, 2017 1:06 pm

Pretty underqualified to talk about this, but, in traditional internet fashion, I'll do it anyway.

I'm currently a 2L. Before coming to law school, I ignored a lot of cautionary advice and didn't do much research about the legal profession, which law school to attend, etc. I had a very minimal and artificial idea of what law school and legal practice would look like. (Obviously, no, I still don't know what Actual Lawyering is like, but I've learned a little bit.)

I've done fine in terms of grades and job stuff, and it turns out I honestly love law school; I'm having the time of my life. But looking back, I realize how crazy lucky I've been to love and be good at law school. I didn't appreciate the risk of taking on all this debt, for sure, or the precarious state of a lot of the legal market, or what lawyering lifestyles look like. Even loving and succeeding at law school, it's a hard and draining thing to do. That doesn't mean you shouldn't do it, but you should also know that there are bad outcomes at T14 schools, and that negativity about the undertaking isn't limited to people who are doing badly. There are serious downsides to the law. You should do your best to get a full picture of that, then do some serious thinking and decide if they're risks you want to take.

Best of luck to you!

totesTheGoat
Posts: 521
Joined: Fri Aug 01, 2014 1:32 pm

Re: Pass your wisdom

Postby totesTheGoat » Tue Dec 12, 2017 4:39 pm

YellowWolf wrote:Does all the negativity surrounding law school still apply to a top tier school? There is a lot of negative talk on the web and in the media about the cost of law school being too high and not worth it... yatta yatta yatta.


Yes and no. The rule of not paying sticker for law school is a good rule. It would absolutely suck to get into law, realize you hate it, and be stuck there because your quarter-mil in student loans aren't going to pay themselves.

Here's my advice to all 0Ls. If you know what you want out of law school, and you know that the financial math works out, go! "I want to parlay my petroleum engineering degree into an oil & gas job by going to School X at half scholarship" is a good place to be. If your mind changes while you're in school, that's fine, but you have a direction in mind. What gets people into trouble is "I graduated with a Eastern European Art History degree and haven't been able to get my career kickstarted... maybe I should go to law school because I heard that lawyers make a lot of money."

I'm not saying "don't go to law school if you have a humanities degree" or "don't go to law school if you don't already have a career", but do your research. Figure out how hard it's going to be for you to get your preferred job with a top 10% grade at your chosen school, then a top 25% grade, then top 33%, then top 50%. Once you get a feel for your risks, look at how much it's going to cost you. Is $200k and 3 years of your life worth a 50% chance of getting an acceptable job? What about an 85% chance?

... I came across a post about BigLaw about a year ago. It was someone just ranting about how hard they work and how miserable they are. I know this is anecdotal evidence, but does it really suck that much?


Depends on your personality. I hated the time I spent in BigLaw. It was stuffy and pretentious, all while working the attorneys like a sweatshop. Frankly, I gravitated toward socializing with the paralegals, because many of the attorneys were tightasses. In fact, when I left, one paralegal said "I'm really sad you're leaving, you're one of the few nice ones!" Beyond that, getting urgent emails from partners at 11pm or 2am was rather common, and I didn't want to have to be available 24/7 at the whim of the partner.

In-house is much more fun than BigLaw, even if I'm not raking in quite as big piles of cash as some of my classmates are.




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