Post # 1
So I am coming to a point in my life where I need to decide what to do with it. I am almost finished my Bach degree with a major in History. I knew this was going to be relativly useless as a standalone degree and I was considering going into teaching. But now I don’t want to. Instead, I am seriously considering law school. Family law, in particular.
however, the cost of tuition coupled with the seemingly huge pressure and stress associated with actually going to law school are somewhat.. daunting.
I have a 3.9 GPA and I consider myself to be intellectually inclined however I fear that I lack the critical thinking ability that is required to be successful in law school. Also, I have heard about people who sink hundreds of thousands of dollars into tuition and end up working as legal assistants instead of actual lawyers.
So I am looking for some advice and guidance! Particularily from people who have gone to law school. Was the cost worth it or are you drowning in debt? Do you love or hate your job? Any suggestions for an attorney hopeful?
Post # 3
Oh wow, I totally posted this to the rings board. Go me >.<
Post # 4
Law school isn’t hard. I can remember being intimidated before I started law school. Every lawyer I knew told horror stories about how difficult law school was. They were full of it. There is a LOT of work, but I didn’t find the subject matter to be especially difficult. Really, it was volume of work that was the issue for me (100 page reading assignments), not the difficulty level.
Think of it this way…don’t you know some NOT terribly intellectual people who practice law? I know I do. When I thought about it, I realized if they could do it, so could I. Don’t let yourself be intimidated by law school.
Having said that, I can’t say I recommend law school. We are in the middle of the worst job market ever seen for attorneys and I know far too many new grads who are working in totally non-legal careers….and paying back insane amounts of debt. A close friend of mine who was a nurse before law school is still working as a nurse after passing the bar…because she makes more money at it. Really, the only way I see law school making sense right now is if you go to a top school, go to a very good school and graduate at the top of your class, go to a school where you go on a full or nearly full scholarship, or go because your employer is paying.
EDIT: I just read my post and realized I was totally a Debbie Downer. I really didn’t mean to be. If you truly know that law is your calling, then go. But if you are going just because you have heard that a law degree is useful and opens a lot of doors….it’s not worth it.
If you do decide law school is for you, I just want you to go into it with your eyes wide open. I had no idea of the job market for attorneys when I started and probably would have made a different career choice had I known. I do like the work, but I’m one of the lucky ones who got a law clerk position during school and stayed with the firm after graduation.
Post # 5
I recommend you work or intern at a law firm for a semester and see if you like what lawyers do. It’s probably a lot less exciting than you think.
Post # 6
I was going to do the same thing but decided not to for the reasons Neva already listed. I love the law and I know I’d be good at it (just won my small claims case. Yay me:) but there are NO jobs. And you’ll have that debt for nothing. What about being a paralegal? I hear it’s good money and really interesting.
Post # 7
I’m not trying to be a downer either, but many of my friends are lawyers, and we all think this video is hilarious:
(sorry I keep changing the links, but apparently there are many versions now.)
Post # 8
@PutABirdOnIt: AND they usually get to leave right at 5:00. Now that I have kids, I’m realizing what a big difference that makes.
Post # 9
I agree with the sentiment that law school isnt that hard – they just drown you in work. The first year is a ton of reading and you need to stay on top of it. I was also a history grad. I coasted through undergrad and graduated with a 4.0. Law school is harder, but not hard. I hope that makes sense. You will learn more critical thinking. I understand what you are saying – undergrad didnt really strengthen that for me as it was more memorize this and get an A. Thinking in a different way was probably the hardest aspect.
I graduated about $80K in debt (undergrad and law school combined). I still owe about $60K. I had a full scholarship for undergrad and a few smaller scholarships for law school, so the tab could have been a lot higher. My advice is to stick to federal loans due to the lower interest rates and lengthy payment plans.
Is it worth it? Just depends on what you want to do. I’d research the hiring stats for your area and the average pay. Also, see if you can clerk for a local family court or shadow a family law attorney. Your university likely has a program or local law firms would probably be happy to assist.
Also realize the field you are interested in now could change. I work in a non-traditional field by choice. I started out in entertainment law, but it just wasnt for me. I wasnt challenged. I now work in on the legislative side. A law degree can translate into many areas and is a prereq for some non-traditional careers (it is for mine). There are many people out there in corporate america who are attorneys, but working in other leadership aspects – so there are a lot of options.
I don’t know the market for a traditional attorney anymore as I have been out of that arena for a while. I have friends who have bounced around and have found it difficult to get full time hours. I will say that there are jobs out there for non-traditional careers that require a JD – just depends on what you are drawn to.
Post # 10
For the love of all that is good and holy, please at least intern at a law firm before you decide this is the career path you want to pursue.
And take a good, hard look at the legal market in your state. Jobs are hard to find right now and it’s not terribly fun to be sitting on a ton of debt (and you will have debt) with no career prospects.
Post # 11
I agree with everyone else who suggested that you intern or take a law clerk position at a firm to decide if you like it.
Law school isn’t that hard, but a lot of work. I actually enjoyed law school a lot more than I enjoy practicing. Passing the bar is tough.
You should really think about why you want to become a lawyer before you actually start down this career path. If this is something that you are really passionate about, then do it. but if it is not, then I suggest trying to find something else. I work in a transactional firm at the moment, and am very unhappy with it. I work long hours (really only look at wedding bee on my lunch), My FI and I are looking to start a family soon and I am realizing how hard that is going to be with my current job. I don’t have a lot of time off and my firm demands a lot. I am looking to go into some sort of non-traditional law job, but the job market is really tough right now.
My advice is to really think about this decision. You don’t want to end up with tons of loans to repay and stuck in a career that you don’t like. Unfortunately that is where I am at and where a lot of my law school friends are at.
Post # 12
Thank you so much to everyone who shared their thoughts.. it certainly gives me a lot to think about. It’s super scary to think about not being able to get a job to pay back the moutains of debt I will accumulate and I was hoping for some more positive responses haha.