Post # 1
So the “Advice about law school” thread got me thinking… and I was half chucking about the fact that anytime anyone mentions law school on the boards all these bees come out like “don’t do it!!!!!!” (myself included). I don’t think this has been done so I wanted to do a comprehensive survey about the general job paths of lawyers.
Please vote both for what you’re doing now, and for if you’re happy about your JD.
I’m kind of curious to see if just those who are unhappy post on the boards, or if the unhappiness is really so wide spread. Discuss!
Post # 3
Ugh, CT, I don’t even know why I’m voting. I went to a non-top tier school. I got into law school really young (20) and I didn’t do so HOT. So no law review. Being an immigrant who has spent only a few years here, I didn’t know how important that was (no one in my family having gone to school in the US) and that lack of law review has followed me in all the years since. Don’t get me wrong, I loved law school. I just wish I went to a top tier OR didn’t have such crushing school loans. Jeez, who knew learning about ‘Rule Against Freaking Perpetuities’ was supposed to be that expensive??!! By The Way, I did immigration for a while. I loved it, the pay was crap. I can’t wait to open my own practice so I can make my own money and not have to answer to a boss who treats you like a hired help. Now, well, I work in litigation in an office that… whatever, it pays the bills. Yes yes, I am BITTER!!!
Post # 4
I’m on the fence but with out a doubt, think that law school sucked. It was wayyyy too expensive. I did family law for 6 months and hated it!!! My low pay was actually insulting and my boss was horrible. I now work as a public defender and really like my job! I don’t do normal trial work though and do mainly mental health cases- which is great b/c that’s exactly what I wanted to do since I have a masters in psychology.
The main gripe with law school is the amount of debt and that 85% of us do not make the insane six figures that we all think we are going to make after graduation.
Post # 5
@bRooklynRocks: I went to a non-top tier school that was insanely expensive. I made law review my last year and honestly, I don’t see that it helped me that much. Sure, I put it on my resume, but no employer ever asked me about it or commented on it.
To make matters worse, my law school is known for extremely low GPAs. So we compete against other higher ranked schools wtih a really crappy GPA. Makes me so mad!
Post # 6
@bRooklynRocks: ugh firms and their law review ideas… so stupid! I did go to a top tier law school and I applied for (and got accepted to) a few of my school’s law reviews, including the “main” law review and also the ADR law review. Well… I was going for my certificate in dispute resolution and was (still am) interested in ADR, so I went the journal of dispute resolution (which by the way was the top ranked ADR journal in the COUNTRY the years I was on it). The next summer I was interviewing with a firm in DC and the interviewer actually said to me “I see you’re on JDR… did you not get onto Main journal?” I said no, I was offered a position but I was more interested in the JDR journal. She said to me “well you know you pretty much committed career suicide by turning down that offer right?” So, so stupid.
Post # 7
I went to law school and graduated right after 9/11. No jobs to be found…so I went on to get an LL.M in Environmental and Health Law. I was in private practice for 2 years and then moved to corporate pharmaceutical law.
I loved going to law school (I am a research and writing geek). I wasn’t on law review, I was never really interested in it at the time. I was a member of moot court and I worked for the Mid Atlantic ENvironmental Law Center.
I hated being a lawyer. My company was bought out by Pfizer last year. I was offered a severance package -and I accepted with glee.
Now I am a Holistic Health Coach, Yoga Instructor and working on my 3rd book.
Law school was a waste of my money. I went to please my parents, not for myself. That was my biggest mistake…hindsight.
Post # 8
I went to a good law school, graduated magna cum laude, clerked for two federal judges, and now do litigation at a large law firm. My stock advice is: if you can’t go to a top twenty school or can’t (realistically) be one of the top five students at a school in a lower tier, don’t go. It is SO MUCH DEBT and chances are you won’t be very happy practicing law. (Out of ALL the people I know from law school, I know only one person who genuinely likes her job.) Above all, don’t attempt to “hide out” in law school. Law school won’t solve your problems, it will compound them.
Post # 9
I am currently in law school (4th Tier) and I don’t really plan on practicing law. And frankly I have always known that. I plan on getting into government work, or political consulting, and I felt that either a law degree or a masters in public administration were my best bet, and for some reason I picked law school. I felt that it would 1) be a great accomplishment and 2) would give me more options.
While I totally understand why so many people are unhappy in law I do have to question whether we are all just products of our environment. I almost feel like it is a societal expectation to HATE working in law. I am just going to finish up my degree (I graduate in less than 6 months), take the bar, and work on getting a job or fellowship. My #1 goal is to find some happiness in life, and not waste my time regretting something I have already done.
Luckily I will be able to pay off my loans in 3-5 years, thanks to a partial scholarship, and lots of help from my parents, and then if I don’t like working in law, I won’t do it!
Kudos to all of you lawyers who either have been working in law or to those who realized they preferred sanity above all else! This has been a tough journey, but at least we have made it through!
Post # 10
@chicagowife: I agree completely. I went to a top-three law school, wasn’t on law review, and graduated in the middle of my class. I now work at a large law firm, have been doing so for about a year, and plan on staying here for a few more years. I have a ton of debt, but ultimately, it was worth it to now have the alumni network from my school, and have many options career wise. That being said, my advice to most people would be to only go to law school if you get into a top 20 (maybe even 15?) law school, unless you have the means to pay for it or get a hefty scholarship. A lot of people go to law school and think they can graduate in the top of their class. Unfortunately, the numbers just don’t work out this way.
For people going to law school straight out of undergrad: don’t go unless you are fairly certain you want to be a lawyer. That is what law school will teach you to be.
Post # 11
Recovering lawyer here. Went to school at night because I had to work for a living (we all hated the “day” students). Passed the bar first time. Practiced for a couple of years & quit. HATED it.
Too much debt for a degree that I only sort of use.
Post # 12
@txlawyerbee: “For people going to law school straight out of undergrad: don’t go unless you are fairly certain you want to be a lawyer. That is what law school will teach you to be.” Okay so I agree with you on the first half (don’t go to law school unless you want to be a lawyer), but I’m going to have to disagree with you on the second half “that is what law school will teach you to be.”
I don’t think law school teaches you how to be a lawyer AT ALL. It teaches you how to research, how to write (somewhat), and how to network. I think for the most part you come out of law school wholly incompetent to be an actual lawyer, which is sad. I wish that there were more practical courses about HOW to actually be a lawyer (how to know what to file and when, and where to file it, how to deal with clients, how to deal with judges, etc). And I think I took advantage of a lot of opportunities such as clinics and trial practice… but IMO “practical” courses should be like 75% of your education and substantive 25% (the law changes so fast you can’t rely on anything you learned anyways. Everything outside of crim pro and civ pro kind of seems like a waste of brain space).
Post # 13
I can’t vote in the poll because my answer is confusing. I went to law school knowing I did not want to be a “lawyer.” I knew that I wanted to live in DC and work in the industry, which for most people would mean a Masters in Public Policy. However, I had been around town enough to know that employers almost ALWAYS hired a lawyer for the types of positions I wanted (positions in domestic policy working on legislation) even when the job description only requested an MPP. There are just so many darn lawyers in this town, why wouldn’t an employer hire a better-educated candidate with legal writing skills? So I went to law school. I went to school in DC, interned every semester in my field, and graduated with a so-so GPA but a kick-ass resume. I now work in the exact field I wanted, and use my law degree every day, but I am not a “lawyer” (my job does not require me to be barred and my position does not require a JD). It was MUCH easier to get the job I wanted with a JD, however, so I do not regreat my choice.
The debt and the time I spent in law school? That sucks every day.
Post # 14
I graduated with honors from a decent law school in NJ, was on the primary law journal, and also had my article published in the journal. I enjoyed law school, but it is very different from practice.
Upon graduation, I moved to a different state and clerked for one year at the trial level. Loved it. Clerked for another year at the state appellate level. Loved it.
In law school, I worked part-time for a small firm, and worked as a summer associate at a large law firm. Hated both of those experiences.
After my clerkship ended in August 2010, I went to work for an insurance defense firm. It was intolerable. My last day was Friday. I am now unemployed and traumatized 🙂
I met my fiance in law school, so I am glad I went. But, I know very few people who work legal jobs that are actually happy. The debt is ridiculous.. even if you only take the $18.5 a year. The pay is AWFUL if you go to a small or even some medium-sized firms. And even with that awful pay you will not be working 40 hours a week.
I was watching “16 and Pregnant” and one of the girls wanted to be a dental hygenist…. her starting salary would have been higher than mine.
So, yeah, I wish I hadn’t gone to law school. I would only recommend it if you can get a scholarship, or if you are 100% sure you need a law degree or want to practice law, and maybe even have some practical experience working as a paralegal, etc.
If I knew what I know now, there is no way I would’ve gone to law school. The debt really traps you… I have no idea how Fiance and I will ever be able to have children or save up to buy a house. It’s depressing.
Ok, that’s my rant!
Post # 15
I’m glad I’m not the only one…I finally realized that I don’t want to do litigation anymore and phasing out to do only transactional work. But if I don’t practice law, what else can I do…I’m at a lost. LOL!
Post # 16
I went to a top 15 law school and actually really enjoyed being in school. I went to work at a large law firm and hated it. I know very few people I went to law school with who actually like being a lawyer. Those that do enjoy it pretty much work in gov’t or nonprofit – not at firms. I’m not currently practicing and sort of doubt I’ll ever go back to it.