Post # 31
alamana: +1 for real! BigLaw is ubiquitous.
OP, as a lawyer who graduated from a top-3 school and has a job, I still always tell people not to go to law school unless they sincerely don’t have anything else they want to do. The debt and stress can be brutal and many of the jobs are not super satisfying unless it is a real passion.
Post # 32
A few thoughts (in no particular order):
- It’s not too late.
- I applied to law school in 2010 when the economy sucked balls. My rule of thumb was not to go unless I got into a Top 14. I went to a Top 3 and got the job I wanted in the market I wanted (SF), so it worked out. But there are a few of my classmates who struggled (and are still struggling), which is a bit scary.
- All that being said, if I knew I wanted to practice in a secondary market and create a life there, I wouldn’t have followed the same guidelines — for example, if I wanted to live/work in the PNW, I would have happily gone to UW or UO. If the Midwest (outside Chicago), WashU or Wisconsin. If Florida, UF or Miami. If Boston, BU/BC. If North Carolina, UNC. Etc. On top of that, if you’re interested in a pretty niche area of law, then you might be able to be even more flexible. For example, technical folks who want to take the patent bar and do patent prosecution work could really go anywhere — they’ll still be in pretty high demand. I myself wanted to leave all options open because I had no idea what area of law would end up speaking to me, so that was the reasoning behind my own “guidelines,” but YMMV depending on your own life circumstances and goals.
- I would take the LSAT, see how you score, and see what schools are in your range. If it seems like you have good options, submit applications. See what acceptances you get and see what financial aid/scholarship offers you get. Then you can sit down and really have all your options on the table before deciding whether it’s worth it to enroll.
- Don’t make your decision based on “feeling too old” or whatever. Make it based on factors like, “Is law something I really want? Is X law school going to put me in the best position to get there? Am I ok (financially and otherwise) dedicating the next 3 years to being a student again?” If, after much thought, all those answers are yes, then great!
Post # 33
I went to law school right after undergrad. I sort of wish I had worked a few years first – not only to save money, but to know what it is like to have a full time, legitimate job as an adult. The suck-ness of a large law firm may have been less suck-y if I had ever worked before as anything other than a babysitter.
Post # 34
TheGridMonster: Absolutely solid advice!
At the end of the day, I love my job and there isn’t anything I’d want to do more. I count myself as one of the lucky ones. OP, law definitely can be a rewarding career, we’re all just trying to caution you because the market is pretty stagnant.
Post # 35
jennessey85: OP, I think it might be worth reposting your question with “Are you a UK Lawyer? Career advice needed!”
This is all a great discussion, and I totally agree with a lot of what has been said about the bad job market (I’m a 2L at a US law school). From what I’ve heard from friends in London, the UK market is also pretty rough, but I have no real knowledge of the cost of conversion programs, different local markets, etc.
Post # 36
ABusyBride: Her profile says she’s located in Arkansas so I think she’s a U.S. bee. OP, do you have a law degree from the UK or something? Like a PP mentioned, I’ve never heard of conversion programs, but it looks like they are only applicable for non-U.S. lawyers.
Post # 37
SLOBee I actually think if I had worked another job first I wouldn’t have put up with it as long as I did. I’ve pulled more all nighters than I can count!
Post # 38
KatieJo82: What kind of law are you practicing that requires many all nighters? I work in government and I work 40 hours a week…granted, it’s my first job (a clerkship) and I know my hours will increase when I leave the clerkship. But all nighters? Are you a trial attorney?
Post # 39
wineenthusiast: I worked for the government … and there were all nighters. And very few 40-hour weeks. I worked every weekend. A few of the attorneys I knew worked 40-hour weeks, but they didn’t tend to be the ones that were trusted with anything of any importance. And yes–trial attorney here. But all-nighters and 60+-hour weeks certainly aren’t just for us litigators. You’ll see soon enough.
Post # 40
alamana: Same here. I tend to work 40-50 hour weeks, but during trial, the hours can definitely get crazy.
Post # 41
wineenthusiast: Clerkship does not equal regular government job. I’ve worked in private and public sector, and 40 hour weeks are rare.
Post # 42
Kaymar: alamana: Ya I’m definitely expecting my horus to increase after the clerkship. Trying to appreciate the 40-hour work week while I can 😉
Post # 43
I used to do corporate law at a big law firm – the hours were brutal. I work in house now and the hours are usually pretty regular. I just wish I would have left sooner.
Post # 44
Recently, the market has made such a change where firms NEED people who have life and job experience. I see your age as a benefit, just as long as you can market yourself that way. I went to law school immediately after undergrad, but I know that a lot of my class was close to 30-35. Go to a school in a state where you want to practice. Definitely keep in mind tuition costs too.
Post # 45
jennessey85: I am in Canada and not familiar with the conversion process you describe, but I went back to law school when I was 27, after working a few years and getting to know better what I wanted and whether law was really the right path for me. I was not the youngest in my class, but I do think going back a bit later and with some life and work experience was a very valuable asset both during law school and when it came to finding positions during and after law school. I personally have no regrets about going back, am part of a great little firm, and while practice has its head-banging moments I am satisfied with my legal practice/field, achieved what *I* wanted by making the career change, have worked hard and am now a partner in my firm.
People of all types and backgrounds go into law. Older students in my graduating class included a medical doctor in his 40s, a retired military officer in his late 30s, an accountant in his 40s going to law school part time, a 30 year old waitress and mother of two also doing it part time, and so on. They balanced out the glut of early 20 something’s coming in straight from their first degree 🙂
That being said, it is a tough market out there right now. Think carefully. It is an asset that you have a finance background for sure, but just be cautious. I would encourage you to expend as little as you can (get scholarships, an employer to pay, and so on). ALSO…really think about whether you want to practice law. It is a profession full of very dissatisfied people, and even if you are not one of them you will have to deal with these people! It has pretty terrible rates of depression, alcoholism, and so on.