(Closed) Law School or Lawyer Bees, Need Your Advice, Please!

posted 8 years ago in Legal
Post # 18
Member
268 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: October 2013

I highly advise against going to law school. My Fiance and I are both lawyers. We graduated in 2008. Student loans are out of control. The legal market sucks. Being a lawyer generally sucks. Trying to get out of the legal field is tough, because you are “overqualified” for everything, when you really aren’t, or people just don’t get why you’re applying for a non-legal job. I should note that we are both working as attorneys right now, and are thankful to have jobs in this market, but we’re both unhappy with our work. While I love my co-workers, I generally detest over 75% of the attorneys I have to deal with everyday. I also can say that most attorneys I work or know my age would tell you the same thing I am.

As far as jobs in the legal field go, mine is perfect fit, really. I don’t have to bill clients, and I get to help people. I work for a nonprofit and honestly have more resources for clients than I did in the private sector. That being said, my job will not stay funded forever. I don’t know if I’ll have a job next year. And I hate litigation. It’s so stressful, so much work, and I feel like I can never be as prepared as I want to be.  

Post # 19
Member
4913 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: June 2014

@KatiePi:  Oh trust me, you’re not rubbing anything in that I haven’t already rubbed in myself. Every month, the automatic deduction steals a portion of my soul and I say, “Why? Why did I think it would be a good idea to be a lawyer? Why didn’t I just become a …” usually I fill in the blank with “teacher” in the summer as all my friends tell me how they’re sleeping in, going to lunch together, shopping, taking up new hobbies, going on vacations, etc. lol I know being a teacher is not easy – most of my friends are elementary school teachers (pre standardized testing, so I think those grades are easier), but neither is being a lawyer! But my friends had the same thing happen to them, I didn’t realize you were only teaching your 2nd year, I assumed you had been teaching for several years and just grew tired of it. Once you get used to it, I bet you will feel differently. Really, if I could go back, I would have gone to makeup school and been a bridal makeup artist. My dream is to do that and then do “princess for a day” events at local children’s hospitals where I would team up with a hairstylist and we would give little girls makeovers and make them feel all girly and pretty and stuff. I have at least another 6 years of public service before I can apply for that new public service loan forgiveness program and see if I can *hopefully* get my loans erased. Maybe then I can quit my job and become a makeup artist and make brides feel pretty on their big day!

Post # 20
Member
2766 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: April 2015

@KatiePi:  don’t go to law school unless you can get into HYSCCN. Two of my cousins were median at top-6 US schools and are gainfully employed. To people at HYS, there was no depression in the legal market — they still get jobs. I’m at the top law school in Canada, and if I didn’t have a chance here, I would not have gone to law school. Unlike undergrad, your choice of school greatly dictates your job prospects. At my school, everyone that seeks out legal employment gets hired, but we all also had 3.9+ GPA and 96%ile+ LSATs to get in. 

Post # 22
Member
4913 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: June 2014

@KatiePi:  I hope you do, too!!  Good luck and feel free to PM me if you ever have some crazy notion that lawyering is better than teaching. I’ll remind you it’s not! 🙂 lol

Post # 23
Member
124 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: September 2014

@KatiePi:

Unless you absolutely want to be a lawyer, do not do it. I went to law school because I didn’t know what else to do. I have worked til 1 AM, 11 PM, frequently 8PM, taken work home and been up til 2AM doing that, taken work home on weekends… to make 45k. I gained weight, cry all the time, I think I’m experiencing some hair loss. My fiance is also a lawyer in a smaller town. He usually gets to leave by 4:30, but he HATES his job. He is constantly stressed, no one is ever around to bounce ideas off of or have lunch with, etc. He constantly feels like he is clueless and awful at his job, even though he has gotten compliments on his work. My friends in firms work weekends, 6+ hours day both days. They tell me things like, 5th year associates have confessed they only feel competent at their job 1/3rd of the time. I got a scholarship and my parents paid the rest, and if Fiance doesn’t get public interest loan forgiveness, we will pay back a quarter of a million dollars just for him. We went to a top 25 school, where we got As and Bs, and the odds of either of us ever making 80k unless its by working a ton of hours for a small firm (or even more hours as a solo practitioner — experienced solos in my county tell me they work 80+ hours per week) after gaining several years of experience in government is nil. Being an attorney is way more boring and way less intellectually fulfilling than I would have expected. 

 

Post # 24
Member
184 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: September 2012

My husband and I both went to a T-14 school, and we both have jobs at Vault 20 firms, so you could say that we hit the lawyer lottery, but I just wanted to tell you… DO NOT GO TO LAW SCHOOL.  I hope this message isn’t reaching you too late. We are 3 years out of law school and we’ve done the best (financially) that you can do, and we still have 400K in law school debt.  Unless you go to one of the best schools in the country, or going to law school is free, DO NOT GO TO LAW SCHOOL.

Post # 25
Member
43 posts
Newbee
  • Wedding: October 2013

If you’re in it for the money, then don’t.  The top salaries only go to grads from the top 25 law schools or if you’re one of the top 3 graduates of a less prestigious law school.  Then, you trade your life in for the pay check.

Hate to add more negativity to already unencouraging thread, but I have to agree that law school isn’t necessarily a great option.  I should say, law school is fantastic (went to an ivy league, no scholarship), and I enjoyed my experience immensely…but actually practicing law is another thing entirely. 

My husband and I are both in big law (he’s at a Vault top 50; I’m at a Vault top 5) — and most of our friends are/were as well.  Due to the downturn in the economy a great deal of our friends were laid off from top firms, and had long periods of unemployment.  The loans are enormous — we still owe about $150K each (between undergrad and law school) and graduated 7/8 years ago.  But most of what I’ve seen and experienced is just a constant state of anxiety and pressure.  We are constantly expected to work several days in a row with no sleep, people are treated like property – pregnant women have been made to sleep in their offices – weekends are not your own, vacations can be canceled at a moment’s notice, not to mention the many times you’ll have to cancel on social or familial obligations (even weddings).  When you do poorly, partners scream and insult you.  When you do well, the reward is more work.  The work itself is abstract and creates little real benefit for others or society.  A lot of my friends have gone on anti-anxiety meds and antidepressants because the environment was too high-pressure. 

It’s definitely not all bad, but only very specific personality types do well here.  The others quit after a few years.  The positive — we are compensated extremely well (combined income is now over 500K), but it is only a sustainable life for a few years and certainly not conducive to having a family. Definitely don’t recommend it and most people around here are desparate for an exit strategy — but options are limited).  Smaller firms may be different, I’m not sure. 

On a positive note, my brother is just finishing his third year at Harvard and he took a different tack entirely.  He does it for the love of it.  Is going to be a district attorney and knows he will make very little and work quite a bit.  But, he’s happy with that because he doing good.  He just finished his first jury trial and got a conviction of driver driving under the influence in a very tough case (.06 alcohol level). Yay!          

 

Post # 27
Member
975 posts
Busy bee

@KatiePi:  You could consider working at a law office during your summers off as an assistant or admin to get a feel for what lawyers do and how busy it is. Becoming a paralegal would be another option without the excessive burden of student loans.

My Fiance is an attorney (works for “Big Law”), and I don’t think he would suggest it to anyone either. The job market is so competitive, and he feels he has very little job security. He works a ton (7am-7pm M-F, usually another 5-10 hrs on the weekends), and if he has an upcoming case, he works even more. However, he works in intellectual property and loves the aspect of being on the cutting edge of new technologies and constantly learning.

He gets compensated very well, and his firm gives great benefits, but work is ALWAYS there. We plan vacations, but we always have to buy travel insurance because something could come up at work and he would have to cancel. He is always expected to be available. His current firm is better than his old one – he used to have a special ring on his phone when his boss would email so it would wake him up in the middle of the night because the partner expected him to respond immediately. Now, they are more reasonable and consider only “waking hours” the acceptable time to call/email.

Being an attorney isn’t only difficult for you, it also is challenging for your SO. I work full-time as well, and I take on the brunt of our household responsibilities, mainly because he is just not around. The only way we plan to have kids is if he gets out of a big law firm and moves in-house to a company with more consistent 9-5 hours and no billable hours. But those jobs are few and far between.

This sounds very complain-y, but I wanted to give you a real-life perspective (his and my viewpoints). We have reached a happy balance in our relationship and have learned to care for and love each other with the time we have, but it has been hard at times, mainly due to the demanding nature of his career.

 

Post # 29
Member
2884 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: July 2013

I hate this.

I am really considering going into law, but I’m not going to be able to get into a top school (plus, I couldn’t travel in order to attend). I do have a good GPA & feel that it is likely that I would get around a 165 on the LSAT in order to qualify for amazing tuition assistance (I would have to pay 10k per year out of pocket for 3 years). I really am quite crafy with words and feel my skills would be on parr for this line of work, but I hate what everybody is saying it.

 

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