Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Why you shouldn't go to law school

A blogger wrote:

I promised more detail about why the jobs that one might expect after law school aren't anything to look forward to.

Well worth reading. I'm glad I went to law school and I enjoy my life, but "Lawyers suffer from depression, anxiety, hostility, paranoia, social alienation and isolation, obsessive-compulsiveness, and interpersonal sensitivity at alarming rates."

Read the comments too:
2) My experience of law, both in school and with those in practice, is that there is not really a higher percentage of arrogant, picky, petty jerks in the law than in other professions with highly educated individuals. I see you are training to enter academia...wait until you see the amount of sheer pettiness, backstabbing, and arrogance that goes on in the ivory tower. My acquaintances in the medical field have similar experiences.

3) Any client driven position is going to involve dealing with a public that at times can be bitter, petty, and unpleasant to work with. I actually have some experience working with public interest lawyers, apart from my other work experience. Was the pay low? Yes... Were the offices a dump? Yes.... Were the clients at times petty and frustrating? Yes...but no more than people see with any customer service job. The lawyers I worked with went home pretty happy at night, regardless of the fact that some of their clients were angry jerks.

4) Your advice is still sound for the most part; college students should not use law school as the default "don't know what else to do; guess I'll go to law school" is way too expensive for that. However, tough work conditions and demanding clients (let me tell you, students can be pretty demanding at times!) exist in most professions, as do ambiguous moral situations (just ask investigative journalists who find their stories and investigation driven by bottom-line management requirements). People should realize that no career is a bed of roses when it comes to moral conflict and ambiguity, stress, arrogant colleagues, and problematic payscales.
For comparison, visit: The PhD Project: Business doctoral programs

I am curious about how people feel about the choices they made and the directions they took, both as to how those worked for them (I'm pleased with my choices and how they have worked out) and as to how they would recommend others think about them (I just suggested a PhD in business to another relative).


Stephen said...

I should note that I enjoyed law school and I enjoy the practice of law. Many people do, but too many people do not.

Anonymous said...

I was graduated from one of those Ivy League law schools, and if not too late -> move to the hills (or the beaches) and grow many peaches (with a good library, would be nice.)

Anonymous said...

I went to some 3rd tier rural law school because that was the only one that would accept me with my GPA.

I determined early on, that I was willing to settle for Cs and Bs in order to have a family life. My wife visited with my daughter every day for lunch. I went home most every day by 5:00 PM and almost never studied at home. The only overtime I put in was before finals and when I was working on a few projects.

And I was ranked one of the lowest in my class. But I thoroughly enjoyed my school experience, and so did my wife. I saw a lot of my baby girl. I wrote my way onto the Law Review editorial board and read a lot of interesting stuff and milked my free LexisNexis account for all it was worth.

I had a great time.

Then gave the legal establishment the finger and went into private practice as a new solo bankruptcy lawyer. And I wouldn't do it any other way (although I won't kid you - solo practice has been very stressful). I work from home and see tons of all my three children.

But I agree that you'd better think really hard about whether you want to be a lawyer before going for the law degree.

DPC said...

Law school was okay...I met some really nice people and made good friends, but I didn't enjoy the competitiveness.

I enjoy the practice of law, but I hate, hate, hate discovery. It's generally a pointless waste of time as far as I'm concerned.

I work in-house, so I generally work an eight-hour day.

Seth R

I edited a textbook for a bankruptcy judge down here in the Middle District of Florida. In some ways, I feel I know bankruptcy law better than my own children (i.e. I had to read the entire textbook, plus the cases and statutes to make sure that they were accurate). I would have pursued a career in it, but the opportunity just never materialized

Jordan said...

I remain very happy with my decision to leave my Ph.D. program and attend law school. I generally enjoy my legal practice, which involves daily learning about new technologies and also thinking about the policies behind our intellectual property protection regime and others. I have no regrets, and would recommend it to any frustrated academic!