Law School Discussion

Specific Groups => Minority and Non-Traditional Law Students => Topic started by: tsilva25 on January 15, 2005, 03:07:50 PM

Title: Unsupportive friends; Moral obligation?
Post by: tsilva25 on January 15, 2005, 03:07:50 PM
Hi all,

As a non-trad applicant (30yo), I'm noticing that several of my friends are treating my application to law school in a totally unexpected manner: general disapproval and scorn.  It may be because of my background and my current profession (classical musician/teacher) but I'm getting accused a lot of 'selling out' and 'becoming one of them' and so forth. 

Furthermore, as I am a doctoral student at the moment, one of my friends even went so far as to suggest that I had a moral obligation to withdraw from the doctoral program for the remainder of the academic year since I was obviously "wasting the university's money" and "preventing someone from receiving funding because I'm biding time."

I suppose my opinion is that people enter school for many reasons, and their interest and commitment also wanes; i.e., not everyone who is enrolled is equally motivated or dedicated, therefore simply because I'm switching disciplines doesn't mean that I should automatically cut all ties with my former discipline and start life anew.

Has anyone else had a similar dilemma or similar reactions?  I'd love to get some feedback here!

tsilva25
Title: Re: Unsupportive friends; Moral obligation?
Post by: dr_draino on January 15, 2005, 03:21:15 PM
Wierd...not at all like that.  My dissertation advisor's first response was "why the HELL would you do that?!?".  After I explained he simply said "Hey, if that's what you wanna do, just lemme know what you need me to do to help you acheive it".

Your friend is crazy over teh wirthdrawl part.  Gotta-do-whatcha-gotta-do to keep yourself happy.
Title: Re: Unsupportive friends; Moral obligation?
Post by: twarga on January 15, 2005, 03:34:31 PM
Two of my sisters (who love me dearly) just don't get it (there are 4 of us, aged 40-34).  They are content with their lives and can't understand why I'm such a malcontent.  One is a stay at home mom (which I was for a few years) and the other is a paralegal (which I am now) and they behave as though this law school thing is pretty selfish (since I have two kids, husband, mortgage, etc.).  I do have one sister (the 40 y.o.) who is ultra-supportive and says she wished she had the guts to do what I'm doing (since she, too, is a paralegal and knows that paralegals are the true "power of attorney"   ;) ).
Title: Re: Unsupportive friends; Moral obligation?
Post by: cutcut on January 16, 2005, 05:57:35 AM
My dissertation advisor is encouraging me to take a leave of absence from my job, rather than just quitting, in case I hate law school and want to come back. He still wrote me a great recommendation, though.

For the most part, I have been surprised at how supportive people have been. No one has given me any crap about it. Maybe they're just used to my intellectual wandering by now.

In any case, @#!* 'em. Do your own thing. You're not doing this for them anyway.
Title: Re: Unsupportive friends; Moral obligation?
Post by: twarga on January 16, 2005, 07:41:06 AM
Hey Geezer... I saw the world, too... but on the government's dime.  Not a bad way to do it, either.   ;)

And I'm not just doing this for me.  I'm doing this for my daughters, too.  They are so excited about this whole thing.  I went back to college when they were just toddlers, so they are used to mommy being a student.  When I got back from Widener (with the news that I was in and had a full scholarship), I brought them each a Widener binder from the book store.  They were so excited, they were jumping around the living room!  I hope I inspire them to keep improving themselves throughout their lives.

As far as my two unsupportive sisters... maybe it's just sour grapes.  So what?  I love them anyway.   :-* 
Title: Re: Unsupportive friends; Moral obligation?
Post by: goodadvice (account resigned) on January 16, 2005, 07:53:42 AM
Hi all,

As a non-trad applicant (30yo), I'm noticing that several of my friends are treating my application to law school in a totally unexpected manner: general disapproval and scorn.  It may be because of my background and my current profession (classical musician/teacher) but I'm getting accused a lot of 'selling out' and 'becoming one of them' and so forth. 

Furthermore, as I am a doctoral student at the moment, one of my friends even went so far as to suggest that I had a moral obligation to withdraw from the doctoral program for the remainder of the academic year since I was obviously "wasting the university's money" and "preventing someone from receiving funding because I'm biding time."

I suppose my opinion is that people enter school for many reasons, and their interest and commitment also wanes; i.e., not everyone who is enrolled is equally motivated or dedicated, therefore simply because I'm switching disciplines doesn't mean that I should automatically cut all ties with my former discipline and start life anew.

Has anyone else had a similar dilemma or similar reactions?  I'd love to get some feedback here!

tsilva25

Good questions silva.

1. First of all, it is in NO WAY immoral to become a lawyer. Law is one of the most moral, if not the most moral, callings. If any of those music people were wronged by someone, you would see how quickly they run and ask for the assistance of a lawyer. Please make sure to put your friends in their place next time they dare to criticize the morality of law.

2. On the morality of withdrawing from the music program. Hmmm. The might have a point. Or they might not. Do you plan on ultimately finishing your PhD in music? And if so, will staying in the program for another semester give you progress towards that goal? If these things are true, then you have every right to stay in. Again, make sure to put them in their place if they run their mouth off.
Title: Re: Unsupportive friends; Moral obligation?
Post by: polis on January 21, 2005, 02:36:08 PM
I'm a doctoral student treading water on a fellowship too.  Don't think twice about keeping it while you decide about law school.  Humanities grad school is a rough life and you need to do what you need to do to survive.  Also don't listen to your colleagues trying to make you feel guilty about going into law.  I love the academy and think there are tons and tons of brilliant and interesting people there, but when it comes to jobs and life outside of academics these otherwise smart and open-minded people turn into such dopes. Remember academics isn't charity work, people go into it to lead a certain lifestyle and do work they enjoy.  So anytime you get the we're such marytrs speech, just roll your eyes and pay it no mind.
 
Title: Re: Unsupportive friends; Moral obligation?
Post by: wanderingalaskan on January 21, 2005, 03:00:51 PM
Hi all,

As a non-trad applicant (30yo), I'm noticing that several of my friends are treating my application to law school in a totally unexpected manner: general disapproval and scorn.  It may be because of my background and my current profession (classical musician/teacher) but I'm getting accused a lot of 'selling out' and 'becoming one of them' and so forth. 

Furthermore, as I am a doctoral student at the moment, one of my friends even went so far as to suggest that I had a moral obligation to withdraw from the doctoral program for the remainder of the academic year since I was obviously "wasting the university's money" and "preventing someone from receiving funding because I'm biding time."

I suppose my opinion is that people enter school for many reasons, and their interest and commitment also wanes; i.e., not everyone who is enrolled is equally motivated or dedicated, therefore simply because I'm switching disciplines doesn't mean that I should automatically cut all ties with my former discipline and start life anew.

Has anyone else had a similar dilemma or similar reactions?  I'd love to get some feedback here!

tsilva25
Don't look back; it takes a lot of courage to make a change such as this.  Many remain where they are, despite being unhappy.
I, too, am leaving the humanities (currently finishing my thesis in English Literature).  While my thesis advisor is disappointed that I am not going to get my PhD, she has been completely supportive of my decision.  There is no reason to cut your ties, because you never know with complete certainty what the future may bring.  Perhaps after practicing as an attorney you will return to music . . .
Title: Re: Unsupportive friends; Moral obligation?
Post by: kaest4 on January 22, 2005, 04:11:07 PM
I have some friends that tell me that I will be too old when I get down with LS- and if I go part time, well to make a long story short, I have started to limit my time with them, Its my choice- when they went on and on about how they think people that go to college and LS think they are better then everyone else, I  saw the writing   on the wall- I need to take care of me and what I want and surround myself with postive people. It will be hard to say goodbye- but if they were really friends they would be there for me. And drop all the putdowns.

Title: Re: Unsupportive friends; Moral obligation?
Post by: twarga on January 22, 2005, 04:48:21 PM
You'll undoubtedly make new friends in ls anyway, and I be they'll be supportive.   ;D
Title: Re: Unsupportive friends; Moral obligation?
Post by: Eve on January 23, 2005, 06:38:40 PM

Hi Silva,

About the divide between the academy and the real world: I've gotten some of this reaction, though I
think they are giving you an especially harsh time, and for no good reason!  The academy should be glad
that "one of them" out there will be someone who deeply understands their field and loved it
enough to study it, if not to devote a whole life to it professionally.  The academy needs advocates!
They are very wrong to treat a potential advocate in this way and I'm sorry for it.

Hang in there!
Title: Re: Unsupportive friends; Moral obligation?
Post by: Coyote on January 24, 2005, 03:56:56 AM

Good questions silva.

1. First of all, it is in NO WAY immoral to become a lawyer. Law is one of the most moral, if not the most moral, callings. If any of those music people were wronged by someone, you would see how quickly they run and ask for the assistance of a lawyer. Please make sure to put your friends in their place next time they dare to criticize the morality of law.

2. On the morality of withdrawing from the music program. Hmmm. The might have a point. Or they might not. Do you plan on ultimately finishing your PhD in music? And if so, will staying in the program for another semester give you progress towards that goal? If these things are true, then you have every right to stay in. Again, make sure to put them in their place if they run their mouth off.

I'm not making the point that a career in the law is immoral, but with all due respect, we're not exactly joining the peace corps.  Explain to me the moral justice of $2.7 million in punitive damages for a McDonald's coffee burn (eventually reduced).  "f not the most moral" is a bit of a stretch.  Let's go with aid workers in the Sudan.  Hospice workers.  People who run soup kitchens.  The Red Cross.  C.A.R.E. International.  Lawyers can, of course, work for charitable organizations...but most do not.  Johnnie Cochran is an excellent lawyer, but I wouldn't call him Mother Theresa. 
Title: Re: Unsupportive friends; Moral obligation?
Post by: twarga on January 24, 2005, 05:08:57 AM
Just like anything else in life, good or bad, your law career will be what you make it.  You either bring honor to the law profession or you don't. 
Title: Re: Unsupportive friends; Moral obligation?
Post by: Mrs Malaprop on January 24, 2005, 06:18:27 AM
I'm not making the point that a career in the law is immoral, but with all due respect, we're not exactly joining the peace corps.  Explain to me the moral justice of $2.7 million in punitive damages for a McDonald's coffee burn (eventually reduced).  "f not the most moral" is a bit of a stretch.  Let's go with aid workers in the Sudan.  Hospice workers.  People who run soup kitchens.  The Red Cross.  C.A.R.E. International.  Lawyers can, of course, work for charitable organizations...but most do not.  Johnnie Cochran is an excellent lawyer, but I wouldn't call him Mother Theresa. 

You do understand the point of punitive damages, right?
Title: Re: Unsupportive friends; Moral obligation?
Post by: Coyote on January 24, 2005, 10:45:43 AM
I'm not making the point that a career in the law is immoral, but with all due respect, we're not exactly joining the peace corps.  Explain to me the moral justice of $2.7 million in punitive damages for a McDonald's coffee burn (eventually reduced).  "f not the most moral" is a bit of a stretch.  Let's go with aid workers in the Sudan.  Hospice workers.  People who run soup kitchens.  The Red Cross.  C.A.R.E. International.  Lawyers can, of course, work for charitable organizations...but most do not.  Johnnie Cochran is an excellent lawyer, but I wouldn't call him Mother Theresa. 

You do understand the point of punitive damages, right?


To punish a defendant and to deter a defendant and others from committing similar acts in the future.

The seeking of which hardly qualifies a profession as the being the most moral calling.  The law itself is not always moral.  

Title: Re: Unsupportive friends; Moral obligation?
Post by: Mrs Malaprop on January 24, 2005, 12:20:16 PM

To punish a defendant and to deter a defendant and others from committing similar acts in the future.

The seeking of which hardly qualifies a profession as the being the most moral. 
Quote

But it doesn't exactly make it Teh Evel either. I'd say the profession itself is morally neutral - it's the individual lawyers that are moral/immoral.

I don't think that forcing a corporation's hand through a lawsuit is necessarily a bad thing - and can in fact do a lot of good.

To use the example you referenced, it wasn't the greedy lawyers that sought a huge judgement against the corporation - originally, the plaintiff was seeking $20K to cover her medical costs (she sustained extensive 3rd degree burns). This settlement was refused by McD's, as was the larger settlement suggested under arbitration. The $2.7 million in punitive damages was awarded by the jury, and not arbitrarily (the figure was roughly 2 days worth of coffee sales at Mc Donalds worldwide - the jury thought that apropos). The judge disagreed with the amount of the damages (although he too found McD's to be grossly negligent and said so), and lowered the figure to $480,000.

Considering that this was only one of many cases of serious burns caused by McD's coffee (over 700 prior cases) and that the solution (lowering the holding temp of coffee) would cost McD's little or nothing - and that nevertheless McD's stoutly refused to change their operating procedures - the judge and jury felt that McD's had shown a reckless disregard for the safety of their customers. (For the record, the jury noted that the plaintiff was partially responsible for sustaining the burns, and lowered her compensitory damages accordingly.)

So, finally, McD's loses the case and lowers the damn coffee temp. Not exactly a cure for cancer, but another reason for corporations not to wantonly disregard the safety of their customers.

And yeah, I'm sure the plaintiff's lawyers got paid well. Most doctors also get paid very well to do their jobs, and generally people don't argue about the ethics of doing so.

Sorry for the hijack - this is somewhat of a hot-button (pardon the pun) issue for me. Now back to your regularly scheduled thread.


Title: Re: Unsupportive friends; Moral obligation?
Post by: Coyote on January 24, 2005, 04:49:21 PM
Oh, for Christ's sake.

I did not say that law was "evil."  Not once.  I did not suggest it.  I said that it was a stretch call it the "most moral" calling.  An executioner is morally neutral. 

It's a package.  Same with doctors.  Quid pro quo. 

And if you honestly believe that the McDonald's coffee case was right on the money...you know what, forget it.  It's the layman's first example of what is wrong with our legal system - the ignorant masses.

I'm probably wrong on O.J. as well.  Someday he'll find those real killers.
Title: Re: Unsupportive friends; Moral obligation?
Post by: Mrs Malaprop on January 24, 2005, 07:34:36 PM
Oh, for Christ's sake.

I did not say that law was "evil."  Not once.  I did not suggest it.


Never said you did. Hyperbole, dude.

And if you honestly believe that the McDonald's coffee case was right on the money...you know what, forget it.  It's the layman's first example of what is wrong with our legal system - the ignorant masses.

I'm probably wrong on O.J. as well.  Someday he'll find those real killers.

It's exactly my point that most laymen have absolutely no idea about the particulars of that case. That it's a spurious example that "the ignorant masses" (to use your term) bring up when they start bellyaching about frivilous law suits - without considering that there might be more to those suits than they see in a 30-second bit on the evening news. I know a lot more about the case than most people, only because I was interested in knowing more about this famously "over the top" judgement and the salient information is avaiable out there for free on the Web. But even so, I wouldn't go so far as to presume from my cursory reading of that material that I know enough to say whether the judgement or the lawsuit was justified - although it did seem to me that McD's was the party that pushed things to the extreme, not the plaintiff. There was the definite sense that McD's really p.o.'d the judge and jury with its attitude, and that had a lot to do with the outcome.

I certainly don't think that the McD's coffee case is the egregious example of the need for tort reform that it has been made out to be. There may very well be other, better examples of cases that more effectively demonstrate that the system is broken. And there may very well be the legitimate need for tort reform, but I think most laymen are ill-informed on the subject in general and on this case in particular.

But OJ definitely did it. Too bad the prosecution bolloxed that one up nine ways to Sunday, and that OJ had the Dream Team to take advantage of their every blunder. (Note that OJ got nailed in civil court - another useful application of the tort. The inability of the authorities to get him to pay up notwithstanding.)
Title: Re: Unsupportive friends; Moral obligation?
Post by: kaest4 on January 24, 2005, 07:52:49 PM
You'll undoubtedly make new friends in ls anyway, and I be they'll be supportive.   ;D


I Know I will :)

Yeah- Today was great, they reminded me of how much fun they are having going to minor league hockey games without me because  I have class and saving money for school- They live up north and I live in FL- so its always me that is flying up there- well cant do it- i am taking classes at the local community college to transfer back to me university(saving me money) and another long story as to why I am in fl and my university is in Pittsburgh, but I dont want a job, I want a career in law, I have a job now and it just pays the bills- I want to be comfortable and have a place where I dont have to deal with the general public anymore then I have too- I want to deal with industry people- it that makes sense.


They have no ambition at all, they live for hockey season and hockey players. And then thats it- during the off season all I hear is - how they wish it was hockey season so they have something to do.

Maybe I should just cut the cord for good? Getting tired of having to defend myself and my education and career plans to people who say they care?

Sorry about the rant- just needed to get it out


Title: Re: Unsupportive friends; Moral obligation?
Post by: kernelgt on January 25, 2005, 03:27:03 AM
People who have the audacity to sit on the sidelines without any real ambition or guts to try something risky themselves and question something that I'm doing can lick my balls.  Seriously, it really irks me when someone implies that I should feel guilty for doing something that I really want to try. 
Title: Re: Unsupportive friends; Moral obligation?
Post by: WOMBAT on January 25, 2005, 04:29:00 AM
If I had a nickel for all of the people who have been unsupportive of my law school efforts......









I'd have $3.65
 ;D
Title: Re: Unsupportive friends; Moral obligation?
Post by: WOMBAT on January 26, 2005, 05:42:27 PM
$3.70
Title: Re: Unsupportive friends; Moral obligation?
Post by: WOMBAT on February 03, 2005, 07:26:19 PM
Dang! Did I kill this thread?

I'm sorry.  :'(
Title: Re: Unsupportive friends; Moral obligation?
Post by: mcm on February 03, 2005, 08:15:45 PM
one of my friends even went so far as to suggest that I had a moral obligation to withdraw from the doctoral program for the remainder of the academic year since I was obviously "wasting the university's money" and "preventing someone from receiving funding because I'm biding time."

Nonsense.  When you entered your doctoral program, you didn't sign up for six years of indentured servitude (though some would have you believe otherwise).  You are free to leave at any time.  If they judged that you were not performing up to their standards, they would not hesitate to pull your funding, kick you out of the program, or what have you.  Likewise, if the program does not meet your needs, you can up and leave with a clear conscience. 

My all-time fav: one of my academic advisors refers to lawyers as "artisans."  The qualifing "mere" is only just, but very clearly, implied.