Law School Discussion

Law Students => Incoming 1Ls => Topic started by: internet1 on May 20, 2013, 03:48:03 PM

Title: ANXIETY!!!!!
Post by: internet1 on May 20, 2013, 03:48:03 PM
This is my first time using this board and am wondering if it is normal to have a lot of anxiety about law school before I start. I really am not sure whether or not Law School is right for me. I know how difficult it is going to be (my gf is a current attorney and my brother is a current 2L) and that is not what is giving me anxiety (maybe a little that I wont do well). Mainly I am having anxiety over whether or not Law School is right for me and once I commit it will solidify my future is some sense. I am very outgoing and social, good with numbers and enjoy negotiating and traveling. I'm 26 and really need to figure out what im doing. Ive already put deposits down at law schools and not sure whether or not I should defer or not. Ive never worked in business and might have a false vision of what it might be like. I worked at a law firm for a year and a half and did enjoy it. I am really confused and not sure what I should do. I feel that law school shouldnt be creating this anxiety if it is truly what I should be doing. I am not sure whether I should pursue a JD/MBA or just a JD or just a MBA or neither. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks

Title: Re: ANXIETY!!!!!
Post by: internet1 on May 22, 2013, 01:16:54 PM
Is it common to have this anxiety and not be sure that Law School is the right decision?

Thanks
Title: Re: ANXIETY!!!!!
Post by: legend on May 22, 2013, 09:21:42 PM
I think this is quite common for anyone attending law school or any new commitment. Whether to attend law school or not is a life altering decision and you there is no guarantee it could go great it could go terribly. When I was a 0L I can tell you I was freaking out the summer before I started it was a mixture of excitement, anxiety, hope, dread, and everything in between. However, most people in their mid twenties have the feeling of "what I am doing with my life" and if you attend law school you are taking a significant step in one direction it is a 3 year 100,000 commitment that will change your life.

It does sound like you have done a good amount of research into it and worked in a law firm and were not scared off. As for having a possible false vision you might have one, but there is no exact picture to being a lawyer it is a diverse field much like anything else really.

As for the JD/MBA what do you want to do with both of those? You shouldn't simply get more education because you don't know what to do and personally I think a law degree is far more valuable than an MBA, but I could be biased. You need to go to law school to be a lawyer you don't need an MBA to be a businessman.

I am sure you would like to hear everything will work out and this is a great decision or maybe it is horrible and you should not go, but this is your life and your decision. There is no way to know if law school is the right decision and like any big decision there is a bit of uncertainty. Whatever you decide I wish you good luck.
Title: Re: ANXIETY!!!!!
Post by: xoftmade on March 20, 2014, 02:06:34 AM
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Title: Re: ANXIETY!!!!!
Post by: barprephero on May 08, 2014, 08:13:43 PM
It sounds like you have connections. That is the #1 problem that most people face. It's not graduating that is their problem, it is having connections. Networking helps, but having relatives who are lawyers is a good step in the right direction.
Title: Re: ANXIETY!!!!!
Post by: JDAdvising on May 20, 2014, 01:19:04 PM
Hello Internet Newbie!

I think it is completely normal to feel quite a bit of anxiety before law school. I think part of it is that it is a new environment, and part of it is that it might not be worth it if you don't want to practice law (although it sounds like you liked your experience working at a firm - which is a good sign!). 

I was really anxious before law school and I didn't even want to practice law (which is not necessarily something I advise to others...). But I agree with Legend - I found a law degree to be impressive (more impressive than an MBA) and thought that even if I ventured into other fields I would have a major advantage. I ended up practicing law for about three years after law school (which I enjoyed) but now I just tutor law students/bar exam students full time. I have no regrets.

One good thing about law is that it is a very versatile field. And, if you're only 26, now might be the best time to go to law school considering that as you get older and have more commitments and responsibilities, it is more of a sacrifice to go. However, at the same time, if you really think you will not enjoy being a lawyer, and if you do not get scholarships or have a way to pay off law school, it might not be worth it to go into so much debt for something you do not even know if you want to do. 

Anyway, good luck! Let me know what you decide. And if you want some law school advice, you can always visit my site: www.excellenceinlawshcool.com
Title: Re: ANXIETY!!!!!
Post by: barprephero on May 20, 2014, 02:51:49 PM
I have always wondered what those "other fields" are that would prefer a JD over an MBA?
Title: Re: ANXIETY!!!!!
Post by: Maintain FL 350 on May 20, 2014, 03:28:17 PM
I have always wondered what those "other fields" are that would prefer a JD over an MBA?

I've had two non-legal jobs where a JD was preferred. One was in environmental consulting, where knowledge of property, land use, and especially state and federal environmental regulation was an asset. The other was in film marketing and distribution, where knowledge of copyright, intellectual property, and contracts was necessary. Many of the people I worked with were JDs, but not necessarily practicing attorneys. An MBA would have been considered alright, but a JD was considered better.

Human resources is another field where it's common to find JDs. At most larger companies and government agencies the HR Director and managers will be JDs.
Title: Re: ANXIETY!!!!!
Post by: barprephero on May 20, 2014, 08:03:18 PM
Are we talking about Clean Water Action and other $10 an hour type jobs?

I cant imagine that most places would "prefer" a JD unless the JD is already licensed. I should clarify I don't mean "they'd hire a lawyer and pay them non lawyer pay" I mean "they'd hire a JD who never passed the bar"
Title: Re: ANXIETY!!!!!
Post by: Maintain FL 350 on May 20, 2014, 11:58:46 PM
No, we're talking six figure careers.

None of the positions I mentioned require you to dispense legal advice, so bar admission is not necessarily critical. Knowledge of the relevant law, however, is considered a huge asset.
Title: Re: ANXIETY!!!!!
Post by: barprephero on May 21, 2014, 12:43:35 PM
No, we're talking six figure careers.

None of the positions I mentioned require you to dispense legal advice, so bar admission is not necessarily critical. Knowledge of the relevant law, however, is considered a huge asset.
But to clarify you WERE licensed when you applied right?
Title: Re: ANXIETY!!!!!
Post by: barprephero on May 21, 2014, 12:46:29 PM
This is my first time using this board and am wondering if it is normal to have a lot of anxiety about law school before I start. I really am not sure whether or not Law School is right for me. I know how difficult it is going to be (my gf is a current attorney and my brother is a current 2L) and that is not what is giving me anxiety (maybe a little that I wont do well). Mainly I am having anxiety over whether or not Law School is right for me and once I commit it will solidify my future is some sense. I am very outgoing and social, good with numbers and enjoy negotiating and traveling. I'm 26 and really need to figure out what im doing. Ive already put deposits down at law schools and not sure whether or not I should defer or not. Ive never worked in business and might have a false vision of what it might be like. I worked at a law firm for a year and a half and did enjoy it. I am really confused and not sure what I should do. I feel that law school shouldnt be creating this anxiety if it is truly what I should be doing. I am not sure whether I should pursue a JD/MBA or just a JD or just a MBA or neither. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks
If you are thinking about other jobs, a joint degree might be a good idea. If you only want to practice law I wouldn't bother since you get them joint by having them use up eachothers electives. This means less wiggle room for electives and less "easy" classes to raise GPA.

Also be aware that you will be required to sit the GMAT(or GRE) and apply to that on top of the JD and get into both before "jointly" enrolling.
Most are pure JD for first year anyways, but just letting you know.
Title: Re: ANXIETY!!!!!
Post by: Maintain FL 350 on May 21, 2014, 05:58:00 PM
No, we're talking six figure careers.

None of the positions I mentioned require you to dispense legal advice, so bar admission is not necessarily critical. Knowledge of the relevant law, however, is considered a huge asset.
But to clarify you WERE licensed when you applied right?

No, these were jobs I had before I went to law school (I had almost a decade between college and law school). When I worked in film marketing/distribution, most of my bosses had JDs. Some were licensed, some weren't, some were licensed in other states. It depended on what other qualifications they brought to the table.

In environmental consulting it's common for managerial level consultants to have a JD/M.S. in Environmental Science, Biology, Geology, whatever their specialty is. Same thing, some are licensed some are not.

The thing to keep mind is that in both situations people were not actually practicing law, so bar admission was secondary to knowledge. If someone did have experience practicing entertainment or environmental law, however, that would have been a plus.
Title: Re: ANXIETY!!!!!
Post by: barprephero on May 21, 2014, 07:54:01 PM
So then if you got the job BEFORE law school, it didn't need a JD to get and thus not really a good comparison to what someone could do with just a JD.
I honestly believe that you had a BETTER chance with no JD than if you had applied with one and without a license. That middle ground screams "there is something wrong with me, I'm either not smart enough or not trustworthy enough"
Title: Re: ANXIETY!!!!!
Post by: Maintain FL 350 on May 22, 2014, 12:42:51 AM
So then if you got the job BEFORE law school, it didn't need a JD to get and thus not really a good comparison to what someone could do with just a JD.

No, at age 22 I was low man on the totem pole. My BOSSES had JDs. I was pushing paper while the JDs were negotiating $50 million distribution agreements. We were not on the same level. To move up in the organization a JD was considered a stepping stone, and would have been preferred over an MBA. 


I honestly believe that you had a BETTER chance with no JD than if you had applied with one and without a license. That middle ground screams "there is something wrong with me, I'm either not smart enough or not trustworthy enough"

I think for many jobs that's probably true. I can only speak for the ones I've had personal experience with, and it wasn't really the case.

Here's the thing:

A lot of people already have a position and want to move up in the ranks.  Some jobs require an MBA to do that, for others a JD makes more sense. So they go to law school at night, and it helps them get ahead. It's a way of saying "I'm serious and I want to get into management." I saw LOTS of people in the entertainment industry who were working at studios, in marketing, distribution, lobbying, representation agencies, etc., who were going to law school at night. In a situation like that bar admission is less of an issue.   
Title: Re: ANXIETY!!!!!
Post by: Burning Sands, Esq. on June 07, 2014, 07:32:57 AM
Is it common to have this anxiety and not be sure that Law School is the right decision?

Thanks

Common to have anxiety? Yes.  Common to not be sure about law school?  Not so much.  I'm surprised more people haven't commented on this last point.

If you're nervous about starting law school that's one thing, but not sure that law is for you could be a red flag.  If you're getting a free ride or a considerable financial package then it's not such a problem, but barring that then I would advise you to give some serious thought as to whether you have a genuine interest in the law that would justify the 6-figure student loan debt that you're about to incur.

Unfortunately, the reality of legal education today is that the average law student graduates with over $100,000 in student loan debt.

Quote
"Law school debt essentially means a lawyer must make $200,000 or more above what the holder of a bachelorís degree will make over a lifetime, to have the investment break even." - http://www.hartfordbusiness.com/news18330.html

Don't get me wrong, if you have a genuine interest in the law and actually want to practice law, then you should definitely go to law school provided you can afford it.  Learning how to "think like a lawyer" is an invaluable problem solving skill set that can help you in all aspects of life, whether you're trying to figure out if a cop has the right to look in your glove box after pulling you over or whether you're planning to start your own business.  However, if you (figuratively speaking, not "you" personally) majored in basket weaving during college and just need something to do for 3 years, then law school is probably not a wise investment for you.  Either way, I wish you good luck.
Title: Re: ANXIETY!!!!!
Post by: Maintain FL 350 on June 07, 2014, 11:49:22 AM
Unfortunately, the reality of legal education today is that the average law student graduates with over $100,000 in student loan debt.

Quote
"Law school debt essentially means a lawyer must make $200,000 or more above what the holder of a bachelorís degree will make over a lifetime, to have the investment break even." - http://www.hartfordbusiness.com/news18330.html

It is truly unfortunate that a legal education is so expensive.

However, that figure doesn't seem too bad when you consider that it's over the course of a lifetime. If a new law school grad can expect say, a 30 year career, we're talking about having to earn less than $7000 per year above what a Bachelor's degree holder would earn. That seems pretty realistic.

I completely understand that the first few years out of school are very difficult for many people. I graduated in 2012, and am keenly aware of how tight the job market is. Most new lawyers will struggle to make $1500 per month loan payments on their starting salary.

But I think it's important to point out that most lawyers will increase their earning potential over the first few years. Five to seven years into a legal career, I think the average lawyer is probably making substantially more than the average Bachelor's degree holder (depending of course on what the bachelor's is in. A BS in Engineering will make more than a BA in English Lit).

Here in LA our public law offices (DA, PD, etc) start out at about $70k. By five years in, the salary will be about $100k, and in most cases will max out at around $130-140k. I think that is significantly better than what the average holder of a liberal arts BA can expect.
Title: Re: ANXIETY!!!!!
Post by: Burning Sands, Esq. on June 07, 2014, 04:43:59 PM
I should probably also add that the $200k figure that they cited did not include interest, which effectively turns a $200k loan paid over a 30 year term into about $450,000 even at favorable interest rates.

California sounds like a nice legal market b/c the public attorneys in New York and New Jersey are making nowhere near 6-figures. Public defenders and state prosecutors start at around $40k here.  After 10 years they're making about $70k, which, by the way,  could have been earned with just a bachelor's degree without incurring 6-figure debt.

Only a small minority of lawyers make 6-figures at graduation, and of the majority that don't,  most do not get there within 10 years after graduation (indeed, a good number never get there at all).  The "average" income stats of our profession are skewed higher than other professions because the minority of attorneys who are big income earners make 6 and 7 figures and beyond.  But I know way too many attorneys who are 5 or 10+ years into the practice who don't make $100k.  Accordingly, I can't accept the proposition that "most" attorneys earn significantly more money than bachelor's degree holders - especially when debt is factored in.
Title: Re: ANXIETY!!!!!
Post by: barprephero on June 07, 2014, 06:07:07 PM
Lifetime earnings do tend to be higher, people with only high school who criticize grad school level debt often don't factor that in.
Do all? No. Do most that do have to work for awhile to earn it? Yes. Do some high school dropouts make the same? Sure. Do most? Hell no.

Statistics is a mandatory course in undergrad for most degrees for a reason. I wish they required it at 9th grade level though since most Americans don't seem to understand it even at a remedial level. (and most dropouts at least show up tentatively to first year high school classes)
Title: Re: ANXIETY!!!!!
Post by: Maintain FL 350 on June 07, 2014, 08:23:48 PM
I should probably also add that the $200k figure that they cited did not include interest, which effectively turns a $200k loan paid over a 30 year term into about $450,000 even at favorable interest rates.

California sounds like a nice legal market b/c the public attorneys in New York and New Jersey are making nowhere near 6-figures. Public defenders and state prosecutors start at around $40k here.  After 10 years they're making about $70k, which, by the way,  could have been earned with just a bachelor's degree without incurring 6-figure debt.

Only a small minority of lawyers make 6-figures at graduation, and of the majority that don't,  most do not get there within 10 years after graduation (indeed, a good number never get there at all).  The "average" income stats of our profession are skewed higher than other professions because the minority of attorneys who are big income earners make 6 and 7 figures and beyond.  But I know way too many attorneys who are 5 or 10+ years into the practice who don't make $100k.  Accordingly, I can't accept the proposition that "most" attorneys earn significantly more money than bachelor's degree holders - especially when debt is factored in.

It's a difficult question to answer because there are so many variables. What specific degree someone holds, where they attended school (a BS in engineering from Caltech is probably going to earn more than a BS in engineering from an unknown school), location, experience, etc.

I think another issue is that many people with BAs in liberal arts aren't really using their degrees, per se. For example, I was a history major in undergrad and ending working in film distribution/marketing. A lawyer's employment is directly tied to their degree, so the benefit is easier to quantify.

My evidence is merely anecdotal, but it seems that TONS of people with BAs are working at low-midlevel paying jobs. Although I know plenty of new lawyers who are struggling, the experienced lawyers are doing just fine.

I mean, if you take two people, one with only a BA (and statistically it's likely to be a liberal arts degree) and one with a JD, are they likely to be making the same salary ten years down the road? I doubt it, but I might be wrong.
Title: Re: ANXIETY!!!!!
Post by: Burning Sands, Esq. on June 08, 2014, 10:09:19 AM
Yeah there are definitely exceptions to every rule. 2 of my fraternity brothers immediately come to mind as examples of guys who made out well with a bachelor's degree; both are making well over $100k. In fact one of them broke the $100k mark 5 years after graduating from college. 

But those are just 2 random guys.

The majority of bachelor's degree holders are not clocking 6-figures within 5 years of graduation. 

Similarly, you may find some attorneys in the public sector or in solo practice or in small firms who are making in excess of $100k 5 years (or even 10 years) after graduation but they will be the exception to the rule, not the rule.

ETA: one exception that comes to mind, federal prosecutors.  The Assistant US Attorneys in NY and NJ do start between $110k to $130k depending on experience.