Law School Discussion

Law Students => Current Law Students => Topic started by: barprephero on May 04, 2014, 09:10:18 PM

Title: what was your reason for going to (or applying to) law school?
Post by: barprephero on May 04, 2014, 09:10:18 PM
what was your reason for going to (or applying to) law school?
Title: Re: what was your reason for going to (or applying to) law school?
Post by: Abraham Lincoln Uni. on June 29, 2015, 07:11:59 PM
Hi!
Many students have different reasons for going to law school depending on their influences and interests. For instance, my students choose to go to law school because they want to learn about the legal system, go to court, defend the less fortunate, or to protect our cities and states.

Others go to law school possibly to follow in their family’s footsteps or to help with a legal cause of action a family or friend was placed in.

In addition, some choose to go to law school to work with politicians, district attorneys, and other influential people. Some people watch televisions shows and movies concerning the legal system, and get inspired.

For those interested in law school, it can help to take a legal course (IE political science, constitutional law, or introduction to legal studies) at your community college or local university to get a better idea of what you could be in for before just jumping into law school.

I hope this helps!
Title: Re: what was your reason for going to (or applying to) law school?
Post by: seanwheart on September 05, 2015, 07:58:09 PM
For instance, my students choose to go to law school because they want to learn about the legal system, go to court, defend the less fortunate, or to protect our cities and states.

Others go to law school possibly to follow in their family’s footsteps or to help with a legal cause of action a family or friend was placed in.


Please. Let's be honest here.

Law students who want to defend the less fortunate, or help their friends, are actually quite rare. Most law students I've met were, frankly, jerks. If they had been interested in helping people, they would have gone into a helping profession like nursing, healthcare, counseling, teaching, social work, therapy, etc.

Most of the people I was in law school with had serious character flaws that attracted them to the legal field. Some went there from a place of low self esteem to try and prove something about themselves. Others were overly argumentative and would argue with a brick wall. Some only wanted the prestige and money that they believed they could achieve with a law degree (but few of them actually did). Or, they had an over-active fantasy life and believed that  law was an exciting career. Now some of these people are in therapy, some are trying desperately to get into another career field, and most of the rest are unemployed. The few who did achieve success had family members that were lawyers.

Do law professors seem like a caring, empathetic group of people to you? I remember confiding in one of my professors that due to financial struggles, I was having difficulty purchasing the book I needed for his course. He simply gave a snort of disgust, and walked away.

Let's stop pretending that lawyers truly just want to help people.
Title: Re: what was your reason for going to (or applying to) law school?
Post by: Duncanjp on September 06, 2015, 02:14:48 PM
Law students who want to defend the less fortunate, or help their friends, are actually quite rare. Most law students I've met were, frankly, jerks. If they had been interested in helping people, they would have gone into a helping profession like nursing, healthcare, counseling, teaching, social work, therapy, etc.

Most of the people I was in law school with had serious character flaws that attracted them to the legal field. Some went there from a place of low self esteem to try and prove something about themselves. Others were overly argumentative and would argue with a brick wall. Some only wanted the prestige and money that they believed they could achieve with a law degree (but few of them actually did). Or, they had an over-active fantasy life and believed that  law was an exciting career. Now some of these people are in therapy, some are trying desperately to get into another career field, and most of the rest are unemployed. The few who did achieve success had family members that were lawyers.

Do law professors seem like a caring, empathetic group of people to you? I remember confiding in one of my professors that due to financial struggles, I was having difficulty purchasing the book I needed for his course. He simply gave a snort of disgust, and walked away.

Let's stop pretending that lawyers truly just want to help people.

Fair enough, Sean, if a bit cynical. I had a positive experience with law school, although there were, predictably, a small number of students who fit the negative profiles you paint. You're right to be suspicious of those who claim that their main purpose in going to law school is to help indigents. Very few people are that altruistic. You work to earn a living. At the same time, I think many law students do envision having a career helping people. Such a vision necessarily evolves after time in the real world, but helping people is what being a lawyer is all about. The naïveté of 0Ls-3Ls should be forgiven. They’re no different than the kids in construction who can’t see the day that they’ll ever grow tired of pounding nails.

On a personal level, I really liked the overwhelming majority of my classmates, regardless of their reasons for being there. They were not jerks. Most of my classmates were courteous, inspirational people who conducted themselves professionally in a professional environment. I should mention, however, that I went to night school, which may attract a different student personality type. But I enjoyed being around my classmates immensely. Some have become my best friends. Moreover, my profs were all very cool. That said, I never tested how a prof might respond if I had mentioned my personal financial obstacles and his or her casebook in the same breath. Mercy? Empathy? Not likely. Being a lawyer means figuring it out.
Title: Re: what was your reason for going to (or applying to) law school?
Post by: seanwheart on September 06, 2015, 06:07:16 PM
That said, I never tested how a prof might respond if I had mentioned my personal financial obstacles and his or her casebook in the same breath. Mercy? Empathy? Not likely. Being a lawyer means figuring it out.

If being a lawyer means being able to make responsible financial decisions, we have thousands of people entering and exiting law schools over the past few years, who did not research with "due diligence" just how difficult it would be to repay their student loans, or what the legal job market was like (terrible) before applying to these law schools. In fact, many of them did no research at all, even though that information was easily accessible on the internet.  So, if being a lawyer means "figuring it out", well......most of these lawyers have not.

I would never describe any of my profs as "very cool" but perhaps it was just a different environment, I did not attend a night law school. I watched one professor verbally berate an elderly law student for no reason in class one day. It was mean, unwarranted, and a waste of everyone else's class time.  This was years ago, however, and I understand many law schools have seen a drop in their applications, so its possible that law professors have to play nicer these days.
Title: Re: what was your reason for going to (or applying to) law school?
Post by: Maintain FL 350 on September 08, 2015, 11:07:46 AM
I think each law school has it's own culture and personality.

My own experience was closer to Duncan's (I was in a part time night program, too). Most of classmates were cool and more than willing to help out others. Sure, there were a few jerks but that's life in general. The professors were a mixed bag. Some were great and balanced being very demanding with a genuine desire to see their students succeed, others had inflated egos and got off by trying to make you feel stupid. 

Title: Re: what was your reason for going to (or applying to) law school?
Post by: Duncanjp on September 12, 2015, 10:33:08 AM
The true, underlying reason for going to law school isn't that important in the greater scheme of things, so long as the prospective student can articulate a reason that means something to him or her. But going to law school with no vision or fundamental purpose for doing so — that's a huge mistake. Law school isn't junior college, where students, especially those right out of high school, often flop from semester to semester with no idea why they're even there.  Law school demands focus and commitment. This requires having a goal in mind. Your goal doesn't have to be immutable, but it should be clear in your mind before you take the leap. Otherwise, you're wasting your time and money.
Title: Re: what was your reason for going to (or applying to) law school?
Post by: Maintain FL 350 on September 12, 2015, 10:49:26 AM
But going to law school with no vision or fundamental purpose for doing so — that's a huge mistake. Law school isn't junior college, where students, especially those right out of high school, often flop from semester to semester with no idea why they're even there.  Law school demands focus and commitment. This requires having a goal in mind. Your goal doesn't have to be immutable, but it should be clear in your mind before you take the leap. Otherwise, you're wasting your time and money.

I agree completely. I get prospective law students asking me whether or not they should go  to law school all the time, as I'm sure we all do. My first question is always "Why do you want to go to law school? What are your goals?". It amazes me how many of them really don't know. They think a law degree is sort of a "good idea", or the "next logical step". Others think the JD will make them more marketable in other fields. I'm always surprised by how many don't actually want to be lawyers, and really don't have a particular goal in mind.
Title: Re: what was your reason for going to (or applying to) law school?
Post by: Duncanjp on September 12, 2015, 06:44:13 PM
Hi Maintain.

Would you say that, generally speaking, a statistically significant percentage of 0Ls matriculate admitting to an improper or unreasonable purpose in mind?

Trying to think of some examples.
Title: Re: what was your reason for going to (or applying to) law school?
Post by: 🍟💵🌲🍥 on September 12, 2015, 08:50:24 PM
I think most have an unrealistic view of what lawyers can and can not legally do until they sit prof resp and sit the MPRE (even after 1L for many)

Title: Re: what was your reason for going to (or applying to) law school?
Post by: Duncanjp on September 13, 2015, 01:40:26 AM
Yeah, that's probably true, π. I'm astonished at how many non-attorneys think that chasing ambulances is how attorneys actually make their living. (What comes of getting your information from television.) People who aren't lawyers don't know very much about being a real lawyer. When they go to law school, however, they learn the difference between fantasy and the real world. Exposure to reality doesn't have to be incompatible with the journey of discovery, though. Not if you start with a substantive goal in mind and a burning desire to achieve it.
Title: Re: what was your reason for going to (or applying to) law school?
Post by: Maintain FL 350 on September 13, 2015, 12:17:16 PM
Hi Maintain.

Would you say that, generally speaking, a statistically significant percentage of 0Ls matriculate admitting to an improper or unreasonable purpose in mind?

Trying to think of some examples.

I'm not sure I totally understand the question, but I think a lot of 0Ls simply don't know (1) what lawyers actually do, (2) what law school is actually like, and (3) how to distinguish between realistic and unrealistic goals.

For example, I've met a lot of 0Ls who say "I think I'd be great in law school because I really enjoy arguing." They think it's going to be a three year long version of their high school debate team. They don't understand the academic nature of a JD program.

I've also met 0Ls who have said things like "I'm going to get a joint JD/MBA because I really like business, and that way I can work in business and practice law on the side." Again, they just have no clue that establishing a practice, obtaining clients, and practicing law is something you can't do in your spare time. Or, they say things like "I'd like to work in human rights law at the U.N. or something", not understanding that those jobs don't typically go to 25 year olds fresh out of law school.

So, what I'm getting at is that there are a lot of 0Ls who see a law degree as a vaguely useful stepping stone to some kind of career, but who have not spent any time researching whether or not their notions are correct. Conversely, I don't think I've ever met a 0L who said "I'd like to work at a small firm drafting wills, defending DUIs and arranging child custody modifications", which is where most of them will end up. 
Title: Re: what was your reason for going to (or applying to) law school?
Post by: seanwheart on September 13, 2015, 01:18:18 PM
My young relative is one example of someone with unrealistic goals regarding law school. He says he will be rich and never have to worry about money if he gets a law degree.

When I try to get him to focus on reality, he just keeps talking about stuff he's read in novels about lawyers. And keeps talking about how lawyers are "rich". Of course, it doesn't help that he actually does know an attorney who is quite well off. But I've tried to explain to him that rich attorneys are not the norm, and he doesn't believe it.  Also, he isn't Ivy League material and won't be going to a top law school, so once he graduates from law school, he will be just another mediocre attorney, from a mediocre school, pounding the pavement desperately searching for work.
Title: Re: what was your reason for going to (or applying to) law school?
Post by: Citylaw on September 14, 2015, 10:26:12 AM
I think there are solid posts above and there is no real reason to go, but as a few posters said if you think you want a J.D. to practice law on the side it usually doesn't work out well. It is not really a part-time profession.

I think most potential 0L's are best suited to work in a law office for a year or so prior to applying to law school. There are parts of the legal profession that are awesome and others that suck. On Friday I was arguing a big hearing, which was fun to watch today and tomorrow I am going to be looking through boxes of documents to draft discovery responses, which is miserable.

So like every other job out there it is not constantly awesome, but if someone knows of a job that is 100% amazing all the time please let me know.

I think one of the best reasons to apply to law school is that as a lawyer you do have the power to change things and you are either licensed to practice law or your not. If you have a license to practice law you can represent a client and make a difference in someones life.  No other profession allows you to fight for or against the right to gay marriage in court, or sue the police for brutality, or defend police officers from frivolous lawsuits on and on. I think the judicial branch is the part of the political system that really matters and you can only be a part of it with a license to practice law.

As to the "rich" part plenty of lawyers do well, but it is rarely monetary success out of the gate. Furthermore, many of the lucrative positions require you to do some unpleasant things. I.E. if your bank attorney you have to force someone of their home, or if a corporation spills oil and kills some people you don't need to minimize the value of the deceased lives, etc everybody deserves a defense and there is nothing wrong with that, but there are real people involved in litigation and what the lawyers do or don't do makes a huge impact on people's lives.

Title: Re: what was your reason for going to (or applying to) law school?
Post by: 🍟💵🌲🍥 on September 15, 2015, 06:48:50 PM
I'd say it depends on how flexible you are. I believe that SD is still paying off a years worth of student loans if you practice for 5 years there (even if out of state grads) and some states let even bottom ranked law schools have good pass rates. The actual job of being a lawyer requires less intelligence than most associate degree professions. (post graduation and license of course, and heck even arguably before that if you don't count the bar exam and 1L)

I guess my point, is bring one bring all. Just only if you are willing to work lower wage jobs in areas no one else wants to go, and be flexible on what type of law you are willing to take as well.