Okay so 90%+ lawyers and former law students that I've spoken with say that law school is nothing more and nothing less than-drudgery.
Now I read a statistic saying that the Legal profession ranks at the very top of all professions for which individuals are suffering from depression (I apologize as I know this is not a new statistic). So why is the law depressing us so much and is there a way to look at things so that it doesn't?
P.S. This is particularly worrisome for me because I have a mild form of anxiety anyway, which often triggers or coincides with depression-like symptoms.
Anyone out there currently depressed in law school?
This is an interesting question - not discussed as much as it should be. I don't know that anecdotal evidence means anything and I don't trust statistics much. My father use to say that "...statistics are like a bikini on a beautiful woman - what the bikinin reveals in interesting - what the bikini hides is essential..." My concern is not the the numbers reveal but what they hide.
1. Is law school depressing? It is in a special way that can't really be described - it has to be experienced. One reason for this, in my view, is that law school is an endless series of trying and overwhelming events. Substantive classes are a series of lectures on complicated concepts and rules that have your head spinning mixed constantly - even if you get it you don't really GET it. Writing classes are like being punched over and over about the head and body - you feel bruised and sore - no matter how well you do from assignment to assignment (I do VERY well in writing) you still feel put down and wrung out. It's a break you down and build you back up process (1L) that proceeds to a series of brutal mental exercises (2L/3L). right now, it doesn't seem to end. It is stressful BUT is not depressing in the "I'm crying all the time" sort of way. It's just difficult - nor more than that for me. The depression comes from the fact that it doesn't seem to end.
2. What kind of person is drawn to the law? I'm confident that my classmates - brilliant nearly to a person - would be doing something else to drive themselves crazy if it weren't for the law. I can only speak for my section on this. We all work full time day and go to school evenings - doctors (one the forensic dentist for the Dallas Coroner's office who comes to class in scrubs) and teachers and engineers and businesspeople who ALL make a good living and don't really need to go to law school. So, why do it? I think it's the constant desire for improvement - taking your professional skills to the next step (even if you don't really know what the next step is...). We work our butts off during the day and we work our butts off during school and we would be working our butts off playing golf...or whatever we do. That's the kind of people we are. Some take the pressure of achievement - comnpeting with your contemporaries - better or worse. In any case, the trial by fire ahs bonded us in a genuine manner and we are no longer the green rookies who started not knowing what a rule, ALR, Restatement or any of those other fun things are. Now, we know something...we don't know everything but we are eager...even now.
This particular moment is tough for 1L's - our open memo grades are in and our trial brief is upon us )due in two weeks). We have practice exams, 1L moot court competition, preparation fro pro bono and internships this summer, and all the other fun things that go along with law study. It's truly fun - in a masochistic sort of way. Even now I love it - it drives me nuts but I DO love it.
3. What are some solutions? One way to deal is to accept the fact that the law school process is what it is for a reason - if you knew the law already (and the skills associated with the practice of law), what would be the point? I've run my own business for 15 years - I deal with large contracts and dozens of employees around the country and world. Still, the skills I'm learning in law school are new to me - I have to birth them from scratch just like every one of my mid-20's classmates. Every worthwhile thing - becoming a Marine, learning to ski, bringing a baby into the world, etc. - is somewhat painful and bound to make you wonder what the hell you were thinking. That's life - you can hide in a cubicle (like in Office Space) or you can embrace the challenge. Watch and NFL or NHL game sometime - players that just got the crap knocked out of them sit on the sidelines and can't wait to get back in the game - I look at life like that. It's a brutal experience filled with challenge and crushing blows and it's great. I can't wait to get to it every day...some are better games than others. Still, it's a long season...if we lose today we can always win tomorrow.
I can't speak to the law profession in general. I can say that people I encounted day to day in every profession seem to be pretty bummed...they didn't pick a path that makes them happy or they picked a path the didn't understand and now it generalyl sucks. I say, to them, get up and do something else. Hate being a flight attendant? Be a teacher. hate teaching? Drive a cab. Hate driving a cab? Be an accountant. The problem is not the job - the problem is the person not getting a job they love and that challenges them in a good way. I don't suspect lawyers are different than the world in general. Doctors are depressed too - and acocuntants - and schooll teachers - and the employees at the DMV (see much smiling whne you go to renew your driver's lisence?). This is not the law. It is life.
Do I dance my way through life? No. I work 60+ hours every week anyway so it's no different for me. being aware of what school will be like and what it will require of you is an important first step - that will help it be less of a schock - only less but STILL it will be a shock...take my word on this. But, it's a trip that can suck the life out of you OR bring you to life. Your choice.
jrut, I am mesmerized by your prose. It was written by a hand that met life as an enemy, and through challenge and introspection, you now call life your friend.
I do love the law because it presents so many chances to evolve and become better. So many individuals cannot deal with change and must be static in order to feel as though they are in control of their lives. I suppose is the dilemma. Our Type A-Must be in control-personalities (which I assume many of us as law students are) have great difficulty grasping that the law is not something that can be controlled. It is as varied and diverse as the people and places in engages.
Again I thank you for your thoughtful comments.