« on: October 26, 2009, 11:21:56 AM »
I graduated last year from law school (T50 if you think rankings other than T14 are important), and yesterday at a wedding I saw quite a few of my old law school classmates. Here is what they had to say:
"Sam" - Works at biglaw litigation firm downtown. He's at the office around 8:30, leaves around 6:30. Usually does an additional hour or two of work at home. Says "it's a grind" and generally dislikes his job. The partners work late as well, so there's little hope in sight. Wishes he had been a businessman or some kind of entrepreneur.
"Stefan" - Works at small firm doing tax law. Also considers it a grind, but hasn't worked there as long so he's still adjusting and doesn't have the same perspective as Sam.
"Wallace" - Worked for a few months as an attorney and hated it so much he went back to school for early education.
"Bram" - Didn't want to practice law and went into federal law enforcement.
"Lefty" - Clerks for a state sup ct. judge and likes it, but his 2-years are up soon and then he starts to work at a biglaw firm.
"Me" - Didn't want to practice and went into family business.
...and on and on. Point being, I don't know more than 1 or 2 of my classmates who are practicing law who actually like their job. No one at the wedding did.
I would really encourage all of you considering law school to actually go and speak with lawyers practicing in whatever area you think you want to work in. Ask 3L's at your local law school what they think of it. Just talk to as many lawyers as you can about their job. Figure out what their schedule is like. I think more than a few would be willing to give you 5 minutes of their time to help you get an idea of whether or not this is a career you really want to get into.
It's worth doing some serious research in order to avoid a six-figure mistake and 3 years of your life. So many people, including myself, had a vague picture of the realities of being a lawyer, and what the work is really like. You like to argue using logic? You like reading and writing, and you're interested in justice? Go join a debating club, create a blog, and read some legal books on your own time. Every lawyer likes to read and write and argue. But do you like working 10-12 hour days at a desk in front of a computer by yourself? Do you like doing tedious research on minute details of the law? Do you like doing tons of paperwork for partners? Do you want to deal with clients who are invariably stressed and upset because they are coming to you only with a serious problem, and you cannot offer them much consolation besides 'we think you have a good case,' or 'we think we have a good argument.' And that's not even touching on the whole billable hour problem which incentivizes working slowly and padding.
The money is nice if you can find a job, but do you want to hate getting up in the morning? These are the realities of legal work. Good luck to you guys, I was in your shoes 4 years ago on this very same board.