Law School Discussion

I really need advice from people already in law school/graduated. PLEASE.

I apologize in advance for posting here even though I haven't even started my 1st year yet. I am set to begin at New York Law School this August and, for years, have had serious doubts as to whether I should even go to law school. I'm not looking for someone to make a decision for me...I just need advice. I would go so far as to say that I feel like I might be ruining my life by going. More detail:

-I know that I "could" succeed as a law student
-I do want to get into politics


-I am terrified and do not really want to go to law school
-My family has been the real driving force behind the law school idea (incredibly controlling people)
-They have convinced me that I will NEVER make enough money with a job I obtian with just my BA in public management.

My question is (and i know this seems rather pathetic) it really true that I will fail in this day and age without a law degree? If there is anyone here who has worked a regular job and done well, please speak up.I have fought going to law school for months. But everytime I speak to my family about just getting a job its as if world war III has been unleashed. I don't want to make a huge mistake yet I feel that I am flying towards one here. Should I just run and get a job and forget this whole law school thing?? Help!!


  • ****
  • 304
  • Evening PT 2L at a third tier toilet
    • View Profile
This is a tough situation.  Not knowing you age - yet I think you are probably in your early 20s, financial situation - probably not make that much since you asked if you could make money or not with a bachelors, or family situation - I assume you depend on them or are very very very close to them, and assuming that your family is paying for your law school since they are the ones pushing you to go, I would go ahead and get it out of the way, and get your parents off your back.

I have a 'regular' job, just a bachelors and have been fairly successful but I am in my 30s already. I understand where your parents are coming from.  Just with a bachelors, but this was about 10 years ago, I only made 20k right out of ugrad and I live in a big metropolitan area.  However, success is a very relative and also what constitutes making money or not is relative.  A person making 20k may think that's a lot of money, and a person making 200k may not.

Look at it from your parents point of view. On the one hand, they want you to be happy and let you make your own decisions, hell, you are growing up and sometime, they have to let you go, but on the other, they probably think you are very young and need some guidance. This may be their last push and they'll leave you alone. Maybe they are pushing you because when you were younger you expressed your desire to go to law school, and now you are changing your mind. Maybe they think you are waffling because when the times are tough, you fold. Who knows what they are thinking but remember, parents want the best for you.

Even though you will probably be miseable in law school, I still think you should go.  You will NEVER hear the end of it, if in 10 years, you are making pennies and then decide to go to graduate school. 

And I know, people on this board will probably jump all over this and say don't go because it's your decision and who cares what anyone thinks, including your parents. 

You know my vote, and plus, I'd make a bet that you will make more money in whatever you want to do, such as public management with a law degree, than without.  Just my opinion again from my experience in the corp world for +10 years.  Law can help in any subject, from real estate, tax, computers, business, anything.  It's very versatile. 


I've just completed my first year of LS after working for 5 years after UG. My BA was in political science from a very small, non-descript LAC. My advice/comments are as follows:

1. If you are not 100% emotionally invested in attending law school, you will be at a huge disadvantage relative to your peers. I cannot describe to you how completely taxing the experience is. You need to be focused and passionate to succeed.

2. If you are not 100% emotionally invested in being an attorney, this is likely not only to manifest itself in any interview situation, but also increase the odds that you will be miserable once you do find a legal job.

3. If you were considering NYU or Columbia instead of NYLS, it might be worth it to suck it up becasue of the tremendous financial (and other) opportunities that top-flight law schools offer. From NYLS, however, you can certainly succeed, but you are going to have to scrap and fight for it. You may find yourself 3 years later, 100K in debt and have a job starting at 30K - 60K.

4. You can do just fine in this world without a law degree. Your parents are flat wrong. 

5. Going to LS has NOTHING to do with succeeding in politics. If you are interested in politics, get involved in a political party or cause, volunteer in your community (park board, library board, etc).

I am 27 and have a good job.  I am going to law school simply because I have a 'wild hair' to do it.  I miss having scholastic goals and I think that a JD would help me get a foot into the door of Collective Bargaining (union negotiations) much quicker than following my current route. 

Have you ever thought about obtaining a masters degree in something instead?  That will accelerate your career and earnings trajectories and wouldn't require you to compete against such a cut-throat crowd.  My program's average pay out of grad school was 75K two years ago and was 80K last year. 

Something to think about.


  • ****
  • 455
    • View Profile

I came straight through from law undergrad to law school, as I get the feeling that you are doing.  I agree with LTM on all fronts.  If you are doing law school for any reason other than you really want to go to law school, you are wasting your or your parents' money.  My advice would be to take some time off.  If you go straight through, you will find that you are in the minority.  Most people have at least one or two years work experience.  This will give you time to see the alternative of a nongraduate degree job and allow you to see if you really do want law school.  Moreover, the more work experience you have, the more likely it is that you will be able to reapply and get into a "better" school, maybe NYU or Columbia.  The bottom line is that your parents seem very dollar driven, so give it to them in language they understand.  Going to law school now will waste money, and waiting may get you into a better law school which, presumptively, will lead to higher salary after law school.  If you don't want it now, it is not worth it at all. 


  • *****
  • 6642
    • View Profile
Is your family living your life, or are you?

It totally sounds as though you don't want to do LS right now.  My advice?  Take a couple of years off. Live life for a bit (as it sounds you're just now graduating). Take a job, do what you have to, and just be for a while.  Once you're out there and working, you may decided after a year that you want to further your education, and from there you can choose if it's going to be law school or if you'd rather do a masters.

It comes down to the fact that's its your life.  You'll be the one doing hours and hours of reading, not your family.  You have to worry about paying your bills, not them.  If you want to take some time off from school (and it sounds like you need to), then do it.  Just because you have a job that doesn't pay 100k when you're 22 doesn't mean you're going to be living on minimum wage for the rest of your life.  You're parents sound like they need to hear this, whether they like it or not.

As to the poster who said that it sounds like her family wants her to be happy...doesn't sound like it to me.  Sounds like they want her to do what they think will be most lucrative, not what they think will make her happy.


  • ****
  • 304
  • Evening PT 2L at a third tier toilet
    • View Profile
If you are referring to me, then let me explain why they do. From a parents point of view, parents don't tell or push you to do something because they think it's a bad decision and that they want you to just be unhappy.  They aren't telling her to go to law school because they think it will ruin her life.  They think it may actually make her happy if she goes.  Not the other way around. 

Now whether it's a correct decision of her parents to do so, is another question. 

All I'm saying is we don't have the full picture, it's very easy to side with the OP since we are only getting the information from a point of view. 

As to the poster who said that it sounds like her family wants her to be happy...doesn't sound like it to me.  Sounds like they want her to do what they think will be most lucrative, not what they think will make her happy.

Thanks to everyone for the advice. I really do feel as though I should just take some time off and think about this more before I put myself into such huge debt. But the fact that I know I could do well academically in law school still lingers in the back of my mind. I guess that is not a good enough reason to go through with it though. I'm also trying not to let the idea of starting over in June with a new plan (to get a job)freak me out and push me back towards law school which is a set plan.

One huge concern of mine about attending in the 1st place is that I will end up looking for the same sort of job after 3 years of law school and tons of debt that I would be looking for now since I don't really want to be a practicing attorney. I guess I could just skip and get into politics now.

And just to clarify, I graduated in December from Indiana University. I'm just working a part time job now because thats all I thought I would need considering the (then) current plan to attend law school in August.

And I agree that my family wants me to be happy, but that they have the wrong ideas about what brings happiness. For them its money. While money would be nice, I feel like I need something more.

I went to law school for the wrong reasons and I hated my first year.  I'm not a quitter, so I'll graduate, but I wish that I had been equipped with the maturity necessary to follow my heart instead of taking the easy way out.

Don't go yet. You'll be miserable. I loved law school, but without exception, the people who were there because their families pushed them into it were miserable.

I took five years off after undergrad and did a variety of nonprofit work with a sociology degree. I didn't make a lot of money (about 40k when I quit to go to school), but I enjoyed what I was doing.

Law school will always be there, and you'll still be able to do well academically in three years, if you decide to go then. If you let your parents make big decisions for you, you are setting a dangerous precedent. What happens when you graduate in three years and they expect you to find a high-paying job as a practicing lawyer? If they're opposed to you doing low-paying political work now, what makes you think they wouldn't be even more opposed after you've completed law school?