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Author Topic: Quitting Law School?  (Read 2316 times)

JulietteV

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Quitting Law School?
« on: August 04, 2008, 03:27:05 PM »
Should I quit law school?

I've got about 2 more weeks before I start my 2L year, but for the past month I've been thinking about not going back and instead returning to my old job. I am slowly realizing that my choice to go to law school was more because learning about the law was interesting to me, but that having a career as a lawyer is not. Here are the pros and cons:

Pros to quitting: I really liked my old job and my colleagues and lived in NYC where I had a lot of fun and felt like I was living my life (though this is just a bonus to quitting law school, not really the reason for quitting). The reason I went back to law school was because I have always wanted to study law, had a great interest in law since high school, and wanted to get my degree before I got too old and couldn't handle staying up such long hours anymore. Alas, I am not happy with the law school I chose to attend (the people are nice, but I don't really like the school in general, plus it's only ranked in the 70s), and I applied to transfer this year to a different school, but was unsuccessful (I heard you had to be top 10% or better, so I guess I'm not quite there).  Also, I'm not entirely sure if I want to be a lawyer and honestly, people I've talked to only seem to be telling me half the story. I still don't know what lawyers really do. >_<

Cons to quitting: I actually did relatively well my first year (top 15%) and have a lot of interviews and call-backs already for summer associate positions for after I complete my 2L year. I have an electrical engineering background and I'm interested in doing IP law, which has helped with my current job prospects. Also, I did well enough to be picked to be a student academic advisor to 1Ls. I feel like if I quit now, then I can never go back to law school and I am giving up a lot of what I accomplished my first year.  And I still feel like I would want to complete my degree at some point in my life.

I've also been wrestling with the idea of an MBA or maybe a joint JD/MBA program. Of course, having completed a year of law school, most schools don't like the idea of me applying as a new student and I think my chances of finding a school who would accept me are slim to none. If I did quit law school, I am thinking about going back to work for 2-3 more years, maybe apply for an MBA (or JD/MBA if possible) program, and then go into consulting. I'm not sure what the best choice for me is right now especially if I would like to complete a JD (just as a personal goal and interest of mine, not really to enter the legal profession) so if anyone who has gone through a similar experience or just has good advice, please feel free to respond. Thanks in advance for your help!

estherb

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Re: Quitting Law School?
« Reply #1 on: August 04, 2008, 03:53:08 PM »
Juliette,
If you don't like your law school, transfer.  That's another headache in itself, but you have to be happy where you are. 

As for quitting altogether, why would you do that?  You've already gotten this far and you're doing pretty well, too!  You've got two more years to go, so you may as well just bite the bullet and finish. 

Regarding missing NYC and your job, NYC will still be there in two years and when you come back you'll be surprised as to how little it has changed.



meggo

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Re: Quitting Law School?
« Reply #2 on: August 04, 2008, 04:15:21 PM »
I agree with esther's points. I think you might be overglamourizing your "old life" and if you quit, within two years being back at the same job in NYC with the same friends, you'd wonder is this it? Am I just going to do this for the rest of my life? In addition to feeling depressed at quitting all your hard work. I don't know your background or where you are at obviously, and I'm not sure people can transfer between their 2L and 3L years (I just don't know about transferring, maybe this is common) but really, it's only two more years. Two more years versus wasting one obviously well spent year (because of your grades) and going back to NYC and not having any further education or other career prospects. I know what it's like to be in a city you don't enjoy living in but you just have to suck it up. I'm not crazy about the city I'm living in now, especially moving from a major cosmopolitan city (London) to a Canadian city, but I know I only had two years to go here and I like the program I'm in and it's only two years before I get to leave and do what I want. I also think from your post that you have a genuine interest in the law which is perhaps better than going into the profession purely because you think you will be able to make money. A law degree is useful in a myriad of ways, not just as a lawyer at a big firm. You can work in a variety of positions, government, consulting, etc. and use your degree without being a lawyer per se. I also think instead of quitting and then deciding to come back in a couple years and do a joint degree, if in a couple years time you want an MBA, you can simply do it then. If at the end of the day, you've weighed all your options and you really don't like law school then by all means, cut your losses and move on. But I don't get that impression in your post. I just get the sense that you aren't 100% settled on your future and miss being with your friends, earning an income and spending it how you please is a great urban center (believe me, I miss this too), and pulling long hours. But these things will past in ONLY two years and then you'll have a degree that you can use to further you along. Anyway, these are just my rambling thoughts so apologies if they aren't cohesive or helpful!

big - fat - box

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Re: Quitting Law School?
« Reply #3 on: August 04, 2008, 08:04:24 PM »
1. Where did you apply to transfer? If you only applied to top 10-15 schools, that is why you were unsuccessful. You may have been able to get into a 20-25 ranked school with a top 15% ranking.

2. Can your current school give you a leave of absence for one year? If so I would consider taking it. You don't have to go back at the end of the leave of absence if you still feel like the school or law in general is not for you. You could also apply for advanced standing at another school while on the leave of absence, though you would have to explain your leave of absence somehow. I'm not sure what various schools' policies are on the timeline in which law degree credits are earned. You'd have to call several schools and ask them. I do know that 1 year leaves of absence during law school are fairly common though.

3. I highly disagree that a law degree is marketable for "all sorts of things" like so many people say. Especially a degree from a middling school.

4. If you don't want to be a lawyer, forget about the JD unless it is free or you are wealthy enough to pay for it up front in cash. If you want to consult or do something with your UG degree a JD is a waste of time and financial resources.

meggo

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Re: Quitting Law School?
« Reply #4 on: August 04, 2008, 08:18:35 PM »
whoa did you modify your post? Somehow I missed the school in the 70s and applying to transfer the first time I read it. I still think a law degree can be useful for a variety of professions even if you don't go into law. Consulting for example, depending what type, can pay well. Or you could get a biglaw job for several years to pay off the debt, and then pursue whatever interested you. Regardless, I got the sense from your post that the reason you were thinking of quitting wasn't because of the subject and the workload but because you didn't like your school and you missed NYC and your life there. A one year leave of absence might be a good idea for you....

credo

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Re: Quitting Law School?
« Reply #5 on: August 05, 2008, 12:52:41 AM »
Pros to quitting: I really liked my old job and my colleagues and lived in NYC where I had a lot of fun and felt like I was living my life (though this is just a bonus to quitting law school, not really the reason for quitting).

Why would you choose to do something that didn't feel like you were actually "living your life?"  If you arent interested in it any longer and it makes you feel dead then by all means quit.  Either that or work on changing your perspective about "living life."  Its ridiculous to throw away 3 years of your life (especially when youre young and have so many options)on something you hate.

big - fat - box

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Re: Quitting Law School?
« Reply #6 on: August 05, 2008, 01:26:09 AM »
This what a lot of pre-laws think. Unfortunately, most non-legal employers don't need or want people with law degrees for a variety of reasons.

I still think a law degree can be useful for a variety of professions even if you don't go into law.

nealric

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Re: Quitting Law School?
« Reply #7 on: August 05, 2008, 04:37:45 AM »
Were you working as a EE before law school?

My understanding that the practice of IP law still involves quite a bit of engineering work.
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redjay

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Re: Quitting Law School?
« Reply #8 on: August 05, 2008, 10:37:42 AM »
I'm going through the same feelings right now. Not about my law school sucking - just deciding I don't really want to be a lawyer - but at the same time I feel like I may regret not having my law degree 5 years from now or whenever down the line. Its tough - everyone tells me well I know plenty of people with a JD that aren't lawyers. Its a terrible argument because it just shows that alot of JD's hate being lawyers and feel the need to leave the field. I'm going to ask for a leave of absence this week. If they give that, I'm gonna test the waters in the job market. If they don't, I'm probably going to seriously consider fully withdrawing. My main reason - I don't think I like the sector of law I originally wanted to be in, and I'm finding that my only excuse to stay in is for the money at the end of it all - which is something i've really never been about. Tough call, so I feel the op's pain.

To add to my indecisiveness, I made a journal, am enrolled to participate in a clinic, and am in the top 1/3 of the class. Though, I guess transfers leave this type of stuff behind all the time.

JulietteV

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Re: Quitting Law School?
« Reply #9 on: August 05, 2008, 01:58:17 PM »
Thanks everyone for your advice.  It's been good to hear people's perspectives on this 'cause I always feel like it's hard to see things in an unbiased manner when you're the one going through the situation.  (And yes, I did modify the original post to clarify some points based on the first few replies.)

I think at this point I am leaning towards withdrawing for several reasons:
1)  I really don't think I want to be a lawyer.
2)  I am not at a top-ranked school so I feel like my JD would be a waste if I stayed because of reason #1.  (I guess if I were at a top-ranked school, completing the JD would be more "worth" it?)

The only thing holding me back is I liked law school as far as the material was concerned.  I thought the things I learned were interesting.  I've had people tell me though that if I don't want to be a lawyer, there is no reason to spend two more years of my life to complete a JD I'll never use.  I think that has some merit.  It may be better for me at this point to go back to work, think about what I really want to do in terms of a career, and if necessary, go back to school at some point.  (Although I've heard it's really hard to go back to law school once you've quit because you will forever have to apply as a transfer student or just complete your JD at your original school.)

I'm not sure if anyone has ever withdrawn or taken a leave of absence and gone back to law school?  Was the transition back difficult?  How do employers view this?  Also, I'm thinking that getting an MBA would be better for my career, but I'm afraid that if I withdraw from law school, that will really hurt my application.  Ideally I would ask for a leave of absence, which I think I am going to do anyways, but I heard that law schools only grant a leave of absence in extenuating circumstances.  Some examples I've been given are family problems, health problems, and generally an incapacity to continue your legal education at the moment.  I don't really have any extenuating circumstances, and although I am going to ask for one (which would be awesome if they allowed it to buy me an extra year to think about this), I have a feeling my school will not give me a leave of absence for my indecisiveness =P