Law School Discussion

Nine Years of Discussion
;

Author Topic: How do you know you should go to law school?  (Read 5133 times)

bigs5068

  • Sr. Citizen
  • ****
  • Posts: 1474
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: How do you know you should go to law school?
« Reply #20 on: March 23, 2011, 11:38:58 AM »
I recently graduated with a degree in history from a un-prestigious but up and coming university with a 3.85. I haven't had much luck finding a job or even an interview yet and it seems to me law school is my best bet. 

In all honesty getting a J.D., M.A., M.B.A, M.D., R.N., whatever it may be this problem will remain. Finding a job always has and always will be a pain in the ass. Employers don't want inexperienced people, but you need that first job to get experience and it is an ultimate catch 22. If the above is your main reason for going you are going to spend 3 more years and 100k to be in the same position you are in now. There are fewer people with J.D.'s than history majors so the competition will be a little less for a job, but that 100k+ in debt requires you to be selective. Now if you want to be a lawyer then go to law school. If you want to be a businessman get an M.B.A. If you want to be a nurse get an R.N. You need to figure out what you enjoy and if you choose the J.D. path because you are undecided there is no getting off it later, because you are 100K possibly 200k in debt at graduation.

Ryans5

  • Guest
Re: How do you know you should go to law school?
« Reply #21 on: March 23, 2011, 03:28:50 PM »
If you look in the federal government, political campaigns, political action committees etc. Lawyers run the show, even though they may not even practice law. Does it pay as much as working in a firm? absolutely not. But I expect to be somewhere along the lines of 20k-30k in debt by the time I am out not 100k. A lot of people do that and as a result they have to work for some big firm and slave away for 80 hours a week to make that big pay check to pay off their debts. I'm not going to do that. I'm going to an in state school for sure where tuition is around 7k-15k a year without scholarships (I could likely go for free at one 4th tier).

Bottom line, I won't be in much debt, I have a lot of cash left over from college because I didn't spend any of it. Why not spend it now? Then I will have the freedom to go after the government jobs I always wanted or work for some political causes I believe in. Sure I may not make that 60-70k some lawyers make going to a firm but I'll be doing something I want. I would practice law, but I want to decide what kind of cases I want, not Goldstein and Snicklegruber LLC or something.
I appreciate the advice from everyone and I know many people's life dreams is to become a lawyer and when you see someone who is a bit hum drum about it all it send up a red flag. However after thinking about it, if I play my cards right and go to an affordable, yet respectable state school and just read and write like I have been trained. I'll be able to live a much more free life than I can with just a BA. I know a guy who was very so-so about law school, yet he got his JD and is not a big shot with the feds and I don't even think he took the BAR exam.  After taking the practice LSAT and getting an average score without any prior work, I feel much more energized about it.

Hamilton

  • Sr. Citizen
  • ****
  • Posts: 337
    • View Profile
Re: How do you know you should go to law school?
« Reply #22 on: March 23, 2011, 03:51:29 PM »
They didn't get into those careers BECAUSE they had a JD, they got there because they practiced, then veered into those careers.  That is an important step that cannot be ignored. 

haus

  • Sr. Citizen
  • ****
  • Posts: 173
    • View Profile
Re: How do you know you should go to law school?
« Reply #23 on: March 23, 2011, 03:55:28 PM »
However, the amount of "in your face" I experienced (and experience) in the military isn't that different than what happens in the civilian world.

Falcon,

I found quite a gap between my experience in the military (USMC, enlisted, served with 1st Battalion 3rd Marines in the early/mid 90s) and my time in the civilian world, where I have spent the last 14 years in the IT / infosec space. All told I am glad that I had the experience of being a Marine, but at the same time I am glad that I am not still there. Although I can see how others could have different experiences, especially those who opt to serve in other branches.

bigs5068

  • Sr. Citizen
  • ****
  • Posts: 1474
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: How do you know you should go to law school?
« Reply #24 on: March 23, 2011, 04:47:56 PM »
If you look in the federal government, political campaigns, political action committees etc. Lawyers run the show, even though they may not even practice law. Does it pay as much as working in a firm? absolutely not. But I expect to be somewhere along the lines of 20k-30k in debt by the time I am out not 100k. A lot of people do that and as a result they have to work for some big firm and slave away for 80 hours a week to make that big pay check to pay off their debts. I'm not going to do that. I'm going to an in state school for sure where tuition is around 7k-15k a year without scholarships (I could likely go for free at one 4th tier).

Bottom line, I won't be in much debt, I have a lot of cash left over from college because I didn't spend any of it. Why not spend it now? Then I will have the freedom to go after the government jobs I always wanted or work for some political causes I believe in. Sure I may not make that 60-70k some lawyers make going to a firm but I'll be doing something I want. I would practice law, but I want to decide what kind of cases I want, not Goldstein and Snicklegruber LLC or something.
I appreciate the advice from everyone and I know many people's life dreams is to become a lawyer and when you see someone who is a bit hum drum about it all it send up a red flag. However after thinking about it, if I play my cards right and go to an affordable, yet respectable state school and just read and write like I have been trained. I'll be able to live a much more free life than I can with just a BA. I know a guy who was very so-so about law school, yet he got his JD and is not a big shot with the feds and I don't even think he took the BAR exam.  After taking the practice LSAT and getting an average score without any prior work, I feel much more energized about it.

If you got the money and  time to spend there is nothing wrong with getting a J.D. It certainly cannot hurt you, but even if you have a scholarship and pay tuition living expenses add up and you lose 3 years of employment in full time income. Although it is not money you lose per se as a college graduate you could get a job and make money opposed to going into debt. A J.D. is something you have for your entire life and though and it generally pays off, but there is a good chance the only job you will get coming out of law school is as a lawyer working for someone else. Not many people seek out solo practitioners fresh out of law school to handle their highly important cases, if they do they generally are not great clients and will not have great cases. As much as you would like to think you can pick and choose your cases it is just not going to happen. Especially if you are somebody fresh out of law school with no experience.

Now you can get a job in the Federal Government and having a J.D. is a good way to do it, but simply having a J.D. is not a guarantee to a big wig shot job in Washington, the F.B.I, C.I.A, etc. There are other ways to do it, and the reality is you really should go to law school if you want to be a lawyer. There are people that go to law school and never practice law, but that is certainly the exception not the rule. However, if you have the time and money to go through law school it certainly will not hurt you to get a J.D. It might even open up the doors to a sweet gig in Washington, but the odds are against you especially if going to a less than ELITE school.

Many people do go on to have outstanding careers that went into law school blind. I personally have enjoyed law school far more than I thought I would, while others that were extremely excited about it and did far more research than me have become far less enthusiastic. Whatever you decide I am sure it will work out, but realize that getting a J.D. and passing the bar makes you "MINIMALLY COMPETENT" to be a lawyer. When you are "MINIMALLY COMPETENT" in a serious profession like the law you are not going to be able to pick and choose what you want to do at the start. You will need to work hard to build a reputation for yourself and build experience, just like anything else. You get stuck reviewing medical records or some other b.s. document review task for the first few years of practice. You probably won't get to be lead counsel in some exciting first amendment litigation.

See this clip it is a bit to cynical, but sort of true and more than anything I think it's hilarious. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nMvARy0lBLE

Hamilton

  • Sr. Citizen
  • ****
  • Posts: 337
    • View Profile
Re: How do you know you should go to law school?
« Reply #25 on: March 24, 2011, 08:22:46 AM »
The big question is 'where do you want to be?'  If the answer is NOT "practicing lawyer." then one needs to very seriously evaluate whether law school is the best path to that goal.  IMO, it almost never is.

FalconJimmy

  • Sr. Citizen
  • ****
  • Posts: 684
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: How do you know you should go to law school?
« Reply #26 on: March 24, 2011, 09:40:57 AM »
I found quite a gap between my experience in the military (USMC, enlisted, served with 1st Battalion 3rd Marines in the early/mid 90s) and my time in the civilian world, where I have spent the last 14 years in the IT / infosec space. All told I am glad that I had the experience of being a Marine, but at the same time I am glad that I am not still there. Although I can see how others could have different experiences, especially those who opt to serve in other branches.

I guess my point here is that in the military, the screaming and yelling is overt and frankly, it is very unpleasant.  However, in the corporate world, I found that the higher up I got, the more common it was to be involved in political games that you weren't aware of until it was too late.  Basically, once you reach middle management and are in the ballpark of six figures, things get sorta cutthroat very quickly.

Contrast to military officers, where you are making about $80,000 a year once you make O-3 (usually 4 years in, 2 years for Jag), and well over $100,000 once you're 10 years in.  Those promotions aren't that political.  By the time things get very, very political, you have your 20 years in and can retire if you want.  (Or sometimes you retire even if you don't want.) 

Unlike a mid-level manager or lower level executive in a corporation who might be elbowed out after 20 (usually without any sort of golden parachute... if you're lucky, you get a few weeks severance, that's it), a military officer who is pushed out at 20 years is retired with a lifetime pension and medical benefits. 

Just saying that there are obvious disadvantages to a military career, but there are advantages, too.  I'm not necessarily saying I'd have done an active-duty career if I had it all to do over again.  Just saying that there are things to dislike about a civilian career, too.

MikePing

  • Sr. Citizen
  • ****
  • Posts: 247
    • View Profile
    • Law School Information
    • Email
Re: How do you know you should go to law school?
« Reply #27 on: March 28, 2011, 11:14:18 AM »
Quote
I appreciate the advice from everyone and I know many people's life dreams is to become a lawyer and when you see someone who is a bit hum drum about it all it send up a red flag. However after thinking about it, if I play my cards right and go to an affordable, yet respectable state school and just read and write like I have been trained. I'll be able to live a much more free life than I can with just a BA. I know a guy who was very so-so about law school, yet he got his JD and is not a big shot with the feds and I don't even think he took the BAR exam.

If you have the luxury of killing a few years, law school can be a fun and rewarding experience--whether you practice or not. 

The red flags don't come from those of us that are offended that someone could be cavalier about going to law school.  Our concern is rooted in the fact that the justifications that you were giving for law school are based on a false premise--that law school is an effective way to expand your options as a non-lawyer.  There is, however, no doubt that law school would be a positve addition to your resume. 

The reaction you are getting is the same as you would probably have if someone told you that they were going to spend $2,000 on a suit for their entry-level bank position interview.  I mean, they will look really nice, and it may increase (slightly) their chance of getting a job. Their chances won't be significantly different from a $200 suit.  But hey, if they can afford it--and like the suit--it certainly won't hurt.

 


Morten Lund

  • Sr. Citizen
  • ****
  • Posts: 259
    • View Profile
Re: How do you know you should go to law school?
« Reply #28 on: March 28, 2011, 04:48:39 PM »
The big question is 'where do you want to be?'  If the answer is NOT "practicing lawyer." then one needs to very seriously evaluate whether law school is the best path to that goal.  IMO, it almost never is.

This. There is exactly one reason to go to law school, and that is to be a lawyer.

Here I have to disagree a little.  There are plenty of other reasons to go to law school.  Whether they are legitimate reasons or not will depend on you, but I know of plenty of folks who went in to law school never intending to practice.

The central point stands, though - know what you want.  Don't go to law school just cuz.  Go because it will help you achieve your goals.

bigs5068

  • Sr. Citizen
  • ****
  • Posts: 1474
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: How do you know you should go to law school?
« Reply #29 on: March 28, 2011, 04:58:04 PM »

[/quote]

Here I have to disagree a little.  There are plenty of other reasons to go to law school.  Whether they are legitimate reasons or not will depend on you, but I know of plenty of folks who went in to law school never intending to practice.

The central point stands, though - know what you want.  Don't go to law school just cuz.  Go because it will help you achieve your goals.
[/quote]

I agree with you on that, but you went to Yale Law school, which is pretty damn impressive.  If you can get into Harvard, Yale, Stanford or law schools of that caliber then you can probably do something unrelated to law. The name in itself is impressive, but having a J.D. from Hamline, GGU, Santa Clara, Southwestern, etc is not going to impress anyone. I think the opportunities at Yale, Harvard, etc are amazing, while people from lower ranked schools have difficulty getting started as lawyers. They do of course, but it is difficult and  rare for a mid level J.D. graduate to be hired for a prestigious non-law related job. At least in my limited knowledge.