Law School Discussion

Total Life Change Worth It???

Total Life Change Worth It???
« on: June 14, 2013, 08:11:59 AM »
Hello everyone,
   I know I am going to go into the time old question, "Should I go to law school?"  I was hoping for some solid discussion and some cold hard truths. First, a little about me and my situation. I am a 35 year old male with a decent yet demanding occupation. I am a Search and Rescue coordinator for the US Coast Guard. I am a civilian employee of the Coast Guard. I basically work 3 twelve hour shifts a week and make about $68,000.00 a year. I am divorced, live alone, have a mortgage, pay child support for 1 amazing little boy, and basically my undergrad loans are close to being paid off. Like most of you I always have had a dream of going to law school.
    So here's my chance. I have no serious relationships, I do what I want, when I want and my job even though it can be demanding and stressful during cases there is a lot of down time waiting for something to happen. Is law school a successful endeavor for someone like me? I realize that in between those 3 shifts a week I need to cram 9-12 credits a semester for 4 the work load doable? Can I keep my career and do law school at the same time or is the work load of law school just too much? Also, I forgot to add I am a veteran of the CG as well. I currently work for them as civilian but previously was enlisted and have my full GI Bill to use toward it. This will greatly help with cost. So the funding is not the issue, the throwing my whole self into this the next 4 years is what is on the line and something I do not want to fail at. I can't quit my job with all the responsibilities I have to take care, but can I succeed while still working? Most of my friends say why, at my age? Because its a dream I've always had and its been itching super hard at me lately. Any advice is appreciated and be candid. I want the ugly truth.

Re: Total Life Change Worth It???
« Reply #1 on: June 14, 2013, 11:13:06 AM »
The answer depends on your personal attributes and your academic abilities. If you are very dedicated, very disciplined, smart, and willing to sacrifice most or all of your spare time for the next four years then yes, you can probably do it.

I went to law school at a part time evening program while juggling a family, a mortgage, and other responsibilities. It is a grueling process, period. Law school is far more demanding than undergrad, the two are not even remotely comparable. You will be expected to read hundreds of pages of dense, often boring material every week and to be able to utilize what you've learned in a unique way. The amount of preparation that would have landed you an "A" in undergrad will get you a C- in law school.

More than anything else you have to be absolutely committed to becoming a lawyer, you have to want it badly. I was very committed and had a very supportive spouse (also a lawyer), and it was still a grind. There were many times when I felt like packing it in. Law school significantly reduced the amount of time I had with my family, and wore me out mentally. I think that the idea of "part time" law school is a misnomer, because you are actually forced to adopt a seven-day work week. When you're not in class or at your job you will be studying, briefing, or researching.

You need to ask yourself if you want to be a lawyer badly enough to give up time with your son, and to forego any real down time for the next four years.

If you go to an online school you'll have to set aside additional time to prepare for the FYLSE ("baby bar"), as well as the MPRE (all law students). After law school, of course, you'll need to set aside two or three months to prepare for the bar exam. It would be very difficult to work and prepare for the bar simultaneously. Bar prep is a fulltime job.

Now for the good news. If you successful in this endeavor you get to be a lawyer, and there can be a great deal of personal and professional satisfaction in that. This might sound corny, but when people find out you're a lawyer they often treat you with respect, listen more closely to your opinions, and are deferential. It's kind of a nice little ego boost that helps those fatigue-ridden years seem worthwhile.   

Lastly, you mentioned online school. I assume you know that there are significant restrictions imposed on online grads. I don't know where you are located, but the vast majority of states will not let you sit for the bar. Additionally, you'll be on your own as far as finding internships and jobs, and many employers will be wary of your degree. If there is any way you can attend an ABA or CBE accredited school, seriously consider that option.

Hope this helped, and I wish you the best of luck!

Re: Total Life Change Worth It???
« Reply #2 on: June 14, 2013, 02:39:23 PM »
Thanks for sharing your experiences. As for the online thing no. I'm not looking to take anything online. From what I read there are no ABA approved online schools. That to me would be a complete waste not being able to sit for the bar. I think that's another factor I forgot to mention. For me there is only 1 option for law school unfortunately so I will be putting all my eggs in one basket. I live in Charleston, SC and I only have 1 option since I can't relocate due to work and that option is Charleston School of Law. I guess the good news is that it's not super highly competitive to get in and they do offer a part time program. I went on their course catalog to see if it was doable with my work schedule and I was able to schedule all required 1st year course on Tues and Thurs. Leaving the rest of the week for my 3 shifts at work and study time.

I'm scheduling the LSAT in OCT and going to let that decide my fate. I try and find people missing in the ocean for a living using probability equations and grids yet this test has intimidated me more than anything I have ever done. I'm busting my butt preparing myself for a successful LSAT and if I come through then that will definitely put my mind in the "I can do anything phase."

Re: Total Life Change Worth It???
« Reply #3 on: June 14, 2013, 04:03:24 PM »
Sorry, I misread "on the line" as "online". Anyway, focus on the LSAT like you've never focused on anything before. Invest in a good prep course if possible, and max out your score. A high LSAT score might earn you a substantial scholarship, and the cost of the prep could be dwarfed by the potential savings.

I don't live in SC and I have no personal experience with Charleston, but it's ABA accredited and thus will provide you with a solid legal education. Good luck!