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Author Topic: cold feet  (Read 1251 times)

dinsosaur junior

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cold feet
« on: July 31, 2007, 11:02:01 AM »
hi, i am a non trad. i am accepted at a good law school, i have a good scholarship, and i think i can make a law degree work for me. i took a law class last year and liked it immsensely.

but i am still not certain i want to be an atty. and today, i started reading all these other articles saying don't go to law school unless you know you want to be an atty, and about how many leave within five years, etc. i've read them before...but they are scarier to me now.

and now--the day i was going to tell my boss i was leaving--my heart is pounding.

My questions are, are most of you non trads 100 percent sure you want to practice law?  am i too old (over 30) to pursue a JD if i am not certain i want to be a lawyer?

or maybe i am just freaking out b/c it's very real. i keep telling myself, i can leave law school if it's not right for me.

aslaw505

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Re: cold feet
« Reply #1 on: July 31, 2007, 11:19:51 AM »
I think it's normal to get cold feet when you're giving up a current job. I haven't been out of school as long as you have, but I get nervous too - sometimes it just seems easier to stay where I am than to suffer through 3 years of intense schooling and incur more debt. You have to think about why you wanted to go to law school in the first place, though. I was actually thinking about writing a letter to myself about all the reasons I have for pursuing a legal education, and then reviewing it when times get tough and I begin to doubt myself this fall (because I'm sure that will happen at least once).

t...

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Re: cold feet
« Reply #2 on: July 31, 2007, 11:21:28 AM »
I'd really do some thinking over the next week - and I'd consider mostly the financial aspect of it, but also focus on what type of jobs you'd want to take, if not to be an attorney. Where are you going to end up after this is over, and do you need a JD to get there?

I've been told repeatedly that law school doesn't teach you the law, but that its mostly for getting a (legal) job (well, it does supposedly teach you a different way of analyzing issues, which is advantageous and attractive for other jobs). Any other sort of job you're going to have to do a lot of work on your own.

I'm not sure a 100K+ debt is worth it just to get a bump up on the list for a banking or financial job. And you need to consider whether the debt you're taking on will justify the supposed increase in employment opportunity.

I decided against going just these past few weeks because I knew I didn't want to work at a firm or take a typical legal job, and the debt I was about to take on at a T1 school was a bit to steep just to have a JD. So I wouldn't be afraid of backing out - it'll be the smartest decision you could make if the law really wasn't for you. 3 years and tens of thousands of dollars is a bit risky just to try it out and see.

However, I do think that if you're not taking on too much debt, and/or you have a legitimate plan of action that justifies having and needing a JD, and/or if you're not opposed to doing other business-related work if you need to, and you really have no other options right now or in the future, then I'd go and not worry about it.

Quote
Cady on October 16, 2007, 10:41:52 PM

i rhink tyi'm inejying my fudgcicle too much

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Huey on February 07, 2007, 11:15:32 PM

I went to a party in an apartment in a silo once.

dinsosaur junior

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Re: cold feet
« Reply #3 on: July 31, 2007, 11:34:21 AM »
Thank you for the very thoughtful replies. TJ, congrads on deciding it's not for you. And Aslaw, the letter is a great idea.

I am interested in policy and gov't work and while I don't have a concrete plan of action, I can certainly see how a law degree could help me out greatly. I do have a masterís in policy and an okay job writing about policy. But I feel that my masterís didnít give me a body of knowledge or the skills I need to really serve the public...I just kind of wrote papers and struggled through econ and did well b/c the program was not too tough. 

I am just the kind of person who needs to try something before knowing how I feel about it. I have talked to countless lawyers and read "Do You Really Want to Be a Lawyer?" (and I scored in the gray area, of course).

The debt is not so bad, under 50k.  And I donít know. I canít picture myself being a lawyer, but I canít picture myself being anything, really, and Iíve always found a way to really get into some aspects of whatever Iíve done.

I read somewhere though thatís itís mostly disgruntled lawyers who post about how miserable they areówhich makes sense. Those who are happy are too busy being happy. So maybe I just need to meet more of them.

t...

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Re: cold feet
« Reply #4 on: July 31, 2007, 11:52:46 AM »
I think that a sub-50K debt makes it a less risky choice, for sure, and probably one that I would take.

Having a JD will never hurt your job prospects. I think that having a huge loan repayment can and does cripple you into having to take higher paying jobs you might not like (as opposed to potentially more satisfying gov't or public interest jobs). But by having manageable debt, which I think under 50K is, you're pretty much able to do whatever you want (or are able to), because you don't have to make a ton of money to repay your loans.

So no worries. I think a JD would be a good choice for the direction you want to go, unless you're able to get into some elite graduate programs and internships that might be a bit more direct into placing you in the positions you desire (I'm not too savvy in this area, however, so I'll not comment on it).
Quote
Cady on October 16, 2007, 10:41:52 PM

i rhink tyi'm inejying my fudgcicle too much

Quote
Huey on February 07, 2007, 11:15:32 PM

I went to a party in an apartment in a silo once.

juliemccoy

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Re: cold feet
« Reply #5 on: July 31, 2007, 11:54:44 AM »
Thank you for the very thoughtful replies. TJ, congrads on deciding it's not for you. And Aslaw, the letter is a great idea.

I am interested in policy and gov't work and while I don't have a concrete plan of action, I can certainly see how a law degree could help me out greatly. I do have a masterís in policy and an okay job writing about policy. But I feel that my masterís didnít give me a body of knowledge or the skills I need to really serve the public...I just kind of wrote papers and struggled through econ and did well b/c the program was not too tough. 

I am just the kind of person who needs to try something before knowing how I feel about it. I have talked to countless lawyers and read "Do You Really Want to Be a Lawyer?" (and I scored in the gray area, of course).

The debt is not so bad, under 50k.  And I donít know. I canít picture myself being a lawyer, but I canít picture myself being anything, really, and Iíve always found a way to really get into some aspects of whatever Iíve done.

I read somewhere though thatís itís mostly disgruntled lawyers who post about how miserable they areówhich makes sense. Those who are happy are too busy being happy. So maybe I just need to meet more of them.


If you don't want to be a lawyer, don't go to law school. If you want to work in policy, you need to take some time and make some contacts. I'd recommend coming up with a plan of action that may require taking a brief leave of absence from your job. If you're not interested in practicing law, there is no reason to go to law school. It does not "teach you how to think"-- it teaches you to get the most of a Bar Review course so you can pass the Bar... so you can practice law.

If I were you, I'd work on firming up that plan to work in gov't and policy. You don't need a law degree for that, nor to put your life on hold and in debt for 3 years.
Vanderbilt 2010

littlelisalaw

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Re: cold feet
« Reply #6 on: July 31, 2007, 02:33:34 PM »
hi, i am a non trad. i am accepted at a good law school, i have a good scholarship, and i think i can make a law degree work for me. i took a law class last year and liked it immsensely.

but i am still not certain i want to be an atty. and today, i started reading all these other articles saying don't go to law school unless you know you want to be an atty, and about how many leave within five years, etc. i've read them before...but they are scarier to me now.

and now--the day i was going to tell my boss i was leaving--my heart is pounding.

My questions are, are most of you non trads 100 percent sure you want to practice law?  am i too old (over 30) to pursue a JD if i am not certain i want to be a lawyer?

or maybe i am just freaking out b/c it's very real. i keep telling myself, i can leave law school if it's not right for me.

Okay.  Let's go through this logically (oh gosh, I can't believe I am saying this).  I am an entering 1L myself.  I am also a non-trad student (32, and a single parent raising an 8 year old).  This past week has found me questioning, requestioning and triple questioning myself.  I think this is the normal, healthy process.

For me, I have, since the age of nine, wanted to practice law.  Life got in the way, and 10 years later than I planned, here I am.  But, for the first time in 16 years, I will not be working.  I have worked in my family-owned business for almost 10 years.  To pursue the law, I have to give up everything that gives me safety and that is what is scaring the bejesus out of me.

A law degree opens the door to many other avenues.  Many ex-lawyers I know teach, work for non-profits, work in government.  If you don't end up practicing, it won't be the end of the world, there will be other avenues out there waiting to be explored.

Think hard, but don't psych yourself out.  Don't expect it to be easy.  Remember that us "older" non-trads bring a different perspective and experience.  I have been told, we will actually have an easier time finding positions, although not in bigfirms, because of "real world" experiences that those younger than us lack.

Good luck, whatever you decide to do.

dinsosaur junior

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Re: cold feet
« Reply #7 on: July 31, 2007, 03:54:54 PM »
littlelisalaw, thank you! it's great to know i am not the only one triplequestioning myself. i just wish i didn't always do that. i wish you the best of luck.

i know law opens doors....but so do a lot of other things. as a good friend of mine was told me, "you have no problem opening doors. you have a problem walking through them." and that's what i am struggling with...walking through this law door, or continuing to seek out some kind of "good job" in my current field, when i don't even know what it is i really want. i meet people in my field who have good and interesting jobs, and i don't want them. something has always pulled me to law.

i think i am figuring this out.

wellpreserved

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Re: cold feet
« Reply #8 on: July 31, 2007, 11:31:13 PM »
littlelisalaw, thank you! it's great to know i am not the only one triplequestioning myself. i just wish i didn't always do that. i wish you the best of luck.

i know law opens doors....but so do a lot of other things. as a good friend of mine was told me, "you have no problem opening doors. you have a problem walking through them." and that's what i am struggling with...walking through this law door, or continuing to seek out some kind of "good job" in my current field, when i don't even know what it is i really want. i meet people in my field who have good and interesting jobs, and i don't want them. something has always pulled me to law.

i think i am figuring this out.

I wasn't going to wade in but the words "good job" always make my innards crawl. It also brings out my Southern so I apologize in advance for useless analogies and coloquiallisms.

If you are interested in govn't work a J.D. cannot do anything but help, especially if you're planning for senior management and visible roles. There is a reason everyone in politics is a lawyer - it's considered an all purpose pass.

However, as others pointed out, if you plan to stay in regionally or in a small-ish pond contacts and networking can get you to the top of the middle after several more years of paying a few dues. What you do not know is if top of the middle is good enough, right?

Well, only you know that. But I can tell you what I think about "good jobs" - there is no such thing. There is a job you do not hate and a life that makes it all worthwhile UNLESS you are independently wealthy, nominated to be the world's next Martin Luther Mother Theresea or you get a job cleaning toilets at Google (yeah, I hear it's that good).

What you should know, I think, before you go through the intense process of even applying to ls, much less attending, is if you can live with the worse case scenario.

So in three years you have 50k more in debt. You're tired, you're haggard, your socks have lost all of their elastic and people point and laugh at them in grocery stores as you try to remember what you like to eat and what sends you into anaphylactic shock (you've just spent three years on Ramen so you can't be sure). You are a lawyer, though and so when people see your obnoxious personalized "WILL SUE" license plate or "Proud T40 LS GRAD" shirt they giggle out of ear shot. You've got a little power. You discover you like this. You discover that you can live off 50k a year in some govn't job that blends your public policy work and law degree. You find you like that someone thinks you know the answer to something. You can live with this lawyer thing.

If that sounds like an ok life for you then go for it. I do not know if there are too many downs as you've described your situation. You can afford it, you think you have an apititude for it and you don't think you'd kill yourself. You seem to have social justice type leanings and if you also have delusions of relevancy or unbridled ambition then some agency would probably love to eventually promote you beyond all competency levels just to say you work there.

However, if this picture makes you break out in a cold sweat - all that autonomy and expectation! - and you really think that a "good job" and not a good life is what you want for yourself then I think there are less expensive, less insane ways to fashion such an existance. Hell, I know folks who work in tire plants that make more money than a public defender. Whether that's a good job or not depends on how much you like tar in your lungs.

Perspective, see?

But I don't know much. Take all of this with a grain of epsom salt.
I tested between 151 and 162. I hoped for the high end and ended up in the middle. Still, not a bad plan overall, I think.

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