FAQ: Should I Go to Law School?

by Brett on February 27, 2012 · 204 comments

in Money & Career

For those of you who’ve been following the site for a while, you know that I’m a law school grad–University of Tulsa College of Law 2009. Because many readers know I went to law school, I get several emails a month from guys who are thinking about taking the same path themselves, and are wondering if I have any advice for them about making that decision. So I finally figured I’d just write up my answer to this query in a post and start directing people here. Hopefully, we’ll get some other law grads (and maybe even some law professors) to chime in with their opinion, too.

So, should you go to law school?

It depends.

Total lawyer answer, I know.

Generally, I tell people considering a career in law to seriously reconsider their decision. Why? Most people I talk to are making their choice without enough information. They often underestimate the investment and burden law school and the practice of law can put on your time, finances, and relationships, (not to mention your sanity) and overestimate their ability to excel in school and later find a great job in our current economy. Personally, I think that most people who want to go to law school, probably shouldn’t.

Below, I flesh out some of the reasons why law school isn’t the best idea for most people, followed by a brief section on who should consider law school. I’ll be honest: I focus on the negative aspects of law school more than the positives in this post. It’s not because I have an axe to grind against the legal field or that I think the law is some evil, soul-sucking career.  I have several good friends who are attorneys who love what they’re doing, and I have a lot of respect for my law professors at Tulsa Law. And it’s also not because I couldn’t hack it in law school myself, and have thus become bitter about my experience; as I’ve mentioned before, I graduated in the top ten of my class and probably could have made a good go of a career in law if I had so chosen.

But I think most people know what the pros are for going to law school: you get a degree that gives you access to a career in the field of law, a mind-sharpening education, and a prestigious credential on your resume. And because of a psychological effect called the “confirmation-bias,” people tend to latch onto any information that confirms their preconceived notions, while ignoring anything that contradicts them. So in this post, I basically lay all the negative stuff out there, in attempt to break through that bias. After all, when making such a big decision, both the pros and cons need to be weighed equally. My goal with this post is to tell you what I wish I would have known before I decided to go to law school, so you can make a fully informed decision.

Note: This post is pretty long. If you don’t have the attention span to read it all, here’s a good infographic summary. Also, if you don’t have the attention span to read it all, you probably shouldn’t go to law school.

Why Law School Might Not Be a Good Idea

Law School Is Expensive and It’s Getting More Expensive Every Year

Law school is freaking expensive, and it’s getting more expensive each year. From 1989 to 2009, undergraduate tuition rose by 71%. In that same time, tuition at law schools went up 317%.

Sweet baby Teddy Roosevelt! 317%!

To give you an idea of the average cost of law school, take a look at these numbers for 2009:

  • Average tuition for public school, residents: $18,472
  • Average tuition for public school, non-residents: $30,413
  • Average tuition for private schools: $35,743

If you’re like the thousands of potential law students who plan on attending a public law school as a non-resident or attending a private law school, you’re looking to spend more than $100,000 just for your degree. When you add in books, fees, and living expenses, that number can easily shoot past $120k.

Of course, most people don’t have $120,000 lying around, so they have to take on huge amounts of student loans. In 2011, the average debt for public law school students was $68,827 and $106,249 for private schools. $106,000? That’s like a small mortgage. If you want to see the average amount of student debt for each school, check out this chart from U.S. News & World Report.

And tuition is still rising. Just last week, Notre Dame’s law school sent their students a letter announcing a 12.7% tuition hike for next year. Instead of paying $40,000 a year for a legal education, students will now have to pay over $45,000.  Zoinks!

Further Reading

Law School Scholarships Look Enticing, But Are Risky

“But Brett, law schools are offering to cover all my tuition because I did so well on the LSAT and because of my awesome GPA. Law school won’t be expensive for me.”

First, congratulations on the LSAT. Second, contrary to the folksy saying, you should always look a gift horse in the mouth. Here’s why.

Pressured by alumni and students, law school administrations spend a lot of time and money trying to increase their rankings in U.S. News & World Report. Two of the factors that go into the ranking are 1) the law school’s average incoming student undergrad GPA and 2) the law school’s average incoming student LSAT score. To attract students with high GPAs and LSAT scores, law schools will offer generous tuition waivers to those who have them. If you have a really high GPA and really high LSAT score, you might get a full tuition waiver. If your GPA and LSAT score were decent, but not extraordinary, you might get part of your tuition costs knocked off.

But here’s the catch. To keep your scholarship, schools will often require you to stay above a certain GPA throughout all three years of law school. For example, at the University of Tulsa, my partial tuition waiver was contingent on me maintaining a 3.0 GPA every year.

I can hear you now. “Pfft… 3.0? That’s a B average. I scored Bs in undergrad without breaking a sweat. How hard could it be?”

Answer: really hard.

You see, unlike in undergrad colleges where rampant grade inflation has been going on for the past few decades, most law schools have stuck with using a strict grade curve which requires professors to distribute grades on a pre-determined percentage. At many law schools, only a third of students will end up with a 3.0 GPA or above at the end of the year. The rest will have C averages or lower.

Even though only 1/3 of students will maintain B averages or above their first year, law schools offer merit-based scholarships to half of their incoming first year law students. Schools can afford to offer so many scholarships because they know a percentage of those students won’t be able to retain them the following two years in law school.

The problem isn’t that law schools give more scholarships than they know they’ll actually renew; the problem is that most law schools aren’t very transparent about the strict grading curve or about the percentage of students who retain or lose their scholarships. Consequently, many students are swayed to going to law school based on a generous scholarship offer without fully understanding that there’s a good chance they’ll lose it.

To be fair, it’s not really the fault of law schools that undergraduates misjudge how well they’ll be able to do in law school. While law schools have maintained strict grading standards, undergrad schools have been inflating grades for the past couple of decades, which inflates students’ sense of their abilities, and gives them unreliable expectations of what their grades will be like in law school. But I think it would be helpful for law schools to recognize the change in grade expectations and do a bit more in educating prospective students about their strict grading curves.

Thankfully, the ABA may start requiring law schools to disclose scholarship retention rates among first year law students to prospective students. Until schools are required to disclose scholarship retention rates, familiarize yourself with the legal concept of caveat emport, or buyer beware. Don’t let a generous scholarship sway you to going to law school. Before you say yes, call up the admissions office and ask about the school’s grading curve and find out the exact percentage of students who lose their scholarships after the first year. After you have that info, you need to decide if law school would still be worth it if you lost your scholarship.

Further Reading

Lawyers Don’t Make as Much Money as You Think They Do

“Okay, Brett, so law schools are expensive and I might lose my scholarship. But even if I do, paying off my debt after I graduate will be easy once my big fat lawyer paychecks come rolling in!”

Many Americans believe that becoming a lawyer is a golden ticket to a hefty paycheck and job stability, but neither expectation is always true. I’ll address the idea of job stability below, but first let’s talk about those big lawyer paychecks.

Despite what you’ve read in John Grisham novels about rainmaker attorneys winning $100 million cases or young associates earning six figure salaries right out of law school, the average lawyer in the U.S. makes somewhere between $65,00 to $90,000. Sure, that’s definitely nothing to sneeze at, but it’s a far cry from the Mercedes Benz-driving image that most people have of attorneys. (Also, keep in mind that figuring out average salaries for a profession is difficult. According to some calculations, only around 53.8% of those with a law degree are working in a law-related field, and the salaries of the other 46% who are working other jobs or are unemployed are unreported. Also, I tend to believe that most of the salary numbers we see out there are inflated due to a larger survey response rate by high earning individuals compared to low earners.)

For example, in Oklahoma the average salary of an attorney is between $54,000-$84,000, and I know of firms here in Tulsa that start out new associates at $35k a year. Sure, $54,000 can go a long way here in the Sooner State, but when you have to pay $1,500 a month on your six-figure law school debt, and you have a growing family, money becomes really tight, really fast.

Also, what people don’t tell you is that the only jobs that offer six-figure salaries to people right out of law school are the big, established firms. And you have almost no chance of being hired by a big firm unless you graduate in the top 10% of your class–really these days you have to be one of the top ten people in your class for big firms to even take a look at you. And keep in mind that if you are lucky to get hired by a big firm, you’ll often be working 60-80 hours a week, so you’ll certainly be earning those Benjamins.

ADA Smith. Make sure to file that brief after you've finished your pizza route.

And if you had fantasies of becoming the next Jack McCoy, you better have an intrinsic motivation for working. Public sector and non-profit attorneys make very little money. Some public sector and non-profit attorneys have had to take on second jobs during this bum economy delivering pizza or working construction just to make ends meet. Thankfully, the government is starting to pass debt relief legislation for law grads who decide to go into public or non-profit law. Unfortunately, many of these programs only apply to federal student loans. If you took out a lot of private loans, you’re still left footing the bill.

I don’t think salaries for attorneys will be improving anytime soon. The Great Recession has fundamentally changed the business and practice of law. Besides relying on technology and outsourcing, many firms are hiring fewer full-time attorneys and using more contract and temporary workers, allowing them to cut costs while maintaining or even increasing productivity. All these cost-cutting moves, coupled with an over-saturated job market (see below), are leading to today’s attorneys having lower salaries than their predecessors.

“Well, hold on one minute! I’m a lawyer and I’ve done very well for myself.”

I don’t deny that there are people going into the law that have made a very good go of it. I know several law classmates who have established solid legal careers and are making a very comfortable living. But for every classmate that I know who’s done well, I know two more who are still looking for work or struggling to make ends meet in their current job.

“Still, you really can’t judge the value of your law degree just a few years out of law school.”

I hear this a lot from older attorneys, and they’re right. On average, individuals with professional degrees, like a JD, have significantly higher lifetime earning potential than people with just a college degree. And it’s silly and immature to expect to be making your peak salary right out of school. Like any investment, an education often takes years before you start seeing any returns.

But while I agree with the importance of looking at the big picture, I’d counter that the rapidly increasing debt load of law grads, along with lower starting attorney salaries and an abysmal job market, might not make the investment worth it even in the long haul for many people. Plus, being burdened with so much debt so early in your life definitely can limit your career options and may force you to put off important life decisions like home ownership and children.

The Abysmal Legal Job Market

The Great Recession hit the legal field hard. Since 2008, law firms big and small have been laying off attorneys left and right. The public sector hasn’t fared any better. Budget cuts at the state and local level have forced district attorney offices to reduce their number of prosecutors, while non-profit legal groups, faced with similar budget constraints, have been forced to scale back. Tens of thousands of attorneys are out of work.

During this same period of time, law schools in the U.S. have been pumping out 45,000 new law grads each year to the job market. Many college grads from ’08 onward who couldn’t find jobs after graduation decided to wait the rough economy out while attending law school. They figured they might as well increase their credentials and expand their career opportunities while waiting for the economy to pick up.

Unfortunately, what many students are discovering is that four years later they’re graduating into one of the worst legal job markets in decades. Not only are today’s law grads competing with other recent law school grads for jobs, they’re also competing with the tens of thousands of experienced attorneys who have been laid off. Which is to say: The job market is over-saturated with attorneys. 

And it probably won’t get any better. Many firms have discovered that they can get along with fewer attorneys. Instead of hiring full-time attorneys, many firms are hiring lawyers for contract labor that pays considerably less. Technology and offshore outsourcing are also doing the work that many young attorneys used to do.  Yes, that’s right. American legal work is now being done by people in India.  So not only is a recent law school grad competing with thousands of other out-of-work attorneys, he’s also competing with computers and a guy in India who’s getting paid peanuts in comparison.

“Wait a minute here, Brett. Law school X says that 98% of their graduates are employed within 9 months of graduation. The legal job market can’t be that bad with such amazing placement numbers!”

Yes, you’re right. Most law schools have been reporting amazing job placement numbers despite the down economy, but if something sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. That 98% job placement number is an exaggeration; puff as they say in the sales industry. While 98% of students may be employed 9 months after graduation, that doesn’t mean all those graduates are working in legal jobs. When some law schools survey their grads, many will count a graduate as employed even if they’re just working at Starbucks or substitute teaching. Many schools will even hire recent law grads to work in their library at minimum wage just so they can count them as employed!

Some schools puff their employment numbers like this in order to increase their rankings in, you guessed it, U.S. News and World Report. The higher their employment placement number, the better.

Many recent grads feel they were duped into going into law school based on false employment information. There’s a growing class action law suit brewing against several law schools for inflating their job numbers. I have my doubts about the success of the suit, but I do think it will spur schools to become more transparent about their job numbers and actually break down the type of jobs law grads have and whether those jobs require a JD.

A new advocacy group is also bringing light to the lack of law schools’ forthrightness on this issue. Law School Transparency’s mission is to better inform prospective law students about future job prospects and to encourage the ABA to improve its oversight over how law schools report their numbers.

Okay, so the legal job market is bad. It’s still a good idea to get a JD because it will make me more marketable in other professions and give me some flexibility in my career.”

I hear this line all the time, but I don’t agree with it. A JD degree is designed to make lawyers. Period. Unless you plan on practicing law as an attorney or in another profession that requires a JD, there’s really no point in having a JD.

Are there law grads who have careers in non-legal jobs? Absolutely. You’ll find JDs among journalists, real estate brokers, business owners, and yeah, even professional bloggers. Heck, the fire chief of a Tulsa suburb is a law grad. But did a law degree really help them land these jobs? Maybe. A little. I’ll concede that many of the skills you pick up while in law school might come in handy in these non-legal careers. But there are much easier ways to become a journalist or business owner that don’t require three years of intense schooling and six figures of student debt. Thousands of people land these sorts of jobs every year without a law degree.

As far as giving you more flexibility in your career, that often isn’t the case either. I know some law grads who, when they couldn’t find a job in the legal field, became willing to take any job. But they couldn’t get hired in these others sectors either, because the prospective employers said they were “overqualified” for the positions. And I’d also argue that the exorbitant cost of a law degree actually limits your career prospects, especially at the beginning of your career. When you have a boat load of non-dischargeable student debt hanging over your head, your main priority is finding a job that will give you enough money to pay your loans. Taking a journalist job at a big news site that pays $20,000 a year or starting your own business that will at first generate little revenue just isn’t an option when you have a bunch of student loans nipping at your heels.

Further Reading

So to recap what we’ve discussed so far, before you go to law school, you need to ask yourself: Am I ready to spend three years of my life and six-figures on a degree that may not provide good career prospects or enough of a salary to pay for my student debt?

But I’m Different!

“I hear ya, Brett, I do. And maybe law school is a bad choice for most people, but I’m different! I’ll keep my scholarship and land an awesome job after graduation.”

Want to know something funny? Every other would-be lawyer is thinking the exact same thing, except you’re the sucker and they’re the exception. According to a survey by Kaplan back in 2009, pre-law students are very confident about their own abilities to get a job in a legal field, but don’t think their peers will fare as well:

According to a recent Kaplan Test Prep and Admissions survey of 330 pre-law students, 52% report that they are “very confident” that they will find a job in the legal field after graduating law school and passing the bar, but only 16% say they are “very confident” that the majority of their fellow aspiring lawyers will do the same. In fact, only seven percent of respondents indicated a lack of confidence in their own ability to secure employment upon graduation. Pre-law students’ attitudes are in keeping with research showing that students aged 18-29 are more optimistic about their economic future – despite a sluggish job market – than past generations.

Confidence is good, but don’t let your confidence bubble over into hubris.

Who Should Go to Law School

Hopefully I’ve made the case that most people who want to go to law school shouldn’t be going to law school. If you look at it from a purely economic prospective, the value proposition of a law degree isn’t very good in today’s world. 

While most people shouldn’t go to law school, a career in law is still a good option for some people and can provide them the means of having a very rewarding and fulfilling career. So who should go to law school? I’ve discussed this with former classmates and other attorneys. We all have different opinions on the matter, but we agree on a few things. If you can answer all the criteria below in the affirmative, then law school might be a good option for you.

You know a lot about what the practice of law is really like.  If all you know about the law is what you’ve seen on TV and movies, you should not be going to law school. Many law students (me included) go to law school with no clue as to what the practice of law is really like. Two years into law school they discover they hate the law, but by then they’ve invested so much time and money into their legal education that they decide to finish a professional degree that they don’t even plan on using.

What you think most lawyers do.

What most lawyers actually do.

Before you decide to spend three years of your life and a small mortgage on law school, take some time to actually see first hand what the practice of law is like. Unfortunately this is easier said than done. How do you know if you “like” something without actually doing it? There are a few things you can do.If you know a few attorneys, take them to lunch and ask them about their work–What’s a typical day like? How often do they go into court? How many hours do they bill? What’s the pay like? How’s their work/life balance? Ask them to hold nothing back and to be completely candid with their answers.

If you don’t know any attorneys, call some up and ask if you can come to their office for 15 minutes to ask about their work. Most of them will be happy to oblige.

If you really want to see what the practice of law is like, I recommend trying to find some sort of menial job at a firm or non-profit office. Many large firms have gofers who take care of the mail and other similar jobs. Even if a firm or government office can’t pay you, volunteer your time. The insights you’ll gain from the experience will be invaluable to you as you decide whether a career in law is the right thing for you.

You want to practice law so bad that you can’t see yourself doing anything else in life. Don’t become an attorney for the money or prestige. Don’t go because your parents want you to go. Don’t go because you don’t know what else to do with your life! Those are really bad reasons to start a career in law. If you have a complete understanding of what a career in law is like and you can’t see yourself doing anything else with your life, then by all means, become a lawyer.

You have a decent scholarship. If you weren’t able to snag a merit-based scholarship that covers more than half of your tuition, don’t go to law school. First, it’s simply not worth the student debt. And second, if your undergrad GPA and LSAT scores weren’t high enough to earn that sort of scholarship, you probably aren’t going to do well in law school. While not perfect, undergrad GPA and LSAT score do a pretty good job of predicting success in law school. I know it’s hard to admit that you’re not cut out for something you really want to do, but trust me, you’ll be better off doing something else.

Once you land your scholarship, don’t lose it! Work like a crazy person to maintain your GPA so you can keep your scholarship throughout law school. Use the fear of six-figure student debt to motivate you to study.

You’re a hustler. I don’t want you to think after reading all the doom and gloom above that you have no hope of having a lucrative and satisfying law career, or that your fate isn’t in your hands. If you want that brass ring, you can still get it, you just have to be willing to work your butt off all three years to earn it. Get on law review. And maintain the highest possible GPA. GPA is king in landing summer internships with big firms that will hopefully lead to real jobs after graduation. If you’re going to make it a goal to graduate in the top ten percent of your class, and you have the motivation and discipline to obtain that goal, then go for it.

You’re entrepreneurial. The days of landing a steady job right after law school are long gone. Just as in most sectors of the economy, you can no longer expect the brass ring just for completing the law school ride. Today’s lawyer needs to see himself as free-agent, rather than a firm-man.

If you can’t find a permanent job right away, it may mean you’ll need to hire yourself out as a freelance attorney to several firms at the same time. I have some former classmates that are doing this right now. Yes, it’s hard work, and yes, the pay for each job isn’t that great, but they’re making ends meet and racking up experience in the process. After busting butt for a year, most have landed full-time jobs at firms in town.

Even if you manage to land a gig at a firm or government office, you have to treat it as if it were a temporary gig. Larger firms often layoff most of their younger associates within five years. Those that remain are put on the partner track. During those five years, competition is fierce among associates. Be sure that you’re comfortable with that sort of work environment.

I also know many young law grads who have done pretty well for themselves by starting a solo-practice. But hanging out your own shingle isn’t for the faint of heart. It takes a highly motivated person who’s not only savvy in the law, but also in business.

Concluding Thoughts

So that’s my two cents on the subject. I’m sure many will disagree, and I hope they’ll add their thoughts to the discussion. If you’re looking for further reading, I definitely suggest checking out this report commissioned by the ABA back in 2009 on the value of a legal degree in today’s market. It does a good job of explaining nicely the pros and cons of going to law school. Their conclusion is pretty much the same as mine: law school is a good idea for some, but not all.

And I bet you’re probably wondering, “Well, Brett do you regret going to law school?”

People ask me that all the time and honestly it’s a tough question to answer. No one likes to admit they regret their decisions. On the one hand, if it weren’t for law school, the Art of Manliness probably wouldn’t exist. Blogging became a creative outlet for me during my stressful law school days and the fear of spending the rest of my life in a career I didn’t like motivated me to make the site the best it could be. And law school did help improve by writing and analytical skills. I guess my legal education has also come in handy in running my business as well, although I still go to an attorney for most legal issues that come up.

On the other hand, I’m not quite sure it was worth the money, stress, and time to earn a professional degree that I’ll likely never use in any significant way. I could have gotten a masters in the humanities in order to sharpen my writing skills, and enjoyed my studies a lot more in the process. With the fear of losing my scholarship and class rank always hanging over me, I was often in the library from 8 in the morning until 8 at night, leaving Kate to be a “law school widow.” I had no social life to speak of. It was a grinding three years that left me weary and cynical. When I look at pictures of myself at the start of law school and then after graduation, I cannot believe how much I aged in just three years.

So I guess my answer to the question is…maybe.

Yeah, total lawyer answer.

I’d love to get some other opinions on the topic. If you’re an attorney, do you recommend that people go into law? Why or why not? Who do you think should and shouldn’t go to law school? Share your thoughts with us in the comments. 

{ 204 comments… read them below or add one }

101 Jeff February 28, 2012 at 1:18 pm

I went to law school at the Brandeis School in Louisville in 2007-08. I finished my 1L year right smack in the middle of my class (I think i was in the 57% percentile, haha).

Brett is absolutely right about how firms recruit for internships. They take the top 10%… of the top 10%…haha. The other 99% of the class does something else for the summer (like work at Finish Line selling shoes, which I did), which puts them at a significant disadvantage later. I had a dual degree in economics and accounting. I soon realized I couldn’t even get an interview with most law firms being such a TERRIBLE student to have a 2.9 gpa in law school, haha.

But, I’m a hustler.

So while I was selling shoes, I decided to sit for the CPA exam as i had the required hours and figured it would make me more competitive. Anyway, that summer I studied like crazy and passed, and in the meantime, got an internship at a large accounting firm. The internship paid $25/hour and went from August through December, so I decided to do it to save some money and return to law school the next spring. By December, I had a job offer in hand and never set foot back in a law library. I went to work for the accounting firm and truly enjoyed my career in public.

However, my friends that finished with school in 2010, found themselves fighting over jobs that didn’t exist, while across the street I was promoted to Senior Auditor (salary 75k) and finishing my 2nd year of real-world experience. I had just bought a house when most of them were writing a check for their first student loan payment (with or without a job).

NEWSFLASH for those of you reading this, public accounting pays very well, and there is a nationwide shortage of CPAs, which requires exactly the same analytical thinking as a lawyer.

In the time since, I finished an MBA at night school (that my company paid for) and now work for a Fortune 50 company as an analytics manager.

My friends from law school ask me all the time if I regret leaving. I give them the same lawyer answer as Brett, “maybe”. It would be nice to get to tell people that you’re a lawyer. The guys I went to law school with call it dropping the “L-bomb” and how they get immediate respect.

In reality though, I’m a nerdy CPA/MBA with no student debt who gets paid more than many of my attorney friends I plays golf with and get this… I actually enjoy my job.

They know it, and I know it, so I don’t feel the need to talk about it. You may get respect from what you’ve DONE (finishing law school) but you KEEP respect for what you DO.

102 Paul February 28, 2012 at 1:44 pm

FWIW, law school attracts a lot of whiners. Seriously. My classmates complained about everything, so it makes sense that most of them would regret going to law school, because they whine about everything else going on in their lives. Most law students have a sense of self-entitlement that does not bode well for them in the job market or in life.

103 Kyle February 28, 2012 at 2:06 pm

I almost fell into the law school trap and recently have backed out. Most of the time it seems like a scam; fudged employment rates and starting salary, horrible job prospects in a narrow field with tons of veterans out of work, bloated tuition rates, yada yada. The recession made me think critically of the whole situation and I decided to back out, much against my parents advice (they know absolutely nothing.) They wouldn’t even sit down to read a short section of a book that describes the pros and cons, so I decided that I’m not taking advice from uninformed people anymore. Many people have these preconceived notions about the “flexibility” and “value” of a law degree which simply aren’t there anymore. I am currently applying at banks for a customer service position and getting some real work experience before making a decision about school. Right now an MBA looks attractive because I’d like to work my way up through a large company. I like analyzing things so perhaps a career in finance would suit me, but with a History degree I feel an MBA would be a nice career direction changer and give me some credibility in the industry.

104 Mike February 28, 2012 at 2:43 pm

I agree that if someone truly wants to be an attorney they should go to law school. However, I think they should be realistic about what their job prospects are afterwards. Based on my experiences and those of my classmates (graduated May ’10), I believe that the average person graduating now without a scholarship has about $100k in student debt ($1400 a month payment give or take), will be unemployed for at least nine months, and will eventually change careers or find a position earning less that $50k and working around 50+ hours a week. Most of my friends who were lucky enough to land jobs either hated them, were laid off within nine months, or both.

I live in the Chicago area, single, and paid $50k a year. Subtract $30k in living expenses, $16,800 for loans (for the next 20-30 years depending on your plan) and that leaves me with $3,200 a year in spare money. If I get sick, my car breaks down, or I go out a little too much I am left with no savings after a full year of working 40-60 hours a week. My car broke down twice this year. You better really love being an attorney.

105 Jeremy February 28, 2012 at 3:01 pm

As someone who went to law school – me and my classmates would say… “NO NO NO NO NO NO!!!”. With less than a semester to go, less than 5% of my former classmates have jobs and they’re all sitting there with debt. I quit after 1L to sell booze and haven’t looked back…

If you are called to do it, then go for it, but if you just want a good job, I’d advise you to look elsewhere – it’s not worth the investment

106 Nunzio X February 28, 2012 at 3:26 pm

Thankfully, there are plenty of people waiting in line to fill the crucial lawyer shortage in this country.

(cough, cough! sarcasm)

107 Vincent L February 28, 2012 at 3:57 pm

Relevant:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=ShliKfsLQo0

“Dear 16 Year Old Me” video about not going to law school.

108 Ben Holeton February 28, 2012 at 4:05 pm

People need to realize that every college, law school or otherwise, is a for-profit organization. Their sole goal is to get you to spend your money on their degree. The vast majority, when it comes right down to it, do not care if you get a job, especially in your field. Case in point: my ex went to school for Electronic Media Journalism (tv and radio, natch). She did everything right. Dean’s list. President of her school’s media group, interned at dateline nbc. Big stuff. Couldn’t get a job in her field because no one will tell her for every 100 graduates with that degree, there are about 2 openings. So now she’s going back to the same school, spending money on another degree, to be a teacher. And the school is glad to take more money.

109 Dave Crow February 28, 2012 at 4:39 pm

I practiced law for more than 30 years and learned the following:

A lawyer should have a verbal gift: Their ability to read, write, think, and argue effectively in the English language. How you determine whether you are gifted can devolve from a number of sources: Your grades in courses requiring you to deal with language.
Your scores on tests measuring your
skill level in handling language in all of its uses–your verbal ability.
Lastly, you should have some idea by the time you reach the age where you would apply to law school whether or not you have this verbal gift.

In my opinion, without the gift, you will never be a great lawyer and maybe not even a good one.

110 T.M. August February 28, 2012 at 4:45 pm

Ben Holeton : Here in Ontario we have a non-profit, publicly funded university system that’s overproduced teachers by several hundred percent– and the schools still sell teaching as a sure-thing career path!
Our law schools do the same thing. Actually, every department at every university does it. Only a lucky few figure it out or pick useful majors by chance.

… what, bitter, me? Bah.

111 The Learned Sergeant February 28, 2012 at 4:52 pm

I thought that the law was just understood. Then I went to law school. It’s twice as ignoble a profession as the layman thinks it is.

Once you’re done with school, then you’re subject to the extra costs and lost income that comes from the requirements of the cabal known as the Bar Association.

I enjoy school. Always have. I’ve even enjoyed law school. But Law School put me in an insane amount of debt and cost me my marriage with the absolute love of my life. I’d give another $100k just to get my family back.

You will be among the most negative and self-righteous people of your life. Do NOT go to law school unless, like they say above, it’s a lifelong dream. I left being a Marine Infantryman to be a lawyer. I’d have been 100 times happier back as a grunt again.

112 The Learned Sergeant February 28, 2012 at 4:54 pm

Correction: “misunderstood”

113 Pat February 28, 2012 at 4:57 pm

The other note he forgot is nepotism. It’s a truism and it sucks but who know know really helps. I graduated law school in the height of the recession, but I’d worked in state politics for 3 years post grade and have 2 uncles that own their own firms. Finding work wasn’t difficult for me. Was I more deserving, probably not, but did I network as much as I could to make the job search easier, you bet.

114 pat February 28, 2012 at 5:01 pm

^the above is also why you shouldn’t type anything on an iPhone at a redlight…sheesh grammar

115 Neo February 28, 2012 at 5:38 pm

This is one of the BEST Articles that I ever read re LAW SCOOL & Lawyers
futures and salary… Great information
thanks for writing it……

116 Richard February 28, 2012 at 5:47 pm

After gaining my undergrad I was strongly considering law school. After working for a year or so with many law offices I saw the daily grind and the 60-80 hour work weeks and the nepotism. So I opted to forgo law school and use my energy on startups. While the startups did not pan out it left me a great three years of experience and I had fun doing it.

117 Socrates February 28, 2012 at 6:13 pm

I graduated from law school in ’91. C average. My options were to hang out my own shingle or find some other line of work. Even 20 years ago, if you had a C average, you were not going to be hired. Period. (Unless you had connections) I found other work.

It’s really hard to start out on your own. Even 20 years ago it was hard. You’ll have to office share, and even then you’ll have trouble keeping up your end of the rent. There just isn’t that much lawyer work out there, relative to the number of attorneys.

There was a huge over supply of lawyers 20 years ago, and the situation is worse today. I went to the nation’s largest law school so the over supply was even worse in my local.

As a college student I graduated with a 3.2 GPA, double majoring in Economics and Philosophy. Nothing to brag about, but respectable, or so I thought. I barely squeaked by in LS. I know you think you are smarter than me, and that’s probably true, but I’d say as a rough rule of thumb, if you graduated from college with a 4.0 you’ll be a 3.5 in LS. If you had a 3.0 in college you can plan on being a 2.0 in LS. If you didn’t get a 3.0 in college, you are going to flunk out of LS in the first or second semester. Law school is really really hard.

I did have to work while in LS, something most law schools frown on. I don’t mean working as an intern at a law office -though I did that as well – I mean working in the building trades. I still had a family to support and a mortgage to pay. If you have to work your way through LS, forget it, you won’t do well enough to get a good job. It’s especially important not to work the first year -at anything. No internships will be available to you because you won’t know enough. If you try to work at some non-law job and go to LS at the same time, you’ll walk the thin line between academic probation and dismissal.

20 years ago the cost was only outrageous. Today, the cost is absolutely insane. I had about $25K of debt, which I was fortunate enough to roll into my home mortgage, so it became deductible. In a couple more years my mortgage, and thus my student loans, will be paid. But those of you considering law school today will take on a burden that will dog you the rest of your life. You’ll never be out from under. Never.

If you work as a lawyer at all, which is doubtful, you’ll make about what a teacher at a public school makes. You wont drive a Mercedes, you’ll drive a Toyota.

Become a CPA instead of a lawyer. It’s easier and more lucrative.

Finally, way too much is made of the “education” one gets in law school. Learning to “think like a lawyer” simply means to learn the law. It does not hone your mind any more than learning any other subject.

In fact the “Doctorate” degree you’ll earn, if you graduate, was formerly known as a bachelor’s degree. Nothing changed, except the name. The LLB simply was inflated to a JD. So if you’re going for the “education” realize you are only pursuing another bachelors degree – albeit, and extremely difficult bachelors degree.

118 OneL February 28, 2012 at 6:20 pm

I really enjoyed this article and the insightful comments that followed.

What if I’m about to complete my first year at a top 20 law school, I’m in the top 25% (at least 1st semester), but I have a strong feeling that I’m going to hate the practice of law. I’m not a huge fan of writing a lot (I hate my legal practice class); I don’t deal well with conflict; and I am very opposed to working 50+ hours/week for the next 40 years.

I have a decent undergrad degree: finance. I’ve “only” taken out around $13k in loans thanks to scholarships. I’m thinking about possibly dropping after 1L and either going out and getting real work experience or going back to school for my CPA (seems much more in demand, saner hours, less stress). If anyone has advice for this lost and confused 1L I would be all ears.

119 Pat February 28, 2012 at 6:26 pm

Great article! This was very informative.

I am in the early stages of considering going to law school and I am suffering from the “but I am different” fallacy. Maybe someone can chime in specifically about patent law. I have a PhD in Biology and 5 years experience in biotech industry. I have been thinking of taking the patent bar and working as a patent agent while going to law school part time. Some firms seem to still have a program where they will pay for part of your schooling.

Any thoughts on the job market for a PhD/JD in Biotech Patent Law. Will working full time while in school make it impossible to do well in law school? I know the question is very niche but if any one has insight, I would appreciate it.

120 Socrates February 28, 2012 at 6:53 pm

@ Pat

Pat, I can only offer insight for one or your questions. Yes, working full time and doing well in LS will be difficult.

Since you have a PhD in Biology we can assume you are smarter than the average bear. Probably much smarter. But your first year of LS (as well as years 2 and 3) will have ABSOLUTELY no relationship at all to biology. None. The best prep for LS is probably a degree in English. For everyone else it will be very hard.

One of my classmates in LS had just recently graduated from Medical school. He graduated from LS too – and with high marks, but he always said LS was harder than Med school.

That said, you are in a better position than most – even if you fail LS you’ll get over the embarrassment in 6 months, and you’ll still be a PhD Biologist.

OTOH I worked through LS and you are undoubtedly smarter than me (and I mean that).

What you need to find out next is this – is there enough money in being a patent lawyer, specializing in bio-tech to make it worthwhile? I can’t answer that. But I can say it’s a lot of $ to spend if all you really want is the “prestige” of a JD.

121 Pat February 28, 2012 at 7:02 pm

@Socrates

Thank you for the comments. Lots to think about here.

English is not my strongest skill so this does make me pause. Also, getting a realistic idea of what I will make after LS is more difficult than I first thought.

122 Michelle February 28, 2012 at 7:39 pm

Hope you don’t mind a comment from a woman on this very manly site. This is a great article which I will share the next time I get asked the question. My first response is usually to ask the question: “Do you like to read?”. If the answer is “no” or “I’m dyslexic”, then I try hard to dissuade them. Why set yourself up to fail?

I was fortunate to graduate from law school in 2000 when first years were well paid. But, I still have close to $100,000 in school debt. I completely agree that you have to love the work for this to be worthwhile. Practicing law has taken me from litigation to in-house and now to China, so I certainly can’t complain.

123 Jorah February 28, 2012 at 7:41 pm

When I was a 3L in 2008, I had to compete with over 40 other students to get an *unpaid* internship where I was basically a glorified secretary. Then when I graduated in 2009, I swallowed my pride and moved back with my parents at the ripe old age of 28 and waited tables for five months until I found a job.

Now I’m an assistant state prosecutor and I make less than the police officers who guard the courthouse I work in.

124 Bob February 28, 2012 at 8:55 pm

This is easily the best article I’ve ever read on the subject. Very thorough. Very well-reasoned. Very well-written. Prospective 1Ls should take note. I would add one thing to “Who Should Go To Lawschool.” If somebody has a technical/hard science background (esp. electrical engineering, comp. science, or biomedical engineering), they will be in an elite class to take the patent bar. Because this makes them a uniquely qualified job candidate, they have a tremendous job prospects in a highly specialized and sought-after field. Personally, I think people w/ such qualifications could do more for mankind by developing alternative energy sources, new smartphones, and nano-technology. But if they feel drawn to the law, they’ll have much better chances of landing awesome employment than your average law grad who is math-averse.

125 ForeBArca February 28, 2012 at 9:13 pm

For those who have gotten admitted to law school.
If you can write logically, law school is relatively easy, but the writing is only 1/4th of all that goes on in law school. There is a lot of negative energy in law school, stay away from the negative energy. Find good friends, and do a weekly review in the law library with those friends. If possible, find a white board and write out the answers to questions you will find in Examples and Explanations or use old tests from the top 10% students to prepare for the semester’s final exams. Avoid going to a 4 tier law school, unless you have connections or are really, really attractive. Find a community outside law school that will support you through the slog that is law school. I have many friends who are lawyers, not all of them are happy. Most of them are stressed. If you want to be relatively happy and content, become a teacher. Or have a family who will reveal that being a lawyer is not correlative to being a good husband, wife, father, or mother.

126 Free Ride February 28, 2012 at 9:19 pm

I am currently in the situation debating whether or not I will go to law school. Practicing the LSAT, looking at part-time schools, and discussing the option with people I know (many who are attorneys). I understand that people take a huge amount of debt, now in my particular case my parents are willing to fork in the money for me to pursue education (because they have it). However, won’t give it to me for personal expenses or expenditures. Maybe for a mortgage downpayment at some point but not yet.

That being said, I work with the family business and support my father’s role and intend to take over the business. I will expand or divest depending, with the capital there are options for me. I always thought of stepping in my father’s shoes. Understanding that it is not a requirement for success in the real estate and property management business, law school and the JD will provide me a credible degree, the ability to hone my writing and oral communication skills, and an opportunity to change the way I contemplate serious issues.

What is the publics opinion about this route?

Afterall, I look at individuals like Larry Silverstein who’s a member of the NY bar but heavily into real estate.

127 Mel February 28, 2012 at 11:16 pm

What I found interesting is the lawsuit being brought against law schools for fraud and misrepresentation. What a joke law schools have become. Most of the “law professors” I’ve read in the news are flaming liberals, who aren’t worth a nickel in common sense. Also, why on earth should law school cost $40K a year? How does that even make sense to anyone? Finally, why is the study of law so complicated? How did this happen? When a man’s life is on the life due to a out-of-control “judicial system,” the least he should have is a thorough understanding and command of “the law.” But that is rarely the case. And society suffers for it.

128 David Fisher February 28, 2012 at 11:16 pm

DON”T DO IT!!!! BE A DENTIST!!! Do something you’d actually enjoy, paint, write, fish, have a family, do something worthwhile. Our legal system is extremely flawed and you are certainly guaranteed no fairy tale lifestyle.

129 James February 28, 2012 at 11:23 pm

I am a 1L in Quebec. Thankfully, there are only 5 law schools that prepare prospective students in Québec civil law, and basically every graduate is guaranteed legal work after his call to the bar. Even better, school fees are currently about $3,000/year, so nothing compared to the States.

All that being said, it is a very challenging program, though far from impossible for a good student. It does demand long hours of reading often dense and (let’s face it) boring material and it basically eclipses all other things in your life.

If I had to pay much more than what I’m paying now, I wouldn’t have done it. I do love the law, but it wouldn’t be worth the ridiculous debt and low chances of success that currently plague the legal profession in the United States.

The promise of bright futures and thrilling careers is very tempting, but it is more often than not a mirage. The best consolation is that you don’t necessarily have to become a lawyer afterwards. In French, we say “le droit mène à tout”, which means “law can bring you anywhere”. Though, it’s a small consolation if you’re graduating with $150k in debt.

130 JD1980 February 28, 2012 at 11:28 pm

First, #86 “underdog stories; you know, the typical undergraduate slacker with a 2.4 but then astonishes those when in law school?” My own boy was one of these; I was shocked that he got into law school, graduated, passed the bar and fell into a good job right away (made his own luck there by working as a paralegal in the field while waiting for bar clearance). He now has his own firm which is prospering (mainly foreclosure defense).
I have been practicing for over thirty years and, at 69 expect to work for as long as my good health remains’ currently a state contractor in defense type court work which I enjoy. That said, I see a lot of young attorneys (with jobs) who tell tales of woe with crushing student loans. When I went to law school (nights) it was tough physically and mentally, but my wife and I were working and paid as I went so no student loans. Not an issue with any of my friends either. I would not recommend law school to anyone. My own child made it, but that is not the norm. I so appreciate that this whole article and its comments are posted here. I agree with most all of the above.

131 Bob February 28, 2012 at 11:59 pm

@ 130. Yes, generally speaking, I would not recommend law school to anybody. In this day and age, it just doesn’t make sense from a cost-benefit standpoint. If you do really well in law school, you’ll have a much better shot at employment, but even this is not a certainty. Furthermore, if you finish in the bottom half, you’re in a spot of trouble. You MIGHT be able to land a law-related job, but you won’t make much money. I’m not trying to suggest that money is the “be all and end all,” but I’m not talking about living an extravagant lifestyle. It’s only a desirable career if you can make enough to be able to repay loans comfortably. Otherwise, the juice just isn’t worth the sqeeze.

I only recommend law school to the following groups of people: (1) those who just have to and won’t be happy unless they pursue the dream; (2) those who have little money at stake b/c of scholarships; and (3) hard science backgrounds who wish to practice patent law.

I fell into category 1. Luckily, my gamble paid off. But, I went through some incredibly stressful months while job hunting.

132 Jack February 29, 2012 at 2:17 am

I am a 1L and hear all the scare stories. This is my second career and I have the money in cash for tuition. I also have a business that supports me so I am not one of the poor kids that have to come out and work 65 hours a week and try and feed a family. So…. is there anyone out there that can tell me what is good and great about the profession?

133 Martin February 29, 2012 at 2:58 am

Hey guys:

So, I really need some advice right now. I am currently hearing back from various law schools and after reading this article, I am unsure about going to law school. I absolutely, without a doubt, have a strong passion for law, but it seems like the job market is unbearably grim.

I was wondering if anyone had any advice on what I should do instead.

Unfortunately, I do not have a bachelor’s in a hard science, accounting, or economics. I have a bachelor’s in International and Area Studies from UC Berkeley. I am interested in finding work in international/human rights, entertainment, public policy, government, or education. However, I am well aware that the job market in those areas are very grim as well.

So, if I was to decide that I’m not going to pursue a JD, what should I do instead? I am sort of directionless right now and I don’t really know what to do at this point.

134 Reid Wakefield February 29, 2012 at 9:30 am

I have been an attorney for about two and a half years. I could talk for hours on this subject and I agree with much of what has been said already. Before you decide to go to law school, you have to decide why you want to do it. If you are just going because you studied poli sci or history in college and realize you aren’t going to get a job so you might as well go to law school – don’t do it. If you think you are going to make a lot of money – don’t do it – because you probably won’t. Most importantly – and I cannot stress this enough – if you cannot get in to a reputable law school, do not go unless you are extraordinarily committed to it. This may sound harsh and I don’t mean to disparage people who have trouble figuring out the LSAT – law school is not for everyone. But when you graduate from a tier 3 school with $120,000 in student loans you are going to wish you took this advice. There are far too many attorneys out there – easily twice as many as there should be – and it gets worse every day.

All that being said – I do not regret going. I may not be thrilled with being an attorney, but I have been successful and I have all the opportunities in the world. I do have student loans which are not all that much less than my mortgage, but it will probably be worth it many years from now.

Also – an equally important question you should ask yourself is – do I really want to be an attorney. I still think it is something very honorable but you really have to work hard to keep it that way. Dealing with attorneys is a nightmare, as many other comments have discussed. Do you want to just be another a-hole or do you have what it takes to set yourself apart?

One more thing – as much as you don’t think you care about money and don’t imagine you ever will – you will care about money by the time you begin practicing – I can almost guarantee it. The process of becoming an attorney can really change people and you need to have the character to make sure you can control that change and shape yourself for the better.

135 JP February 29, 2012 at 9:33 am

I graduated from a third tier school, top 20 in my class. I recently left a position as in-house counsel for an insurance company where I worked for the last seven years. Law school was a bad decision. The work is mostly boring and soul-sucking. The other attorneys who claims to like what they do are negative, cynical people who seemingly trust no one.

All the stuff mentioned above about school itself is true. But I would add that the influx of lawyers has ruined any shred of civility left in the profession. Unless you like bickering with d-bags with inflated senses of self-worth…do something else.

136 Manny February 29, 2012 at 9:41 am

Great Article!!

I graduated from undergrad with a B.S in Political Science. I tried for 3 months to get a job using my political science degree and was unsuccessful. I realized after those three months that I needed to do something or end up on the street with no money. It came to me one day that people with political science degree 85% goes to law school and that is what I did. I went to law school without any real information of what exactly I’m getting myself into.

I’m currently a third year law school. I’m not in the top 25% of my class. While I’m not the best student in law school and what I lack in brains about the law, I make up in practical skills.

I agree with this article. The decision to go to law school shouldn’t be make with ease or without completely thinking about the pros and cons.

I truly enjoyed law school and the reason why I did was because I made decisions that I thought will make my law school experience more enjoyable. I gave up the dream of being in the top 10%. I study but maybe not as much as I should. I hang out with friends (old and new) and I take time to have fun. These decisions makes me a B average students with some Cs (mostly in legal writing).

Like I said, I’m not one of the top students in my law school. What I did to make sure I’m successful in law school and outside is do about 4 Internships and my last year to join the prosecution clinic. My hands-on skills/knowledge about the law got me my job as ADA with the Bronx DA.

My advice to anyone in law school now or considering going to law school is that not being in the top 10 or 25% is not the end of the world. But, not being up there also mean you have to make yourself competitive to law firms. So do as much internships as you can to make yourself employable.

Sorry about the grammar. I wrote this while in a fox hole (Marine Corp Reserve).

137 3LStudent February 29, 2012 at 9:56 am

Free Ride- There is no reason for you to go to law school. That money your parents give you can best be put aside for their business, which is the business you will take over. Basically, they would be flushing that money down the toilet.

If you do not want to go to law school to be a lawyer, there is no reason to go to law school. Law school may help you with developing those skills but it is not guaranteed. Law professors do a horrible job of teaching and mentoring. At some lower ranked law schools, they basically teach to the bar for three years, which is rote memorization of black letter law and not really useful for careers outside of the law.

If you want to pursue higher education, find a relatively low-cost real estate or MBA program.

Martin-

“International law” as most prospective students conceive it is basically a bullshit field cooked up by law professors and marketed to gullible undergraduates. I think there are more law professors specializing in international law than there are jobs in that field. Unless you can get into one of the top 10 schools, you will never have a career in international law unless you know a second language and are willing to practice personal immigration cases.

So what can you do? I know it’s tough out there. I had an ex-gf who went to an expensive private school and majored in international relations. Now she is a secretary who doesn’t even make or receive international calls! If possible you should try to work abroad or join a non-profit international organization. One of the only paths to working in international law involves a few years of work experience in foreign countries including developing foreign language skills. You absolutely need to get work experience (preferably 4-6 years) and get into a top 10 school.

If you are going to law school more generally because you don’t know what to do it is even more risky. Look, it is a HORRIBLE idea to double-down on your situation by taking on huge debt for uncertain job prospects. I do not know your LSAT/GPA, but unless you get into the top 14 schools, you are simply putting off your current situation for three years where you will incur almost 200K in tuition, living expenses, and fees- that’s an investment of 65K per year. Try to find any kind of job and work your ass off at that job to rise and get a better salary. Keep applying for better positions.

I saw this thread and if anyone has questions about law school I would be happy to answer them. It’s been an awful experience and I wouldn’t do it again.

-3L student at top 10 law school.

138 Michael February 29, 2012 at 11:57 am

@Martin: I am a Cal alum, ’06. Go Bears! And I say that, with my undergrad degree proudly hanging on my wall and my law degree tucked away somewhere in my closet, still wrapped in the cardboard envelope in which it was mailed to me. Maybe I’ll take it out and peek at it one day, if I feel better toward it.

Like I said in my previous comment (#54), I got into accounting at my local community college after graduating from Cal. A few of my friends who graduated from other UC’s with humanities majors, also went to community colleges to jump-start other job-promising degrees.

One of my friends, after getting a computer science degree at UCSD, went to his local CC for biology and chemistry classes, and now he’s in pharmacy school. Another friend, after getting a poli sci degree at UCI, began taking engineering courses at the CC I’m going to; and a year ago he finished an engineering master’s degree and has found pretty awesome work!

The fields that you mention cover a lot of jobs, so at this point it may be safe to say that you don’t quite know exactly what you want to do. If you’re not sure of what to do, pick up a few classes at your local CC, see how you like it. If you went to Cal, the classes should be a piece of cake. The important thing is to just test the waters, and to find out what you want to do.

Hope that helps!

139 jarcar February 29, 2012 at 12:20 pm

Just don’t do it. It’s as simple as that.

140 bodypuncher February 29, 2012 at 12:27 pm

Law School is a great idea if you have an engineering/science/mathematics bachelor degree and you wish to practice in the field of patent law. There has been and still is great demand and high salaries.

141 bodypuncher February 29, 2012 at 12:31 pm

Pardon my rushed grammar…”have been and still are…”….Anyway, I’m a patent lawyer and have hired a few over the years. If you want more to convince you, pick up the phone and call a legal recruiter who specializes in patent law, and ask if there are current openings for patent lawyers and what the salary ranges are. You don’t need to graduate at or near the top of the class, either.

142 SherlockSS February 29, 2012 at 2:40 pm

I am a 34-year-old lawyer who has been practicing law for 7 years. I enjoy my job about 80% of the time (pretty good, I think) and work about 45-50 hours a week. I am not as pessimistic as a lot of the commenters below; however, I do agree with a lot of what Brett says in his article. Here’s my two cents’ worth:

First, if you are going to be a lawyer, you have to be in it for the long haul. Being a lawyer does not pay off in income earned, job satisfaction, and lifestyle benefits until you’ve been at it for 5 years or more. This is different than what I see in my friends/clients who are dentists, doctors and accountants (i.e. they seem to reap these benefits sooner in their careers).

Secondly, to “make it” in the legal profession, you have two options: (1) get a job at a top-tier law firm and become a mule; or (2) work at a mid-sized firm, be entrepreneurial, and hussle like crazy. I opted for the second option.

Thirdly, 80% of the lawyers out there give the 20% of the rest of us a bad name. I am convinced that whether a person enjoys the practice of law will, in large part, be determined by who they practice law WITH. The other lawyers I work with are also in the 20% and I like hanging out with them. If someone wants to join our firm, they have to fit within our firm culture.

Fourthly, law school is NOTHING like the practice of law. Law school is at least 80% wishy-washy, left-wing, pie-in-the sky, theoretical BS taught by a majority of people who have never had a real job. I detested law school but enjoy the practice of law.

Fifthly, the practice of law will require a lot of you personally if you are going to do it right and be successful at it. Your time, emotional and mental energy, and personal pursuits will all be affected by your career in law.

So, is it worth it? For me it is. Only you can answer that question for yourself. You have to really want it and be looking at it as a long-term commitment. Once you have 6-8 years under your belt, your career options will really open up (if you’ve done it right) and you should start to feel like you are the master of your own professional destiny. I think that most people who “were lawyers” and are cynical about the profession didn’t get the chance to direct their own destiny and/or had a bad law firm experience.

143 Unemployed Contract Attorney February 29, 2012 at 3:08 pm

I graduated in the early 2000′s from a state TTT. Luckily, I was able to land a job at a mid-level law firm within about 6 months after graduation. BTW, I graduated in the top half of my class FWIW. I ended up getting laid off from my job after two years and have since been doing document review for the past 6-7 years to make ends meet. Document review is the most horrible, mind-numbing experience you could ever have. I implore any J.D. wannabe to do a search on Google for document review to get a flavor for what it’s like because this could very well be your future. In any event, I still owe just over 6 figures after paying down my debt for nearly a decade. But times have changed. I’ve been unemployed now for 10 months – meaning I haven’t even been able to land a document review position because of offshoring to India and the glut of attorneys fighting for scraps. Unless you can get into a top 14 school (or top 25 school if you get a scholarship) or top-50 (if your parents are footing the tuition bill), it is not worth attending law school. You will likely graduate without any job prospects and a mountain of debt that you will be unable to pay off. You will consider suicide as you start seeing your student loan statements in deferment with 1,000′s of dollars in capitalized interest being added to the principal. Law is one of the most unstable professions I’ve ever come across. I had a good career before law school, but gave it up in the hope of increasing my salary, etc. Now I can’t even get back into my old line of work because I’m either overqualified (lawyer) or I’ve been out for too long pursuing a legal career. I second a statement Brett makes in this FAQ regarding the marketability of a J.D. The J.D. is toxic to most employers. They are intimidated, don’t like lawyers generally, believe that the lawyer will leave at the first decent legal job opportunity that comes their way, etc. Bottom line, the populace in general thinks lawyers are all rich and driving Mercedes Benzs. Ain’t the case folks and it’s only going to get worse. Find another career. Accounting is good, nursing too. Obviously, medicine if you can get in (although I know many physicians who complain that it ain’t was it once was either – but they’re still making serious bank regardless).

144 Brent February 29, 2012 at 3:28 pm

I’ve taken the time to read most of the comments as well as Brett’s excellent article about this question of whether to go to law school. I’m 10 years into practicing law, having graduated from law school in 2002. I can agree with much of what Brett states in his article and I also agree with many of the comments that tend to depict law school and the practice of law as less than an ideal experience. If I could do it all over again, I would definitely find an MBA program or some other post graduate program to pursue.

My problem with practicing law is the same problem identified or stated in the article or in many of these comments. I went to law school because I earned an undergraduate degree in social sciences and always planned for a graduate program. I erroneously thought law school would be a great avenue to an interesting career, but that I’d never practice law long term. I’ve been trying for the past 5 or 6 years to get out of the legal profession, but it is much more difficult than I’d anticipated. As many others have already stated, if you don’t need a law degree for the job you want or you don’t plan on practicing law for the long term, then there is absolutely no reason to go to law school. You’ll be wasting your time and a lot of money. While I do believe it is true that your legal education and experience may potentially lead to an interesting non-law career, if that is your ultimate goal from the beginning, skip law school. Define yourself and the life you want with more clarity and then pursue it. You won’t happen onto it simply because you’re a lawyer.

Having said that, I think it is also important to point out that I work with and know of many attorneys who like their legal careers and genuinely enjoy practicing law. They have the right mix of talents, abilities, and personality. Yes, the legal profession is especially filled with a-holes of all stripes, but I think that is true of most professions (I’ll give law a bit of an edge over most). I also think that if Brett invited a doctor or an accountant or some other professional to write a similar piece on their profession, we might get many comments similar to the comments we see in response to this article about law school and the practice of law. I think this gets back to some of Brett’s most important points, which are to do your due diligence before making the decision to attend laws school. You should start with knowing yourself and understand who you are. Will your talents and personality fit in with the tasks and types of people lawyers deal with on a daily basis? Find out what lawyers really do, the hours they typically work, the usual working conditions in the area of law you believe you are interested in, and so forth. Gain and understanding of the culture you will work in when you finish law school. Equally important, have a solid idea of what law school will cost you and how much you will likely earn. Know and understand the real likelihood of employment after law school (last I read there will be an average of 45,000 law school graduates each year for the next 10 years and approximately 24,000 new openings each year). After doing your due diligence if you think it is still right for you, you may be right to proceed. If you still have to ask the question or you’re still not sure after genuinely researching the consequences of going to law school, my humble opinion is turn the other way and never look back.

Good luck to all considering the question.

145 Roy February 29, 2012 at 9:00 pm

I am currently a freshman undergrad. I was seriously thinking law school, as I wanted to be a criminal prosecution lawyer (I saw it as my way to serve the State without joining the military or police force). I defiantly am not motivated by money, and knew what the workload actually looked like from reading about it. However the actual employment figures as well as the debt figures provided in the article really have me taking a serious step back.

146 Kate February 29, 2012 at 9:43 pm

The happiest young lawyers I know work in their family law firm. All those years of exposure taught them what the job was like, and the experience paid off during their studies. Of course they were guaranteed jobs, but they work awfully hard because the firm’s reputation is their family’s reputation. It’s a nice place to work when the senior partner encourages you to bring your family to the office for lunch. Of course the SP is better known as “Grandpa” and wants a break to play with the kids. This has got to be the rarest, tiny fraction of the legal industry, but if you have it, take advantage.

147 JS February 29, 2012 at 11:04 pm

Brett,

Great article. Informative and got to the crux of “should I go to law school” debate.

With that said it was interesting reading everyone experience. There was a lot of negative aspects of LS that outweighed the positive traits of the profession. Moreover I am glad I got the chance to read, re-read and ponder some of the comments posted here. Truly insightful thoughts. It’s true the legal field is a grind; cut throat with competition in and out of the office; most of all it can be taxing on a lawyer and their personal lives.

As of right now, I am still leaning towards applying again to law school, go figure…I applied last year, was wait listed (acceptance purgatory) and then finally heard back from the school I applied to that I was not accepted this past Fall. For me, I want to take some time off and re-asses and examine “other” careers in law such as maybe a paralegal career.

Throughout undergrad, I pretty much studied everything in the course manual of the liberal arts and sciences department! Flipped flopped my way while in college trying to find what course of study that set off sparks in my head like no other field. The one thing that I fell in love with were my political science classes especially the required writing and arguments classes. In so much with the love of reading and writing of the English language it felt natural to want to pursue a career in law.

Right the economy is in shambles. I graduated in 2009 and still cannot find steady employment with a poli sci degree. I’ve been searching high and low for entry level legal positions in my area. With that said I don’t look at law school as a cash cow, I look at the legal field as way to sharpen mind and soul; most of all to be a serviceable and productive member of society.

148 Kishore Kapoor March 1, 2012 at 12:32 am

I am a 2L and i am probably one of the few who actually answer yes to most of those questions you posed at the end. Except i didnt get a scholarship. I also think that know what a lawyer does before going to law school made a huge difference. I think is a great post an i wish law schools require a certain number of real world experience before you can e accepted.

149 Sean March 1, 2012 at 6:54 am

Just stumbled across this from the U of Calgary…

http://youtu.be/y05HnXomG88

Meant to be taken lightly!

150 Kenneth Allison March 1, 2012 at 8:15 am

figured I would post again because I had a few thought…

I have read the article a few times and the countless comments that followed it. i want to reaffirm that law school, and being a lawyer for that matter, is not for everyone.

As I stated earlier I have been practicing law as a solo practitioner since I passed the bar in 2010. It is a difficult world out there for newly minted lawyers however there is hope for those who are willing to bust their buts to make their own luck.

You cannot go to school just expecting to get a job after graduation. I actively sought employment as an attorney from small and midsized firms for 5 months and I only received one interview (I applied to over 100 firms who had job postings but they mostly wanted people with at least 3 years experience or I did not have some special quality they were looking for). That one interview lead to a second with the firm but they decided to give the position to another candidate.

I couldn’t find work at a firm so I said, “screw it” and hung my own shingle. I used my contacts that I had developed and began taking the work that no one else wanted (because it didn’t pay enough). I did get a lot of experience between those cases and the pro bono work that i did to fill in some time, but it didn’t translate to income. for the 2011 tax year I made roughly $13,000. Luckily for me, I was living with my parents and running my law firm with little to no overhead. My loans were being put off, but I was able to get some legs under my business.

Eventually, my uncle helped get me on the bar advocate list. (sometimes it is who you know) I still needed to hustle my way on to the list though. I called the office at least once a week to get my name known in there, then I convinced them to let me take the $400 training course (with no promise of getting any work). Then, I started hanging around the court houses in my county getting to know the attorneys that worked there. Eventually I was able to pick up a few days for some attorneys who had other obligations. Now, I am getting enough work to pay rent, some of my loans, and keep my business running. My business is on pace for a $40,000 gross for this year and I do not have much overhead. It has been almost 2 years since I graduated law school but I am finally getting some serious traction.

Again, law school is the only path to becoming a lawyer. If you want to be a lawyer then you need to go to law school. Many of my friends think that being a lawyer means I get to sit in court all day making fancy arguments and I get to go home to my swimming pool full of money. That is definitely not the case. Though in the field of Criminal law you are in the court room more than other fields, you still have a lot of paperwork and research that you need to do in order to prepare to make those arguments in court. When I was doing civil work, I made 8 court appearances in 10 months. Doing criminal work I was in court 12 days last month alone. That’s still not as much as I would like but it beats rereading a lease 50,000 times to find out what the meaning of “occupant” is because two individuals drafted it on white lined paper, in hand writing, without defining any terms.

If after reading the post and the comments that follow anyone still wants to go to law school, I wish them the best of luck. I learned a lot while in law school, and I learned even more through my internships, and by running my own practice.

one last piece of advise. Spend time with people who are not in lawschool while you attend law school. It will help keep you sane, trust me. Law school is like one giant high school where everyone gossips about everyone else. And the stress that you can see coming from your class mates is crazy. I may have been able to pull better grades had I spent more time in the library at the school or lived near the campus but I still have my sanity, which is more than some of my classmates can say.

Now, sorry to keep this post going but i thought of something. If you are still considering law school check out the movie (or read the book) The paper chase. In the movie there is a study group comprised of the main characters. They definitely represent stereotypes that you will see in law school.

Good luck to all you readers still considering law school.

151 bb March 1, 2012 at 9:40 am

I am a soon to graduate 4LE (evening or “part time”) student. I work as an engineer at an aerospace company full time during the day. They are generous enough to cover my full tuition as well as books. Am I glad I did this so far? Yes. Would I do it if I had to pay for it myself? Absolutely not.

152 Chicago Area Lawyer March 1, 2012 at 11:22 am

This is a great post. Here are some additional items to consider (to put this in context, I’ve been practicing for 13-14 years in law firms):

[1.] Law school can be a very humbling, depressing experience.

Lots of high achievers see their track record of excelling derail. I know I did– I had a 172 LSAT, a 3.5 with a double major degree from a Big Ten school completed in 3 years. I worked harder than I though possible in law school, and ended up in the bottom 3rd/ bottom half of my class.

Luckily, I graduated in the late 90′s and started practicing in California in dot-com law. Let’s just say the North Dakota oil fields don’t have anything on Northern CA in the late 90′s. Which brings me to my next point.

[2.] Dumb Luck plays a large part of success. My tuition at law school from 1995 to 1997 was $11,000 a semester, which I thought was astronomical, but now will get you two credit hours. That gave me a lower debt burden. Plus, I graduated when the market was “hot.” I fully understand that if I was graduating now, I would be SOL.

And finally, this brings us to the people in the profession. The competition in law school and practice makes people pretty callous. While there are exceptions, the young person considering law school should not expect the legal profession to be waiting with open arms– it’s basically the opposite.

Some lawyers are aware of this. Many are oblivious.

[3.] This profession requires different skills at different stages– what makes you a good law student doesn’t (necessarily) hel you a good associate, or a good partner. The profession evolves. As a law student, you’re practicing to be a judicial clerk. As an associate, you’re a highly paid file clerk/proof reader/ junior accountant. As a partner, you are basically a sales representative and client contact manager (as well as everything else). These different aspects of the practice get stacked on top of your other responsibilities.

153 bodypuncher March 1, 2012 at 11:48 am

There are some excellent posts here from other lawyers. For those considering LS, you can see there are different paths and careers. So a lot of your satisfaction depends on what flavor of a law career you choose. No one person’s advice is better than other. We can just share our personal experiences. I’m the patent lawyer who posted about how solid patent law is in terms of job availability and pay- even starting pay. Another thing- the Patent Office paid enough of my tuition while I went to evening law school that I had zero law school debt (though I lived really lean during those years). I had classmates who were full time employees at other government agencies- IRS, Secret Service, HHS etc. So that’s just one approach: work during school for a govt agency in a position relevant to lawyers so when you graduate you are valuable out the gate. I had a classmate who was a cop– got hired by a state’s attorney office and then became a criminal defense attorney- he had a lot more doors open to him than a criminal justice undergrad major with no previous work experience. Second approach- choose an undergraduate major that is difficult, less common (among law school attendees), and relevant to a field lf law (such as engineering/math/science is to patent law). Bankers and SEC employees who later go to law school have it good, too. Bi-linguals and dual citizenships also do well. PhD in pharmacy or chemical engineering–you own the world. If you are none of the above, and you fall into the large pool of people with no prior full time career and/or no specialized degree, you are competing with a massive pool for the few jobs. Unless you have a relative or personal connection (See Kate’s post) you face tough competition. Then, you should consider the above posts people made about getting out there and working on your own with humble beginnings and marketing yourself to develop a practice. Or latch onto a solo or small practice, pay your dues, learn their business, and venture out. I known a bankruptcy attorney who did that. He’s not rich but he lives well and works for himself. If you take the self-made approach consider that a law degree is not a job creating certificate, but a license to engage in a practice of law. You need to be licensed to provide certain types of services and advice. What you make out of your license is, quite literally, your business.

154 vy March 2, 2012 at 12:46 am

Nice article and comments in here that i can´t express how much i value them.
However, Im from another country and it’s a totally different market for lawyers in here (Its like the US 20 years ago) and your employability rests, at least for the first years after school, on what school you come from and your GPA, in my case great school and greater grades, so i don’t worry too much about getting a job and making money now, but i’m worryied of that in 20 years of so, i hope at that time i will be partner or have my own well-established firm.

it was nice to read all these insights on the US market for law practice since i plan to go there for my LLM or JSD in the future (not planning to stay there i guess).

I agree that you should do everything you can do outside of getting an amazing GPA to make yourself employable, as I always say , get some shinny stickers on ur resume: get a few good interships, volunteer legal work (usually lets you deal with harder stuff that interships in law firms), get into prestigious competitions (like the Jessup Moot Court for Intl’ Law), learn a language and NETWORK as much as you can, every person you meet could be the one hooking you up in that six figure job, it´s up to you.

155 Sean March 2, 2012 at 1:51 pm

Law school was one of the greatest experiences of my life. Honestly. I did well, in a Tier 1 school (albeit, just barely Tier 1), and it still took me a number of months to find employment. My law school debt was set off by the fact that I went to a state school, and had my 3L year tuition paid for by interning for my state’s House of Representatives (Florida). I went into law school graduating with Honors from my undergraduate education. I was shocked by the emphasis on class rank, and found that the school’s placement program focused almost exclusively on placing the Top 10% of our school. But I was determined, and got a job doing private practice insurance defense (the last place I thought I’d be). However, I am a second year associate, work roughly 40 hours per week and have a salary that outpaces 90% of Americans’. I’m not sure what else I would be doing without my law degree. None of my High School (or undergraduate) friends have “real jobs”. I also have some friends that went to “For-Profit” law schools, left with $160k in debt, and are earning roughly $45k in private practice. You just have to be smart when incurring student loan debt and have realistic expectations about what you will earn for the first 5 or so years out of law school. It was definitely worthwhile, for me.

156 Michelle March 2, 2012 at 1:56 pm

Couldn’t agree more with this post. I’m in my third year of law school with the end in sight, but no jobs in sight – even though I’m on Law Review and have decent grades and am a well-rounded student. Law school definitely isn’t worth the stress and frustration, the long hours of studying while everyone and their mother is out having a good time. I’ll admit, going to law school is one of my biggest regrets, and similar to this post, I wish that I had pursued a different graduate degree in a field that is far less stressful and more rewarding (and less stressful) mentally.

157 scott March 2, 2012 at 3:35 pm

I do like being a public defender, but it’s tough- especially in the beginning. When I first started out I was taking home about 1,700 a month, and the payments on my student loans (just law school) were 1000. That was 12 years ago. A lot of hard work and a bit of luck, and I’m doing OK.
Law schools do straight up lie about employment prospects. They lie about LSAT scores and GPAs (I’m looking at you U of I). They’re making up jobs by funding short term “fellowships” for unemployed grads at public sector offices like mine just so they can say they are “employed.”
My office had one entry level position come open earlier this year. We got 150 applications from attorneys licensed to practice in this state. We got applications from brand new lawyers, and we got applications from lawyers with ten, fifteen and twenty five years of experience in criminal defense. We got applications from lawyers who had been in private criminal defense practice for fifteen years. They were climbing over each other for a job that pays $45k/yr with health insurance and all the DUIs you can eat.

158 SeanEM March 3, 2012 at 1:09 pm

Are there any internships available for high school students or are they all for undergrad or law students? I am not looking for anything glamorous and I would be more of an errand boy than anything.

159 Matt March 3, 2012 at 3:19 pm

All,

I did not read each and every comment posted, but it seem like 95%+ are negative to law school and the practice of law in general. I certainly would not say law school or the practice of law is for everyone, but nothing is. I can only tell you that it provided a wonderful opportunity for me and my family. I grew up with modest means and worked very hard to earn good grades to get scholarships to college and then a full-ride to law school which I maintained throughout. I worked very hard to get good grades and get on law review where I was a managing editor. Candidly, I think my hard work made the difference not any inate superiority to my classmates. I managed to get a clerkship with a federal court of appeals judge followed by five years at a very fine mid-sized firm. I then moved to a larger firm (75+ attorneys) where I have since become a partner and have a nice practice. I am not rich I suppose but make a nice living and did it with fairly minimal school debt. I am in my mid-40s and can expect 2 decades (+/-) of continued good income as I help my kids get through college. And I actually enjoy what I do. In fact, I often tell people that I get to do what most people only watch on TV (i.e. arguing cases in court). Again, I am not saying everyone should go to law school, but also don’t think it is as abysmal as the article and the posts would suggest. If you like being challenged intellectually and are willing to work hard, it can be a wonderful calling. And contrary to popular perception, most attorneys are very good people.

160 Josh March 4, 2012 at 1:54 am

Nice article. I am a practicing lawyer (TU Law ’04), and completely agree that a person needs to really consider law school. The practice of law is absolutely nothing like you see on TV, unless you are watching court TV, and even then . . . . Even the practice of law is different than law school. There you learn to think like a lawyer, analyze cases, facts, issues. In reality, it’s different. It is fast paced. You realize the law is not applied the way you think it should, that there are nuances upon nuances upon nuances that can drive you crazy if you let them.

That being said, as a lawyer you can make a difference in the world and be postively rewarded on so many levels. I am a PD, and find each day rewarding and challenging.

But it is tough being a lawyer right out of law school and finding a job, especially in a recession. The way I did it was to intern/volunteer for a firm while in law school. Then you make connections and people get to know your work product. Keep in contact with them, and you can land a job after you graduate.

161 somya March 4, 2012 at 5:54 am

so i’am 16 and my only goal in life was to be a lawyer ! i was so excited to go to law school and all that….but that was before i read THIS
now ive gone into a state of DEPRESSION…..i have no idea what to do with my life..!
thanks a lot!

162 Matt Harper March 4, 2012 at 1:46 pm

Somya,

Don’t let others’ negative views dissuade you from your dream. If you feel called to be a lawyer, then keep looking into it and learning about it. Definitely have your eyes wide-open to the hard work required and the stresses inherent in the study and practice of law, but don’t just walk away from it because others didn’t like it. I would encourage you to pursue a legal internship in high school or college, formal or otherwise. Meet good lawyers and learn what they do. We need good lawyers who believe in what they are doing. Don’t give up and good luck!

163 Kendra March 4, 2012 at 10:02 pm

Caveat emptor.

164 Kendra March 4, 2012 at 10:03 pm

Caveat emptor. Spelled it wrong.

165 Mel March 5, 2012 at 2:39 pm

Congratulations on an excellent website! My nephew (shout-out to DK!) has been sending me articles from here for a while now. Finally, I started visiting myself.
I understand that your article is an objective analysis of the cost vs. benefits of a legal education. However, I would like to touch upon a few less obvious benefits which I have received from my legal education (JD, Southern Illinois University ’08). First, it’s important for me to disclaim my statements, as if a JD would begin any other way. I am a statistical out-lier in almost all respects: 1. I had a horrible undergraduate GPA; 2. I blew-up the LSAT; and I served in the U.S. Navy, therefore my education was funded by the IL Veterans Grant, the G.I. Bill, and a significant monetary scholarship from SIU, not to mention my resume was superior to most, but not all, of my classmates. In the end, I paid nothing out-of-pocket for law school. I think that fact alone skews my point-of-view. And, like many others, I do not nor have I ever practiced law. In fact, I never even sat for a bar.
Law school is like boot camp for your brain! Of course most students learn the law, but that doesn’t do you any good if you don’t know how to apply it. That application is all about critical analysis and sound reasoning. With that in mind, law schools set out to re-wire the way your brain processes information. The main way they do this is by teaching your brain how to identify and appreciate each variable in an equation. Over the course of three years, JDs become a people who quickly identify, evaluate, and value each variable. In my opinion, this skill really sets JDs apart.
Also, law school taught me an incredible amount about large-scale organization (e.g. issue identification, information collection, organization, analysis, implementation, and presentation. That is, you learn how to identify the actual issue at hand (not a skill which is as easy as it sounds); collect information which resolves that issue; organize that information into a meaningful data set; analyze that information for actual impact on the issue; implement that data into a coherent story which is logically bound to the issue; and present your findings in either an objective or persuasive way. Learning how to see the issues, provide solutions for them, and communicating those solutions effectively are primarily important across nearly all industries. It’s no wonder that JDs are tapped to head massive efforts such as the administration of the process by which injured parties could get relief from BP after the Deep Water Horizon disaster.
Third, law school is empowering! Our society revolves around respect for the rule of law. Knowing how that law works gives you a marked advantage in almost every aspect of your life.
Another interesting thing I learned in law school is how to hold simultaneous macro and micro perspectives. In other words, JDs are trained to see issue in two ways. First, the JD needs to identify the actual steps to issue resolution. This could be winning a judgment for a client. But, a JD must also understand the much more macroscopic policy his argument supports. I think this is best captured by the old saying my Mom used to tell me when I had acted without thinking: Don’t bite your nose to spite your face. Biting my nose may be a way I address an outstanding wrong which my face committed against me, but the end result of biting it will be a disfigured appearance which taints both my nose and me as a whole. What did I really accomplish?
As you can see, the common skill across all JDs is the gift of gab. I could write all day, but nobody wants me to do that. So, with that in mind, I’ll quit while I’m ahead. Law school changed my life for the better, but I can’t tell you if it is $100,000 better. Keep up the good work!

166 Millennial March 5, 2012 at 3:32 pm

Very good, honest article, and great comments. I’m a 1L at Nebraska Law right now. I have a lot of family members that are lawyers, so I knew what I was getting into (mostly), but a lot of students don’t give the hard questions a good look before attending law school. Thanks for the insight.

167 fred March 5, 2012 at 5:27 pm

Another great article from TAOM. The only thing that I would add (I don’t think this was touched upon) is that one of the factors affecting the financial success of lawyers now is how the economy is doing where they practice. If there is not much business growth in the area, the lawyers are fighting over a pie that is not getting any bigger. But, if business is expanding, there are new clients for everyone. And new clients are the life blood of a financially successful practice.

168 Andrew K March 6, 2012 at 12:12 pm

I would add this pretty much mirrors any Science field that sort of requires you to have at least a Master’s Degree. It’s not for everyone. I would suspect that the CPA and most business degrees will be much like the lawyer’s degree within 5 years or so.

I would love someone to write an article about, “Okay, you’ve got all of this knowledge, skill, and you can’t get a job in your dream field. Now what?” That is what I am struggling with now. I’d love to use it even if it doesn’t end up paying for itself financially.

169 Joanne R March 7, 2012 at 10:49 am

Writing from Ireland, I find it so strange that you can’t study law at an undergraduate level. It seems like such a money racket to get you all to pay for four years totally unrelated to the career you intend to pursue. The NYC Irish American bar association website advocates Irish grads to come over and do the bar because even if we’ve never practised US law (or any for that matter) we come over with no student loans or debts, versus native students with debts of up to 200k. I’m even friends with a girl from Brooklyn who came to Ireland to a law degree at undergrad level, and despite having to pay what I would consider astronomical international student fees, she said by US standards it was a total bargain. I just don’t understand how law schools seem to get away with this behaviour, it’s a disgrace to have so many students starting out their working lives with such a massive financial burden.

170 mark March 7, 2012 at 12:15 pm

Great post.

What about b-school? Are there any different reasons for going/not going? I’d expect there might be some similar pros and cons, but are there other factors people should weigh in deciding to go to business school? What do you think?

171 JCintheSLC March 7, 2012 at 6:01 pm

I’m a second year law student and there are two things in this post, and subsequently, the comments that I believe should be included.

First, “Unsubsidized Federal Loans” are gone. I’m going to let that sink in… Okay? Basically, this means that while you are in school, working your butt off and losing sleep, your debt is now accruing interest. So now, you don’t need to worry about your debt climbing in the months of job hunting after school ends, it’ll be climbing the entire time you’re trying to get to the end. Keep that in mind.

Second, and I think this is crucial. Patent Law is growing right now. 18 firms came to my school to hire exclusively “Patent bar eligible” students. What does that mean? It means you have a technical degree from an accredited school. I came to school with a physics degree to be a patent lawyer. This has turned out to be “an unfair advantage” as some of my classmates call it. Really, it means you can compete in a small sliver of the law, in which many people cannot legally work. (Federal Patent Bar) If you have a technical degree, and want to do patent law, the market could look very different for you…

Otherwise, I agree with everything here. Oh, and learn to love the curve. It will turn friends against each other very quickly…

172 Joe Poppadockalous March 8, 2012 at 2:09 pm

Great article and some interesting responses. The main criticism that I’ve taken note of is that law school grads can’t find jobs. I wonder how many of those are from the top 5 schools. It just seems to me that most people complaining about law school went to terrible schools (mid 2nd tier or worse).

173 Matt M March 8, 2012 at 4:13 pm

Seems like every lawyer I know would say, “No.”

174 Dallas Storms March 8, 2012 at 7:31 pm

I am currently studying to be a paralegal, I have had several people tell me that I should go to law school (not boasting) but truth be told, the thought of taking out those loans and investing that kind of time terrified me. Obviously, this article has done noting to allay those fears. On the other hand, the law fascinates me, and has forever. So, I believe what I will do is find a job as a paralegal somewhere when I finish (this summer) and see where it takes me. Unfortunately, it does not seem to pay (figuratively speaking) to invest much time in any field anymore, as soon as you get through a training/degree program, you find that they numbers were inflated or a glut of students has over-saturated the market, or the process has been shipped overseas to be performed at a lower price, as if this is sustainable…

175 Joshua March 9, 2012 at 8:36 pm

I’m multilingual, had a 4.0 GPA in college and scored a 165 on the LSAT, so, fair-to-middlin’. I had been thinking that law school might be a good option for me, but really had little idea what I was getting myself into. Brett’s no-nonsense reality checks have helped me take off those rose-colored lenses and see a bit clearer that unless practicing law’s my dream – which it’s not – or I have an excellent scholarship and can pretty much go for free – which I don’t think I will with a 165 – then I should strongly reconsider. I’m not saying I won’t love law, I just having learned enough about it yet to know whether or not I’ll love it. So I’m considering doing some internships at local law offices and giving it another year to percolate, maybe pursuing other career options instead.

I’ll just say in passing that as a law school applicant, I already have a bad taste in my mouth from the application process itself: taking into account LSAC fees, the LSAT test and university charges, I had to pay several hundred dollars just to be able to apply to a couple schools! That’s about half the cost of tuition for a whole semester of graduate study in Taiwan, where I’m living now. People here would be irate and indignant at such cash-snatching from educational institutions, but we Americans have somehow grown numb to it, somehow expect it and perceive it as natural that a legal education just has to suck people’s pockets and lives dry. The more I think about it, the less I want to support such a messed-up system. I’ll try to do something I enjoy, and quite likely get a good education for little or no monetary investment on my part (thanks to scholarships).

Thanks again, Brett, for the very timely and relevant article.

176 Gregory March 9, 2012 at 8:48 pm

I’m kind of in the middle in this debate. Should you go to law school? I think the answer depends on whether you like to work hard or not. If you don’t, run as far away as fast as you can. Law is nothing but work work work all of the time. As for me, I like work. I’m really bored when I’m not working. I think that helped me get through my first two years of law school and helped me out perform people who were much smarter than. I’m in my 3rd year and I already have a job lined up (contingent on passing the bar).

I do think you should avoid anything outside of TT (that’s the second tier). When I argue at moot court competitions, there is a clear difference in the quality of the students from the lower tiers. Are there exceptions? Absolutely. They’re just that, though. Exceptions.

Also, no one will hand you a job. I’m in the top 15% of my class and got my job from telling a lot of people that I was looking. When firms get new clients or new cases and realize they will be short-handed, they start to look for associates. It’s like any other market; timing plays a big role in employment.

I do agree that only about 15% of the students at my law school will make good attorneys. I practice law in our school’s civil clinic and opposing counsel is almost always an alum from my school. Most of the time they are jerks who don’t understand the law and don’t put in the time to create good work product.

If you’re not afraid of 15 hour days at least 6 days per week, go for it. I really enjoy the field, but 8 in 10 of my friends do not. Go hang out with an attorney for a week and see what they actually do. And by the way, most of those attorneys will probably try to keep you out of law school. You should disabuse yourself of the idea that every lawyer hates his or her life, though.

One note for current law students who are struggling: get to know your law professors. If you go to a decent school, your professors will have some clout in the legal community. I did 4 summer clerkships and my law professors set up every single one. Further (and I know you’re going to hate me for this), but get off your %$# and go to Bar events in your area. I went to a voire dire training and met some attorneys who gave me a sweet job during the semester. If that prospect scares you, do not go to law school. You don’t have what it takes. Attorneys are paid advocates, and if you’re too scared to share your voice, you’re not worth paying. Sorry if that sounds mean, but it is what it is.

Good luck!

177 matt March 11, 2012 at 2:23 pm

If this helps, I VOLUNTEER as a lawyer for the Los Angeles District Attorney. I went to a tier 1 law school. They just lifted the hiring freeze at the department and they interviewed 1400 applicants for……yes……….25 jobs. All that for a starting salary of……………..$55,000.

I love the work I do as a volunteer and wanted to be a criminal attorney for as long as I can remember, but the amount of lawyers simply posting on this article who are either unemployed or underemployed should give anyone considering law school a moment of reflection on that decision.

178 S Illini March 11, 2012 at 11:54 pm

University of Illinois 3L here.

No. Don’t. There are no jobs. The jobs that do exist pay like shit. You’re going to be like everyone else in my class – $200,000 in debt, scrambling against dozens of other applicants in search of the few entry level, $50,000 per year jobs.

Then, when you are forced into bankruptcy, the BAPCA of 2005 won’t allow you to discharge your student loans. You’ll be an indentured servant for life. And the work actually sucks.

179 S Illini March 12, 2012 at 12:02 am

@Joe Poppadockulous – Top 5 doesn’t mean much. T14 is the important cutoff.

I did not go to a T14 school. I did not go out of my way to interact with T14 students. I know multiple T14 students, who were not at the bottom of their class, but remain unable to secure J.D.-required jobs 9 months after graduation.

It was a bad idea 5 years ago. Since then, the market’s fallen apart. There’s a massive glut of students, and the jobs have dried up. Employers can afford to be very discriminating; they’ll get so many resumes, that any imperfection will get yours tossed.

In my class, out of 240, there were probably about 180 who thought they’d be in the top 30% and 120 who thought they’d be in the top 10%. Newsflash: most of them were wrong. They thought that they’d get $160,000 per year jobs if they managed to get to the class median. They didn’t. They won’t. Neither will you.

The numbers are deliberately false. The jobs don’t exist. The only thing that’s real about law school is the debt. The soul-crushing debt.

I used to think I was lucky. I had a job lined up. I worked for almost a year as a law clerk at a small firm that I liked. With a bunch of guys that liked me. We got along well. They told me I’d have a job. They decided to add an associateship all right – but they solicited resumes. They received an overwhelming response. They’re going to interview a group of experienced attorneys. They’re going to interview a group of my classmates. And, if I’m LUCKY, they’re going to decide to interview me.

This is not a commentary on the quality of my work. I do good work. This is because they can afford to hold out for the absolute best. Because even the best people in these classes are scrambling to find something – anything – to feed their families and pay on their loans.

180 Jonathan March 12, 2012 at 4:04 am

I graduated from law school in 2010. Your post is a much longer version of what I tell people when they ask me if they should go to law school.

Don’t go – unless you absolutely must do something that requires you to be a member of the bar.

181 bodypuncher March 14, 2012 at 11:38 am

I’m back, as a 20+ yr attorney trying to help some of the younger posters. You need to step back and stop telling yourself that just because you scored high on an aptitude test, received scholarships, placed high in your class, served on Law Review etc..that somehow the world now owes you a living. Nobody is impressed except you. These things are less relavant during hard economic times when there are attorneys with real work experience competing for the same jobs as you. Law firms and legal departments are businesses, and bottom line trumps all. You will be hired if you can contribute to the bottom line. During down economies and when degreed lawyers are in abundance, such as the present time, you will be hired over the others if you have something the others do not have. Prior work experience in law or in a field that relates to your future field of law are pluses. There are many others with great GPAs, Law Review and top tier schools. So those laurels will alone will not carry you. These are things that will carry you : former CPA or IRS employee now a tax-lawyer; former policemen now a DA/PD or defense laywer; former school teacher now an education law attorney; former banker/trader/SEC employee now a corporate lawyer; former engineer/patent examiner now a patent examiner etc. Clerking and interning is a tremendous help. I would always rather hire someone whose character I know, like and accept rather than a stranger who might have a higher GPA or tier of school or Law Review. Court clerkships are huge….litgation firms will hire you if you clerked. So get a job, then go to law school. Or work full time and go to night school like I did. I was a US Patent Examiner during law school. If you are against working during or before law school, then get an engineering or science degree so you can sit for the patent bar. I’m a patent attorney. I’m not exaggerating when I tell you you can get a six figure starting salary immediately, regardless of what tier school you went to. Yes, patent lawyers are in that much demand, despite this economy. You don’t need to graduate anywhere near the top of your class and you can still get a great job. Don’t think you are entitled to designer suits, sports cars and shiny offices because you went to law school, did Law Review, top tier etc…There are no shortcuts to success.

182 2L at 50s—no wait—Now 60s ranked school March 15, 2012 at 3:53 pm

2 points:

First, if you have an engineering degree and an interest in law, GO TO LAW SCHOOL! All these employment woes seem inapplicable to patent law, where firms are clamoring for young associates (especially EEs). If you do alright, you will have a job. Plus, engineers tend to be better legal writers out of the gate because legal writing requires the same clarity as technical writing.

Second, I’d like to echo that a high LSAT score does not mean you will be a good law student or even a good lawyer. I got a mediocre score–low enough that I considered not going at all—but I got lucky as a white male and made into a 50s ranked school (now 60s) in the lower 50% of their LSAT range. I’ve made the Deans list every semester, am in the top 10 of my class, am articles editor of the law review, and have had 3 jobs already—at a federal appeals court, a fortune 500 company, and a law firm. And I am far from a gunner. The LSAT is terrible measure of legal aptitude, or maybe I’m just an extreme outlier. Either way, don’t let the LSAT make the decision for you. The best law students are the ones that really want to be there. Plain and simple.

183 Alvie March 16, 2012 at 12:13 am

I recently got a BA in English with a 3.5 GPA and had recently been seriously considering law school. Before reading this I figured that it’d be a long, hard road and that it’s not something to do for dreams of wealth and prosperity but something to do out of passion for the law and a dream to practice it. This article has reinforced my notions over what law school and what the legal profession is really like, but has shown too that it will be very hard, quite expensive and assuredly not for everyone, including me. I think I’ll take the advice of the author and numerous commentators and meet with local lawyers to get an idea of what I’m in for. Maybe my idea to get a masters in an education field will be what I end up doing instead.

184 Law Schools Center March 16, 2012 at 6:37 am

Some notes on “ why to go to law schools

185 Brandon Gahman March 17, 2012 at 8:50 pm

@Jeff (the first commenter), those are probably some of the wisest words I’ve ever heard. I am a Junior undergrad (Finance/Accounting double) toying with the idea of Law School, but it just doesn’t seem worth the cost at this point. I have an internship with a public accounting firm lined up, and I’m excited to see what I can achieve in the world! It sounds great to be a lawyer, but I value getting married after school without as much debt more than I do the title.

186 Ang March 19, 2012 at 12:33 pm

This is a great article about the pros and cons about going to law school. As a current student in the bottom of my class at an unranked school, I wish I would have taken these articles more seriously.

BUT, I went to law school with the understanding that I would use the marketable skill and open my own firm. I never expected a 6 figure salary right out of school and I’m not following the traditional career advice.

As a result of taking a different approach to securing employment, I’ve had the same and/or better employment and internship prospects than my friends who made law review AND I still can see my man on the weekends. I currently work for 3 law firms and 1 blawg, have interned with a judge and have an interview with a global, publicly-traded corp. next week.

Moral of the story: in a tough economy, focus on your strengths, follow you gut, and expect nothing in return for your hard work. Reject BigLaw and tailor your experience to the things small firms need. Find a niche market. Cultivate high demand skills. Cultivate a unique selling proposition for whatever service you aim to provide.

187 Kurt Keller March 21, 2012 at 7:53 pm

One thing I do have to add to the point that Brett made about “seeing what a practicing law really is.” It’s probably one of the best pieces of advice I’ve seen, and I do plan to go to go to Law School eventually. I would suggest going to the courthouse a few times.

While Court makes up around 5% of real legal work it certainly helps. Also many DA offices have unpaid internships for undergrad students (they mainly deal with victim prep, etc.). For Example, the York County DA has an undergrad internship program and are always looking for “free labor”.

Just my two cents, and I’m an unemployed High School senior.

188 Chef Nusy March 23, 2012 at 11:49 pm

Well, if I needed something right now…!
I’m in college right now, hustling at a 4.0 GPA towards an AA as a paralegal. I want to be a lawyer, or at least I’m reasonably certain I do. So I decided to go with the “cheap” option of becoming a paralegal, working in a law firm, and if I do still want the “big desk”, I’ll go for it. Right now, all I found out during my first few major-related courses are: 1) The law is the most amazing thing. Ever. 2) Corpus Juris Secundum is the perfect bedtime reading. It’s fascinating for the first two pages, then puts you to sleep like nothing else. 3) If I’m sailing through legal research and writing courses as I am, maybe it’s not that bad a career idea. 4) The final responsibility towards your state Bar Association, not only for your conduct, but your paralegals, clerks, secretaries, and whatever other employees you work with, is extremely scary. Reconsider.
Thanks for the great article!

189 JL September 27, 2012 at 12:07 am

I think prospects for law school graduates depend entirely upon WHERE you go to law school. Yes, the market is bad, but if you’re going to a good enough school, there are still huge bucks to be had.

My older brother is a 2L at Harvard Law School and already has a cushy summer associate job lined up for 2013. He is in the top half of his class, works hard, but still has plenty of time to socialize and stay sane. I everything this coming summer goes well, he will be making over $150,000 at this Boston based firm his first year out of law school. Yes, he’ll be working 60+ hours a week, but that’s INSANE money.

His girlfriend goes to Penn Law. She’s in the top 1/3 of her class, is on law review, and actually was just a summer associate at the same firm, so she’ll be working there after graduation. Again, $150,000+ right out of law school.

Moral of the story: law school is not for most people (myself included…I fall squarely in the “considering law school because I don’t know what else to do with my life and I think I could dominate the LSAT”…articles like this make me realize it probably isn’t worth it).

BUT, if you’ve got the brains and the scores to get into a T14 law school and you’re interested in actually practicing law DO IT.

190 monstruation.com December 18, 2012 at 1:03 am

By Any Chance, do you have even more posts similar to this specific 1 titled, Should I Go to Law School?
| The Art of Manliness? We would like to read through even
far more regarding it. Thanks.

191 phillip jo January 18, 2013 at 8:25 am

Peace Be With You
I’m sorry to hear that so many of you did not like law. This article speaks truth in the sense that you will not do good in something you don’t feel passionate about. So, figure out what you love to do first. However, for job prospects, in any field, the top 1% will be the most employed. If you went to to a top 3 law school and graduated top 10%, it would be rare for you not to get a job. It all depends how far your willing to go, being aware of your strengths, and have fun. Work is not work if you enjoy it, right?

I hope you all find what you are looking for.

With All Best Wishes
Phillip Jo

192 Jordan February 17, 2013 at 9:11 pm

This is a great article. I am in undergrad right now and am considering law school, but I am not sure if I am up to it. My brother is currently a lawyer and he is insanely smart (he went to Yale) and he has a great job(corporate lawyer), but in this economy that is rare. He also told that unless you get into and graduate from one of the top 15 law schools, it is financial and job wise not worth it to go. As for myself I want to get into public health or something related to government such as working for the state department or or a hospital. However, everyone I talk to always ask, “Does that mean you are going to law school?” I am not sure what to do. I have been taking law classes currently in school and love them, but am I really up for law school, I dont know.

193 Nick March 9, 2013 at 3:46 pm

I graduated from law school last year. Had I known everything I do now prior to starting, I may not have gone at all. My income is far lower than I was led to believe it would be, the debt is much greater than I had anticipated, and the work isn’t the fulfilling experience I thought it was going to be. That’s not to say I’m unhappy, but there is certainly a lot more stress involved that can make the work week pretty grueling sometimes.

I was lucky to even find the job I did, relying on a friend with a good connection as opposed to the strength of my resume. While I’m confident I’m on a path that will allow me some degree of financial prosperity in the future, I will have to struggle through some severe financial limitations for a while before I get there.

If you are thinking of going to law school simply because you’re uncertain of what you want to do with your life, I can’t emphasize enough that you should NOT go. If however, you are confident that you’re meant for a career in the legal field, I would say do it, but put in your due diligence first. Research the crap out of the schools, be skeptical of any stats the schools provide to you in their literature, research all of your finance options and prepare yourself to budget your life for three years. Also, if you are living with your parents, maybe consider taking a year to make some connections or earn some experience at law offices. Acclimate yourself with what the legal field is really all about (law professors do not give you any idea of this). If after thoroughly preparing yourself and doing some research you’re still committed to law school, I wish you the best of luck… and have just a few more words of advice.

Do all you can to force yourself to think of your first year of school as your first year of your career, as opposed to your 5th year of college. Focus and commitment and hard work will pay off. Get the best grades you can, seek out the best internships/clerkships you can, and really try to learn all you can. Three years seems like a while, but it goes by quick so don’t worry about having fun and partying like its college. While I definitely would encourage you to make time for yourself to relax and have a little bit of fun here or there, remember the real reason you’re in law school and the value your education can have if you approach it with the right mindset.

194 Jim March 19, 2013 at 1:23 pm

Unfortunately for me, I doubt I have the drive, but cannot just let it go! Perusing LS curriculums has convinced me there are so many required skills that I have no desire to learn. Yet…

195 Jim March 19, 2013 at 9:15 pm

So there are oppurtunities in IP law. What about tax law?

196 Christine Dorval June 12, 2013 at 7:06 pm

hey many ppl say that law school is not worth it because of the debt you acquired… but get this if your parents are willing to pay for all your study ( i know ,lucky) but would it be worth it then to actually finish your degree ? i mean right now i have a partial cheap job at the govt but i see lawyer everyday there that makes $100 000 per year… im not sure if its my BIG passion in life but i like analyzing and researching shit so i wouldnt mind and would actually quite enjoy the job i think…

197 Amanda June 29, 2013 at 11:08 am

Man, I wish I would have found this post before I dove head first into law school. I had no idea what I was getting into. I was that person in college who did really well. Most of my friends went off to Med School or grad school (its what you did with a degree like mine). I decided I was going to law school. I attended Santa Clara and I floundered my way through my first year, and did fine. But, I hated every minute of it.

So, for my summer internship, I made the decision that if I absolutely LOVED the work, I could stick out the two more years of hell and small mortgage to become and attorney. THIS is probably something I should have done in my years off between undergrad and law school. Before spending an entire summer studying for the LSATs and spending an entire year hating life as a 1L. BUT, I did it backwards. So, here I sat in my first internship and again, hating it.

I wanted to do criminal law. I wanted to see those who did bad things go away (I come from a Lonnnnnngggggg line of cops, stemming back to the great greats of grandfathers). Well, 2 months in the legal system taught me that there is more compromising of ethics by justification than actual convictions. Which, in my mind, leads to a sense of entitlement that is dangerous in the community.

So, here I sit. I decided I am NOT going to sink another $200k into the law school education and I do not want to pursue a career in law. I wish I would have learned of this a year and $70k ago, but I did not.

I appreciate your post, and as a casualty of the legal education, I wish more people would listen to your words.

Thank you!

198 Stephen Murray July 3, 2013 at 9:46 pm

In my humble opinion and experience, and in the opinion and experience of many of the top legal minds I have heard speak, success or lack-there-of in undergraduate has very little to do with success or lack-there-of in law school. And even less to do with actual success as an attorney! Law school is not a history class, where you memorize a bunch of facts and throw them up on an exam. Therefore, a 4.0 gpa in undergraduate, that shows nothing more than your ability to memorize (or in most cases, just indicates your level of commitment to actually memorizing) a bunch of facts (assuming you are not a math/engineering major) does not mean necessarily that you will perform a certain way. Meaning, a 4.0 gpa in undergraduate doesn’t mean a 3.5 gpa in law school. In fact, I would almost argue the opposite. Studying the black letter law and not just specific cases (like most people do who are so used to getting by with just memorization) and then learning how to spot issues and answer questions based on that black letter law is what you need to do. Of course law school is hard when all you do is take copious notes of babble about specific cases and then can’t spot issues during exams because your 150 page outline is so jumbled and packed with shit that you don’t even know where to begin.

199 Cait September 11, 2013 at 11:36 am

I’m so glad I came upon this article, as it seems that many readers have insightful comments to add. I am considering entering law school (I’m registered for the LSAT in December) and am still on the fence. I would appreciate any advice!

Some insight into my background: I graduated from a good university magna cum laude with a degree in Communications (concentration in Event Planning) in 2011, with a special interest in History/Art History and Archaeology (no concentrations in these subjects, but many of my leftover credits were devoted to the study of these subjects). Both my parents were lawyers, and while they both loved their choice in pursuing law careers and have been very successful, they are not pushing me to follow this career path at all (besides saying I would be very good at it, if I chose to pursue it). However, I think being raised by lawyers has led to me instinctively thinking and arguing a certain way, which is why multiple people (random and close friends) have told me I would “be a great lawyer”.

I worked in Special Events at a top 14 law school (ironic, but no, my parents did not help me earn this job – I’m proud to say I earned it strictly by merit) for the first year and a half after I graduated, and now I currently work as an Executive Assistant at a historic site.

I’m on the fence because many (most) areas of law I believe would bore me. The only area of law that I am seriously considering (and one I think I would absolutely love) is cultural property law/art repatriation. While this is fast-growing legal practice area, I don’t know what the realities of getting a job in this area would be. Is it realistic for me to go to law school just to get a job in that one specific area?

And advice or insight would be greatly appreciated!

200 Reinhard von Lohengramm October 8, 2013 at 5:21 pm

I’m from the UK so things are different yet the same.

The typical route to becoming a lawyer (for me a solicitor) is by going to study for a law degree for 3 years then do a legal practice course (‘LPC’) in a law school. Currently I go to law school.

We’re made to learn how businesses work and how to run a firm as if it were a business. This is because firms expect everyone to be more commercially aware. The law school I go to really focus on practice and running of a firm. But I had no idea the work would be this tremendous. I’ve been to law school “workshops” before I started and did my research beforehand, but I underestimated the amount of work given. I also find it really, really boring. It is really expensive and not what I expected. I wish I read this article beforehand. I’m in my fourth week and I’m already thinking of leaving.

I know someone doing the LPC who qualified as a barrister (the other type of lawyer in the UK). He said he couldn’t find any work so he decided to do the LPC instead. That’s how bad things are. It is hard to get a job as a lawyer in England. If I ever do become a lawyer, I’ll make it my mission to go to each university and college to really explain in detail how things really are. I’d even show them this article.

The number of people willing to take a law degree is increasing. It’s becoming as bad as the USA.

What the hell have I gotten myself into!

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