Is law school a mistake?

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Yes or No to Law School?

Go to Law School
56
61%
Defer and Reevaluate
36
39%
 
Total votes: 92

Geneva
Posts: 1014
Joined: Tue Nov 22, 2011 1:32 am

Re: Is law school a mistake?

Postby Geneva » Sat May 05, 2012 6:32 pm

chasgoose wrote:To be honest, I think this is the best you can do if you want a professional-type career. Getting consulting jobs out of law school is doable, especially from SLS. Unlike banking, consulting cares more about your analytical ability than anything else, WE is a plus for them, but given that they hire tons of liberal arts grads from elite schools all the time solely for performing well on their case study method (seriously in college I knew multiple theater majors who got jobs at MBB), this is like a second chance to get that. Consulting wants JD's because they value diverse backgrounds and approaches to problem-solving, they wouldn't be recruiting at law schools if this were not the case. Also, if you spend the time between now and law school prepping for the GMAT, you can take that and potentially apply for a JD/MBA at SLS (I'm assuming you can do decently on that given that you did well enough on the LSAT to get into Stanford. I may be wrong if you are absolutely terrible at math, but most people can learn enough math for the GMAT and if you ARE that bad at math, you probably should just settle for law). Also, you should start prepping for case study interviews sooner rather than later so by the time the hiring process starts you have that skill down cold.

That said, given that you have very little WE, I don't think that consulting offers a radically different lifestyle than law. Both require grueling hours and a lot of repetitive work (at least in the early stages). It sounds to me like you just want a professional job, which law can offer just as well as consulting. Similarly most people aren't consultants at MBB or big law lawyers for their entire lives. Either path can get you a corporate job if that is what you realize you want to do (its definitely easier from consulting, but not terribly hard from law). Most people aren't going to LOVE their jobs anyways.

I will say to those who think no one should go to law school without actually wanting to be a lawyer, they are mostly right, but in this case, where the person only has a liberal arts BA and merely wants to launch into a professional career after years of medical problems, law school makes sense. Getting a professional degree from a top school is probably the only way he is going to be able to do that at this point and it gives him a chance to start over and scrub the past. Since he would never get into as good of a business school as a law school and he's going to Stanford with financial aid, this decision is probably the best way to meet his goals. I also don't think an interest in practicing law is a prerequisite to doing well in law school. It certainly helps, but law school is still far more academic than it is practical, so if you attack it with the same gusto you attacked your BA with (once again, SLS is hard to get w/o that) you should be fine. The material is interesting enough and the main thing forcing most students to work hard is that its a means to an end. Just because for most people that is a legal career, doesn't mean that getting a job at MBB or getting into the joint JD/MBA program at Stanford can't light a similar fire under your ass. Anything can be interesting provided you have something to motivate you.

TL;dr: Getting MBB from SLS is totally doable, provided you prepare for the case study interviews and commit to the process. Consulting is the one business area where WE is not a huge requirement. Look into maybe doing a joint degree once you are at SLS (this will be easier if you kill first quarter, even with their modified P/F system). Be open to a career in the law, you might not think its great now, but for most people the pros and cons are similar to those for consulting and it doesn't close off a corporate career in the future. In your specific situation (medical issues, no WE, 28 years old, liberal arts degree, wants professional career, in at SLS probably with financial aid) law school is not a mistake, even if you don't really want to practice law. 99.9% of the time going to law school w/o wanting to practice law would be a mistake, but you are that special snowflake where going to law school makes sense and is probably the most efficient way to pursue your career goals at this point.


+100

Geneva
Posts: 1014
Joined: Tue Nov 22, 2011 1:32 am

Re: Is law school a mistake?

Postby Geneva » Sat May 05, 2012 6:37 pm

Paul Campos wrote:
Geneva wrote:
Paul Campos wrote:Do not go to law school unless you have a very good reason to believe you want to be a lawyer.*



*Note this is a necessary but not sufficient condition.

What would you suggest OP does instead? I feel like the lack of work experience makes a JD the best way for OP to break into the sort of business career s/he seems to want.


The idea that significant numbers of people go from SLS into something other than law is wrong.

2010 SLS NALP report:

174 graduates

3 went into "business" (this category would include all the kinds of jobs -- "consulting and policy" -- the OP is interested in).

The vast majority of the class (85%) either went big law or clerked, which is usually a prelude to big law. Almost all the rest became government or PI lawyers (also things the OP seems to have little interest in, although they don't seem to cause as much revulsion for him/her as the idea of big law). Big law is exactly what the OP doesn't want to do, and it's by far the most likely thing the OP will end up doing. What qualifications will the OP have three years from now to get into high-level consulting or policy work that he/she doesn't have now? Will he/she have any relevant work experience? No, because summering for a big law firm is not relevant work experience for those kinds of of jobs. He/she will have a JD but a JD, even from SLS, is almost never by itself a sufficient credential for highly competitive non-law jobs.

This is just the TLS myth that there's something magical about a YSH degree. The only "magical" thing about it is that it's the best degree you can get for getting jobs that require law degrees. That a tiny handful of people go on to do other things straight out of law school is a reflection of those graduates' backgrounds before they went to law school, not that SLS sprinkled magic pixie dust on them.

So I don't know what the OP should do, but I do know that going to law school while planning not to practice law never makes sense, unless you're going to law school for non-career related reasons.


Don't you think most YSH grads self-select into law jobs?

chasgoose
Posts: 715
Joined: Fri Jan 07, 2011 10:18 pm

Re: Is law school a mistake?

Postby chasgoose » Sat May 05, 2012 8:18 pm

Geneva wrote:
Paul Campos wrote:
Geneva wrote:
Paul Campos wrote:Do not go to law school unless you have a very good reason to believe you want to be a lawyer.*



*Note this is a necessary but not sufficient condition.

What would you suggest OP does instead? I feel like the lack of work experience makes a JD the best way for OP to break into the sort of business career s/he seems to want.


The idea that significant numbers of people go from SLS into something other than law is wrong.

2010 SLS NALP report:

174 graduates

3 went into "business" (this category would include all the kinds of jobs -- "consulting and policy" -- the OP is interested in).

The vast majority of the class (85%) either went big law or clerked, which is usually a prelude to big law. Almost all the rest became government or PI lawyers (also things the OP seems to have little interest in, although they don't seem to cause as much revulsion for him/her as the idea of big law). Big law is exactly what the OP doesn't want to do, and it's by far the most likely thing the OP will end up doing. What qualifications will the OP have three years from now to get into high-level consulting or policy work that he/she doesn't have now? Will he/she have any relevant work experience? No, because summering for a big law firm is not relevant work experience for those kinds of of jobs. He/she will have a JD but a JD, even from SLS, is almost never by itself a sufficient credential for highly competitive non-law jobs.

This is just the TLS myth that there's something magical about a YSH degree. The only "magical" thing about it is that it's the best degree you can get for getting jobs that require law degrees. That a tiny handful of people go on to do other things straight out of law school is a reflection of those graduates' backgrounds before they went to law school, not that SLS sprinkled magic pixie dust on them.

So I don't know what the OP should do, but I do know that going to law school while planning not to practice law never makes sense, unless you're going to law school for non-career related reasons.


Don't you think most YSH grads self-select into law jobs?


Exactly. With few exceptions, most YHS grads probably could have gone into consulting at MBB straight out of college. Most of them went to top schools where MBB recruits, and all of them did exceptionally well at whatever school they went to or else they wouldn't be at YHS. Those are the two main considerations for consulting jobs since most people can learn how to do a case study interview. Given that they AREN'T doing that (or aren't doing that anymore) suggests that they went to law school because its a law school and they wanted to practice law. Most people who have the solid WE to get consulting jobs are in law school precisely because they no longer want to DO the consulting jobs or whatever got them that WE in the first place. The numbers you are citing don't confirm that its hard to get MBB consulting jobs, just that most don't want them (given that its hard to do during the legal hiring process, only the very committed usually follow all the way through). The consulting firms wouldn't waste time recruiting at YHS if they didn't want to hire JDs.

I agree that his preference for consulting over law seems not very well-thought out or articulated, but he definitely wants a job of that ilk, and at this point a JD from a top school is probably the best of his few remaining options for getting one. He IS the special snowflake. No one else from TLS should listen to this advice unless they share almost all of the same characteristics (acceptable differences would include Harvard or Yale instead of Stanford, slightly older, even less WE, more scholarship money that he probably will get from SLS).

PMan99
Posts: 300
Joined: Mon Jan 10, 2011 3:21 pm

Re: Is law school a mistake?

Postby PMan99 » Sat May 05, 2012 8:24 pm

Going to law school - even HYS - with the intention of getting into consulting is dumb.

I actually think going to Stanford would (could) be the right move for OP, but if - only if - he's willing to grind it out for 3-4 years in BigLaw before developing enough connections and/or WE to lateral into a different sector.

chasgoose
Posts: 715
Joined: Fri Jan 07, 2011 10:18 pm

Re: Is law school a mistake?

Postby chasgoose » Sat May 05, 2012 9:16 pm

PMan99 wrote:Going to law school - even HYS - with the intention of getting into consulting is dumb.

I actually think going to Stanford would (could) be the right move for OP, but if - only if - he's willing to grind it out for 3-4 years in BigLaw before developing enough connections and/or WE to lateral into a different sector.


If OP really wants consulting, especially at the MBB level, he's never going to get access to the recruiters at this point unless he gets a professional degree from a top school. They don't recruit people with no WE off the street and rarely recruit laterally. They like to be able to take someone fresh from a degree (bachelors or graduate) program and mold them. They recruit at the top law schools just like big law firms do, and their main criterion for hiring is analytical ability as demonstrated by their rigorous interview process. Since he can't get into a good MBA program (or at least one where MBB and their ilk recruit) going to a top school like Stanford is pretty much the only way he can gain access to the recruiting process. Since he's going to get financial aid (based on his age and income) it's not going to be a terribly financially burdensome position. It seems like he actually has a shot at getting this type of job and also, it doesn't seem as though he is completely closed off to the idea of practicing law. So long as he is willing to do so, he will get a big law job if consulting doesn't work out. The goal of working towards getting a consulting job should be no less compelling with regards to his law school performance than big law (in fact at SLS, it might be even more of a motivator, since pretty much everyone with a pulse gets big law there if they want it).

PMan99
Posts: 300
Joined: Mon Jan 10, 2011 3:21 pm

Re: Is law school a mistake?

Postby PMan99 » Sat May 05, 2012 9:40 pm

chasgoose wrote:
PMan99 wrote:Going to law school - even HYS - with the intention of getting into consulting is dumb.

I actually think going to Stanford would (could) be the right move for OP, but if - only if - he's willing to grind it out for 3-4 years in BigLaw before developing enough connections and/or WE to lateral into a different sector.


If OP really wants consulting, especially at the MBB level, he's never going to get access to the recruiters at this point unless he gets a professional degree from a top school. They don't recruit people with no WE off the street and rarely recruit laterally. They like to be able to take someone fresh from a degree (bachelors or graduate) program and mold them. They recruit at the top law schools just like big law firms do, and their main criterion for hiring is analytical ability as demonstrated by their rigorous interview process. Since he can't get into a good MBA program (or at least one where MBB and their ilk recruit) going to a top school like Stanford is pretty much the only way he can gain access to the recruiting process. Since he's going to get financial aid (based on his age and income) it's not going to be a terribly financially burdensome position. It seems like he actually has a shot at getting this type of job and also, it doesn't seem as though he is completely closed off to the idea of practicing law. So long as he is willing to do so, he will get a big law job if consulting doesn't work out. The goal of working towards getting a consulting job should be no less compelling with regards to his law school performance than big law (in fact at SLS, it might be even more of a motivator, since pretty much everyone with a pulse gets big law there if they want it).


The issue it that it isn't MBB. It's really just M, and he'll be competing with JD/MBAs (and just MBAs) for something that's just really unlikely to happen due to numbers and the likelihood of not acing the interview. To put some perspective on it, in terms of interviews to offers at Harvard, McKinsey was slightly better than Wachtell and about on par with Williams & Connolly. It isn't an easy process even for people with 3.9+ 173+ stats, and even with max aid HYS still costs about ~100k.

sparty99
Posts: 1433
Joined: Sat Dec 11, 2010 8:41 pm

Re: Is law school a mistake?

Postby sparty99 » Sat May 05, 2012 9:53 pm

Consulting is overrated, but a Stanford degree is timeless and damn, I'm jelly.

Being a big law laywer is 167% better (at least in pay) then what you would make as a first year consulting analyst with no work experience. All-in-all, if you hate law school and want to drop out your first year, you might be able to get into Consulting based on the fact that you went to Stanford.

I use to work in consulting and knew of a number of law school drop-outs. However, Stanford is golden. Do law. Also, everyone talks about McKinsey, Bain, and BCG as if they are the only consulting firm out there, but, a JD from a top school could get you an interview at almost any consulting firm. And at the end of the day, consulting is consulting and they are all the same. But again, don't worry about consulting. You just like consulting b/c you heard the stories and thought it would be glamorous (it isn't). Be a big-law laywer or what have you. You are going to Stanford....jelly, jelly, jelly.

DefyingGravity
Posts: 60
Joined: Fri Nov 25, 2011 11:16 pm

Re: Is law school a mistake?

Postby DefyingGravity » Sun May 06, 2012 10:55 pm

Thank you all for your thoughtful and encouraging responses. It seems that going to law school is the best step for me. My hope is to experience continued recovery and to not have to mention my previous health problems to employers unless asked directly. My major concern is the possibility of a relapse that would require me to take a leave of absence from law school to receive treatment. Although the odds are in my favor at this point, medically speaking, would a relapse and subsequent leave of absence be damaging to my job prospects? I ask only because I want to prepare myself for the worst, while hoping for the best.

Thank you again for the outpouring of honest feedback.

Geneva
Posts: 1014
Joined: Tue Nov 22, 2011 1:32 am

Re: Is law school a mistake?

Postby Geneva » Mon May 07, 2012 1:40 am

I don't think it makes sense to put off law school for a full year if, as you say, you are fully recoverd now and the chances of relapse are slim.

As a 0L, I can't speak to the employment consequences of a Leave of Absence, but I would hope that a medical leave of absence wouldn't be held against you. Someone on another thread was afraid to take a leave of absence for mental health reasons because of a comment made by his school's career services, but I'm not sure if his fears were warranted.

DefyingGravity
Posts: 60
Joined: Fri Nov 25, 2011 11:16 pm

Re: Is law school a mistake?

Postby DefyingGravity » Tue Jul 31, 2012 7:46 pm

Given my career goals, should I choose Stanford or Harvard?

Got into Harvard off the waitlist with $28K in need-based aid for the first year.
At Stanford, I received $35K in aid for the first year. Because the cost difference is so small and I do not have a geographic preference, I want to choose the school that will best position me for a future in business/consulting.

Need to decide by tomorrow.

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Lawquacious
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Re: Is law school a mistake?

Postby Lawquacious » Tue Jul 31, 2012 7:52 pm

If not flame go dude. If subtle brag, still go. If innocent and genuine, still go. You're in at Stanford Law and it sounds like you don't even have a regular job otherwise. This is a no-brainer in my opinion. But on the other hand if your condition is going to be exacerbated by the stress or if the health stuff is super serious and still ongoing, then maybe going isn't the best plan.

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Lawquacious
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Re: Is law school a mistake?

Postby Lawquacious » Tue Jul 31, 2012 7:54 pm

DefyingGravity wrote:Given my career goals, should I choose Stanford or Harvard?

Got into Harvard off the waitlist with $28K in need-based aid for the first year.
At Stanford, I received $35K in aid for the first year. Because the cost difference is so small and I do not have a geographic preference, I want to choose the school that will best position me for a future in business/consulting.

Need to decide by tomorrow.


I vote Stanford for quality of life reasons, to some extent placement reasons, and for financial aid reasons. But really it may come down to whether you would rather be in Boston or Cali for the next 3 years, and Harvard does have still have a bit of an edge on overall prestige (i.e. overall lay prestige).
Last edited by Lawquacious on Tue Jul 31, 2012 7:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.

DefyingGravity
Posts: 60
Joined: Fri Nov 25, 2011 11:16 pm

Re: Is law school a mistake?

Postby DefyingGravity » Tue Jul 31, 2012 7:56 pm

Lawquacious wrote:If not flame go dude. If subtle brag, still go. If innocent and genuine, still go. You're in at Stanford Law and it sounds like you don't even have a regular job otherwise. This is a no-brainer in my opinion. But on the other hand if your condition is going to be exacerbated by the stress or if the health stuff is super serious and still ongoing, then maybe going isn't the best plan.


Thanks. I am definitely going. My health has improved tremendously and my situation will not be exacerbated by stress, etc. The question now is Stanford vs Harvard for my career objectives?

DefyingGravity
Posts: 60
Joined: Fri Nov 25, 2011 11:16 pm

Re: Is law school a mistake?

Postby DefyingGravity » Tue Jul 31, 2012 7:57 pm

Lawquacious wrote:
DefyingGravity wrote:Given my career goals, should I choose Stanford or Harvard?

Got into Harvard off the waitlist with $28K in need-based aid for the first year.
At Stanford, I received $35K in aid for the first year. Because the cost difference is so small and I do not have a geographic preference, I want to choose the school that will best position me for a future in business/consulting.

Need to decide by tomorrow.


I vote Stanford for quality of life reasons, to some extent placement reasons, and for financial aid reasons. But really it may come down to whether you would rather be in Boston or Cali for the next 3 years, and Harvard does have still have a bit of an edge on overall prestige (i.e. overall lay prestige).


Right. I will be happy in either place (both have their pros and cons), but get the impression that Harvard will give me a bit of an edge for business/consulting (since I don't have a technical backround and feel like Stanford's edge is in tech/IP).
Of course, maybe my view of the Harvard advantage is a function of growing up on the East Coast.
Last edited by DefyingGravity on Tue Jul 31, 2012 8:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Mal Reynolds
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Re: Is law school a mistake?

Postby Mal Reynolds » Tue Jul 31, 2012 7:59 pm

DefyingGravity wrote:I just sent in my seat deposit to a law school on Monday and am beginning to get cold feet.


DefyingGravity wrote:A) Stanford


Are you kidding me.

DefyingGravity
Posts: 60
Joined: Fri Nov 25, 2011 11:16 pm

Re: Is law school a mistake?

Postby DefyingGravity » Tue Jul 31, 2012 8:02 pm

Mal Reynolds wrote:
DefyingGravity wrote:I just sent in my seat deposit to a law school on Monday and am beginning to get cold feet.


DefyingGravity wrote:A) Stanford


Are you kidding me.


This is from 3 months ago and your quotes are taken out of context. I am 100% healthy now and no longer have cold feet about law school, am just trying to choose between Stanford (my original option) and Harvard.

Mal Reynolds
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Re: Is law school a mistake?

Postby Mal Reynolds » Tue Jul 31, 2012 8:04 pm

Carry on then.

Now
Posts: 34
Joined: Wed Jul 18, 2012 1:44 am

Re: Is law school a mistake?

Postby Now » Tue Jul 31, 2012 8:33 pm

DefyingGravity wrote:Given my career goals, should I choose Stanford or Harvard?

Got into Harvard off the waitlist with $28K in need-based aid for the first year.
At Stanford, I received $35K in aid for the first year. Because the cost difference is so small and I do not have a geographic preference, I want to choose the school that will best position me for a future in business/consulting.

Need to decide by tomorrow.


the cost difference will be bigger when you take into account that harvard takes a bigger chunk out of summer earnings than stanford. a harvard degree might cost you 20K+ more than a stanford degree, and not sure that there is actually a harvard "edge" for what you want to do




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