my "should I go to law school?" thread

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shock259
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my "should I go to law school?" thread

Postby shock259 » Mon Feb 28, 2011 2:00 am

My background: I got accepted to CU Boulder (T1 regional school, best school in the small secondary market). I grew up in the area and have many family ties to the region. Further, I will be able to graduate with no debt because of some very fortunate circumstances. I graduated college in May of 2010, and I've been working as a paralegal for the ~8 months to get some experience in a law office before going to law school. I work at a small to midsize firm (about 30 attorneys) in DC.

Being a paralegal has been a very draining experience which has nearly dissuaded me from attending.

1) Attorneys are assholes. Without getting too specific, a lot of my job involves managing case files of participant's in health fund's that have had accidents and retained attorneys. My contact is always with the personal injury attorneys that are on these cases. And these guys are assholes. I dread having to talk to them all the time. They're rude and short with me (as everyone is in the industry really, due to the fact that billables are everything). I put off making these phones calls for as long as possible: I can get really nervous and flustered during them.

I also have to speak with opposing counsel when we are in litigation. They are slightly more civil, but are largely assholes too.

I think if I had a career where I had to argue on the phone each day like I have to do now, I would be extremely unhappy. As cliche as it sounds, I'm just not an adversarial sort of person. And my skin is too thin. I'm much more introverted. I suppose I may become more comfortable with it as I get used to it, but I don't think I will ever enjoy the phone calls.

2) I loathe the sheer amount of multi-tasking that I am required to do. It's only worse for the attorneys. Even with decent organization skills, I get everything confused with everything else. The attorneys have the same problem: it all starts blending together. I have enough work on my desk to last me for weeks, and I'm constantly getting new things in, but it there is a never ending pile. I have to prioritize the best I can, but I always feel like I am jumping from fire to fire, and it stresses me out. I do much better when I can work on something until I finish it, then move on.

3) I don't think I'm a "details" person. I'm much more big picture when it comes to projects and other responsibilities. I've gotten better at watching for details, but I still find myself getting annoyed when I draft something and an attorney gives it back to me because of an inconsequential formatting change. To me.. thiese minor things don't matter.

If you add these realities to the fact that I never had a solid reason for attending to law school in the first place, I think it is a bad mixture. If asked point blank, I still don't have a real response for why I want to go. I enjoy the analytical and logical aspects of my job and of day-to-day of an attorney, but I think I can get similar experiences elsewhere without putting myself through law school.

Thanks for reading. Thoughts?

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kapachino
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Re: my "should I go to law school?" thread

Postby kapachino » Mon Feb 28, 2011 2:16 am

Don't go if you don't want to go. I don't understand how you typed all that out and still can't figure out that law school isn't for you, at least right now. I wouldn't go if it didn't feel right.

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holdencaulfield
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Re: my "should I go to law school?" thread

Postby holdencaulfield » Mon Feb 28, 2011 2:20 am

I'm not going to tell you not to go, but consider the following:

1. The majority of lawyers, including the majority of plaintiff's attorneys, are not dicks. Most are cordial and courteous, even to OC's. You may have just dealt with some bad apples.

2. The workload will be as bad, or worse, than you described.

3. Multi-tasking is absolutely required.

4. Details matter a hellofa lot in all areas of the law.

On a more subjective note, it doesn't sound liken you have much to lose by going if you so choose because 1) you'll have no debt and 2) you're not leaving some awesome career or foregoing a better opportunity. However, if you can't picture yourself as a lawyer and don't know why you are going to lawschool...I would really recommend at least considering other paths that may interest you more.


Sounds like you have some soul-searching to do.

adt231
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Re: my "should I go to law school?" thread

Postby adt231 » Mon Feb 28, 2011 2:43 am

I feel similarly. What other career paths do you have in mind as an alternative?

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Veyron
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Re: my "should I go to law school?" thread

Postby Veyron » Mon Feb 28, 2011 4:53 am

If you have to ask. . .

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JG Hall
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Re: my "should I go to law school?" thread

Postby JG Hall » Mon Feb 28, 2011 4:56 am

If you're this big of a pussy, you'll get eaten up before you're even out of law school.

Hey-O
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Re: my "should I go to law school?" thread

Postby Hey-O » Mon Feb 28, 2011 5:07 am

People on TLS are such jerks. OP did all the right things and people are being neither kind nor helpful. She got a job in the field, researched her options, has an excellent outlook on money. Now all she is asking is if her experience is typical of legal work.

It sounds to me like you hate being a secretary more than you hate being a lawyer. Look at the attorneys you work with and consider their jobs. Would you be as miserable in that position as you would in your current position?

FiveSermon
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Re: my "should I go to law school?" thread

Postby FiveSermon » Mon Feb 28, 2011 5:13 am

Wtf multitasking is a pre requisite to law? I don't think I'm a good multitasker. I can't listen to music and read, etc stuff like that.

shock259
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Re: my "should I go to law school?" thread

Postby shock259 » Mon Feb 28, 2011 9:22 am

holdencaulfield wrote:
Sounds like you have some soul-searching to do.


Thank you for your reply.

adt231 wrote:I feel similarly. What other career paths do you have in mind as an alternative?


I've been tanking those personality/career tests. For what they are worth, they have been recommending hard sciences, engineering, and other 'data' type jobs. Unfortunately, I have a liberal arts major. But there are some other options that I could still do: archivist, information systems, security-related work (whether IT or analyst type of work), etc. I'm in the process of applying to a lot of them.

Veyron wrote:If you have to ask. . .


I know this is the going mentality. I figured it was worth asking because of the particulars of this situation (mainly debt free part).

Hey-O wrote: Would you be as miserable in that position as you would in your current position?


I'm thinking.. yes. Sure, I'd get paid more, but I would be responsible for a hell of a lot more. And do a hell of a lot more that I don't enjoy. Most of the attorneys in my office aren't particularly satisfied with their jobs (after word got out that I was going to law school, I've gotten lunch with a couple who have tried to tastefully dissuade me and give me their 'story').

FiveSermon wrote:Wtf multitasking is a pre requisite to law? I don't think I'm a good multitasker. I can't listen to music and read, etc stuff like that.


Multitasking in the sense of managing a enormous number of things at once. For the litigation work we do, there are two attorneys assigned to at least 30 active cases for one of our clients (active = in court, or about to be in court). And that's just one client. The problem for me with so many different things is 1) prioritizing, 2) never feeling like I can actually finish work or get ahead. It's like you are slowly drowning.

shock259
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Re: my "should I go to law school?" thread

Postby shock259 » Mon Feb 28, 2011 8:48 pm

Shameless bump for the evening crowd.

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Hank Chill
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Re: my "should I go to law school?" thread

Postby Hank Chill » Mon Feb 28, 2011 9:02 pm

There are certain types of law that will cater to your personality type. I know an attorney who hated everything that you wrote about and ended up doing some insurance work in which she made more money than she ever did at the boutique firm she left. Granted, she was basically a middleman for insurance companies and defense attorneys but who the hell cares; at least she has a career which is saying a lot ITE. I'd say there's hope OP, but you'll probably want to stay out of the courtroom. Talk to some attorneys who aren't dicks and do some soul-searching.

rose711
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Re: my "should I go to law school?" thread

Postby rose711 » Mon Feb 28, 2011 10:50 pm

I don't think you should go to law school just because you will leave with no debt. Law school is difficult and demanding, there is no point to put yourself through that just because you won't be burdened by debt. First you have to decide if law is what you want to do, and I'd say, based on your description, it really is not what you want to do. I wouldn't let the number of jerks dissuade you, because you will have to deal with jerks in almost any job. But if you don't think you will enjoy practicing, you shouldn't go.

On the other hand, you might be great at transactional work. If you are working on a big deal, you can focus all your energy and time on that project until it is completed. But most of those transactions will be biglaw and I don't know if you are likely to get to biglaw from CU, and more importantly, if you would like the demanding hours and stress.

Before you give up , maybe you should look at other types of law that are transactional or possibly trusts and estates, or elder law. Perhaps litigation isn't your strong suit but your personality could be suited for a different type of law.

rundoxierun
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Re: my "should I go to law school?" thread

Postby rundoxierun » Mon Feb 28, 2011 11:03 pm

The things that you described (detail oriented, filled with assholes, extreme multi-tasking) are prevalent in almost every high-level corporate environment. If you hate these things then you will pretty much hate the corporate lifestyle/world and it will be very difficult for you to do very well.

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rman1201
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Re: my "should I go to law school?" thread

Postby rman1201 » Mon Feb 28, 2011 11:04 pm

Wow. I don't have any substantive advice, but at least I can say you definitely aren't alone. I'm in the EXACT same position, but dealing with a foreclosure mill instead of Personal Injury. Every single thing you described is 100% the same here, I was going to post a similar thread. I put off the phone calls forever, much more analytical/numbers/science oriented, there's always 10000000 files waiting for me and I just have no idea whats going on with any of them. At least in this position (since its a mill) I've just assumed the paralegals/assistants get the blunt end of things since we have to prepare everything and the lawyers mostly seem to just sign things. And the worst part is the details oriented thing you described- I can go on all day about great political/legal philosophical ideas, but then I feel like an idiot when I have 20 files handed back to me when something isn't capitalized or the margins are off.
8 months here too even! I graduated in Dec and start in August....
So freakin weird.

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Spookyghost
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Re: my "should I go to law school?" thread

Postby Spookyghost » Mon Feb 28, 2011 11:05 pm

Keep in mind there are PLENTY of transactional law venues for you to explore. Real estate, wills and estates, the like.

rundoxierun
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Re: my "should I go to law school?" thread

Postby rundoxierun » Mon Feb 28, 2011 11:11 pm

Consulting is the absolute worst for detail oriented work and from what I understand corporate law is like consulting lite. The problems are 1) The people in these jobs are usually vastly overqualified for the work they do(this is especially true in consulting) so you kind of have to take pride in your title or the prestige of your company and draw some satisfaction from that. 2) Clients generally either over-estimate the value your company/firm can add to the process or feels forced to use you and is looking to criticize you. Because of this, everything has to be glossy and nice to give them confidence that you did the best job anyone can possibly do.

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PomasThynchon
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Re: my "should I go to law school?" thread

Postby PomasThynchon » Mon Feb 28, 2011 11:14 pm

shock259 wrote:My background: I got accepted to CU Boulder (T1 regional school, best school in the small secondary market). I grew up in the area and have many family ties to the region. Further, I will be able to graduate with no debt because of some very fortunate circumstances. I graduated college in May of 2010, and I've been working as a paralegal for the ~8 months to get some experience in a law office before going to law school. I work at a small to midsize firm (about 30 attorneys) in DC.

Being a paralegal has been a very draining experience which has nearly dissuaded me from attending.

1) Attorneys are assholes. Without getting too specific, a lot of my job involves managing case files of participant's in health fund's that have had accidents and retained attorneys. My contact is always with the personal injury attorneys that are on these cases. And these guys are assholes. I dread having to talk to them all the time. They're rude and short with me (as everyone is in the industry really, due to the fact that billables are everything). I put off making these phones calls for as long as possible: I can get really nervous and flustered during them.

I also have to speak with opposing counsel when we are in litigation. They are slightly more civil, but are largely assholes too.

I think if I had a career where I had to argue on the phone each day like I have to do now, I would be extremely unhappy. As cliche as it sounds, I'm just not an adversarial sort of person. And my skin is too thin. I'm much more introverted. I suppose I may become more comfortable with it as I get used to it, but I don't think I will ever enjoy the phone calls.

2) I loathe the sheer amount of multi-tasking that I am required to do. It's only worse for the attorneys. Even with decent organization skills, I get everything confused with everything else. The attorneys have the same problem: it all starts blending together. I have enough work on my desk to last me for weeks, and I'm constantly getting new things in, but it there is a never ending pile. I have to prioritize the best I can, but I always feel like I am jumping from fire to fire, and it stresses me out. I do much better when I can work on something until I finish it, then move on.

3) I don't think I'm a "details" person. I'm much more big picture when it comes to projects and other responsibilities. I've gotten better at watching for details, but I still find myself getting annoyed when I draft something and an attorney gives it back to me because of an inconsequential formatting change. To me.. thiese minor things don't matter.

If you add these realities to the fact that I never had a solid reason for attending to law school in the first place, I think it is a bad mixture. If asked point blank, I still don't have a real response for why I want to go. I enjoy the analytical and logical aspects of my job and of day-to-day of an attorney, but I think I can get similar experiences elsewhere without putting myself through law school.

Thanks for reading. Thoughts?


I'm in a similar boat and have many thoughts to share, but really have to get to work right now. All I have time for are stupid little bullshit posts, but off to the real world. I know everyone eagerly awaits the response of the prestigious PomasThynchon and his golden knowledge from the heavens...but seriously, when I have time later this week I'll write my livejournal entry...erm, novel...uh thoughts on the matter and what I'm deciding. As long as you're not starting law school in the next week...a kindred spirit will bare his soul...

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aspire2more
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Re: my "should I go to law school?" thread

Postby aspire2more » Mon Feb 28, 2011 11:17 pm

1) I've either worked or interned in three law offices over the past five years. The number of attorneys that were jerks were no more than the number you would expect out of the general population. I genuinely like all of the attorneys I work for, although I've never worked in a firm as large as yours. Try talking to attorneys that are not in that particular field. Perhaps through your undergrad's alumni organization you can find some other people to talk to who have a different perspective.

Also, be aware that there are almost no "perfect" jobs out there. I'm pretty sure 99.9% of all gainfully employed adults dislike some required aspect of their jobs. On top of that, consider that your weaknesses won't always be your weaknesses. I was very introverted when I first started as a paralegal. A couple of years doing the work and I find that I've adapted. It's possible for you to adapt too.

2) I know teachers, speech-language pathologists, social workers, non-profit coordinators, and even retail managers who feel the same way. There are other jobs out there that are considerably less stressful than being an attorney. There are also jobs that are just as or more stressful. There are so many things though that you can do with a JD that you may want to expand your thinking to include future plans outside of mid to large size firms with billable hours, assuming you haven't already.

3) "Minor" things will matter a lot. If that's a deal breaker for you, I highly suggest planning on doing something other than the practice of law.

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Veyron
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Re: my "should I go to law school?" thread

Postby Veyron » Mon Feb 28, 2011 11:52 pm

ITT: I don't like law. Should I become a lawyer because I can do it for free? Huh guys?

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PomasThynchon
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Re: my "should I go to law school?" thread

Postby PomasThynchon » Tue Mar 01, 2011 12:12 am

Veyron wrote:ITT: I don't like law. Should I become a lawyer because I can do it for free? Huh guys?


Meh, not quite. S/he doesn't like the office environment. My advice would be to find another legal position in another firm/field of law or otherwise and see what happens. If no, then bail.

grimfan
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Re: my "should I go to law school?" thread

Postby grimfan » Tue Mar 01, 2011 8:50 am

JG Hall wrote:If you're this big of a pussy, you'll get eaten up before you're even out of law school.


Internet tough guy here.

Future JD candidate trolling overachiever internet forum.

You're a real alpha male.

CanadianWolf
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Re: my "should I go to law school?" thread

Postby CanadianWolf » Tue Mar 01, 2011 9:18 am

For the most part, your original post shows that you do not enjoy paralegal work in a law firm with a culture that does not fit your personality.

Law school is much different than working as a paralegal in a high volume firm.
Your talents & temperment might be better suited working as a judicial clerk or other government work that requires a law degree.

Go to law school. Better environment & , for you, a better region of the country. I just watched the 1983 movie "The Paper Chase" about a first year Harvard Law School student. In one scene, a Harvard 1L is overheard on a phone call home stating that New York City law firms do not want to hire law students from New York. They want Southerners because they don't have to teach them manners.

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ach24
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Re: my "should I go to law school?" thread

Postby ach24 » Tue Mar 01, 2011 9:32 am

.
Last edited by ach24 on Fri Jul 31, 2015 10:40 am, edited 1 time in total.

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JamMasterJ
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Re: my "should I go to law school?" thread

Postby JamMasterJ » Tue Mar 01, 2011 11:51 am

Get the hell out of personal injury!!! Are there any types of law that fascinate you? Shadow someone in that field.
While it's great to find a free education, if you can't see yourself in that field, is there really any point? But seriously, get out of personal injury

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MTal
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Re: my "should I go to law school?" thread

Postby MTal » Tue Mar 01, 2011 11:54 am

I can get really nervous and flustered during them.


Yeah, you're not cut out for law.




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