Are you all 100% sure you want to be a lawyer?

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Needdirection

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Are you all 100% sure you want to be a lawyer?

Postby Needdirection » Thu Jul 21, 2016 11:04 pm

I am applying to law school but not 100% sure that I would want to practice law for an extended period of time. Is it true that the law degree just isn't as flexible anymore? If I don't get a law degree, I have no idea what else to do with my career. I'm a 2015 grad currently working in media

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Barack O'Drama

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Re: Are you all 100% sure you want to be a lawyer?

Postby Barack O'Drama » Thu Jul 21, 2016 11:15 pm

Needdirection wrote:I am applying to law school but not 100% sure that I would want to practice law for an extended period of time. Is it true that the law degree just isn't as flexible anymore? If I don't get a law degree, I have no idea what else to do with my career. I'm a 2015 grad currently working in media



No longer as flexible as it was. The J.D. will act as a scarlet letter on your resume outside of law/law related. Other jobs will generally see you a defunct; as someone who could hack law--Not my words, a friend who left law after 2 years told me this. He eventually found a job as a teacher. I'm not sure if that was hyperbole, but I know he is really smart; hustled; not lazy. Top grades from undergrad, and good grades at a lower T14.

You say you have a job in media, but have no idea what else to do with your career. This doesn't strike me as someone who should rush into law school.


If you aren't sure, I would recommend against law school. What are you interested in right now? I say go get a job doing something you are interested in to try it out. If you are interested in law, I suggest finding a job at a law office. I worked at one for the better part of a year before I was certain I wanted to be a lawyer. It was much more boring than I expected and although I didn't do much besides write emails and answer phones, I did get to see what lawyers generally do. At least at a mid-sized firm.
Last edited by Barack O'Drama on Fri Jan 26, 2018 8:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Are you all 100% sure you want to be a lawyer?

Postby tzzzok » Thu Jul 21, 2016 11:16 pm

Needdirection wrote:I am applying to law school but not 100% sure that I would want to practice law for an extended period of time. Is it true that the law degree just isn't as flexible anymore? If I don't get a law degree, I have no idea what else to do with my career. I'm a 2015 grad currently working in media


If you have your doubts about becoming a lawyer, don't go to law school. Getting a law degree for a career outside of law is about as counterintuitive as changing your last name to "Wang" or "Kim" for undergrad admissions.

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Re: Are you all 100% sure you want to be a lawyer?

Postby Blueprint Mithun » Fri Jul 22, 2016 11:00 am

Needdirection wrote:I am applying to law school but not 100% sure that I would want to practice law for an extended period of time. Is it true that the law degree just isn't as flexible anymore? If I don't get a law degree, I have no idea what else to do with my career. I'm a 2015 grad currently working in media


Not having any idea what else you would do is not a good reason to law school. You're investing 3 years and probably a ton of money into a graduate program. If you come out of law school knowing you don't want to be lawyer, you've wasted a bunch of time, and have a credential that will only make you harder to employ for lots of entry level and non-legal positions (you'll be seen as overqualified).

It's not uncommon at all to be in your position - a recent college grad uncertain about your career path. But law takes a large upfront investment and serious commitment. Don't feel the need to rush into things. Think about what you enjoy doing, and what you're good at, and look into some careers that are at the intersection of those two things. If law is one of things that fits the bill, get some experience working at a law firm. Reach out through your extended network and talk to lawyers if you can - most of them won't sugarcoat the reality of things.

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Re: Are you all 100% sure you want to be a lawyer?

Postby mukol » Fri Jul 22, 2016 11:05 am

Needdirection wrote:I am applying to law school but not 100% sure that I would want to practice law for an extended period of time. Is it true that the law degree just isn't as flexible anymore? If I don't get a law degree, I have no idea what else to do with my career. I'm a 2015 grad currently working in media


As everyone else said, it's really not that portable.

I personally don't want to be a lawyer, but thought I would dislike PhD programs even more.

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Re: Are you all 100% sure you want to be a lawyer?

Postby eagle2a » Sun Jul 24, 2016 11:57 am

Don't go to law school unless you're 100% sure practicing law is what you want to do for a considerable period of time. I'm already fucking regretting it

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Re: Are you all 100% sure you want to be a lawyer?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Sun Jul 24, 2016 12:01 pm

mukol wrote:
Needdirection wrote:I am applying to law school but not 100% sure that I would want to practice law for an extended period of time. Is it true that the law degree just isn't as flexible anymore? If I don't get a law degree, I have no idea what else to do with my career. I'm a 2015 grad currently working in media


As everyone else said, it's really not that portable.

I personally don't want to be a lawyer, but thought I would dislike PhD programs even more.

Why didn't you consider other options?

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Re: Are you all 100% sure you want to be a lawyer?

Postby Hutz_and_Goodman » Sun Jul 24, 2016 1:43 pm

eagle2a wrote:Don't go to law school unless you're 100% sure practicing law is what you want to do for a considerable period of time. I'm already fucking regretting it


+1

It's only worth the $ and time investment if you practice for 8-10 years or more, and after that point it will be hard to transition to another profession

If you doubt whether you want to practice law it's very likely that doubt will get bigger

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Re: Are you all 100% sure you want to be a lawyer?

Postby BNA » Sun Jul 24, 2016 2:11 pm

I'm not sure I'm going to be an attorney. I wouldn't mind it, but if something better comes along then that's what I'll do. I'm in law school for the experience more than the opportunity. Two things make this perspective reasonable though. I live a year, or month, or day at a time and am happy doing so and, more importantly, school is free. No shot I'd be here if it was setting me back in any way.

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Re: Are you all 100% sure you want to be a lawyer?

Postby Mikey » Sun Jul 24, 2016 5:36 pm

BNA wrote:I'm not sure I'm going to be an attorney. I wouldn't mind it, but if something better comes along then that's what I'll do. I'm in law school for the experience more than the opportunity. Two things make this perspective reasonable though. I live a year, or month, or day at a time and am happy doing so and, more importantly, school is free. No shot I'd be here if it was setting me back in any way.

I get it's free, but you're in law school just because?

Barack O'Drama wrote:The J.D. will act as a scarlet letter on your resume outside of law/law related

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Re: Are you all 100% sure you want to be a lawyer?

Postby EnfieldTennisChamp » Sun Jul 24, 2016 6:06 pm

TheMikey wrote:
BNA wrote:I'm not sure I'm going to be an attorney. I wouldn't mind it, but if something better comes along then that's what I'll do. I'm in law school for the experience more than the opportunity. Two things make this perspective reasonable though. I live a year, or month, or day at a time and am happy doing so and, more importantly, school is free. No shot I'd be here if it was setting me back in any way.

I get it's free, but you're in law school just because?

Barack O'Drama wrote:The J.D. will act as a scarlet letter on your resume outside of law/law related


IMHO, I think the key concept here is that "law-related" is broader than we might think. There are a lot of corporate positions that might not be technically "JD advantage" but still are well-suited for a JD. For example, mid/large retail/grocery/hospitality companies have departments working in real estate acquisition and love to hire JDs even though bar passage isn't required, since it is contract-heavy.

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Re: Are you all 100% sure you want to be a lawyer?

Postby Barack O'Drama » Sun Jul 24, 2016 6:13 pm

EnfieldTennisChamp wrote:
TheMikey wrote:
BNA wrote:I'm not sure I'm going to be an attorney. I wouldn't mind it, but if something better comes along then that's what I'll do. I'm in law school for the experience more than the opportunity. Two things make this perspective reasonable though. I live a year, or month, or day at a time and am happy doing so and, more importantly, school is free. No shot I'd be here if it was setting me back in any way.

I get it's free, but you're in law school just because?

Barack O'Drama wrote:The J.D. will act as a scarlet letter on your resume outside of law/law related


IMHO, I think the key concept here is that "law-related" is broader than we might think. There are a lot of corporate positions that might not be technically "JD advantage" but still are well-suited for a JD. For example, mid/large retail/grocery/hospitality companies have departments working in real estate acquisition and love to hire JDs even though bar passage isn't required, since it is contract-heavy.



Those jobs aren't as prevalent anymore as one might think. There are tons of students from lower ranked schools who would love to have jobs that are law related" and yet, they do not...So one can reasonably deduce that these jobs aren't as easy to come by.

I think one thing that sums all this up is: Don't go to law school unless you want to be a lawyer. Just like you shouldn't go to med school if you don't want to practice medicine. Of course there are exceptions for both, such as going to Yale to be a law professor, or going to med school to enter medicine as a drug researcher.
Last edited by Barack O'Drama on Fri Jan 26, 2018 7:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Are you all 100% sure you want to be a lawyer?

Postby BNA » Sun Jul 24, 2016 6:41 pm

TheMikey wrote:
BNA wrote:I'm not sure I'm going to be an attorney. I wouldn't mind it, but if something better comes along then that's what I'll do. I'm in law school for the experience more than the opportunity. Two things make this perspective reasonable though. I live a year, or month, or day at a time and am happy doing so and, more importantly, school is free. No shot I'd be here if it was setting me back in any way.

I get it's free, but you're in law school just because?

Barack O'Drama wrote:The J.D. will act as a scarlet letter on your resume outside of law/law related


Not necessarily "just because." Probably a bit of self-validation, wanted a career change, and am always chasing new experiences. If I don't get a job I'm happy with after graduation, I'll just do something else. Maybe bounce to Peru and bartend on the beach Coctail style.

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Re: Are you all 100% sure you want to be a lawyer?

Postby Barack O'Drama » Sun Jul 24, 2016 6:43 pm

BNA wrote:
TheMikey wrote:
BNA wrote:I'm not sure I'm going to be an attorney. I wouldn't mind it, but if something better comes along then that's what I'll do. I'm in law school for the experience more than the opportunity. Two things make this perspective reasonable though. I live a year, or month, or day at a time and am happy doing so and, more importantly, school is free. No shot I'd be here if it was setting me back in any way.

I get it's free, but you're in law school just because?

Barack O'Drama wrote:The J.D. will act as a scarlet letter on your resume outside of law/law related


Not necessarily "just because." Probably a bit of self-validation, wanted a career change, and am always chasing new experiences. If I don't get a job I'm happy with after graduation, I'll just do something else. Maybe bounce to Peru and bartend on the beach Coctail style.



Do you my friend! I wish you the best! Not everyone is alway prudent, and that isn't always bad thing.
Last edited by Barack O'Drama on Fri Jan 26, 2018 7:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Are you all 100% sure you want to be a lawyer?

Postby FutureSuperLawyer » Sun Jul 24, 2016 6:55 pm

Of course its worth it. Rigorous peer reviewed studies have found that a JD dramatically increases your lifetime earnings, on average by approximately $1 million. This is true regardless of whether you practice law. If you want more information see http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm? ... id=2742674. They find a law degree will increase your earnings by $29k per year if you are a STEM major and 45k per year if you are a humanities major. Would you like to make an additional 45k every year?

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Re: Are you all 100% sure you want to be a lawyer?

Postby EnfieldTennisChamp » Sun Jul 24, 2016 7:02 pm

Barack O'Drama wrote:Those jobs aren't as prevalent anymore as one might think. There are tons of students from lower ranked schools who would love to have jobs that are law related" and yet, they do not...So one can reasonably deduce that these jobs aren't as easy to come by.


Graduates want jobs that they don't have. That's nothing new in any field. No degree is the golden ticket it was 20 or 30 years ago.

Barack O'Drama wrote:I think one thing that sums all this up is: Don't go to law school unless you want to be a lawyer. Just like you shouldn't go to med school if you don't want to practice medicine. Of course there are exceptions for both, such as going to Yale to be a law professor, or going to med school to enter medicine as a drug researcher.


I don't agree with this. "Going to law school" looks different for everyone. Some are spending $200k and some are spending $0. Some are depending on biglaw income, some are content going PAYE. Some want prestige, some legitimately want to be a pastor on the weekends and a PD 9-5 in suburban misdemeanor court. Some people just want to study law.

I appreciate your point but I don't think it's valid across the board. You could (and many do) extrapolate what you're saying to undergrad. But not everyone goes to college because they are depending on their degree to open career opportunities.

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Re: Are you all 100% sure you want to be a lawyer?

Postby EnfieldTennisChamp » Sun Jul 24, 2016 7:03 pm

BNA wrote:Not necessarily "just because." Probably a bit of self-validation, wanted a career change, and am always chasing new experiences. If I don't get a job I'm happy with after graduation, I'll just do something else. Maybe bounce to Peru and bartend on the beach Coctail style.


Yass.

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Re: Are you all 100% sure you want to be a lawyer?

Postby Barack O'Drama » Sun Jul 24, 2016 7:50 pm

EnfieldTennisChamp wrote:
Barack O'Drama wrote:Those jobs aren't as prevalent anymore as one might think. There are tons of students from lower ranked schools who would love to have jobs that are law related" and yet, they do not...So one can reasonably deduce that these jobs aren't as easy to come by.


Graduates want jobs that they don't have. That's nothing new in any field. No degree is the golden ticket it was 20 or 30 years ago.

Barack O'Drama wrote:I think one thing that sums all this up is: Don't go to law school unless you want to be a lawyer. Just like you shouldn't go to med school if you don't want to practice medicine. Of course there are exceptions for both, such as going to Yale to be a law professor, or going to med school to enter medicine as a drug researcher.


I don't agree with this. "Going to law school" looks different for everyone. Some are spending $200k and some are spending $0. Some are depending on biglaw income, some are content going PAYE. Some want prestige, some legitimately want to be a pastor on the weekends and a PD 9-5 in suburban misdemeanor court. Some people just want to study law.

I appreciate your point but I don't think it's valid across the board. You could (and many do) extrapolate what you're saying to undergrad. But not everyone goes to college because they are depending on their degree to open career opportunities.


Undergrad is not a trade/professional school like law is, I didn't say it was valid across the board, that is why I included the caveats such as professor and medical researcher.

Law degrees don't open up job opportunities is what I am saying. They open up legal jobs. Don't take my word for it just go on google and do some research. Or better yet talk to someone who is in HR at any of these jobs you think exist and see if they hire candidates with JDs.
I think there is this misnomer that being overqualified is good in the job market and it really just doesn't seem to be the case anymore. With a JD they think you'll leave the second you get an actual legal job. That, or as I've said, think you're defunct.

Great, some people want to be a PD. They would need a law degree, and thus should go to law school, right? Is this meant to argue against my point?

Going to law school does look different for everyone. But the things I've mentioned don't change with debt or any other circumstance. Going to law school if you don't want to be a lawyer is almost always a waste of money. time. or both. Opportunity cost is a real bitch.

Also, this thread was originally to give OP good advice and help them. We can talk about exceptions and outliers, but you shouldn't make a decision based on them.


This forum is so annoying because no matter how sensible a thing you post, someone will quote mine you and try to argue the most uncontroversial statements such as: Do no't go to law school unless you want to be a lawyer.
Last edited by Barack O'Drama on Fri Jan 26, 2018 7:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Are you all 100% sure you want to be a lawyer?

Postby EnfieldTennisChamp » Sun Jul 24, 2016 8:09 pm

Barack O'Drama wrote:
EnfieldTennisChamp wrote:
Barack O'Drama wrote:Those jobs aren't as prevalent anymore as one might think. There are tons of students from lower ranked schools who would love to have jobs that are law related" and yet, they do not...So one can reasonably deduce that these jobs aren't as easy to come by.


Graduates want jobs that they don't have. That's nothing new in any field. No degree is the golden ticket it was 20 or 30 years ago.

Barack O'Drama wrote:I think one thing that sums all this up is: Don't go to law school unless you want to be a lawyer. Just like you shouldn't go to med school if you don't want to practice medicine. Of course there are exceptions for both, such as going to Yale to be a law professor, or going to med school to enter medicine as a drug researcher.


I don't agree with this. "Going to law school" looks different for everyone. Some are spending $200k and some are spending $0. Some are depending on biglaw income, some are content going PAYE. Some want prestige, some legitimately want to be a pastor on the weekends and a PD 9-5 in suburban misdemeanor court. Some people just want to study law.

I appreciate your point but I don't think it's valid across the board. You could (and many do) extrapolate what you're saying to undergrad. But not everyone goes to college because they are depending on their degree to open career opportunities.


Undergrad is not a trade/professional school like law is, I didn't say it was valid across the board, that is why I included the caveats such as professor and medical researcher.

Law degrees don't open up job opportunities is what I am saying. They open up legal jobs. Don't take my word for it just go on google and do some research. Or better yet talk to someone who is in HR at any of these jobs you think exist and see if they hire candidates with JDs.
I think there is this misnomer that being overqualified is good in the job market and it really just doesn't seem to be the case anymore. With a JD they think you'll leave the second you get an actual legal job. That, or as I've said, think you're defunct.

Great, some people want to be a PD. They would need a law degree, and thus should go to law school, right? Is this meant to argue against my point?

Going to law school does look different for everyone. But the things I've mentioned don't change with debt or any other circumstance. Going to law school if you don't want to be a lawyer is almost always a waste of money. time. or both. Opportunity cost is a real bitch.

Also, this thread was originally to give OP good advice and help them. We can talk about exceptions and outliers, but you shouldn't make a decision based on them.


This forum is so annoying because no matter how sensible a thing you post, someone will quote mine you and try to argue the most uncontroversial statements such as: Do no't go to law school unless you want to be a lawyer.


Did I quote mine you? I don't know exactly what that means, but I just split up your comment so I could reply to two points separately. Sorry? I'm in the same boat as you, just trying to share my two cents about OP's question. I've read all the same articles as you and I've come to a different conclusion. I have talked to people who have JDs and work "non legal" jobs. We all have. This is all anecdotal.

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Re: Are you all 100% sure you want to be a lawyer?

Postby cavalier1138 » Mon Jul 25, 2016 7:36 am

EnfieldTennisChamp wrote:I have talked to people who have JDs and work "non legal" jobs. We all have. This is all anecdotal.


How old are those people you've talked to?

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Re: Are you all 100% sure you want to be a lawyer?

Postby Johann » Mon Jul 25, 2016 10:40 am

EnfieldTennisChamp wrote:
TheMikey wrote:
BNA wrote:I'm not sure I'm going to be an attorney. I wouldn't mind it, but if something better comes along then that's what I'll do. I'm in law school for the experience more than the opportunity. Two things make this perspective reasonable though. I live a year, or month, or day at a time and am happy doing so and, more importantly, school is free. No shot I'd be here if it was setting me back in any way.

I get it's free, but you're in law school just because?

Barack O'Drama wrote:The J.D. will act as a scarlet letter on your resume outside of law/law related


IMHO, I think the key concept here is that "law-related" is broader than we might think. There are a lot of corporate positions that might not be technically "JD advantage" but still are well-suited for a JD. For example, mid/large retail/grocery/hospitality companies have departments working in real estate acquisition and love to hire JDs even though bar passage isn't required, since it is contract-heavy.


yeah exactly. the jobs data shows that there are more JD advantage jobs today than ever. The problem is a law degree used to be good at proving you could read, write, and think analytically so you could go into strategy jobs, policy jobs, compliance jobs, management jobs, really anything. Today, it's not as common to do management or strategy jobs with a law degree, but there are a ton of compliance jobs out there and policy is still an option. So the number of avenues to go down have constricted considerably, but the few avenues to go down that remain have expanded with way more jobs. There are probably 5X-10X the number of compliance jobs today than in 2000.

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Re: Are you all 100% sure you want to be a lawyer?

Postby brinicolec » Mon Jul 25, 2016 1:16 pm

I have a strong passion for law but I wouldn't say 100% sure, simply because I'm not practicing yet. That probably sounds silly but my thought process is I can't truly know whether or not I LOVE something unless I'm doing it. I'm 100% sure I want to go to law school though.

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Re: Are you all 100% sure you want to be a lawyer?

Postby Hildegard15 » Mon Jul 25, 2016 1:44 pm

I personally am 98% sure I want to be a lawyer since I've worked in the field now for 2 years. The remaining 2% is the part of me that really wanted to get a PhD in Medieval literature.

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Re: Are you all 100% sure you want to be a lawyer?

Postby oidsedidy » Mon Jul 25, 2016 1:53 pm

Needdirection wrote:I am applying to law school but not 100% sure that I would want to practice law for an extended period of time. Is it true that the law degree just isn't as flexible anymore? If I don't get a law degree, I have no idea what else to do with my career. I'm a 2015 grad currently working in media


All of the advice you're receiving about J.D.'s not carrying over into other professions is solid- there is no reason to devote 3 years of your life- tuition costs aside- to become a lawyer if you don't intend to work as one. Now that that's settled, here is some general advice:

The world is full of people who were 100% sure they wanted to do one thing who are now doing something else. I remember feeling stung as a 22 year old when talking to a professor/mentor who told me I had no idea what I wanted to do when I was expressing my interest in pursuing a particular Ph.D. program. He was right though- as I got older I was less sure of that, and became more sure of other things. That was 7 years ago.

Few people have the luxury of being "100% sure" they want to do what they find themselves doing- try not to worry so much about that. Maybe focus instead on what you want your life to look like 5 years from now, and figure out how law school fits into that equation. That's what I did, and thus far I am pleased with my choice. Down the road, I wouldn't be surprised if I felt differently, but that's life.

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Re: Are you all 100% sure you want to be a lawyer?

Postby BNA » Mon Jul 25, 2016 2:23 pm

JohannDeMann wrote:
EnfieldTennisChamp wrote:
TheMikey wrote:
BNA wrote:I'm not sure I'm going to be an attorney. I wouldn't mind it, but if something better comes along then that's what I'll do. I'm in law school for the experience more than the opportunity. Two things make this perspective reasonable though. I live a year, or month, or day at a time and am happy doing so and, more importantly, school is free. No shot I'd be here if it was setting me back in any way.

I get it's free, but you're in law school just because?

Barack O'Drama wrote:The J.D. will act as a scarlet letter on your resume outside of law/law related


IMHO, I think the key concept here is that "law-related" is broader than we might think. There are a lot of corporate positions that might not be technically "JD advantage" but still are well-suited for a JD. For example, mid/large retail/grocery/hospitality companies have departments working in real estate acquisition and love to hire JDs even though bar passage isn't required, since it is contract-heavy.


yeah exactly. the jobs data shows that there are more JD advantage jobs today than ever. The problem is a law degree used to be good at proving you could read, write, and think analytically so you could go into strategy jobs, policy jobs, compliance jobs, management jobs, really anything. Today, it's not as common to do management or strategy jobs with a law degree, but there are a ton of compliance jobs out there and policy is still an option. So the number of avenues to go down have constricted considerably, but the few avenues to go down that remain have expanded with way more jobs. There are probably 5X-10X the number of compliance jobs today than in 2000.


Banks are practically auto-hiring JDs for compliance right now.



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