Drop out of T14?

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Anonymous User
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Drop out of T14?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Aug 19, 2013 3:33 am

I can't be exactly sure but I'm probably bottom 10% of my class at a lower T14 school. My 1L grades are awful, with first semester being a lot worse than the second.

I want to know if it's worth sticking with law school before 2L starts shortly.

Reasons to stay:
  • I have a half-ride scholarship, which means I'll have a tolerable debt burden regardless of what I do upon graduating
  • Dropping out is too socially costly; friends and family would be utterly shocked and disappointed; classmates would think much less of me
  • The JD is a respectable degree and people (especially other professionals) just respect lawyers and someone who's gone through that process
  • Negative signaling in both career and personal contexts ("This person failed to follow through on a commitment. They're a slacker, a zero. Don't hire/date/work with them.")

Reasons to leave:
  • I value work-life balance too much to do BigLaw (not that my grades would even give me a shot). I want plenty of time each day to exercise, eat healthy, work on creative side-projects, and so forth.
  • Outside of BigLaw, all other opportunities are just as competitive ITE (seems like public interest and BigFed/gov is just as popular these days as BigLaw)
  • Law is uninteresting and tedious to me; I have other things I can stand to work on for far more hours than reviewing/drafting documents
  • I don't care about being a practicing attorney.
  • I feel demotivated now that I don't have a shot at the career track this profession is optimized for. I'm no longer incentivized to perform at my best, which is harmful in so many ways since one should always feel like they have a stake in what they're working on.

I didn't have much in the way of summer employment either. Should I cut my losses and drop out? Or just get the JD for its own sake? It seems tough to justify dropping out of a T14 with a decent scholarship even if I don't practice law after graduating. Besides gaining precious time, would dropping out be the right move?

cidergirl
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Re: Drop out of T14?

Postby cidergirl » Mon Aug 19, 2013 4:47 am

[quote="Anonymous User"]I can't be exactly sure but I'm probably bottom 10% of my class at a lower T14 school. My 1L grades are awful, with first semester being a lot worse than the second.

I want to know if it's worth sticking with law school before 2L starts shortly.

Reasons to stay:
  • I have a half-ride scholarship, which means I'll have a tolerable debt burden regardless of what I do upon graduating
  • Dropping out is too socially costly; friends and family would be utterly shocked and disappointed; classmates would think much less of me
  • The JD is a respectable degree and people (especially other professionals) just respect lawyers and someone who's gone through that process
  • Negative signaling in both career and personal contexts ("This person failed to follow through on a commitment. They're a slacker, a zero. Don't hire/date/work with them.")

Your reasons to stay seem questionable. 1) "Tolerable debt burden" is debatable, even with a half ride scholarship. I think it depends on what you would do after leaving; also let's not forget the opportunity cost of the next 2 years of your life. Not only are you wasting precious time, but also you should account for lost earnings and count those into the projected total cost of your legal education.
2) Would it really be socially costly to leave a field that you've realized is not for you? I think people will respect your ability to cut your losses and move onto something right for you. What kind of friends do you have if they would think much less of you for making the decision to leave a career path that is a huge waste of time and money for you at this point?
3) The JD is a respectable degree? ITE economy, debatable, especially if you end up unemployed.
4) I think you are misjudging what the decision to drop out signals to the world. I think leaving shows that you are a strong enough person to do what you know is right for you even in the face of pressure to maintain the status quo. I think it signals that you are a person that is able to adapt to changing circumstances (in this case, figuring out that law is not right for you after all) and choosing a career that is a better fit. (Yes, if you make quitting a habit, then that pattern of behavior will be a negative signal, but I'm assuming that is not hte case.)

It doesn't sound like you enjoy law school or legal work. Your grades and lack of motivation make it sound unlikely that you will find work that is not shitlaw. ITE a JD, even from a T14, does not necessarily translate into career options in other fields, or even give you an edge. To me, it sounds like a no-brainer that you should drop out. I wish you the best of luck in making your decision.

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haus
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Re: Drop out of T14?

Postby haus » Mon Aug 19, 2013 6:19 am

What seems to be missing from your analysis is what you will do if you drop out.

Perhaps dropping out is the best choice you can make, perhaps it is not. Do you have an alt career lined up? Would this require additional perperation? If not a career, how about a quality job to help you bide time? If you have an alt lined up, is it something you enjoy?

Good luck.

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rickgrimes69
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Re: Drop out of T14?

Postby rickgrimes69 » Mon Aug 19, 2013 8:58 am

Anonymous User wrote:Reasons to leave:
  • Law is uninteresting and tedious to me; I have other things I can stand to work on for far more hours than reviewing/drafting documents
  • I don't care about being a practicing attorney.


That's pretty much all you need to know. Cut and run.

dixiecupdrinking
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Re: Drop out of T14?

Postby dixiecupdrinking » Mon Aug 19, 2013 9:05 am

What the hell are you doing in law school? Drop out.

mr.hands
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Re: Drop out of T14?

Postby mr.hands » Mon Aug 19, 2013 9:32 am

rickgrimes69 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Reasons to leave:
  • Law is uninteresting and tedious to me; I have other things I can stand to work on for far more hours than reviewing/drafting documents
  • I don't care about being a practicing attorney.


That's pretty much all you need to know. Cut and run.


This. It sounds cliche, but do something that makes you happy.

When an "upside" is that your debt load is only 150,000ish, you know it's tine to go.

Randomnumbers
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Re: Drop out of T14?

Postby Randomnumbers » Mon Aug 19, 2013 11:03 am

rickgrimes69 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Reasons to leave:
  • Law is uninteresting and tedious to me; I have other things I can stand to work on for far more hours than reviewing/drafting documents
  • I don't care about being a practicing attorney.


That's pretty much all you need to know. Cut and run.

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ThetaX
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Re: Drop out of T14?

Postby ThetaX » Mon Aug 19, 2013 11:16 am

If you don't want to be an attorney for at least the next 10 years, then cut your losses mate.

born4law
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Re: Drop out of T14?

Postby born4law » Mon Aug 19, 2013 12:45 pm

You should drop out dude. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sunk_cost
Last edited by born4law on Mon Aug 19, 2013 12:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Anonymous User
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Re: Drop out of T14?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Aug 19, 2013 12:51 pm

haus wrote:What seems to be missing from your analysis is what you will do if you drop out.

Perhaps dropping out is the best choice you can make, perhaps it is not. Do you have an alt career lined up? Would this require additional perperation? If not a career, how about a quality job to help you bide time? If you have an alt lined up, is it something you enjoy?

Good luck.


OP here. I don't have something concrete lined up but before I came to law school I had taken a few programming courses and done well and thoroughly enjoyed it, and I was thinking about giving that a go full-time, maybe getting a masters in information systems, getting into project management in the software development field. When I spent time learning it, the hours and days would fly by. I'm looking at it through rose-colored lenses now that I've had this experience with law school but I think technology was the field I was always aspiring to but simply liked the idea of being a lawyer/professional.

When I think about my career, I want to work in a space for 30 to 50 years. There's a strong compounding effect when you practice a skill for that long and get familiar with the business cycle of a field over decades. I just don't see myself working in the legal space for a period of time like that. Better to make use of specialization of labor and hire lawyers as needed.

The problem is, I really do feel like I "get to" be at this law school, instead of "having to." It should be a privilege, how could I feel this way? Others would kill to have this opportunity. It disappoints me in this weird way.

dixiecupdrinking
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Re: Drop out of T14?

Postby dixiecupdrinking » Mon Aug 19, 2013 12:54 pm

born4law wrote:
haus wrote:What seems to be missing from your analysis is what you will do if you drop out.

Perhaps dropping out is the best choice you can make, perhaps it is not. Do you have an alt career lined up? Would this require additional perperation? If not a career, how about a quality job to help you bide time? If you have an alt lined up, is it something you enjoy?

Good luck.


I don't have something concrete lined up but before I came to law school I had taken a few programming courses and done well and thoroughly enjoyed it, and I was thinking about giving that a go full-time, maybe getting a masters in information systems, getting into project management in the software development field. When I spent time learning it, the hours and days would fly by. I'm looking at it through rose-colored lenses now that I've had this experience with law school but I think technology was the field I was always aspiring to but simply liked the idea of being a lawyer/professional.

When I think about my career, I want to work in a space for 30 to 50 years. There's a strong compounding effect when you practice a skill for that long and get familiar with the business cycle of a field over decades. I just don't see myself working in the legal space for a period of time like that. Better to make use of specialization of labor and hire lawyers as needed.

The problem is, I really do feel like I "get to" be at this law school, instead of "having to." It should be a privilege, how could I feel this way? Others would kill to have this opportunity. It disappoints me in this weird way.

You are thinking about this stuff too abstractly. There is no benefit to being in school to study something you don't want to do. Stop thinking in terms of "business cycles" and "spaces" and efficiency. That's no way to live your life. Figure out what you want to do today and tomorrow, and go do it, because no one knows what any industry will look like in 50 years. Until you figure out what it is you want to do, stop borrowing money to do other things.

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Icculus
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Re: Drop out of T14?

Postby Icculus » Mon Aug 19, 2013 12:57 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
haus wrote:What seems to be missing from your analysis is what you will do if you drop out.

Perhaps dropping out is the best choice you can make, perhaps it is not. Do you have an alt career lined up? Would this require additional perperation? If not a career, how about a quality job to help you bide time? If you have an alt lined up, is it something you enjoy?

Good luck.


OP here. I don't have something concrete lined up but before I came to law school I had taken a few programming courses and done well and thoroughly enjoyed it, and I was thinking about giving that a go full-time, maybe getting a masters in information systems, getting into project management in the software development field. When I spent time learning it, the hours and days would fly by. I'm looking at it through rose-colored lenses now that I've had this experience with law school but I think technology was the field I was always aspiring to but simply liked the idea of being a lawyer/professional.

When I think about my career, I want to work in a space for 30 to 50 years. There's a strong compounding effect when you practice a skill for that long and get familiar with the business cycle of a field over decades. I just don't see myself working in the legal space for a period of time like that. Better to make use of specialization of labor and hire lawyers as needed.

The problem is, I really do feel like I "get to" be at this law school, instead of "having to." It should be a privilege, how could I feel this way? Others would kill to have this opportunity. It disappoints me in this weird way.


Others also want to be lawyers. If you don't want to be a lawyer drop out.

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haus
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Re: Drop out of T14?

Postby haus » Mon Aug 19, 2013 1:24 pm

If you would like to discuss the career options in IT, feel free to PM me. I am a mid career InfoSec worker (approaching two decades in IT, about half of that in InfoSec, with a recently acquired Masters degree).

LeninLunchbox
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Re: Drop out of T14?

Postby LeninLunchbox » Mon Aug 19, 2013 1:59 pm

Everyone in this thread is saying drop out so let me play devil's advocate a moment. Yes, you're out of the biglaw running. But you didn't want to do that anyway. Now you say you don't want to practice at all. But what DO you want to do? If you have other good options lined up or likely, then yes, I agree with the others, drop out. If not, and especially if you think the things you are learning in law school will help you achieve your non-legal goals regardless of having a JD/bar membership you may want to consider staying. I can already feel the eyes rolling. "Yeah BS, learning UCC provisions isn't useful anything" etc etc etc. But only you can be the judge of this. Personally I want to practice. But, call me an idiot, I still think the stuff I learned 1L would help me no matter what I did in life.

While the others are correct that a JD is no longer a ticket to a non-legal job, this is a bit exaggerated. It does at least show your doing something "high level" for those three years. If the alternative is a McJob or something, I don't know if it's worth jumping out of a t14 law program. A better option might be to stay in for this year and hustle for the non-legal job you want while in school, then drop out as soon as you have something worth leaving for. One more year's (even semester's?) worth of 1/2 tuition might be a reasonable cost to learn a bit more law and avoid a black hole on your record.

Just a thought.

cidergirl
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Re: Drop out of T14?

Postby cidergirl » Mon Aug 19, 2013 2:15 pm

LeninLunchbox wrote:Everyone in this thread is saying drop out so let me play devil's advocate a moment. Yes, you're out of the biglaw running. But you didn't want to do that anyway. Now you say you don't want to practice at all. But what DO you want to do? If you have other good options lined up or likely, then yes, I agree with the others, drop out. If not, and especially if you think the things you are learning in law school will help you achieve your non-legal goals regardless of having a JD/bar membership you may want to consider staying. I can already feel the eyes rolling. "Yeah BS, learning UCC provisions isn't useful anything" etc etc etc. But only you can be the judge of this. Personally I want to practice. But, call me an idiot, I still think the stuff I learned 1L would help me no matter what I did in life.

While the others are correct that a JD is no longer a ticket to a non-legal job, this is a bit exaggerated. It does at least show your doing something "high level" for those three years. If the alternative is a McJob or something, I don't know if it's worth jumping out of a t14 law program. A better option might be to stay in for this year and hustle for the non-legal job you want while in school, then drop out as soon as you have something worth leaving for. One more year's (even semester's?) worth of 1/2 tuition might be a reasonable cost to learn a bit more law and avoid a black hole on your record.

Just a thought.


I think someone intelligent enough to get a half scholarship to a T14 school would probably have brighter career alternatives than flipping pancakes or asking "would you like fries with that?". But I guess ITE, one never knows. That being said, I don't think one year at a reputable law school necessarily counts as a black hole on one's record. I think OP should be able to spin the experience into at least a net neutral by explaining why they originally made the choice to enroll in law school and why they changed their mind after discovering law was not a good fit for them, but highlighted how ___ career is their true passion/a better fit/w/e is believable given the rest of their resume, prior experiences, etc. Also I think the decision to change one's mind and take risks shows a strength of character and courage that may be appealing in certain fields (e.g. entrepreneurial stuff). If OP enjoyed law school, that would be one thing, but given the OP's dislike of the coursework AND lack of interest in practicing law, it doesn't make sense to continue just for the sake of not quitting.

The continuing until OP is able to find something better is a good idea in theory, but I think the fact that 1) OP will have considerably less time and motivation to find something else while trying to bring up grades and keep up with classes, 2) I don't think continuing for even another semester is worth thousands of dollars, 3) I think it looks far better to realize law isn't for you and change paths after 1 year--which is perfectly reasonable--than to drop out after 2 years. I think dropping out after 2 years is not only a poor fiscal decision, but also makes OP look like s/he is unable to hack it. I think leaving after 2 years will be a much bigger red flag to employers than leaving after 1 year. But of course, that's just my $0.02. Best of luck, OP! I hope you make the decision that is right for you.

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Re: Drop out of T14?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Aug 19, 2013 2:25 pm

As someone who was in a very similar situation 1L (I was at UVA) but at least liked the idea of being an attorney and who decided to stick it out and graduate--leave now. It's not worth it all. The current economy is just not friendly to new lawyers and it has hit a point where there are really many better alternatives for a career. Making matters worse you don't even want to be a lawyer. Drop the hell out. Do you know how rough it will be going through 2 more years of law school then having to study like a maniac for the bar exam when you don't even want to be a lawyer? RUN don't walk away from this field.

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Re: Drop out of T14?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Aug 19, 2013 3:25 pm

Anonymous User wrote:As someone who was in a very similar situation 1L (I was at UVA) but at least liked the idea of being an attorney and who decided to stick it out and graduate--leave now. It's not worth it all. The current economy is just not friendly to new lawyers and it has hit a point where there are really many better alternatives for a career. Making matters worse you don't even want to be a lawyer. Drop the hell out. Do you know how rough it will be going through 2 more years of law school then having to study like a maniac for the bar exam when you don't even want to be a lawyer? RUN don't walk away from this field.


Would you say the same thing to someone with opinions similar to the OP but at YHS with $30,000 of need-based aid per year? I'm paying less than half of sticker price for HYS but realize that I have no desire to practice law. I love the theoretical class discussions, but dislike reading cases and can't imagine any practice area that I would actually enjoy, corporate or otherwise. I have a liberal arts degree and no substantive work experience prior to law school. I enjoy law school due to the classroom experience, extracurriculars and guest speakers even though my "grades" are not great. However, I'm almost certain that I would be miserable practicing law. Friends I've talked to about my dilemma insist that my school's brand makes the debt worthwhile. Do you think this is true?

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haus
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Re: Drop out of T14?

Postby haus » Mon Aug 19, 2013 3:38 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:As someone who was in a very similar situation 1L (I was at UVA) but at least liked the idea of being an attorney and who decided to stick it out and graduate--leave now. It's not worth it all. The current economy is just not friendly to new lawyers and it has hit a point where there are really many better alternatives for a career. Making matters worse you don't even want to be a lawyer. Drop the hell out. Do you know how rough it will be going through 2 more years of law school then having to study like a maniac for the bar exam when you don't even want to be a lawyer? RUN don't walk away from this field.


Would you say the same thing to someone with opinions similar to the OP but at YHS with $30,000 of need-based aid per year? I'm paying less than half of sticker price for HYS but realize that I have no desire to practice law. I love the theoretical class discussions, but dislike reading cases and can't imagine any practice area that I would actually enjoy, corporate or otherwise. I have a liberal arts degree and no substantive work experience prior to law school. I enjoy law school due to the classroom experience, extracurriculars and guest speakers even though my "grades" are not great. However, I'm almost certain that I would be miserable practicing law. Friends I've talked to about my dilemma insist that my school's brand makes the debt worthwhile. Do you think this is true?

You may well not desire a career in law, so the obvious question is what do you want to do?

Is your current path a help or a hinderance to that goal? And before you pull the trigger, spend a few moments to try to determine if the new goal is really something that you want more, or is it possible that you are stuck in the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence cycle.

Bebert
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Re: Drop out of T14?

Postby Bebert » Mon Aug 19, 2013 3:58 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I can't be exactly sure but I'm probably bottom 10% of my class at a lower T14 school.

Law is uninteresting and tedious to me; I have other things I can stand to work on for far more hours than reviewing/drafting documents
I don't care about being a practicing attorney.


These reasons are sufficient to justify dropping out. I can understand why the pressure from friends and family might give you pause, but you have to remember that most non-lawyers do not really grasp how bad the hiring market is. You have to trust your knowledge of your prospects over their unfounded opinion. For what it's worth, I was/am in a situation similar to yours, and I regret not having dropped out after the first semester.

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haus
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Re: Drop out of T14?

Postby haus » Mon Aug 19, 2013 4:09 pm

Bebert wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I can't be exactly sure but I'm probably bottom 10% of my class at a lower T14 school.

Law is uninteresting and tedious to me; I have other things I can stand to work on for far more hours than reviewing/drafting documents
I don't care about being a practicing attorney.


These reasons are sufficient to justify dropping out. I can understand why the pressure from friends and family might give you pause, but you have to remember that most non-lawyers do not really grasp how bad the hiring market is. You have to trust your knowledge of your prospects over their unfounded opinion. For what it's worth, I was/am in a situation similar to yours, and I regret not having dropped out after the first semester.

Now that you have had time to ruminate on the path not taken, what do you think you should have done instead of continuing on with law school?

Bebert
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Re: Drop out of T14?

Postby Bebert » Mon Aug 19, 2013 4:17 pm

haus wrote:
Bebert wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I can't be exactly sure but I'm probably bottom 10% of my class at a lower T14 school.

Law is uninteresting and tedious to me; I have other things I can stand to work on for far more hours than reviewing/drafting documents
I don't care about being a practicing attorney.


These reasons are sufficient to justify dropping out. I can understand why the pressure from friends and family might give you pause, but you have to remember that most non-lawyers do not really grasp how bad the hiring market is. You have to trust your knowledge of your prospects over their unfounded opinion. For what it's worth, I was/am in a situation similar to yours, and I regret not having dropped out after the first semester.

Now that you have had time to ruminate on the path not taken, what do you think you should have done instead of continuing on with law school?


Probably should have swallowed my pride and become a computer technician or something, maybe gotten a certification of some kind. I've always been pretty good with computers, but I guess I thought I absolutely had to do some sort of white collar office work.

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FlanAl
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Re: Drop out of T14?

Postby FlanAl » Mon Aug 19, 2013 4:38 pm

From my limited experience, 1L isn't a whole lot like practicing law. OP what did you do for 1L summer? If you didn't go into school for big law, what brought you to law school?

I would think that using this semester to try and take clinics and actually see if you enjoy practice (or at least the closest thing you will get in law school) and also enroll in programming classes at the school's ugrad or something to make sure you still like that would probably be more prudent. You'd also probably have a better idea of where you stand job wise and then you can drop out come winter break.

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Re: Drop out of T14?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Aug 19, 2013 4:42 pm

I have BigLaw/better grades and still have most of the thoughts in the OP on a daily basis.

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Re: Drop out of T14?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Aug 19, 2013 5:37 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I have BigLaw/better grades and still have most of the thoughts in the OP on a daily basis.


Ditto. I also have hypertension at age 30 whereas I was completely healthy before law school. Practicing law in a big firm definitely lowers your life expectancy. I plan to get out ASAP. It's not worth it to stay for whatever remote chance I have at making partner. There's no use being rich when you're dead.

Anonymous User
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Re: Drop out of T14?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Aug 19, 2013 6:19 pm

haus wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:As someone who was in a very similar situation 1L (I was at UVA) but at least liked the idea of being an attorney and who decided to stick it out and graduate--leave now. It's not worth it all. The current economy is just not friendly to new lawyers and it has hit a point where there are really many better alternatives for a career. Making matters worse you don't even want to be a lawyer. Drop the hell out. Do you know how rough it will be going through 2 more years of law school then having to study like a maniac for the bar exam when you don't even want to be a lawyer? RUN don't walk away from this field.


Would you say the same thing to someone with opinions similar to the OP but at YHS with $30,000 of need-based aid per year? I'm paying less than half of sticker price for HYS but realize that I have no desire to practice law. I love the theoretical class discussions, but dislike reading cases and can't imagine any practice area that I would actually enjoy, corporate or otherwise. I have a liberal arts degree and no substantive work experience prior to law school. I enjoy law school due to the classroom experience, extracurriculars and guest speakers even though my "grades" are not great. However, I'm almost certain that I would be miserable practicing law. Friends I've talked to about my dilemma insist that my school's brand makes the debt worthwhile. Do you think this is true?

You may well not desire a career in law, so the obvious question is what do you want to do?

Is your current path a help or a hinderance to that goal? And before you pull the trigger, spend a few moments to try to determine if the new goal is really something that you want more, or is it possible that you are stuck in the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence cycle.


Well, I've always wanted a lawyer's mind, but I never particularly wanted to practice law. I almost went to law school for a full-ride instead of YHS because I thought I shouldn't take out loans if I didn't even want to practice. I changed my mind because I kept hearing that YHS are most helpful for getting jobs outside of the legal profession (along with the most prestigious jobs in the legal profession, which I don't care about), so I took the plunge.

What would I do instead? I really don't know. Maybe do something entrepreneurial (what, I don't know), maybe get a degree in industrial organization (a longstanding interest of mine) or try to do something business oriented (another prospective interest that I know very little about). Given my background, I had a much better chance of getting into top law schools than of getting accepted to top business schools or I.O. programs. Since I've always wanted to go to law school (but to reiterate, not necessarily to practice law), I didn't fully consider how difficult it may be to bounce from law school to other worthwhile careers. I drank the "law is a versatile degree" Kool-Aid and now am starting to wonder if I should get out before I find myself miserable at a firm job I hate. However, if i can find a way to use my law degree to do something more interesting (to me), then I would like to finish my JD.

Honest feedback is greatly appreciated, even if it isn't what I want to hear. I really appreciate the input of TLS. Thanks for reading.




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