Entering 3L year @ T14, don't want to be a lawyer. Now what?

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Lockjaw
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Entering 3L year @ T14, don't want to be a lawyer. Now what?

Postby Lockjaw » Tue Sep 04, 2012 12:38 am

I'm entering my 3L year at a T14 school and, as afraid as I am to admit it to myself, I do not want to be a lawyer. I'm just not interested in the kind of work (dense reading all day, analyzing individual rules and caselaw) that characterizes the profession. I worked at a firm this past summer where several summers including myself did not receive offers, but I don't think my disinterest in the profession is merely a reaction to not getting an offer; I have felt pretty strongly since the middle of my 1L year that it simply isn't the right career for me.

I want to pursue a post-bac, enroll in veterinary school and become a veterinarian. Several family members and extended family members are either veterinarians or work with animals for a living. I've worked with animals since I was very young, but was always afraid to admit that I wanted to work with them as a career, because I felt that I would be looked down upon by my peers (I went to a very pre-professional undergrad, where the pressure to work in New York is huge).

It's difficult to get advice from my friends at law school, because I feel that they would react the same way (i.e. looking down on me for not wanting to finish my law degree and work in New York, Chicago, etc.). However, I feel (and have felt, for a year or more) completely certain that I have chosen the wrong career, and fairly certain that I know what I actually want to do for a living.

My parents basically shut down and won't talk to me if I mention that I want to change careers (I'm not sure why, since one of them is a veterinarian). I do not know what to do, and feel afraid. Completing a post-bac and going to vet school will mean more debt, but at the same time, I know that a) there are lots of jobs in my field of interest (food animal veterinary science), and b) most students in my field of interest receive partial or full scholarships (because food animal vets are in such short supply). Besides, completing my third year of law school will also mean more debt (as least as much debt as the post-bac), and I'm not sure that I want to put a price on my own happiness.

What am I supposed to do? I'd like to take a leave of absence and look into a post-bac program. Is this a viable option? (I already know that my credentials are good enough to get into most pre-med/pre-vet post-bacs.) It's hard to get a neutral perspective on what I should do, which is why I'm turning to TLS. Please try not to quote my post, because it basically outs me and I want to delete part or most of it later. I really appreciate any advice you guys can provide.

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bk1
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Re: Entering 3L year @ T14, don't want to be a lawyer. Now what?

Postby bk1 » Tue Sep 04, 2012 12:42 am

How much debt have you already accumulated?

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prezidentv8
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Re: Entering 3L year @ T14, don't want to be a lawyer. Now what?

Postby prezidentv8 » Tue Sep 04, 2012 12:46 am

Edited, but:

Good luck!
Last edited by prezidentv8 on Tue Sep 04, 2012 3:18 am, edited 1 time in total.

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haus
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Re: Entering 3L year @ T14, don't want to be a lawyer. Now what?

Postby haus » Tue Sep 04, 2012 1:21 am

Are you already past the point of a 100% refund for your fall semester?

I suspect that you will not be able to find a med/vet program that you are interested in that will let you in this year, so if you were to walk away, do you have something of value that you can jump into right away?

Keep in mind your existing 2 years of law school have a limited shelf life. If you opt to complete your last year and earn your JD, you could likely walk away for 10 or more years and should you decide that you want to practice, sign up for a Bar review course and give it a go. But if you leave now, that option is likely not going to be available to you.

Lockjaw
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Re: Entering 3L year @ T14, don't want to be a lawyer. Now what?

Postby Lockjaw » Tue Sep 04, 2012 1:32 am

bk1 wrote:How much debt have you already accumulated?


Probably a little over 100 grand.

Lockjaw
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Re: Entering 3L year @ T14, don't want to be a lawyer. Now what?

Postby Lockjaw » Tue Sep 04, 2012 1:39 am

haus wrote:Are you already past the point of a 100% refund for your fall semester?

I suspect that you will not be able to find a med/vet program that you are interested in that will let you in this year, so if you were to walk away, do you have something of value that you can jump into right away?

Keep in mind your existing 2 years of law school have a limited shelf life. If you opt to complete your last year and earn your JD, you could likely walk away for 10 or more years and should you decide that you want to practice, sign up for a Bar review course and give it a go. But if you leave now, that option is likely not going to be available to you.


I can still get a 100% refund for another week or two. You make a good point about finding a pre-med/pre-vet program that I can begin sometime soon (so that I'm not spending my prospective year off sitting around, doing nothing and feeling sorry for myself). I could jump back into the job I had the summer before beginning law school, but that pays 30 grand and isn't exactly the way I want to spend my time. The ideal scenario would involve starting a post-bac right away. An added benefit of this would be that even if I choose to return to law school instead of becoming a vet, the post-bac would enable me to take the patent bar (which would, in turn, open up new job opportunities).

I really need to research how soon I could (prospectively) enroll in a post-bac, though.

09042014
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Re: Entering 3L year @ T14, don't want to be a lawyer. Now what?

Postby 09042014 » Tue Sep 04, 2012 1:44 am

You need to do research on whether a post-bacc is really necessary. Community colleges generally have all premed/ prevet for a fraction of the cost of a 4 year school.

If you do this, it might be smart to take that job, and do part time community college.

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haus
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Re: Entering 3L year @ T14, don't want to be a lawyer. Now what?

Postby haus » Tue Sep 04, 2012 1:50 am

You might want to take a look at Harvard's Extension School. They are geared toward working with non-traditional students, and as long as registration has not closed for the term, you may well be able to get a seat.

Although this is only relevant if you are really sure you want to walk away before you complete your 3L. Then again, Harvard will be there next year as well.

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haus
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Re: Entering 3L year @ T14, don't want to be a lawyer. Now what?

Postby haus » Tue Sep 04, 2012 1:57 am

Desert Fox wrote:You need to do research on whether a post-bacc is really necessary. Community colleges generally have all premed/ prevet for a fraction of the cost of a 4 year school.

If you do this, it might be smart to take that job, and do part time community college.

This is also something worth looking into.

Although I will say that the Harvard's Extension School cost are generally quite reasonable.

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sunynp
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Re: Entering 3L year @ T14, don't want to be a lawyer. Now what?

Postby sunynp » Tue Sep 04, 2012 3:48 am

There is absolutely no point in finishing your degree if you don't want to be a lawyer. Your life is for you to determine. I would line up a leave of absence while you can still get a refund. Even if you can't take classes until January, that is only a few months fr now. I urge you to take the leave.

It sounds like you've been letting what other people think of you define your life. Don't do that anymore.

td6624
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Re: Entering 3L year @ T14, don't want to be a lawyer. Now what?

Postby td6624 » Tue Sep 04, 2012 6:33 am

Lockjaw wrote:I'm entering my 3L year at a T14 school and, as afraid as I am to admit it to myself, I do not want to be a lawyer. I'm just not interested in the kind of work (dense reading all day, analyzing individual rules and caselaw)


I don't think that's what it has to be at all. I would suggest you at least look into some more small time type stuff that involves more client / opposing counsel interaction.

if that makes any sense. you'll make shit initially but eventually you could make decent money.

Reprisal
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Re: Entering 3L year @ T14, don't want to be a lawyer. Now what?

Postby Reprisal » Tue Sep 04, 2012 10:52 pm

Finish your degree. Work in animal rights law or as in-house for a veterinarian group. Or just throw that degree on your re'sume' and do whatever the fuck you like. You'll get far more questions about why you dropped out after 2 years than you will if you don't apply your excellent degree.

Vet school is ridiculously competitive and would take another decade of your life. It's too late for that if you want a family or to make paper. But there's plenty of room for advocacy or politics.

09042014
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Re: Entering 3L year @ T14, don't want to be a lawyer. Now what?

Postby 09042014 » Tue Sep 04, 2012 10:57 pm

Reprisal wrote:Finish your degree. Work in animal rights law or as in-house for a veterinarian group. Or just throw that degree on your re'sume' and do whatever the fuck you like. You'll get far more questions about why you dropped out after 2 years than you will if you don't apply your excellent degree.

Vet school is ridiculously competitive and would take another decade of your life. It's too late for that if you want a family or to make paper. But there's plenty of room for advocacy or politics.


Just do animals rights law bro.

Lockjaw
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Re: Entering 3L year @ T14, don't want to be a lawyer. Now what?

Postby Lockjaw » Thu Sep 06, 2012 5:38 pm

Reprisal wrote:Finish your degree. Work in animal rights law or as in-house for a veterinarian group. Or just throw that degree on your re'sume' and do whatever the fuck you like. You'll get far more questions about why you dropped out after 2 years than you will if you don't apply your excellent degree.

Vet school is ridiculously competitive and would take another decade of your life. It's too late for that if you want a family or to make paper. But there's plenty of room for advocacy or politics.

I really appreciate the advice. The problem with working in animal rights law is that I don't want to be a lawyer. I've done some very basic animal rights legal work, and have found that it's still a career based upon all the things that I don't like about practicing law (i.e. very dense reading and analysis of cases and statutes).

I am worried about the questions I will receive if I choose to drop out of law school after two years. But the truth is that vet school's not an outrageous proposition - I have a very competitive undergrad GPA (not to mention a great undergrad), and it will take four more years (if I do the post-bacc or community college program this year), not ten. Moreover, vet school itself isn't very competitive - or at least, it's nothing like med school (and besides, almost no one wants to be a food animal vet). I'd graduate before hitting 30. I'm concerned that if I finish my law degree, spend 10 years paying off my loans and then decide to become a vet, I'll be pushing 40 when I graduate.

I'm definitely trying to figure out what else I can do with a law degree (besides being a lawyer) that fits into the animal advocacy mold. (Even a job involving agriculture would be sufficiently related, since it would touch on issues concerning the care of livestock.) It's not that I'm completely opposed to being an animal rights lawyer, but as I said above, I just don't think that law is right for me.

09042014
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Re: Entering 3L year @ T14, don't want to be a lawyer. Now what?

Postby 09042014 » Thu Sep 06, 2012 7:14 pm

You can always go back to finish 3L if the post bac / vet apps don't turn out well.

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MarineLaw
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Re: Entering 3L year @ T14, don't want to be a lawyer. Now what?

Postby MarineLaw » Mon Nov 12, 2012 7:02 pm

Go to vet school! As much "situation triage" as the other posters suggest, like you said, at the end of the day you will still be doing something you hate. You need to go and become a vet.

Think about this, what life story would you rather tell your kids/grandkids:

1. Moderately successful. Went to law school. Had a moderately successful career. Hated what I did most days.
2. Very successful. Figured out halfway through law school what I REALLY wanted to do (a blessing and revelation most people never have, mind you), and have been happily treating heartworm infections and setting broken paws for the last ## of years. Yes, I owe Aunt Sallie a bajillion dollars, but getting paid doing what you love isn't really work anyway, so I guess I came out on top...

Or some better articulated version of that...

I think going to law school and staying in it is a far worse way to spend your days because you allow yourself the option to say "self, I HAVE a law degree, even though I hate it, do I really want to go through all that work to become a vet--maybe I should just work for a bit"? Now all of a sudden you're one of the unhappy masses buying "How do I change my career" books. Dropping out will force your hand a little bit towards vet school, if you need that extra nudge (and you may not...).

Also, from what it sounds like, you would probably find more personal satisfaction just being a vet tech, vice a lawyer. Maybe you should frame the question that way, would the lowest, most mundane form of working with animals supersede the job satisfaction you would get out of being a lawyer? If so, there's your answer.

Good luck!

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Lawquacious
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Re: Entering 3L year @ T14, don't want to be a lawyer. Now what?

Postby Lawquacious » Mon Nov 12, 2012 7:09 pm

sunynp wrote:There is absolutely no point in finishing your degree if you don't want to be a lawyer. Your life is for you to determine. I would line up a leave of absence while you can still get a refund. Even if you can't take classes until January, that is only a few months fr now. I urge you to take the leave.

It sounds like you've been letting what other people think of you define your life. Don't do that anymore.


I disagree.

OP: I think there is a point of finishing this far into it, and also that your no offer could be coloring how strongly you feel right now, even if it is true that you will be happier not practicing a traditional legal job. Although it is not generally wise to go to law school unless you want to be a lawyer, you have crossed that bridge, and the reality is that a JD does give a boost in many professional settings other than traditional practice (even if it is not wise to go to law school relying on any incidental boost in fields other than traditional practice). Also, I believe psychologically it is often prudent not to quit when in the process of completing a major project or performance (in this case the JD from a top school), even if there are legitimate exceptions for someone who realizes earlier on in the game (ie. as a 1L) that law isn't for them.

Good luck.

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LazinessPerSe
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Re: Entering 3L year @ T14, don't want to be a lawyer. Now what?

Postby LazinessPerSe » Mon Nov 12, 2012 7:36 pm

Wholly agree with Lawquacious. While attending law school without having an intention of being a lawyer is a bit suspect given the cost of attendance, the usefulness of a JD degree is not limited to a JD-required profession. For instance, many corporations have claims departments that work in-tandem with the legal department. A JD would be very useful working in that job, which would also give you a good footing to lateral in to the legal department when a position opened up. I can name several companies whose legal teams have lawyers who lateraled in from other departments or even other companies altogether. That doesn't mean it's the standard practice, but certainly possible and a good way to get a foot in the door if your goal is in-house somewhere.

Another example, this one a bit more personal. I personally am dead-set on JAG, but am fully aware that the numbers are abysmal for selection. I've packed a parachute with the JD such that in the event that I'm not selected for JAG, the JD will be useful in getting an officer commission in a related field, such as Intelligence, Supply Corps, or Health Administration. JDs are treated as advanced degrees by the military and increase your chances of obtaining a commission decently, considering many who apply for these jobs are right out of college with little-to-nothing else.

The pitfall of flipping the JD to non-legal work is clearly the debt load. You may lose out on that BigLaw salary (if you were even contentious for it in the first place), or other incentives for being a lawyer. For instance, Navy JAG (and perhaps the others) have statutes rewarding active duty JAGs with bonuses at set intervals in their career, provided the milestones are met. If you end up as a Navy Supply Corps Officer with your JD, you are not entitled to those bonuses. The doom and gloom on these boards regarding debt load is not without merit, but it's not like you'll be poor for life as long as you can take your college degree + JD + interview skills and market yourself as a valuable asset to employers. You have to ask yourself whether you believe the debt incurred in getting a JD will increase your odds of getting a job you desire substantially enough to merit staying in the JD program. It's perfectly fine to come out either way on that question.

stargazin
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Re: Entering 3L year @ T14, don't want to be a lawyer. Now what?

Postby stargazin » Mon Nov 12, 2012 11:17 pm

I'm with those who say you should finish your degree. Frankly, happiness is overrated. You don't want to be a lawyer right now, but that could change. You want to be a vet right now, but that could change too. How can you be sure that you won't get tired of being a vet 5 or 10 years into it? You might find it tedious to deal with animals' vomiting, fleas, worms, etc. day in and day out, and you might wish you were in a law office working on an interesting case instead.

thesteelers
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Re: Entering 3L year @ T14, don't want to be a lawyer. Now what?

Postby thesteelers » Thu Nov 15, 2012 12:32 pm

stargazin wrote:I'm with those who say you should finish your degree. Frankly, happiness is overrated. You don't want to be a lawyer right now, but that could change. You want to be a vet right now, but that could change too. How can you be sure that you won't get tired of being a vet 5 or 10 years into it? You might find it tedious to deal with animals' vomiting, fleas, worms, etc. day in and day out, and you might wish you were in a law office working on an interesting case instead.


this. exactly this.

Jimbo_Jones
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Re: Entering 3L year @ T14, don't want to be a lawyer. Now what?

Postby Jimbo_Jones » Thu Nov 15, 2012 1:08 pm

become a BAMF lawyer, bang hot chicks doggie style. Best of both worlds. UP TOP BRO

handsonthewheel
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Re: Entering 3L year @ T14, don't want to be a lawyer. Now what?

Postby handsonthewheel » Thu Nov 15, 2012 3:01 pm

Finish the degree. I know sunk costs shouldn't be considered, but you are almost to a JD and that can then go on a resume, can get you bar admission, can be attractive for some reason yet to be determined.

Also, not to be a pessimist, but are you even going to be able to obtain loans for a post-bacc and then graduate school after this? I looked into pre-med post-bacc's (if I was a trust fund kid, or didn't have debt from law school, I'd probably give a shot), and they are really expensive and I thought you needed to pursue private loans, which could be hard if you already have $100k in loans.

Just a thought.

Good luck!

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FattyMcFatFat
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Re: Entering 3L year @ T14, don't want to be a lawyer. Now what?

Postby FattyMcFatFat » Thu Nov 15, 2012 3:20 pm

Jimbo_Jones wrote:become a BAMF lawyer, bang hot chicks doggie style. Best of both worlds. UP TOP BRO

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_j9QeUoPOi4&feature=related

NotMyRealName09
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Re: Entering 3L year @ T14, don't want to be a lawyer. Now what?

Postby NotMyRealName09 » Fri Nov 16, 2012 5:14 pm

Just throwing this out there - getting no offered is traumatic, and something so central to the narrative of one's life (nascent career nixed before it began (which isn't true BTW)) can be difficult to come to terms with. Your apathy and certitude now are quite possibly premature - the event occurred relatively recently.

Also, you seem to speak about the practice of law as ONLY litigation based. If you don't like litigation, there is an entire different world of legal practice on the transactional side that has almost nothing in common with litigation.

tl/dr - finish, you've come too far, and time heals wounds.

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Doorkeeper
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Re: Entering 3L year @ T14, don't want to be a lawyer. Now what?

Postby Doorkeeper » Fri Nov 16, 2012 6:39 pm

Any interest in doing more policy-oriented work that a JD might be actually useful to have?




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