What it's like to dropout after 1L year

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formerlawstudent17

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What it's like to dropout after 1L year

Postby formerlawstudent17 » Tue Jun 19, 2018 12:53 pm

I decided to write about my experience of dropping out of law school because when I was trying to decide whether dropping out was the right move I found it incredibly difficult to find good advice or hear about another dropout’s perspective. If you turn to parents they will likely tell you to stay in school. If you talk to people who haven’t attended law school, then a lot of times they are going to tell you to drop out because they think law school is insane. If you talk to your friends in law school then they will most likely tell you to stay in school because that’s what they’re doing.

This short essay will provide a little insight to my experience with dropping out of law school and why I did it. First, I had a 3.4 GPA and an LSAT score of 158 (74th percentile). I applied to about 7 schools ranked anywhere from 18 to 75. I got a decent financial offer at a school ranked 58 to where I would’ve paid only 15k total for tuition for 3 years, and would’ve been set up very nicely to practice law in my home state. However, I also somehow got accepted to a school ranked 26 with basically no scholarship located out of state in a major city. The fresh out of undergrad me thought it would be the best to go to the best school I got into. So without any regard for the amount of debt I’d be taking on from attending a higher ranked out-of-state school in a major city I chose to go to the school ranked 26. “Oh yeah, you’ll be top of the class no problem and the debt won’t really matter because you’ll land such a good job” I naively told myself at the time. I really let the law school application game get the best of me. In hindsight, I would’ve made the most sense to go to the school ranked 58 and only take on 15k total in debt for 3 years of tuition.

Let’s flash forward to when grades came back after first semester 1L year. “Shit. Balls.” I thought to myself as 2 C+’s taunted me on my transcript. My GPA was about a 2.75. I quickly came to the realization that law school wasn’t quite undergrad. I had legitimately given my studies my all and had come up short at the finish line. Rather than be a “quitter” after that 1st semester I decided to take on another 25k in addition to the 25k from the first semester and run it back for another semester with a “new game plan” that would improve my GPA. I hit the books even harder. I spent hours upon hours studying that second semester, I did every required reading, and participated regularly in class. I felt incredibly confident after taking my finals at the end of the semester, and when grades came back I had gotten an even lower GPA than my first semester. It was at that point that I started to seriously considered dropping out. However, I went ahead and started my summer internship at a personal injury firm. I was incredibly bored with writing memos for some asshole of an attorney who would in turn make a shit ton of money off of me. Ironically, my supervising attorney actually got demoted to law clerk because he had butchered a case so badly, and consequently the firm had to let me go midway through the summer because my supervising attorney had essentially assumed my position. It was at this time I knew it was time to call it quits.

Was dropping out of law school easy? Absolutely not. Am I glad I did it? Hell. Fucking. Yes. I’m incredibly fortunate to be at a job that I work 40 hours per week or less and make 80-100k per year at the age of 25. Let’s revert back to what it was like to drop out though. I would be lying if I didn’t say that I was letting my bad grades bring me down. I think it’s about every parents dream for their child to be a doctor or a lawyer. So it wasn’t easy to put in a call to my dad, who is a successful personal injury attorney, and let him know that I was calling it quits on the law. “What the hell are you gonna do with your life?” he asked. “Well, I’m applying to jobs right now, dad.” I replied. Needless to say that response wasn’t very well received.

In addition to disappointed parents, I experienced a great deal of grief about the financial burden I had just gotten myself into through. 50k in debt seems like a ton of money when you haven’t started working a full time job yet. However, now about a year after dropping out I’m at a job working 40 hours per week or less and making 80-100k per year so I don’t even think twice about my student loan payments. And 50k in debt is certainly better than about 150k in debt had I finished school.

On another note, I was very fortunate to have made a great group of friends during my time in law school, and we still remain great friends today even after I dropped out. I also continued to live with a law student after dropping out. At the end of the day, if you’re worried about disappointing friends you’ve made in law school by dropping out just remember that your “real friends” (shoutout Kanye) will stick by you whether you’re a law student or not. You may feel that they judge you or think less of you for dropping out, but at the end of the day they probably respect the hell out of you for having the balls to drop out.

Finally, it can be tough to cope with the fact that you can no longer identify as a law student or future attorney. I think we often define ourselves too strongly by our career paths and dropping out may put you into somewhat of an identity crisis. Just know that there are plenty of people in this world who have no idea what they want to do—whether they be 18 or 65 years old. Remember that law school is a bubble and that you can still be successful outside of it. Don’t look at the other people in your law class who were ranked top ten and are landing 20k summer internships through a jealous lens. Be happy for them. If you’re dropping out because your grades were too low then just remind yourself that letters on a piece of paper do not define you one bit. Grades—and especially law school grades—are not indicative of intelligence, total earning potential, or even happiness. If anyone is interested in me providing tips for how to spin dropping out of law school into a positive thing during job interviews, then I’m happy to do that.

In summary, I’m not advocating that everyone needs to drop out of law school if they have bad grades. There are plenty of successful attorneys who didn’t make good grades in law school. I dropped out in part because I went to law school for the wrong reasons. I didn’t know what I wanted to do after graduating undergrad, and I thought that having a law degree would guarantee me a lot of money. While this may have been true for our parents’ generation, a law degree doesn’t really guarantee anything in today’s job market. Also, if you’re just going to law school for “the money” then it makes sense that you will likely hate the course material. I do find the knowledge I obtained during my one year of law school to be very beneficial for my real estate position. Additionally, I can appreciate how law school has taught me to “think like a lawyer” and that has helped me in many aspects of life. However, I’m incredibly glad that the law school chapter of my life has closed and that I cut my losses after 1L year instead of taking on an additional 100k in debt for the remaining 2 years of school. I hope that my perspective provides valuable information for those considering dropping out and that it aids them in deciding whether to stay in school or call it quits.

SomewhatLearnedHand

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Re: What it's like to dropout after 1L year

Postby SomewhatLearnedHand » Tue Jun 19, 2018 1:42 pm

"guys, did I mention that I make 80-100K a year working 40 hours a week yet?"

nixy

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Re: What it's like to dropout after 1L year

Postby nixy » Tue Jun 19, 2018 2:08 pm

I mean, yeah, but it’s still a useful story.

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totesTheGoat

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Re: What it's like to dropout after 1L year

Postby totesTheGoat » Tue Jun 19, 2018 2:42 pm

nixy wrote:I mean, yeah, but it’s still a useful story.


This.

The moral of the story doesn't change, even if OP was $100k in debt making $40k a year. The sunk cost fallacy is the sunk cost fallacy, no matter the specific numbers involved. Congrats to OP for making the tough, but ultimately correct decision.

formerlawstudent17

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Re: What it's like to dropout after 1L year

Postby formerlawstudent17 » Tue Jun 19, 2018 3:40 pm

SomewhatLearnedHand wrote:"guys, did I mention that I make 80-100K a year working 40 hours a week yet?"


Haha I mainly put that in there to show that all is not lost if one drops out of law school, but I certainly appreciate your perspective

SomewhatLearnedHand

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Re: What it's like to dropout after 1L year

Postby SomewhatLearnedHand » Tue Jun 19, 2018 3:45 pm

formerlawstudent17 wrote:
SomewhatLearnedHand wrote:"guys, did I mention that I make 80-100K a year working 40 hours a week yet?"


Haha I mainly put that in there to show that all is not lost if one drops out of law school, but I certainly appreciate your perspective


Was mostly tongue in cheek. Seems like you made the right choice. Congrats

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northwood

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Re: What it's like to dropout after 1L year

Postby northwood » Tue Jun 19, 2018 6:46 pm

Thanks for sharing your story... glad it all worked out for you, OP

omar1

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Re: What it's like to dropout after 1L year

Postby omar1 » Thu Jun 21, 2018 1:31 pm

Do you mind telling us what you do now, career wise? How you got there etc. Did you have any experience in another area prior to law school?

Congrats

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TFALAWL

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Re: What it's like to dropout after 1L year

Postby TFALAWL » Thu Jun 21, 2018 10:59 pm

I've been mulling over the past several weeks asking where I'd be if I hadn't gone to law school. I'd probably have a higher net worth (no loans from UG), I wouldn't have had to move across the country to attend a T-14 (distancing myself from my closest friends of 10+ years, who I'm just finally reconnecting with), and even though my salary would be 1/3, that figure is closer to 1/2 when you figure taxes -- i put half my take home to loans, so the end result would be a wash.

If I liked law, all of this would be worth it. But I don't. I've clerked, I've done the V-15 thing, by all means I'm a successful young attorney: and I wish I did something else.

The reason is law bores me, plain and simple. I knew this after first semester 1L. That's when I should've called it a day, sucked up the shame, and moved onto something else. I didn't.

The answer to your question is simple: if you don't see yourself doing this shit for 20+ years, then get out. Sure, dropping out will be embarrassing, but as my HS history teacher (who himself dropped out after 1L) said, the pain is temporary and you're real passion is knocking on the door.

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TFALAWL

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Re: What it's like to dropout after 1L year

Postby TFALAWL » Thu Jun 21, 2018 10:59 pm

oops, didn't see that this was a testimonial, lol -- way to to OP

midwestkid06

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Re: What it's like to dropout after 1L year

Postby midwestkid06 » Mon Jul 02, 2018 11:41 am

OP
I am currently at 55K in debt and thinking about dropping out. My grades were not sufficient to keep my scholarship, essentially increasing my COA by $40k. Putting my projected total from 75k (high but managable) to 115k.
I do enjoy the law and somewhat see an end game for the beginning of my career. But I also think its insane to go 115K into debt, paying off 140-150K for a law degree from the school I'm at. Even making 80-100K that is a lot of debt.
What problems did you face finding employment after dropping out of law school? I am 3 years post undergrad (BS - Finance) and have a spotty resume and then a year of law school. How did you explain or talk to employers about your choice?



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