Should I drop out?

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Should I drop out?

Postby tagomago77 » Thu Sep 27, 2018 8:21 pm

I am at a T14 school with an above median GPA, but I ended up striking out during OCI and have continued to get rejected by firms. I'm not sure why, but apparently I'm doing something wrong. That being said, I've started wondering if it's worth paying another two years of tuition if I can't even get a job to pay back my student loans. There are jobs out there, but if I end up with a job I don't like or one that doesn't pay well – what's the point of getting a law degree, I can get those types of jobs without the JD?


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Re: Should I drop out?

Postby zyx321 » Fri Sep 28, 2018 3:38 pm

I am right at median at a lower T14 school, and I was exactly in your position up until very recently, so I understand exactly how you feel. In fact, I started a thread in this forum on a similar topic once my OCI outcomes started looking bad for me. I just received and accepted an offer recently, however, so the storm has passed in my case. However, I wanted to assure you that you are not alone. Moreover, I think it is completely rational to re-consider law school in this situation too. I know you can feel like you are crazy or a loser when you start to re-consider your options, but this is not true.

Here is my main advice.

1) Ultimately, I would advise looking into your school's tuition reimbursement at this point. If you dropped out today, you may not get any money back, or only a very small amount of money back - like 25% or less. In the event you would get no money back or a very small amount back at this point, I would at least stick around for this semester and only consider dropping out at the end of this semester if you have no job lined up.

In turn, if you stick around this semester, continue mass mailing - especially smaller and more midsize firms in markets where you think you have a good shot.

Smaller and midsize firms are still hiring. The firm I accepted at is a midsize firm in a great city where I have family ties, and the salary is very generous too. I applied to them just a few weeks ago, recently set up a callback, and then got an offer. Other midsize firms I ended up applying to wrote me back and told me they still haven't started looking at applications and wouldn't start doing so until the end of Sept. and early Oct. I even had 1 firm say they wouldn't look at applications until after Xmas.

Other pieces of advice here include:

2) Getting any kind of summer associate job is just plain hard I think. The market is saturated. I had to do 25 screeners and 8 callbacks just to get my first offer. I interviewed with one really big law firm hiring a ton of people and didn't get an offer from them. The other firms I interviewed with were more midsize firms only hiring very small classes - like 2-4 people. Once I got my first offer I just accepted it and withdrew from the remaining firms I was waiting to hear from (that was 2 - the other 5 had rejected me).

3) I think there is some degree of luck in the whole process and a lot you can't control. I had 1 person interview me that I am pretty sure was hung over from the night before. I had many people clearly not even read my resume. I also had 1 firm lose my updated resume and use an older version of my resume that didn't list my journal membership on it -- even though that firm required a journal membership to get hired. I also had several very weird people in my opinion too that I just didn't click with. Also, you never know if someone's mom or dad has friends at the firm pulling for their children and maybe that plays a role, or maybe the firm is looking for more URM students (I am not an URM).

So just know if you are striking out it doesn't mean you are a loser.

With that said, if you get a rejection email from someone, don't be afraid to ask them if you made any mistakes in the interview process. One of the partners at a firm I interviewed with emailed me the news that I wouldn't get an offer, and I asked him if he saw any mistakes I made in the interview. The partner was kind enough to tell me he didn't see any mistakes, and he just told me that the market is very saturated and super competitive. But at least I got some feedback to make me feel better.

4) If you don't drop out know and wait out this semester, also consider and try to figure out what you'd do if you drop out and explore non-legal options. I reached a point where I looked into getting a CDL and maybe considering driving a tractor trailer. I know that sounds crazy, but it made me feel better knowing I had some other option if I needed too (there is a big shortage of truckers and you can get a CDL pretty fast and cheap).

5) Without knowing your debt situation, how competitive you've been so far, other employment options, etc., it's hard to say if you should drop out after this semester if you don't get a job. You have to be honest with yourself though about your situation and how competitive you are.

In my case, I ended up interviewing across a broad array of firms in many areas of the country. I did 25 screeners with many kinds of firms: big law firms and mid size law firms and tiny law firms. I got 8 callbacks: 1 big law firm and 7 more midsize firms in different parts of the country.

In my case, I came to the conclusion that I had sampled enough of the legal market to get a sense of my strength, and, had I gotten no offers at the end of this semester, I think I was at the point where I was going to drop out.

However, these kinds of decisions are deeply personal.

Again, know you are not alone, and, unfortunately, there is no easy answer here. But I hope knowing you are not alone helps. The past few weeks for me have been horrible, and I completely stopped socializing with people at my school. I was very depressed. Even though I got an offer and came through the storm, I feel like a part of me has been scarred forever and I don't think I'll ever be the same again. I am also convinced that the legal education system is totally fucked up and inhumane.


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Re: Should I drop out?

Postby carsondalywashere » Fri Sep 28, 2018 3:51 pm

Only you will know the answer to this question. If you are big law or bust, then maybe. But your post seems to indicate it's not striking out that is making you want to drop out but fear of not getting a good job that you'll enjoy and help pay back your loans. There are other paths besides big law to fulfill those goals.

There are lots of other opportunities besides big law, and even that route is not foreclosed yet.


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Re: Should I drop out?

Postby QContinuum » Fri Sep 28, 2018 4:51 pm

tagomago77 wrote:I am at a T14 school with an above median GPA, but I ended up striking out during OCI and have continued to get rejected by firms. I'm not sure why, but apparently I'm doing something wrong. That being said, I've started wondering if it's worth paying another two years of tuition if I can't even get a job to pay back my student loans. There are jobs out there, but if I end up with a job I don't like or one that doesn't pay well – what's the point of getting a law degree, I can get those types of jobs without the JD?

I'm so sorry.

The good news is that, above median at a T14, you should still be able to land a (good!) legal job. Given your grades, IMO the most likely culprit is an interviewing issue (as you suspect). Above median at a T14 should be able to land NYC BigLaw at least.

A few questions:
  • Did you bid large class-size NYC firms during OCI, or largely/exclusively secondary markets?
  • Did you receive many/any callbacks, or did you strike out of all your screeners?
  • Did you do practice interviews with career services? Have you followed up with them to urgently request additional practice and feedback?
  • Are you mass mailing large class-size NYC firms now?
  • Are you also mass mailing firms in any other markets where you have ties (however remote)?
  • Have you informed career services of your situation and gotten them to bust their rear ends helping you land something?

It's not too late. NYC BigLaw is still hiring. You should be able to get a quality legal job if you keep hustling.

Best wishes.


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Re: Should I drop out?

Postby cam1992 » Fri Sep 28, 2018 6:46 pm

Don't give up. I was in a similar position to you, but I am slightly above median at a school right outside the T14. I went on 6 callbacks and got 6 rejections. Earlier this week I got a call from a firm I interviewed with at OCI for their corporate group (and got rejected from) and they asked me to come in and interview for their litigation group. I received an offer yesterday! The best piece of advice I received is this: it feels like everyone has a job, because the only people who are talking about their jobs have a job, but there are more people in your situation than you think. This made me feel a lot better!


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Re: Should I drop out?

Postby historyminor » Fri Sep 28, 2018 10:11 pm

I was in a similar situation to you at a top-10: slightly above median, but I screwed up a couple courses, and struck out at OCI (largely because I was unrealistic in my bidding/didn't bid on enough firms).

I ended up getting a job that summer at a small firm that almost certainly would have hired me after law school, had I not left school for a year to pursue a fellowship (a decision which also screwed my career early on, but as a personal life decision turned out great!)

After law school, I secured a 2-year fellowship, but they were very clear at the outset that it would never be a permanent position. Then I volunteered at a firm for half a year, and then got another paying job that lasted 9 months until the entity disappeared for political reasons. I finally started a permanent position just recently that offers much better job stability, and will help me take care of my loans

Sometimes I wish I hadn't gone to law school just because I don't have the same kind of flexibility I would if I didn't have the loans. That said, even though I screwed up or just plain got screwed for reasons outside of my control, things have turned out all right. I'm definitely behind my classmates in terms of earnings (probably making about $40,000 less than non-biglaw classmates who had regular, steady employment straight out of law school), but my savings are actually surprisingly good (better than some biglaw friends), I'm expecting to be done with my loans in another 7 years, and I've actually had the opportunity to work on some exciting things.

My advice to you is to be maximally flexible in what you're willing to do. Apply to smaller firms, don't limit yourself to any single geographical area, explore clerkships that people don't usually go for (state supreme courts in obscure states, flyover federal district courts, weird courts like Fed. Cl., Court of Appeals for the Armed Services, or Court of International Trade), and consider applying to agencies in the federal government that are growing. You haven't made half as many mistakes as I have (yet), and I think you'll do just fine.

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