Should I drop out?

(Study Tips, Dealing With Stress, Maintaining a Social Life, Financial Aid, Internships, Bar Exam, Careers in Law . . . )
southernlawstudent12

New
Posts: 1
Joined: Mon Oct 08, 2018 3:35 pm

Should I drop out?

Postby southernlawstudent12 » Mon Oct 08, 2018 7:59 pm

An introduction to OP

Hi fellow TLS'ers, I am a 2L law student at a strong regional state school in the T30. I am above median (top 40%) with Law Review. I have had 18 interviews (mixture of big law, mid-law, big four firms) but have only received 3 callbacks with no resulting offers. I also struck out at the advocacy team try-outs. I performed well my first semester reaching the top 20% but took a hit second semester with flat B's outside of legal writing. (*Self-diagnosis* Feeling pressure to improve to a higher place in the class, I tried to modify my exam strategy which led to me not taking as many practice tests and not memorizing the law well with an over-reliance on my outlines) The first semester success, along with my social network, allowed me to secure a quality paid 1L summer associate position in my small city hometown and, fortunately, this firm has offered me an opportunity to return this upcoming summer. Regarding my costs, I am paying half of in-state tuition due to a scholarship and my parents are covering my living expenses, so I will likely only graduate with $15K or less worth of debt if I use the funds from summer employment to cover my tuition money (perhaps with less if I can secure another job for the second half of my 2L summer).

Coming to law school, I looked at the legal profession as a solid pathway to upper-middle class, financial independence offering a way to make a living through employment or hanging-a-shingle for life based on viewing the legal career paths of many of my relatives and friends' parents. I still believe that to some extent, however I am deterred by opportunity costs and my new understanding of the legal profession as I will mention later. Despite the increasing technological, foreign, and alternative professional service competition to the traditional law firm model along with pressure for cost-cutting from corporate USA, resulting in the waning job market for law associates, I believe that one will be able to hang a shingle, practice in government jobs, or work in small law and maintain a comfortable existence into the foreseeable future (conditioned upon avoidance of a catastrophic debt load and the non-occurrence of a singularity event generating hyper-intelligent AI per Ray Kurzweil's imagination). I, however, am left wondering whether my personality makes me suited for the practice and what my opportunity costs are. Plus, the law school social atmosphere is a miserable condition pushing me to seek some relief.

My Personality

Throughout my undergraduate years and into law school, my interpersonal communication and public speaking skills in pressurized situations have always been inept, falling apart in classes, job and club interviews, and elections. I have considered Toastmasters as an option to improve those skills but have not gotten around to it. (I plan on doing this regardless of whether or not I continue law school) I feel as though these skills were critical to interview success and advocacy team placement, and my deficiencies in these areas were likely the cause of my failure. To be a good attorney, I know that these skills are important as well (to build business with clients, build a network of attorney support, perform well in trial advocacy, etc.) I have never had a problem with making friends and being social - I guess the issue is commanding respect in high pressure situations with my language. My natural core competency has been in solo-work with attention to detail, working to generate a piece of analysis of some sort. (hence law review and moderate grade success) I am reasonably good at communicating my results in a low pressure setting - it may be the social anxiety that affects me negatively. This introspection makes me feel as though I would be better suited at doing something along the lines of computer programming, data science, actuarial work, accounting, journalism, or even medicine. My dad has always pushed me away from doing back-office work though. I know there are places for back-office attorneys but my situation still begs the question whether another career is better-suited for me.

Additionally, considering that lawyers tend to be susceptible to depression, anxiety, substance abuse, etc. I worry that entering this field may be a bad option for me based on my family history. Long story short, I have a lot of alcoholism, and mood disorders in my family history in many individuals. I personally have never really suffered from serious mood disorders or had substance abuse addiction problems (despite enjoying a variety of drugs and alcohol occasionally) (my dad is a very stable person- I may have inherited his side) and have only recently felt anxious or depressed this semester, which I believe is situational due to the stress of law school. My parents have been suggesting that I go see a therapist but I really do not think that I am depressed. However, I am a firm believer in the apple not falling far from the tree, so I am concerned. I am a very competitive person, but also a self-conscious, emotionally invested yet socially weird person naturally so I fear that law may eventually victimize me with its demands on the psyche, its status obsessed culture, and its requirement for conservative, conscientious, straight-lacedness even if it hasn't yet.

Opportunity Costs

From a family with high expectations and seeing some in my life struggle with money, I feel a tremendous pressure to be financially secure. I feel as though my youth is the time to take risks and make mistakes but perhaps succeed. Law school seems like a good insurance policy on life in a lot of ways but I wonder if there is a better way to achieve this stability in this day and age. The lawyers I know all work really hard but only a very few are truly financially secure within my network. The most excellent ones in my small city hometown still work into their 70's. It appears that making big firm partner and keeping it for years or making really big settlement money in plaintiff's work are the only pathways to true financial independence yet are also extremely competitive. Starting a business, getting a prestigious MBA, going into medicine/dentistry by going back and taking classes/MCAT, getting into actuarial science/ data science/ computer science, all seem like more promising options that require the same work as being a lawyer but have better life outcomes potentially (the former two in risk taking prospects for the pinnacle of income achievement, the latter two for long term high level financial security with less risk in a better job market). I believe I have the intellect and the work ethic to achieve those other options and had I not partied so hard in undergraduate I think I would have pursued those options. Frankly, I am not passionate about the law and went into it because I felt as though I did not have any other options, I knew lawyers in my family and community that seemed pretty well-off, I got a decent LSAT score with scholarship money at my T30 school where I also went to undergraduate, and my parents put a lot of pressure on me right before I matriculated despite my expressed trepidation. I regret this after being debt free at graduation w/ a 3.9 gpa in finance at a flagship state school because I could have easily applied for other job opportunities and gotten one even if it wasn't the best job (IB, MC, or BigLaw). Fortunately, I am in very little debt and if I dropped out now I could pay down the debt with savings and be debt free. This financial dynamic makes the prospect of dropping out very attractive but I see the argument that it also suggests that I should just knock out the degree and move forward with my life afterwards.

Law School is a drag

I like law school from an intellectual perspective and I have learned a lot about the economy and the legal system that I believe will help me in my business and personal life; however, the law school culture is dragging me down. I am self-aware enough that I recognize that I may be imposing my negativity on my world but I do to some extent feel that my "friend group" are frenemies. I spent more time with my friends from undergraduate and my girlfriend than them first year and I think they think I am a gunner that isn't fully committed to the group (but seriously don't hate the player- hate the game). The ones that did worse than me make off-hand comments about me being on law review, how I shouldn't worry about shit (even though I am struggling in the job search), and the ones that did better always manage to slip in a word about their clerkships or Big Law SA's and always want to talk about what they are doing next summer. The worst on BOTH SIDES of the spectrum stare at me when I am in a suit for interviews and ask questions in either jealous or condescending ways. I avoid the job topic always but someone else always brings it up. Don't get me wrong some are great and are socially conscious (I have had a great mentor and some other friends) but others (most) are either extremely immature or sociopathic. I have a consistent dream/daydream of law students being marketed at a grocery store to recruiters like fruits in a bin with the irregular fruits being thrown out to mold and the perfect ones being embraced, only to be eaten and shat out by Big Law partners after being seasoned with 2500 billable hours and sleepless nights. I then usually get thrown into a c'est le vie mentality that human beings are naturally judgmental gossipers perpetually suspended within a dominance hierarchy borne from their evolved adaptions to tribal life and that law school isn't any different than any other human institution but then I wonder if it's amplified in law school or that that I'm imposing my own bullshit on perfectly nice people, which brings me back to the beginning of my train of thought. In short, law school is fucking with my head and I wonder whether a normal life would provide relief.

Conclusion

My main concerns when it comes to dropping out are that 1) my core issue is not my chosen profession but rather my soft skills like interviewing, public speaking, etc. meaning no matter what I choose to do I will need to improve those to be successful and its not the law that is causing me to be unsuccessful, 2) that whatever I choose going forward as an alternative to law school will be without my parent's financial support and that I may give up a decent advanced degree at a discount price to only fail in another field while incurring tremendous debts, fail in breaking into the field due to the blemish on my resume of being a law school drop-out or find myself clocking in and out as a stockbroker or commercial banker, and 3) that the law will be a secure pathway to a comfortable existence even if I don't love it and I should be content with what I have going for me (if I improve my grades, and have a little luck, I may be able to secure a BigLaw gig or FedClerk->BigLaw gig but that still doesn't change that I may get shat out anyways down the road)... but on the converse when it comes to staying in I am concerned that that I will find myself doing something that a) I'm not passionate about (that in the worst case could make me depressed), b) I'm not entirely good at (as evidenced by failure in advocacy competitions, interviews, mediocre second semester grades), and c) that does not lead to financial independence in the true sense (not having a mortgage for life/ working for life). I also am not sure whether this trepidation is just a result of me striking out at big law but it is making me question other options in my life. I feel like the subject of Peter Thiel's quote albeit on the outside, "I was working at a firm in NYC where everyone working on the outside wanted in and everyone inside wanted out" and I am not sure I want to lead that existence.

I know I will sound like an entitled prick that is taking things for granted to some but I would like to hear anyone's advice on what I should do. I want to do something with my life that at a minimum I am skilled at and will make me financially secure (I don't necessarily have to be passionate about it, though that would be a plus). Is law school the best path to this goal for me?

sev

Bronze
Posts: 172
Joined: Tue Jun 06, 2017 10:34 pm

Re: Should I drop out?

Postby sev » Thu Oct 11, 2018 9:31 am

I think you make a strong case for dropping out, although it's not clear you've thought through alternatives yet. You mention data science and accounting in passing--both of which seem like they could be excellent choices for you--but you don't really indicate whether you've dabbled and whether you've enjoyed it. Maybe take a class from your university if you haven't already? Or sit down and do some programming tutorials. I think you'll quickly figure out whether or not it is for you. You also didn't really mention if it was realistic to take the summer gig full-time. If you liked it, why not plan on returning even if it's not BL?

On a different note, it is permissible for you to just aim to make a living and have a normal life. I emphasize this because parents will always pressure you to get more prestige because, no matter how loving they are, some element of them wants to live vicariously through you. So I wouldn't try to get another advanced degree. Just see how far your 3.9 will get you. (Advanced degree --> debt --> locking you into a field that you don't know you want.)

Other advice: I read a lot of dourness in your post, even beyond the usual "law school isn't for me." That could be affecting your relationships and social skills. A therapist might be able to help. You seem like a reasonable person.

My only factual quibble is that I think you overestimate how hard it is to be financially independent. I don't know how much you've lived on your own, but as long as you're in good health and aren't tied down by kids or excessive debt, it's reasonably easy to make a living in a salaried profession that requires a specific set of skills in most places that aren't SF/LA or NYC. Speaking from experience here; you'd be surprised how much you can save off of even a "middle-class" paycheck. You've got most of a life ahead of you and that means time to build some wealth. Maybe check out "Antifragile" by Nassim Taleb.

mmac

New
Posts: 46
Joined: Sat Aug 11, 2018 11:48 am

Re: Should I drop out?

Postby mmac » Sat Oct 13, 2018 10:11 am

I definitely would not drop out. Work on your public speaking skills, etc.; they can be learned through practice. Most people don't like public speaking so you're not alone there. You may decide to switch to a different career at some point, but at this point you are through the worst of it in law school. Don't let anyone's snarky attitude determine what you do. I would stay the course.



Return to “Forum for Law School Students�

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 4 guests