Considering leaving law school - 1L fall starter - advice?

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Fireflier
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Considering leaving law school - 1L fall starter - advice?

Postby Fireflier » Wed Dec 09, 2009 3:28 pm

So, some background:

I know that law school is incredibly difficult, particularly your 1L year. I know that many people struggle with it. I've spent some time thinking about it though, and I'm really reconsidering whether law school is even a means to an end that I want - I'm not sure if I want to be a lawyer, or any other job that a JD would provide me. I'm at a top 10 school. I can honestly say I've been pretty unhappy for a while now, and it isn't due to exam stress.

However, I have a dilemma. If I left law school now, I'd return home and have a solid GPA with my political science degree, which I'd consider fairly useless in this economy (unless you're going to law school). I am considering applying for some other type of graduate school, but I'm not sure if I would have a shot in hell with my current resume (see other interests: psychology, education, and film as possible grad degrees). I was thinking of applying for TFA or some other volunteer position, since I am relatively young and it would be a great opportunity.

I'm having a really hard time weighing the benefits and cons of staying in law school (top 10 law school with a job SOMEWHERE available, but it might not be what I want for myself) versus going home (possibly finding something I love to do, but in the current economy and without a strong background to go on).

Any advice? Similar thoughts?

I'd appreciate any help. Thanks again.

gollymolly
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Re: Considering leaving law school - 1L fall starter - advice?

Postby gollymolly » Wed Dec 09, 2009 3:37 pm

I do think that if you're absolutely certain you don't want to be a lawyer, you should definitely get out while the gettin is good.

If you're just not sure, I think you should stick it out a full year and see how you feel about your summer job. Law practice is a lot different than law school. This comes as a nasty surprise to some people, it may work to your benefit.

NYU2011
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Re: Considering leaving law school - 1L fall starter - advice?

Postby NYU2011 » Wed Dec 09, 2009 3:39 pm

gollymolly wrote:I do think that if you're absolutely certain you don't want to be a lawyer, you should definitely get out while the gettin is good.

If you're just not sure, I think you should stick it out a full year and see how you feel about your summer job. Law practice is a lot different than law school. This comes as a nasty surprise to some people, it may work to your benefit.


Exactly what I was going to say.

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Marmot
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Re: Considering leaving law school - 1L fall starter - advice?

Postby Marmot » Wed Dec 09, 2009 3:42 pm

Factors to consider:
- What are your grades this semester?
- Do you actually have to return home if you don't attend law school?
- Are there any mildly interesting jobs you can get with your current resume?
- Why did you want to go to law school in the first place?
- Can I have your spot if you leave?

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mikeytwoshoes
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Re: Considering leaving law school - 1L fall starter - advice?

Postby mikeytwoshoes » Wed Dec 09, 2009 3:44 pm

Consider the effects dropping out will have on your future career. Do you think future employers will see you as dedicated and decisive? If not, do you have a strong explanation for your action. This decision will follow you for life. If you just can't find something you like in the law, you could probably explain that to interviewers.

nycparalegal
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Re: Considering leaving law school - 1L fall starter - advice?

Postby nycparalegal » Wed Dec 09, 2009 3:50 pm

If you don't like it. Get out. The practice of law is different but lots of people hate it and quit.

I think the OP needs some time in the private sector out of school to figure out his options. Although, if you quit law school, how much of your tuition is given back to you at this point?

If you don't get it back then I say stick it out until the summer and see how you like your internship.

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missvik218
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Re: Considering leaving law school - 1L fall starter - advice?

Postby missvik218 » Wed Dec 09, 2009 3:53 pm

Marmot wrote:- Can I have your spot if you leave?

Hahaha, +1

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GATORTIM
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Re: Considering leaving law school - 1L fall starter - advice?

Postby GATORTIM » Wed Dec 09, 2009 3:53 pm

If you are fortunate enough to get into a top 10, I think it would be in your best interest to stick it out. It's only 2 and 1/2 more years. Make some friends and don't focus on what you will do when you get out too much. Just make good grades, have fun and enjoy. I know many on here don't think LS will open "non-attorney" doors, but I really believe you will be in a much better situation with your T-10 JD versus a poli-sci degree. Focus on grades, networking and enjoying your time there....

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jks289
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Re: Considering leaving law school - 1L fall starter - advice?

Postby jks289 » Wed Dec 09, 2009 3:58 pm

Is it possible to take a leave of absence after this year? If you are sure your unhappiness is related to not wanting to be a lawyer than I agree you should get out before racking up more debt. But maybe it is just general life transition unhappiness, or not being the smartest person in the room for the first time? It's a BIG decision, so take your time with it. Good luck.

Oblomov
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Re: Considering leaving law school - 1L fall starter - advice?

Postby Oblomov » Wed Dec 09, 2009 4:06 pm

jks289 wrote:Is it possible to take a leave of absence after this year? If you are sure your unhappiness is related to not wanting to be a lawyer than I agree you should get out before racking up more debt. But maybe it is just general life transition unhappiness, or not being the smartest person in the room for the first time? It's a BIG decision, so take your time with it. Good luck.


I support this proposal.

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Georgiana
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Re: Considering leaving law school - 1L fall starter - advice?

Postby Georgiana » Wed Dec 09, 2009 4:24 pm

jks289 wrote:Is it possible to take a leave of absence after this year? If you are sure your unhappiness is related to not wanting to be a lawyer than I agree you should get out before racking up more debt. But maybe it is just general life transition unhappiness, or not being the smartest person in the room for the first time? It's a BIG decision, so take your time with it. Good luck.

This is definitely possible, I know at least two people in my class that took some time off to figure out life. Finish out the semester, think about what you want, talk to your dean of students, and work out a plan. Don't make a decision you'll regret :)

LurkerNoMore
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Re: Considering leaving law school - 1L fall starter - advice?

Postby LurkerNoMore » Wed Dec 09, 2009 4:49 pm

mikeytwoshoes wrote:Consider the effects dropping out will have on your future career. Do you think future employers will see you as dedicated and decisive? If not, do you have a strong explanation for your action. This decision will follow you for life. If you just can't find something you like in the law, you could probably explain that to interviewers.


This is not a decision that will follow OP around for life. It's barely a blip. There is no problem going to a top law school and then giving an employer a cogent reason for not continuing. There is all sorts of positive spin potential. After the first job, it is doubtful any future employer would need to know about the decision.

GATORTIM wrote:If you are fortunate enough to get into a top 10, I think it would be in your best interest to stick it out. It's only 2 and 1/2 more years. Make some friends and don't focus on what you will do when you get out too much. Just make good grades, have fun and enjoy. I know many on here don't think LS will open "non-attorney" doors, but I really believe you will be in a much better situation with your T-10 JD versus a poli-sci degree. Focus on grades, networking and enjoying your time there....


I completely disagree with this -- taking out law school loans pushes one into a legal career whether one wants it or not. There are few career paths that will pay salaries high enough, fast enough to service law school debt. Law school isn't going to open up more jobs out of the gate than networking plus some other path will. If OP doesn't want to do legal work, he shouldn't handcuff himself to it with another couple of years of debt.

I agree with the posters that have suggested that OP should decide if he is 100% certain he doesn't want to practice or not. If the OP knows that he doesn't want to, then drop out now. If he holds open the possibility that he can find your path with a JD, then he should finish out the year, work this summer, and make the decision then. That decision could be to drop out, continue with LS, or take a leave of absence to do other work (like TFA) for a year or so.

Fireflier
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Re: Considering leaving law school - 1L fall starter - advice?

Postby Fireflier » Wed Dec 09, 2009 4:56 pm

Thanks for the advice all. I'd reply to more questions, but I'm in the middle of doing practice exams for tomorrow.

One quick question - do schools allow a leave of absence after one semester?

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Georgiana
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Re: Considering leaving law school - 1L fall starter - advice?

Postby Georgiana » Wed Dec 09, 2009 4:58 pm

Fireflier wrote:Thanks for the advice all. I'd reply to more questions, but I'm in the middle of doing practice exams for tomorrow.

One quick question - do schools allow a leave of absence after one semester?

I have a friend who left toward the end of 2nd semester. He is starting 2nd semester 1L again in Jan. I'm pretty sure it's a very case-by-case thing.

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ggocat
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Re: Considering leaving law school - 1L fall starter - advice?

Postby ggocat » Wed Dec 09, 2009 5:24 pm

gollymolly wrote:If you're just not sure, I think you should stick it out a full year and see how you feel about your summer job. Law practice is a lot different than law school. This comes as a nasty surprise to some people, it may work to your benefit.

+1, IMO, law school is not enjoyable at all, but legal practice is.

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CE2JD
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Re: Considering leaving law school - 1L fall starter - advice?

Postby CE2JD » Wed Dec 09, 2009 5:31 pm

It you're not sure, stay.

If you're sure you don't want to be a lawyer. GTFO.

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Kohinoor
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Re: Considering leaving law school - 1L fall starter - advice?

Postby Kohinoor » Wed Dec 09, 2009 5:32 pm

Stay but purposely bomb your exams.

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kurama20
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Re: Considering leaving law school - 1L fall starter - advice?

Postby kurama20 » Wed Dec 09, 2009 5:35 pm

OP exactly what do you want to do? If you don't know at all I would be slow to just quit before you even make it through an entire semester--especially since you are at a top 10.

awesomepossum
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Re: Considering leaving law school - 1L fall starter - advice?

Postby awesomepossum » Wed Dec 09, 2009 5:36 pm

Sounds like a Michigan student. Who else would say "fall starter?"

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joobacca
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Re: Considering leaving law school - 1L fall starter - advice?

Postby joobacca » Wed Dec 09, 2009 5:37 pm

i would talk to my parents about it
and perhaps even professors, but i generally find them not able to relate to the average student since almost all of them seem to love the law and excelled in law school

Snooker
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Re: Considering leaving law school - 1L fall starter - advice?

Postby Snooker » Wed Dec 09, 2009 7:23 pm

The political science majors I know always get a shock when they enter law school. Poli Sci is a popular bandwagon into law school, but what you learn to do in the major seems a lot different from the law school. Going to law school simply because you think you have no choice is desperation and will probably lead to misery.

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dood
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Re: Considering leaving law school - 1L fall starter - advice?

Postby dood » Wed Dec 09, 2009 8:14 pm

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Last edited by dood on Tue Jun 29, 2010 8:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.

linquest
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Re: Considering leaving law school - 1L fall starter - advice?

Postby linquest » Thu Dec 10, 2009 5:24 pm

Fireflier wrote:One quick question - do schools allow a leave of absence after one semester?


I was able to, but it depends on your school's policies.

LurkerNoMore wrote:
mikeytwoshoes wrote:Consider the effects dropping out will have on your future career. Do you think future employers will see you as dedicated and decisive? If not, do you have a strong explanation for your action. This decision will follow you for life. If you just can't find something you like in the law, you could probably explain that to interviewers.


This is not a decision that will follow OP around for life. It's barely a blip. There is no problem going to a top law school and then giving an employer a cogent reason for not continuing. There is all sorts of positive spin potential. After the first job, it is doubtful any future employer would need to know about the decision.

GATORTIM wrote:If you are fortunate enough to get into a top 10, I think it would be in your best interest to stick it out. It's only 2 and 1/2 more years. Make some friends and don't focus on what you will do when you get out too much. Just make good grades, have fun and enjoy. I know many on here don't think LS will open "non-attorney" doors, but I really believe you will be in a much better situation with your T-10 JD versus a poli-sci degree. Focus on grades, networking and enjoying your time there....


I completely disagree with this -- taking out law school loans pushes one into a legal career whether one wants it or not. There are few career paths that will pay salaries high enough, fast enough to service law school debt. Law school isn't going to open up more jobs out of the gate than networking plus some other path will. If OP doesn't want to do legal work, he shouldn't handcuff himself to it with another couple of years of debt.

I agree with the posters that have suggested that OP should decide if he is 100% certain he doesn't want to practice or not. If the OP knows that he doesn't want to, then drop out now. If he holds open the possibility that he can find your path with a JD, then he should finish out the year, work this summer, and make the decision then. That decision could be to drop out, continue with LS, or take a leave of absence to do other work (like TFA) for a year or so.


+1

My advice is to see what your first semester grades are like. Hopefully, they will be released before your second semester tuition becomes non-refundable (most schools will refund if you leave within the first couple weeks). If your grades are decent, finish out the year. Then:

gollymolly wrote:If you're just not sure, I think you should stick it out a full year and see how you feel about your summer job. Law practice is a lot different than law school. This comes as a nasty surprise to some people, it may work to your benefit.


I really did not like law school, but I've enjoyed practicing (though granted, it's only been a few months in). Keep in mind though, that your legal specialty and practice setting will also make a huge difference as to whether you'll enjoy practice or not. So even if you worked for, say, a large corporate firm and hated the culture, you may be perfectly happy working as a small city public defender. If you don't enjoy your summer internship but still feel the pull of the law, you could take a leave next Fall and try a different setting/specialty. However, there is absolutely no shame in withdrawing once you've explored the possibilities and alternatives. Good luck whichever way you decide.

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ObviouslyMasochistic
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Re: Considering leaving law school - 1L fall starter - advice?

Postby ObviouslyMasochistic » Thu Dec 10, 2009 5:25 pm

awesomepossum wrote:Sounds like a Michigan student. Who else would say "fall starter?"


A Duke fall starter?

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Learning Hand
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Re: Considering leaving law school - 1L fall starter - advice?

Postby Learning Hand » Thu Dec 10, 2009 5:27 pm

Happiness has no form, substance, or permanence. Leaving law school in a search to find it is a fool's errand.




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