Pancakes12 wrote:What kinds of people are unhappy attending law school?
A lot of different types of people. I would say that many, though certainly not all, people who are close enough to me to be honest with me about this are planning on quitting the practice of law as soon as they climb out of debt and this came out of a fairly negative reaction to the summer associate experience (which, mind you, has way better hours than the real experience). It's very possible they'll change their minds once they're actually out of debt, though.
I think there tends to be an underestimation of not how bad biglaw is, but how unable to deal with it people will be, and the extent to which the paycheck wouldn't offset their unhappiness. People aren't stupid. They understand the downfalls of biglaw on a conceptual level. The problem is you don't really know if it's going to make you miserable, and how miserable, until you go through it.
This is very accurate. I am a 2013 HLS grad and have a lot of doubts about whether I made the right decision to go to law school, or HLS (as opposed to going to another T14 for free). I posted my thoughts in another thread, but will repost here as they seem relevant. I should also add that I'm about 2 months into biglaw and have started to think very seriously about how to leave as soon as possible. My goal is to be out by mid-2015, but who knows what will happen. Many of my friends feel the same way.
EijiMiyake wrote:I didn't read past page 1, so my apologies if this is redundant.
I was in a similar position to you, and have done a lot of reflecting lately about whether I made the right choice. Bottom line: the cost of law school has been very high for me, and if I had a redo, I would not do it again. And by cost, I'm not just referring to money. I think people really underrate the capacity of law school to completely disrupt your life, and the shit that you're attached to now might not be there when you come back.
Prior to law school, I spent 2 years working in a city that I loved, in a job that I disliked, but paid me about 80k a year. If I stayed, I would have been at 100k by year three, and would have been able to transition into any number of very solid business jobs, but probably not high finance (which didn't hold that much interest for me anyway), so there's a chance I would have topped out around the 100-120k mark for the foreseeable future.
Instead, I chose to go to HLS, and turned down full-rides from other schools to do so. I did not take the full-rides because I wanted to avoid big-law at any cost, and I felt like HLS gave me the best shot at doing so. It turns out that biglaw is much harder to avoid than I had anticipated. This is in part because some of the non-biglaw jobs I had my sights set on stopped hiring or had some other significant drawbacks that I didn't know about pre-law school. But it's also because the biglaw credential is so sought after that it makes sense to do it, and because I have about 120k in debt. (If you're at all thinking about public service, run the numbers on your school's LRAP plan and you'll see that it's actually relatively difficult to live on, which is why the vast majority of people I know that are going into public service do not have any significant debt to speak of.)
So, I will be spending at least a few years working biglaw in a city that I don't want to end up long term. (The wrong city aspect of this is completely my fault. I could have easily ended up in a firm in the city of my choice, but when I was going through OCI, I viewed 2L summer as a chance to try out a different city because I was still almost positive that I would not be going the biglaw route. But you should consider that many people end up in a big market not by choice, but because it's easier to find a job there.)
I did not particularly enjoy law school. And I will not particularly enjoy biglaw. And I'm far more worried about job security than I was in my old field. And it will take me at least 2 years just to get back to net worth 0, whereas if I hadn't gone, I would have had enough for a downpayment on a house by now. So assuming the sweet spot for lateralling into something I enjoy more starts in year 3, that's 6 years in my mid-twenties that I will spend far away from where I want to live and doing something that I don't particularly enjoy.
I am confident that I will eventually find a legal job that I like. But I also think I could have done any number of things that I would have found enjoyable, and I wouldn't have had to give up over half a decade to do so.