Do You Regret Going to Law School?

A forum for applicants and admitted students to ask law students and graduates about law school and the practice of law.
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bk1
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Re: Do You Regret Going to Law School?

Postby bk1 » Wed Apr 17, 2013 11:51 am

Master Tofu wrote:Are you really saying that people would value a NU degree that much over a WashU degree?

Yes. Yes, I am.

Master Tofu wrote:Given that most of the entering law students probably know little to nil about practicing law or whether they would enjoy the practice of law (I can't tell you how many lawyers I know who do not), preserving flexibility is a better strategy than to bet the house on landing a five year commitment at a big firm job that they may end up hating.

If you want to take the risk, then by all means do it. I'm all for you getting yours. Different boats, different strokes.

You talk as if going to a T20 with minimal debt is not risky, but it is risky because you are foreclosing a lot of options by going to a T20. On top of that CoL will at least require 75k or so in debt from most schools. There are substantial but different kinds of risk in attending a lower ranked school for minimal debt and attending a higher ranked school for more debt. Full stop. You can quibble whether one is better than the other, but it is ridiculous to ignore the risks of going to a lower ranked school.

I honestly think your problem with seeing it is that you have a boomerish view of the world. You think that if people just work hard enough they will be able to get the things they want or get good things in general. But that's not how the world works, especially prestige-obsessed fields like law. Plenty of people work hard and don't get what they want. Of course going to a low ranked school wouldn't be that risky if you could just work really hard and overcome its weaknesses, but that isn't reality.

Master Tofu
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Re: Do You Regret Going to Law School?

Postby Master Tofu » Wed Apr 17, 2013 12:16 pm

bk1 wrote:Yes. Yes, I am.


Disagree.

bk1 wrote:You talk as if going to a T20 with minimal debt is not risky, but it is risky because you are foreclosing a lot of options by going to a T20. On top of that CoL will at least require 75k or so in debt from most schools. There are substantial but different kinds of risk in attending a lower ranked school for minimal debt and attending a higher ranked school for more debt. Full stop. You can quibble whether one is better than the other, but it is ridiculous to ignore the risks of going to a lower ranked school.

I honestly think your problem with seeing it is that you have a boomerish view of the world. You think that if people just work hard enough they will be able to get the things they want or get good things in general. But that's not how the world works, especially prestige-obsessed fields like law. Plenty of people work hard and don't get what they want. Of course going to a low ranked school wouldn't be that risky if you could just work really hard and overcome its weaknesses, but that isn't reality.


I never said no risks and I never said this strategy is for everyone. I am not going to entertain your boomer mindset comment.

Master Tofu wrote:The risk of being unhappy is always worse than the risk of being unsuccessful.


Master Tofu wrote:
Given that most of the entering law students probably know little to nil about practicing law or whether they would enjoy the practice of law (I can't tell you how many lawyers I know who do not), preserving flexibility is a better strategy than to bet the house on landing a five year commitment at a big firm job that they may end up hating.

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bk1
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Re: Do You Regret Going to Law School?

Postby bk1 » Wed Apr 17, 2013 12:25 pm

Master Tofu wrote:The risk of being unhappy is always worse than the risk of being unsuccessful.

People can be unhappy being in an ID mill or working slip and falls at a small firm when they might be happy doing M&A. It's not merely about success vs happiness since those things are not mutually exclusive concepts.
Master Tofu wrote:Given that most of the entering law students probably know little to nil about practicing law or whether they would enjoy the practice of law (I can't tell you how many lawyers I know who do not), preserving flexibility is a better strategy than to bet the house on landing a five year commitment at a big firm job that they may end up hating.

I give up.

Master Tofu
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Re: Do You Regret Going to Law School?

Postby Master Tofu » Wed Apr 17, 2013 12:29 pm

bk1 wrote:I give up.



I did too. No hard feelings.

Mal Reynolds
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Re: Do You Regret Going to Law School?

Postby Mal Reynolds » Wed Apr 17, 2013 12:38 pm

Master Tofu wrote:
bk1 wrote:I give up.



I did too. No hard feelings.


Just so you know, bk is correct here and you're an idiot.

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ph5354a
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Re: Do You Regret Going to Law School?

Postby ph5354a » Wed Apr 17, 2013 12:43 pm

I appreciated that exchange. I don't think bk's point is talked about enough on TLS. Even at the cheapest law school you could find, you're still giving up three year's worth of earnings and spending a pretty penny on COL. With those two factors, a full ride at TTT can easily decrease your lifetime earnings, depending on your undergrad degree. It's easy to talk about in extremes though. I won't try to make generalizations about the shades of gray (such as sticker at lower T14 vs. full ride at T30), which I think are more dependent on individual goals, existing debt, etc. I could easily make generalizations about paying sticker at T50, but we all know what those would be.

Master Tofu
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Re: Do You Regret Going to Law School?

Postby Master Tofu » Wed Apr 17, 2013 12:43 pm

Mal Reynolds wrote:
Master Tofu wrote:
bk1 wrote:I give up.



I did too. No hard feelings.


Just so you know, bk is correct here and you're an idiot.



I am not going to call names and I am not going to get into an internet flame war. I have gone through three years of law school and has now been working for a couple of years. I have my thoughts given my perspective that I think would be helpful for the entering law students and I'm putting it out there for the marketplace of ideas to run its due course. You can think what you will, but what you are not doing is adding value.

keg411
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Re: Do You Regret Going to Law School?

Postby keg411 » Wed Apr 17, 2013 12:49 pm

I don't think Master Tofu is 100% wrong, though. If you go to a lower ranked school with no debt, and gun for certain types of jobs from the start (i.e. not BigLaw, not fed gov, etc.) there can be some advantages to it and it may be a better choice for some people than aiming for BigLaw.

However, I really think that depends on the person. I think for most 0L's (not all), taking the T14 with debt over the regional with no debt is probably the right decision. I do think that if you seriously want to gun for local public interest type work (i.e. PD/DA stuff) or small firm/solo work, picking the strong regional is a good idea because you have insane opportunities to be active in the legal community where you eventually want to work.

But most 0L's don't know what they want enough to make that choice.

ETA: I went to both a regional and a T10, so I feel like I can speak somewhat to the differences in outcome and opportunity and some of the advantages and disadvantages of both.

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romothesavior
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Re: Do You Regret Going to Law School?

Postby romothesavior » Wed Apr 17, 2013 4:13 pm

I think both Tofu and bk have great points, but I do think Tofu underestimates the difference in placement power of a school like WUSTL vs. a school like Northwestern. Most students here will end up having viable, even successful careers, and hopefully fulfilling ones. But that doesn't change the fact that employers vastly prefer a NW degree. The job opportunities for the average student are leagues apart.

Does that mean I would pay 250k+ for a lower T14 degree over 100kish for a T20 degree? No, I wouldn't and I didn't when the choice was before me. But to pretend like the difference between the schools is small is a huge mistake.

I have been thinking a lot about a response to the thread title, and I'll share it later.

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bk1
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Re: Do You Regret Going to Law School?

Postby bk1 » Wed Apr 17, 2013 5:05 pm

romothesavior wrote:I have been thinking a lot about a response to the thread title, and I'll share it later.

Looking forward to it bro.

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Ruxin1
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Re: Do You Regret Going to Law School?

Postby Ruxin1 » Wed Apr 17, 2013 5:09 pm

bk1 wrote:
romothesavior wrote:I have been thinking a lot about a response to the thread title, and I'll share it later.

Looking forward to it bro.

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Emma.
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Re: Do You Regret Going to Law School?

Postby Emma. » Wed Apr 17, 2013 5:26 pm

portaprokoss wrote:Maybe some kind of IP block where I cannot even view the boards?


Wait, can I have one of those too?

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bk1
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Re: Do You Regret Going to Law School?

Postby bk1 » Wed Apr 17, 2013 5:28 pm

Emma. wrote:
portaprokoss wrote:Maybe some kind of IP block where I cannot even view the boards?


Wait, can I have one of those too?

Oh for fuck's sake this is not the thread for that. If you want a self ban, ask a mod. Don't shit up a thread like porta did.

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bjsesq
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Re: Do You Regret Going to Law School?

Postby bjsesq » Wed Apr 17, 2013 5:30 pm

bk1 wrote:
Emma. wrote:
portaprokoss wrote:Maybe some kind of IP block where I cannot even view the boards?


Wait, can I have one of those too?

Oh for fuck's sake this is not the thread for that. If you want a self ban, ask a mod. Don't shit up a thread like porta did.


Hey. HEY. Be nice to Emma.

Master Tofu
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Re: Do You Regret Going to Law School?

Postby Master Tofu » Wed Apr 17, 2013 5:34 pm

I hear you guys, Keg and Romo and I don't disagree. School rank matters and USNWR controls hiring in quite a few contexts (fed honors, clerkships, large firms, academia, etc.). In particular, it plays a huge role in job placement/hiring for that first job.

I downplay that factor because my view of the job search is a little longer, as you may be able to glean by my response in an earlier post. I think folks entering law school should be prepared to continue their job search through graduation and even months beyond. Except for a very small slice of the population, I think that should be the expectations of the entering law students given the state of our profession.

This segues well with my advocacy for flexibility because with a lighter debt burden, you can afford to work pro bono for a little bit, take a lower paying job, or spend a little more time looking for work. My point is that a school's name recognition simply isn't that big of a factor after you get past the law school recruiting phase. I say that for two reasons. One reason is that employers like smaller firms may care about prestige but certainly nowhere to the extent that large firms do. You are welcomed to test my claim - go out and do a couple of informational interviews with lawyers at the smaller firms and ask if they can tell you how the USNWR moved in the latest issue. Another reason is that quite a few of you will find jobs through networking, face-to-face interactions, etc., where the logo on your degree is simply not the focal point.


A couple of responses:

A) Cost of Living and Opportunity Costs - One argument is that the lower-ranked law schools may not be worth going to because there is still debt and the earning potential is low. First, $70k worth of debt is vastly different from $300k worth of debt as a threshold point. Second, I think it is a mistake to assume that your income will stay static if you start at a firm that doesn't pay as well. The end point of this profession is that each lawyer is expected to own his or her practice. If you keep honing your craft and you hustle hard for business, then you're going to be rewarded.

B) Hard Work is not Enough - You've heard of that kid who slept in the library and still didn't do well on the finals. You know that in order to ace the law school final, you have to not only work hard, but also work smart. Why would you expect that the real world would be any different? The real world is unstructured - the nature of this legal job market in particular requires the new entrants to be resourceful and creative in how they integrate themselves.

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bk1
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Re: Do You Regret Going to Law School?

Postby bk1 » Wed Apr 17, 2013 5:35 pm

bjsesq wrote:Hey. HEY. Be nice to Emma.

All right, fair enough. Emma's nice enough, I'm just cranky over people's inability to stay on topic recently. :|

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Emma.
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Re: Do You Regret Going to Law School?

Postby Emma. » Wed Apr 17, 2013 5:35 pm

bk1 wrote:
Emma. wrote:
portaprokoss wrote:Maybe some kind of IP block where I cannot even view the boards?


Wait, can I have one of those too?

Oh for fuck's sake this is not the thread for that. If you want a self ban, ask a mod. Don't shit up a thread like porta did.


Sorry BK (and thanks, Boo). I was just surprised that was a thing.

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Re: Do You Regret Going to Law School?

Postby Hutz_and_Goodman » Thu Apr 18, 2013 12:11 am

Master tofu: I turned down 65k at duke, 70k at northwestern, and UVA (never got scholly info) to attend a lower than WUSTL school on a full ride. I've had zero regrets.

keg411
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Re: Do You Regret Going to Law School?

Postby keg411 » Thu Apr 18, 2013 12:56 am

Master Tofu, I think the issue is that most 0L's don't take/understand the long view. If someone really did, and they had a career in mind that was more compatible with a lower-ranked school I'd recommend it. Not having debt can be really great; but you need to understand what to do that goes with it.

treeey86
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Re: Do You Regret Going to Law School?

Postby treeey86 » Thu Apr 18, 2013 9:31 am

2nd year attorney here.

I hated law school, but love my post-law school career (in-house counsel at a large sports management/advertising firm practicing sports, entertainment, and advertising law).

I do not regret going to law school. Could never get the job I have now and thoroughly enjoy. But I hated going. Oh did I hate going.

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ph5354a
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Re: Do You Regret Going to Law School?

Postby ph5354a » Thu Apr 18, 2013 9:32 am

treeey86 wrote:2nd year attorney here.

I hated law school, but love my post-law school career (in-house counsel at a large sports management/advertising firm practicing sports, entertainment, and advertising law).

I do not regret going to law school. Could never get the job I have now and thoroughly enjoy. But I hated going. Oh did I hate going.


Your job sounds really interesting. Did you get this right out of LS? How do the salary/hours/demands compare to big law?

treeey86
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Re: Do You Regret Going to Law School?

Postby treeey86 » Thu Apr 18, 2013 10:07 am

I did not get the job straight out of law school. Spent my first year working in-house at a media company doing mainly corporate work (securities, M&A, some IP licensing, etc). The work at the media company gave me the tool set I needed for my current job (negotiation experience, contract drafting experience, ability to review documents for legal liabilities, practice working with business units and advising on how to avoid liability, training business units best practices to keep in mind when negotiating deals, etc), but obviously there is always a learning curve. I got my current job through a lot of networking and a lot of luck (the company had been on my radar for 3 years, I had a mentor who knew people in the business/legal departments there, when an opportunity came up I pounced and luckily beat out the crowd of other applicants).

I cannot talk about how it compares to biglaw with first-hand experience. I never worked biglaw, and never wanted to. I have an in-house lawyer personality and was always gunning for that position (even though it is considered harder to get straight out of law school), and every internship/job I had 2L year on was in an in-house legal department. I do have big law friends, and I can say that my schedule is much more relaxed and under control than theirs. Usually it is a 9-5/6 day for me. I have a lot of vacation leave and am not afraid to take it. Work flow varies from month to month, but it is never too overwhelming. My friends at big law are not always comfortable taking vacations, they do have to deal with very slow days and very busy days, and having partners drop assignments on them at the end of a workday on a Friday and expect it to be completed by Monday. That has never happened to me, and I doubt it will unless there is a situation. I have no billable hours, and I do not work simply to work an additional hour. Overall I believe I work/grind a lot less than a big law lawyer. I also do not get paid nearly as much as a 2nd year big law associate. But I do get paid, quite a bit (I can comfortably live my lifestyle, and I live a comfortable lifestyle), and I have lots of time for leisure. Law school sucked, but this career is my dream.

Master Tofu
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Re: Do You Regret Going to Law School?

Postby Master Tofu » Thu Apr 18, 2013 10:49 am

Hutz - very happy to hear about your situation - I am glad things are working out.

Keg - Understand that most folks don't think that way but I am offering a normative prescription, i.e. they should think that way. I think it really is the most rational way to think about post-law school employment for a lot of law students. Even if you go to schools like Columbia (11.1% unemployment rate per LST - I don't count the school-funded jobs) and Cornell (22.1% unemployment rate), a not insignificant number of students will also be in that position.

To me, the response on the forums to the shrinking legal job market has been to, when given an opportunity, double-down (i.e. take more debt at the higher ranked school) and hope that you can make it through the cut. I think that's a short-sighted view. I think a rational alternative strategy for many folks (especially those with limited exposure to the practice and are attending lower T1 schools) is to acknowledge that the legal labor market is busted and to adopt a strategy that provides them more flexibility in how they adapt themselves.

Call me a sucker, but at the end of the day, who you are and what you do will always matter more than what degree hangs on your wall.

kaseyb002
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Re: Do You Regret Going to Law School?

Postby kaseyb002 » Thu Apr 18, 2013 12:42 pm

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Last edited by kaseyb002 on Thu May 02, 2013 4:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.

trapster
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Re: Do You Regret Going to Law School?

Postby trapster » Thu Apr 18, 2013 4:04 pm

TTT 3L here.

I regret my application thought process. I did everything wrong (took the LSAT once with little to no prep, no focus on where I wanted to be, what I wanted to do, fell for the typical law school cliches ("it opens so many doors!!!!!"), etc.). I didn't do my research, and as a result, I failed to realize how important it was to ACTUALLY THINK about what I was doing and why.

Law school can be a great decision for someone who knows what (s)he wants to do, why (s)he wants to do it, and how (s)he's going to get there. It is unquestionably a bad idea for the throngs of recent grads who look at law school as "something to do" or "something I might be interested in."




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