Why you shouldn't go to law school

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NeedAnExit
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Why you shouldn't go to law school

Postby NeedAnExit » Wed Feb 19, 2014 3:10 pm

I graduated from HLS in 2013 and started working in biglaw in October. After 1L, I had 8Hs and 2Ps, and had my pick of firms. I chose a firm that has a great reputation for my field and is also known to be a “good” place to work (ie, not as brutal as Cravath). I had about 120k debt at graduation. I had the option of going into a federal government honors program, but decided against it because I wanted to quickly pay off my debt and get a broader experience than I would have gotten in government.

It's difficult to adequately describe the level of despair that I feel on a daily basis It’s not the hours that bother me, although those are bad. It is the constant pressure, people breathing down my neck, getting blamed for shit that’s not my fault, and getting stuck working with the few assholes that I mysteriously never even met during my summer.

And I’m stuck. I can’t just quit because I still have 90k in debt, and I’m too new to switch firms or get a new job. And if I quit, I'll probably screw over my career for life. I’ve desperately been trying to get out clerkship applications, but I just don’t have the time to properly stay on top of it. I just don’t know how to leave, and there’s nobody (CSO, family, coworkers) that can help me.

It’s hard to imagine that I spent so much money and 3 years of my life for the privilege of being at this point. Maybe I’m an entitled millennial or a pansy, but seriously, this shit sucks. My experiences are not atypical, and I have several friends that feel the exact same way. It is not uncommon to hear about classmates a year ahead of us that have had "mental breakdowns," and shit, I may be headed there myself. I guarantee even at the “nice” firms there will be a few associates that have experiences like mine, and there is nothing that they could have done to avoid it.

Those of you that have graduated from law school know that there are other paths, but that biglaw is difficult to avoid both financially and experientially. So yes, perhaps biglaw and not law school was the poor decision, but having done all of the LRAP calculations and charted out potential career paths both with biglaw and straight to government, I didn't believe that government was a viable path right after school. I also do not believe this was a decision that I alone reached.

Considering my school, grades, and firm, most people would characterize me as having "won" the law school game. But if winning has the potential to make you this miserable, why bother?
Last edited by NeedAnExit on Wed Feb 19, 2014 3:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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bryanjbay12
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Re: Why you shouldn't go to law school

Postby bryanjbay12 » Wed Feb 19, 2014 3:28 pm

This thread should be titled "Why I should not have done Biglaw." Just because you made a poor decision based on your personality/goals doesn't mean others shouldn't go to law school. There are many reasons to not go to law school, but I don't see any reasons in your post. Biglaw is obviously going to a grind for most people.

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Dingo Starr
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Re: Why you shouldn't go to law school

Postby Dingo Starr » Wed Feb 19, 2014 3:29 pm

man, those tiny violins can be deafening.
maybe money isn't everything.

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kalvano
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Re: Why you shouldn't go to law school

Postby kalvano » Wed Feb 19, 2014 3:35 pm

Paying off $30K in debt in less than a year. What a tough life.

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anyriotgirl
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Re: Why you shouldn't go to law school

Postby anyriotgirl » Wed Feb 19, 2014 3:39 pm

Yeah dude just finish paying off your debt, which should take less than a year at the rate you're going and then GTFO.

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Pneumonia
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Re: Why you shouldn't go to law school

Postby Pneumonia » Wed Feb 19, 2014 3:43 pm

Out of curiosity, what was your work experience before law? Like did you ever wash dishes 35 hours a week at Wendy's or shovel horse shit during the summer to pay for gas? One thing about work is that most of sucks no matter what, because its work. Maybe yours sucks more, but I'm just wondering what you are comparing it to.

I understand that you hate your job, and I'm sorry about that, but even as just a 0L I am legitimately curious as to what your expectations and previous experiences were going in.

NeedAnExit
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Re: Why you shouldn't go to law school

Postby NeedAnExit » Wed Feb 19, 2014 3:46 pm

Consulting. Not MBB, but level just below.

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Pneumonia
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Re: Why you shouldn't go to law school

Postby Pneumonia » Wed Feb 19, 2014 3:48 pm

NeedAnExit wrote:Consulting. Not MBB, but level just below.


What made you move? Did you also dislike consulting, or did law seem appealing? or both?

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Otunga
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Re: Why you shouldn't go to law school

Postby Otunga » Wed Feb 19, 2014 3:49 pm

At least you can get rid of those loans and then say 'fuck you' to biglaw (in a polite way).

I often think about what risk is bigger: hating your PI job environment and having to stick with it for 10 years or detesting biglaw for 3-5 years to pay off loans. With the former, the length of time commitment is a tremendous downside, but odds are that you feel passionate about whatever it is you're doing, even if you don't like your coworkers or your supervisor(s) or whatever. You don't hear many people that feel that way about biglaw. Obviously the credited response is to mitigate loans as much as possible, but if you have aspirations for biglaw and PI, and aim to decide between the two early on at LS, the t14 looks to be the best bet, and for most people, they're not getting high scholarships.

whereskyle
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Re: Why you shouldn't go to law school

Postby whereskyle » Wed Feb 19, 2014 4:17 pm

TCR is: No. Not even HYS without serious grant money.

NeedAnExit
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Re: Why you shouldn't go to law school

Postby NeedAnExit » Wed Feb 19, 2014 5:14 pm

Pneumonia wrote:
NeedAnExit wrote:Consulting. Not MBB, but level just below.


What made you move? Did you also dislike consulting, or did law seem appealing? or both?


I applied to law school as a senior in college, and deferred for two years to save up money, which is why my debt load was 'only' 120k.

I didn't post this to suggest that any of you should pity me - I made my decisions, and I'm living with the consequences. I don't think I appreciated what paying back loans would entail, and the constraints that I would feel once I started working. And this was after working (fairly successfully) in a professional services environment before, albeit one that is not nearly as harsh as biglaw.

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EijiMiyake
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Re: Why you shouldn't go to law school

Postby EijiMiyake » Wed Feb 19, 2014 5:18 pm

hopefully the clerkships will come through - seems to be like an ideal exit for those in our shoes.
Last edited by EijiMiyake on Wed Feb 19, 2014 5:21 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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EijiMiyake
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Re: Why you shouldn't go to law school

Postby EijiMiyake » Wed Feb 19, 2014 5:19 pm

edit: double post.
Last edited by EijiMiyake on Wed Feb 19, 2014 5:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.

splat232
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Re: Why you shouldn't go to law school

Postby splat232 » Wed Feb 19, 2014 5:19 pm

.
Last edited by splat232 on Thu Feb 20, 2014 12:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.

BigZuck
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Re: Why you shouldn't go to law school

Postby BigZuck » Wed Feb 19, 2014 5:20 pm

Wait so working sucks?

HOS
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Re: Why you shouldn't go to law school

Postby HOS » Wed Feb 19, 2014 5:34 pm

That's tough, if you ask me. My two cents: it sounds like a great advert for people taking more time to decide whether law school is what they really want to do. In OPs case, he may have still decided to go but perhaps selected a different T14 school (with a large scholarship / full ride).

OP: on a serious note, the most common profile of a first time sufferer from mental illness due to stress (even mild cases) is a male in his mid to late 20s. You could do many things with a degree from HLS. Don't sacrifice your health.

whereskyle
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Re: Why you shouldn't go to law school

Postby whereskyle » Wed Feb 19, 2014 6:19 pm

The fact that grads who pay sticker have little to no choice but to do this work is a scam.

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JazzieShizzle
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Re: Why you shouldn't go to law school

Postby JazzieShizzle » Wed Feb 19, 2014 6:25 pm

HOS wrote:OP: on a serious note, the most common profile of a first time sufferer from mental illness due to stress (even mild cases) is a male in his mid to late 20s. You could do many things with a degree from HLS. Don't sacrifice your health.

+1

You'll have plenty of opportunities to earn money in your life, but if you lose your mind there's no guarantee you'll get it back.

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Otunga
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Re: Why you shouldn't go to law school

Postby Otunga » Wed Feb 19, 2014 6:41 pm

whereskyle wrote:The fact that grads who pay sticker have little to no choice but to do this work is a scam.


It's that or hope you can go 10 years in PI. For the people who don't do PI 1L summer or otherwise don't have demonstrated interest in it, it does indeed appear they have to do biglaw or else pay back tiny fractions of their payments in lower paying private jobs while watching interest rapidly grow.

lawstudent_87
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Re: Why you shouldn't go to law school

Postby lawstudent_87 » Wed Feb 19, 2014 6:50 pm

NeedAnExit--are you in litigation?

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beachbum
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Re: Why you shouldn't go to law school

Postby beachbum » Wed Feb 19, 2014 7:07 pm

Interesting that a bunch of people (especially 0Ls) ran in to immediately discount OP's situation. ("That sounds like a you problem, bro. I'm different.")

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ph14
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Re: Why you shouldn't go to law school

Postby ph14 » Wed Feb 19, 2014 7:10 pm

It's wrong to suggest that the OP is abnormal, fails to appreciate the job, otherwise isn't "tough" enough, or anything along those lines. OP is far from abnormal on this, and the common TLS post (often but not always from 0L) about how the OP didn't work a tough job beforehand and thus lacks perspective, etc. is just not helpful.

The quality of life issues for biglaw attorneys, especially associates, are well-documented. Most law students have anecdotal evidence, and there is plenty of empirical evidence as well. Let's avoid bashing the OP, though I realize he opened himself up to it to a degree by posting a "Why you shouldn't go to law school" thread on TLS.

--LinkRemoved--

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Pneumonia
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Re: Why you shouldn't go to law school

Postby Pneumonia » Wed Feb 19, 2014 7:17 pm

beachbum wrote:Interesting that a bunch of people (especially 0Ls) ran in to immediately discount OP's situation. ("That sounds like a you problem, bro. I'm different.")


I'm a 0L, but I've also talked to a bunch of recent grads and have heard more than once that those most likely to adjust to the biglaw lifestyle are the ones that have previously adjusted to the fact that work sucks. I'm not at all trying to discount the situation, I'm just trying to adjust my expectations. Some of the OP was just generic "work sucks" griping though,

It's difficult to adequately describe the level of despair that I feel on a daily basis It’s not the hours that bother me, although those are bad. It is the constant pressure, people breathing down my neck, getting blamed for shit that’s not my fault, and getting stuck working with the few assholes that I mysteriously never even met during my summer.

so maybe I was reacting to that.

ETA: yeah PH i get where you're coming from. that is something to keep in mind. I have met 4-5 people what are normally adjusted to the biglaw lifestyle as 1st or 2nd year associates so I'm just trying to figure out what they share in common.

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kalvano
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Re: Why you shouldn't go to law school

Postby kalvano » Wed Feb 19, 2014 7:20 pm

Biglaw sucks. I'm happy to admit that, but at the same time, all of OP's complaints are pretty much the same at any job. Is it more prevalent at Biglaw than in other industries? To a certain degree, yes, but at the same time, the entry level salary for Biglaw is much higher too. Don't want to work crazy hours or deal with pressure? Take a lower-paying job somewhere else, or better yet, don't go into a service industry. It's the trade-off you make.

I think the reason people jump on the OP is because, well, these complaints are pretty much the same across all types of jobs, and OP is being extremely well-compensated to deal with it.

NYstate
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Re: Why you shouldn't go to law school

Postby NYstate » Wed Feb 19, 2014 7:37 pm

OP: try to take some time away and dedicate it to clerkship apps. You have to figure out a way to make some space away from work. Even come in late one or two mornings and say you have doctors appointments. Turn down work if you have to. No one will fire you.

A lot of people get burned out by biglaw. You are not at all alone. Biglaw eats people up.

If you are in NYC, the association of the bar has some free counseling sessions you can call and get referrals.




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