Why you shouldn't go to law school

A forum for applicants and admitted students to ask law students and graduates about law school and the practice of law.
User avatar
patogordo
Posts: 4827
Joined: Tue Jan 14, 2014 3:33 am

Re: Why you shouldn't go to law school

Postby patogordo » Wed Mar 05, 2014 3:22 pm

cinephile wrote:
charlie.black wrote:
cinephile wrote:
patogordo wrote:lol @ 120k debt. sticker at Harvard is closer to 300 with interest


No one takes out 300k in debt at Harvard. If you're poor enough to have to borrow, you'll get need based aid.


False. If you have parents who disqualify you for aid, but who aren't contributing, big loans are the only option.


Thanks for contributing misinformation, that's super-helpful.

You realize law students are older than undergrads, right? By this point, the expected family contribution of anyone 25 or older doesn't include your parents' income.

you're the one contributing misinformation, bro.

Image

hdunlop
Posts: 461
Joined: Mon Feb 10, 2014 2:14 pm

Re: Why you shouldn't go to law school

Postby hdunlop » Wed Mar 05, 2014 3:36 pm

Cogburn87 wrote:
PepperJack wrote:Some people are willing to endure far more to make 200k+ a year. That type of money buys protection for you and people you love. Your spouse, children and you can go to the doctor when you want to go to the doctor. You can go to the supermarket, and know that you guys can have meat/fish whenever you want. If your kid ever needs help with a school subject, instead of just saying "let biology play out and they'll fail", you can get a tutor. These are privileges most people don't have. Some people would be willing to kill to be able to provide this to the people they love. You get this, and don't realize how lucky you are. The ones who are in bad shape are the ones who have creditors calling every day, no prospects, etc.


Yeah, OP.

If you believe you are about to be overwhelmed by the alienation and psychological brutality of Biglaw, just quietly remind yourself that you can have fish whenever you want. That should help you soldier on.


http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/d ... ps-seafood

mach9zero
Posts: 123
Joined: Mon Oct 28, 2013 11:02 pm

Re: Why you shouldn't go to law school

Postby mach9zero » Wed Mar 05, 2014 3:54 pm

Something I commonly see on this form, especially from 0Ls and even more from K-JDs, is that Big Law will be the golden answer. It's easy when you see the $ figures see Big Law as your dream. I'm not impervious to it myself, and it scares me to leave my current job for the law-grind. But those same people have never had a job that becomes a full-time commitment. I saw earlier in this thread about previous experiences (retail, Wendys, etc.), and the fact is those jobs, no matter how demanding they are for your shift, are nothing when work goes outside the 9-5 and comes home with you.

My own experience came two years ago as a first year teacher. I moved to NC to teach 7th grade history in a relatively rural school. I went in thinking the profession was cake and I'd have time to study for my LSATs. I was dead wrong. Teaching ended up a full-time commitment, one requiring me to awake at 5am to get to school by 6am, where I'd stay until 5pm, coach track (required), then bring all my work home to finish until around 10pm. That was Sunday through Friday, every week. Through in creating lesson plans, IEP meetings, and conferences it truly is overwhelming. I thought meeting paper deadlines was "stress" in undergrad, but I hadn't experienced real stress until I began working. I loved the teaching aspect, but everything outside the school day made the job unbelievably exhausting.

For me personally, that's how I understand a career in law. It's going to be stressful and require a lot of time outside the 9-5 workday. And it's going to be incredibly difficult in the beginning. But once you've learned the game, and created an organized structure for yourself, it gets better and a whole lot easier. For some, Big Law is not and will never be for them. They're not going to be tackling the cases that makes impacts on individuals they originally went to law school to help. At times, you're going to be overwhelmed and feel like your workload is insurmountable and that you work with the worst people on earth (trust me that's everywhere).

And this will go against conventional TLS wisdom... but if you're going into law school expecting to take on debt and get a Big Law job JUST to pay it off then leave afterwards... you're going to have a bad time. If you're hearts not in where you work, it becomes soul-sucking. Those years, prime years of your 20s, can't be had back. For me, this is where the decision of HYS@sticker needs to be drawn. Simply getting a job because you can pay back debt is ridiculous and irresponsible. Going to a school for less debt, so you can immediately work in the field you want to be in is a much better option. Neither USNEWS, ATL, nor NSL calculate the mental stress it costs to pay back debt in a job you hate.

I ALSO WANT TO THROW THIS INTO THE RING
Big Law isn't the only field of law that is stressful, you can have the same experience in any sector - boutique, patent firms, clerkships, and family courts. I recommend every 0L watch Gideon's Army, the documentary. It hovers around a handful of southern public defenders who take on fairly routine criminal cases and shows their dedication towards fighting for justice. You see the emotional breakdown of the defense lawyers and just how stressful their lives are and how little they're paid. They cry, at one point I'm sure I cried. It's worth watching.

User avatar
prezidentv8
Posts: 2821
Joined: Mon Dec 29, 2008 5:33 am

Re: Why you shouldn't go to law school

Postby prezidentv8 » Wed Mar 05, 2014 4:13 pm

mach9zero wrote:if you're going into law school expecting to take on debt and get a Big Law job JUST to pay it off then leave afterwards... you're going to have a bad time. If you're hearts not in where you work, it becomes soul-sucking. Those years, prime years of your 20s, can't be had back. For me, this is where the decision of HYS@sticker needs to be drawn. Simply getting a job because you can pay back debt is ridiculous and irresponsible. Going to a school for less debt, so you can immediately work in the field you want to be in is a much better option. Neither USNEWS, ATL, nor NSL calculate the mental stress it costs to pay back debt in a job you hate.


Bout right.

User avatar
rpupkin
Posts: 3864
Joined: Mon Dec 09, 2013 10:32 pm

Re: Why you shouldn't go to law school

Postby rpupkin » Wed Mar 05, 2014 5:07 pm

mach9zero wrote:
And this will go against conventional TLS wisdom... but if you're going into law school expecting to take on debt and get a Big Law job JUST to pay it off then leave afterwards... you're going to have a bad time. If you're hearts not in where you work, it becomes soul-sucking. Those years, prime years of your 20s, can't be had back. For me, this is where the decision of HYS@sticker needs to be drawn. Simply getting a job because you can pay back debt is ridiculous and irresponsible.

Given what you're saying, why is even HYS@sticker a good choice?

Theopliske8711
Posts: 2213
Joined: Mon Oct 01, 2012 10:21 am

Re: Why you shouldn't go to law school

Postby Theopliske8711 » Wed Mar 05, 2014 6:28 pm

ig Law isn't the only field of law that is stressful, you can have the same experience in any sector - boutique, patent firms, clerkships, and family courts.


Banking, finance. The fact of the matter is that upper-middle class work in general has become this way. There is no way to really escape it: if you want to climb the social ladder in post-Boomer America, you will have to pretty much live your work for at least a few years to perhaps a decade. The numbers out there reveal it. Americans who make in the six figures work more hours than anyone in the developed world, and especially more than in lower-tier jobs.

Biglaw is bad, but you're not going to find many other jobs that offer any long term prospect of rising into the higher echelon of American society without working something like it. You're alternative is what?

User avatar
AAJD2B
Posts: 871
Joined: Sat Dec 01, 2012 12:37 am

Re: Why you shouldn't go to law school

Postby AAJD2B » Wed Mar 05, 2014 6:38 pm

Theopliske8711 wrote:Biglaw is bad, but you're not going to find many other jobs that offer any long term prospect of rising into the higher echelon of American society without working something like it. You're alternative is what?


Being your own boss. There are ways around having to slave for others for chump pay. I intend to use BIGLAW as a stepping stone to my own individual plans. I definitely have no intention of working for someone else for the rest of my life. I want to be able to make money in my sleep and create generational wealth. Being an employee for the rest of my working years isn't going to get me there. Entrepreneurship will.

Theopliske8711
Posts: 2213
Joined: Mon Oct 01, 2012 10:21 am

Re: Why you shouldn't go to law school

Postby Theopliske8711 » Wed Mar 05, 2014 6:45 pm

AAJD2B wrote:
Theopliske8711 wrote:Biglaw is bad, but you're not going to find many other jobs that offer any long term prospect of rising into the higher echelon of American society without working something like it. You're alternative is what?


Being your own boss. There are ways around having to slave for others for chump pay. I intend to use BIGLAW as a stepping stone to my own individual plans. I definitely have no intention of working for someone else for the rest of my life. I want to be able to make money in my sleep and create generational wealth. Being an employee for the rest of my working years isn't going to get me there. Entrepreneurship will.


Are you a graduate of the Boomer School of Bootstrapping?

hdunlop
Posts: 461
Joined: Mon Feb 10, 2014 2:14 pm

Re: Why you shouldn't go to law school

Postby hdunlop » Wed Mar 05, 2014 6:48 pm

AAJD2B wrote:There are ways around having to slave for others for chump pay. I intend to use BIGLAW as a stepping stone to my own individual plans. I definitely have no intention of working for someone else for the rest of my life. I want to be able to make money in my sleep and create generational wealth.


ASW question here, do you have to keep a straight face when people enthusiastically say shit like that with complete sincerity?

User avatar
jlk411
Posts: 185
Joined: Mon Dec 30, 2013 6:52 pm

Re: Why you shouldn't go to law school

Postby jlk411 » Wed Mar 05, 2014 6:50 pm

NeedAnExit wrote: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?


I feel like some posters are being uneccessarily mean to OP. OP life is too short. Try moving down to a boutique firm that pays a little less but is less crazy. I've jumped firms as legal support and seen a huge difference in my stress level. Good luck! If it's really killing you do short term disability for mental exhaustion.

User avatar
AAJD2B
Posts: 871
Joined: Sat Dec 01, 2012 12:37 am

Re: Why you shouldn't go to law school

Postby AAJD2B » Wed Mar 05, 2014 6:52 pm

hdunlop wrote:
AAJD2B wrote:There are ways around having to slave for others for chump pay. I intend to use BIGLAW as a stepping stone to my own individual plans. I definitely have no intention of working for someone else for the rest of my life. I want to be able to make money in my sleep and create generational wealth.


ASW question here, do you have to keep a straight face when people enthusiastically say shit like that with complete sincerity?


Why so? Is it so hard to believe? Trust me when I say your idea of stepping stone isn't the same as mine...let alone my plans, which are already in place as a 0L.

Anyway, enjoy your employee mentality. :mrgreen:

User avatar
AAJD2B
Posts: 871
Joined: Sat Dec 01, 2012 12:37 am

Re: Why you shouldn't go to law school

Postby AAJD2B » Wed Mar 05, 2014 6:53 pm

Theopliske8711 wrote:
AAJD2B wrote:
Theopliske8711 wrote:Biglaw is bad, but you're not going to find many other jobs that offer any long term prospect of rising into the higher echelon of American society without working something like it. You're alternative is what?


Being your own boss. There are ways around having to slave for others for chump pay. I intend to use BIGLAW as a stepping stone to my own individual plans. I definitely have no intention of working for someone else for the rest of my life. I want to be able to make money in my sleep and create generational wealth. Being an employee for the rest of my working years isn't going to get me there. Entrepreneurship will.


Are you a graduate of the Boomer School of Bootstrapping?


Try again.

Theopliske8711
Posts: 2213
Joined: Mon Oct 01, 2012 10:21 am

Re: Why you shouldn't go to law school

Postby Theopliske8711 » Wed Mar 05, 2014 6:53 pm

jlk411 wrote:
I feel like some posters are being uneccessarily mean to OP. OP life is too short. Try moving down to a boutique firm that pays a little less but is less crazy. I've jumped firms as legal support and seen a huge difference in my stress level. Good luck! If it's really killing you do short term disability for mental exhaustion.


Because some of us 0Ls here feel the need to assuage our own fears by deriding the messenger.

User avatar
A. Nony Mouse
Posts: 22865
Joined: Tue Sep 25, 2012 11:51 am

Re: Why you shouldn't go to law school

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Wed Mar 05, 2014 6:57 pm

I like being an employee. If I worked for myself, I'd have a terrible boss.

User avatar
prezidentv8
Posts: 2821
Joined: Mon Dec 29, 2008 5:33 am

Re: Why you shouldn't go to law school

Postby prezidentv8 » Wed Mar 05, 2014 7:18 pm

AAJD2B wrote:my plans, which are already in place as a 0L.


AAJD2B wrote:as a 0L.


AAJD2B wrote:0L.

User avatar
AAJD2B
Posts: 871
Joined: Sat Dec 01, 2012 12:37 am

Re: Why you shouldn't go to law school

Postby AAJD2B » Wed Mar 05, 2014 8:27 pm

prezidentv8 wrote:
AAJD2B wrote:my plans, which are already in place as a 0L.


AAJD2B wrote:as a 0L.


AAJD2B wrote:0L.


Yes, because being a law student somehow makes you more informed than a 0L with years working experience on Wall Street/corporate law. :lol: :lol: :lol:

Doesn't change the fact that my plans are still in place. :mrgreen:

User avatar
MikeSpivey
Posts: 2609
Joined: Sun May 03, 2009 4:28 pm

Re: Why you shouldn't go to law school

Postby MikeSpivey » Wed Mar 05, 2014 8:35 pm

I feel for the OP, I do. Sucks to feel miserable 80% of the day, every day. But I would also note than probably 9/10 jobs that pay well have " constant pressure, people breathing down my neck, getting blamed for shit that’s not my fault" elements to them

The flip side is a low paying job that likely doesn't have near the pressures.

It's good that people can relay their experiences to help with the decision making, I think, but most have to experience it themselves to know. Tough spot for certain.

User avatar
worldtraveler
Posts: 7669
Joined: Mon Oct 15, 2007 4:47 am

Re: Why you shouldn't go to law school

Postby worldtraveler » Wed Mar 05, 2014 8:47 pm

AAJD2B wrote:
prezidentv8 wrote:
AAJD2B wrote:my plans, which are already in place as a 0L.


AAJD2B wrote:as a 0L.


AAJD2B wrote:0L.


Yes, because being a law student somehow makes you more informed than a 0L with years working experience on Wall Street/corporate law. :lol: :lol: :lol:

Doesn't change the fact that my plans are still in place. :mrgreen:


Prez is an attorney. And the forum is for graduates and students to give advice, not 0Ls.

User avatar
cinephile
Posts: 3469
Joined: Sun Jul 18, 2010 3:50 pm

Re: Why you shouldn't go to law school

Postby cinephile » Wed Mar 05, 2014 9:51 pm

patogordo wrote:
Image


I don't know what to tell you except that my 25 year old sister started at Harvard Law this fall and gets very generous need based aid (40k/yr) despite the fact that both her parents are earning in the low six figures and neither are contributing to her education. Perhaps their stated policies are one thing and their actual practices are another. But it's a really nice feature and people shouldn't avoid applying to such school because it probably isn't as expensive as you're anticipating. It doesn't hurt to apply and wait to hear about your financial aid package.

User avatar
patogordo
Posts: 4827
Joined: Tue Jan 14, 2014 3:33 am

Re: Why you shouldn't go to law school

Postby patogordo » Thu Mar 06, 2014 12:31 am

cinephile wrote:
patogordo wrote:
Image


I don't know what to tell you except that my 25 year old sister started at Harvard Law this fall and gets very generous need based aid (40k/yr) despite the fact that both her parents are earning in the low six figures and neither are contributing to her education. Perhaps their stated policies are one thing and their actual practices are another. But it's a really nice feature and people shouldn't avoid applying to such school because it probably isn't as expensive as you're anticipating. It doesn't hurt to apply and wait to hear about your financial aid package.

well i started at harvard law when i was 27 and my parents make the low six figures and i didn't get a dime. so either you're mistaken or i need to firebomb the financial aid office.

User avatar
cotiger
Posts: 1648
Joined: Tue Jul 23, 2013 11:49 pm

Re: Why you shouldn't go to law school

Postby cotiger » Thu Mar 06, 2014 12:32 am

cinephile wrote:
patogordo wrote:
Image


I don't know what to tell you except that my 25 year old sister started at Harvard Law this fall and gets very generous need based aid (40k/yr) despite the fact that both her parents are earning in the low six figures and neither are contributing to her education. Perhaps their stated policies are one thing and their actual practices are another. But it's a really nice feature and people shouldn't avoid applying to such school because it probably isn't as expensive as you're anticipating. It doesn't hurt to apply and wait to hear about your financial aid package.


Wait, seriously? Are there any special circumstances in your family?

User avatar
sublime
Posts: 15417
Joined: Sun Mar 10, 2013 12:21 pm

Re: Why you shouldn't go to law school

Postby sublime » Thu Mar 06, 2014 12:40 am

..

User avatar
rpupkin
Posts: 3864
Joined: Mon Dec 09, 2013 10:32 pm

Re: Why you shouldn't go to law school

Postby rpupkin » Thu Mar 06, 2014 12:42 am

cinephile wrote:

I don't know what to tell you except that my 25 year old sister started at Harvard Law this fall and gets very generous need based aid (40k/yr) despite the fact that both her parents are earning in the low six figures and neither are contributing to her education. Perhaps their stated policies are one thing and their actual practices are another. But it's a really nice feature and people shouldn't avoid applying to such school because it probably isn't as expensive as you're anticipating. It doesn't hurt to apply and wait to hear about your financial aid package.

Just so we're clear: your sister is getting $40K per year in need-based aid despite the fact that she is 25 and your parents make over $200K a year? I have reason to think that you are mistaken about at least one of those facts.

If your sister really is getting $40K per year from HLS under those circumstances, then either (1) someone at HLS made an error in your sister's favor or (2) someone in your family (your parents or your sister) has, perhaps, fraudulently misrepresented something. You might want to delete your post. I'm serious.

User avatar
DrStudMuffin
Posts: 236
Joined: Sun Mar 03, 2013 7:54 pm

Re: Why you shouldn't go to law school

Postby DrStudMuffin » Thu Mar 06, 2014 12:57 am

cinephile wrote:
patogordo wrote:
Image


I don't know what to tell you except that my 25 year old sister started at Harvard Law this fall and gets very generous need based aid (40k/yr) despite the fact that both her parents are earning in the low six figures and neither are contributing to her education. Perhaps their stated policies are one thing and their actual practices are another. But it's a really nice feature and people shouldn't avoid applying to such school because it probably isn't as expensive as you're anticipating. It doesn't hurt to apply and wait to hear about your financial aid package.


Unless you're including loans in that 40k of "need based aid," something is off here. Isn't the HLS base loan package like 40k plus? I was under the impression that the max grant didn't even go up to 40k barring weird circumstances.

Edit: Sorta scooped. Agree with the above poster.

User avatar
jbagelboy
Posts: 9651
Joined: Thu Nov 29, 2012 7:57 pm

Re: Why you shouldn't go to law school

Postby jbagelboy » Thu Mar 06, 2014 1:29 am

I know absolute highest need based grant at Stanford is $36,000 per year for a single person, and Harvard is less. So by very basic deduction, even for an orphan or someone with broke unemployed crack addict parents, $40k/yr is literally impossible from HLS.

They do award some other scholarships to a very rare few (there are people on full tuition scholly at HLS, but its not via their standard need based program).




Return to “Ask a Law Student / Graduate”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: cathy95 and 1 guest