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.