Should I go to law school...

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dogman123
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Should I go to law school...

Postby dogman123 » Sat Mar 03, 2012 6:57 pm

My background:

I majored in math, economics, and public policy at a non-HYP ivy, earned a 3.94 GPA and considered law for a very long time. But all the lawyers I knew (not many) told me it was a miserable profession and I should stay out of it. So I did.

I was always interested in economics, so I've been on the path to a PhD for a couple years now (working in research, taking math/statistics classes, etc.) But I've recently received some pretty disappointing admissions results from grad school and I'm not sure if I see myself as an economist anyway. So I've started reconsidering law. But I'm still not sure if it's the right path for me.

I'd like a profession where I can interact with people (something that is decidedly scarce in academic economics). I like logic, reason, analyzing arguments, etc. I don't like paperwork, but neither does anyone else I guess. In my humanities courses in college I loved discussion but hated reading (something I'd have to get over in law school). I spent most of my time on higher level math classes and did pretty well in them, but I was never in love with math. All this time pursing a career in academia I've come to realize that I might thrive better in a collaborative setting where I deal with problems as they come to me, as opposed to sitting around pontificating coming up with ideas for independent research.

Part of this is because I'm bitter about grad school admissions results (rejected at 13/15 schools) and I feel my profile is better suited for law school admissions (my GPA is pretty high and historically I've been a pretty good test taker). But another part of me feels I'm not as in love with economics as I thought I was, and think I might like being a lawyer, but no one I talk to seems to have anything good to say about it.

I realize there are plenty of threads about this, and this is mostly just the rantings of a guy going through a bit of a quarter-life-crisis, but I'd appreciate any thoughts or guidance anyone might have...

aca0260
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Re: Should I go to law school...

Postby aca0260 » Sat Mar 03, 2012 7:10 pm

Sounds to me like you would enjoy law school. Many of us enjoy law school; however, the day to day occupation is very different and you have to be prepared for repetitive tasks and paper pushing for the most lucrative positions (corporate). You may be interested in legal academia though, which would require attending a T14, likely a T10.

Take the LSAT and see how you do on a diagnostic.

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NYC Law
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Re: Should I go to law school...

Postby NYC Law » Sat Mar 03, 2012 7:19 pm

No

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NZA
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Re: Should I go to law school...

Postby NZA » Sat Mar 03, 2012 7:35 pm

NYC Law wrote:No

r6_philly
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Re: Should I go to law school...

Postby r6_philly » Sat Mar 03, 2012 7:35 pm

Visit a decent law school. Sit in on a couple of classes, then talk to some students, jobs and jobless. Ask them about legal research and memo writing. Then decide if you want to do that for 3-7 years.

dissonance1848
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Re: Should I go to law school...

Postby dissonance1848 » Sat Mar 03, 2012 7:40 pm

First off, which two programs did you get into? My meagre understanding is that doing research and publishing papers in undergrad is pretty important for getting into top PhD programs in most of the social sciences/hard sciences.

If you want to go to law school, only do it on the condition of having a 170+, and either getting money at a T10, or hitting 173+ and shooting for HYS.

bdubs
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Re: Should I go to law school...

Postby bdubs » Sat Mar 03, 2012 7:47 pm

Are you in your final year or have you already graduated? With a 3.9X GPA in math and econ from an ivy, you should be able to land a good gig in consulting which sounds like it satisfies most of your work requirements.

Look into economic consulting, which is primarily driven by expert witness work in litigation. It will give you some good experience and help you find your bearings.

dogman123
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Re: Should I go to law school...

Postby dogman123 » Sat Mar 03, 2012 9:14 pm

Thanks for the (thoughtful) replies.

The grad schools I got into were just below the top 10. And your understanding is not far off; while coauthorship and research experience help a little in grad school admissions, what really matters is letters of recommendations. Not just from well-known economists, but from well-known economists who say "this guy is the BEST." This is where my application was weak, as I focused more on coursework as an undergraduate and didn't bother to make connections with profs.

Anyway, I'm 2 years out of undergraduate. I actually spent a few months doing econ consulting before leaving it for a more research oriented position, which I thought would be better for my career as an economist. You're right, the work was very litigation based. I have to say reviewing thousands of discovery documents was pretty boring, but learning about the different cases was not.

I guess part of my thought process here is that life as a fairly successful lawyer might be better than life as a middling academic. Unless you go to Harvard or MIT for econ PhD, it's hard to land an academic position outside of some big state university in bumf*** nowhere, toiling away at research that ultimately has very little impact. And unless you go to Harvard, MIT, Princeton, Chicago, or Stanford, it's hard to land an academic position at all, much less in a well-regarded institution.

That's a bit of a tangent, but I guess what I"m getting at (and is the topic of another recent post) is that people who are driven to succeed are often miserable regardless of their chosen profession. The work is long, hard, and oftentimes unrewarding.

bdubs
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Re: Should I go to law school...

Postby bdubs » Sat Mar 03, 2012 10:36 pm

dogman123 wrote:I guess part of my thought process here is that life as a fairly successful lawyer might be better than life as a middling academic. Unless you go to Harvard or MIT for econ PhD, it's hard to land an academic position outside of some big state university in bumf*** nowhere, toiling away at research that ultimately has very little impact. And unless you go to Harvard, MIT, Princeton, Chicago, or Stanford, it's hard to land an academic position at all, much less in a well-regarded institution.


This is an understatement. The majority of the econ PhD graduates from Harvard and MIT don't get fabulous positions at top research universities, other schools are even tougher. Don't go into a PhD program if you're not totally committed to really strive for academia (at any level).

Law school is probably not going to be a great experience for you given your background and interests. In addition it has huge costs (opportunity as well as financial) which aren't present in the labor market. Why aren't you trying to make inroads into some field of business you find interesting? It sounds like you have the requisite resume to get at least something interesting.

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2014
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Re: Should I go to law school...

Postby 2014 » Sat Mar 03, 2012 10:59 pm

Many people on this forum will discourage people who are extremely good fits for law school from going, if you don't even know if you want to go you are going to get a shit storm of no's when the trolls come out to play. So enjoy that...

My personal answer would be to spend a solid day reading around these forums, attend a class at any law school, and take a practice LSAT timing yourself extremely strictly (or go to like Kaplan thing that gives you the test and a proctor).

If you 1. Make it through that day, 2. Can see yourself enjoying that type of class, and 3. Don't suck dick at the practice LSAT, then perhaps continue to consider it.

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Flash
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Re: Should I go to law school...

Postby Flash » Sun Mar 04, 2012 12:02 am

NZA wrote:
NYC Law wrote:No


Stop trying to collect degrees and get a job.

CanadianWolf
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Re: Should I go to law school...

Postby CanadianWolf » Sun Mar 04, 2012 12:09 am

Math, economics, public policy & two years of consulting experience & don't like (research & writing ?) paperwork sounds like a Chicago MBA candidate to me.
If you feel a bit lost, yet want to advance career-wise through further education, then consider taking the GMAT & LSAT & applying to top business & law schools. If Harvard, Stanford or Chicago says "yes", then you win.

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Gail
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Re: Should I go to law school...

Postby Gail » Sun Mar 04, 2012 2:44 pm

Flash wrote:
NZA wrote:
NYC Law wrote:No


Stop trying to collect degrees and get a job.


You mean you can't outrun the loan people by going to school until you die?

dogman123
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Re: Should I go to law school...

Postby dogman123 » Sun Mar 04, 2012 4:09 pm

Flash wrote:
NZA wrote:
NYC Law wrote:No


Stop trying to collect degrees and get a job.


Maybe I wasn't very clear about my background. I have a job. I've had one for two years. I've paid off my UG loans with said job and all I have in the way of degrees is a B.A. Surely thinking about getting a J.D. (for the purpose of becoming a lawyer) would not be "degree collecting."

And when I said I don't like paperwork I meant I don't like sorting papers, alphabetizing, and stapling stuff for hours at a time (this is the kind of work I was doing for my insane boss at my first job). If this is ALL anyone does as a lawyer, surely no one is a good fit. I actually love writing, and don't mind research.

bdubs, I think you are spot on about PhD study in economics. It is one of the main reasons why I'm rethinking the whole thing.

2014, thanks for the advice. I think I"ll do just that, although much of it would help determine my fit for law school more than it would the legal profession.

As for pursuing a career in business, that could be a path I explore, but it's hard to find an industry I"m interested in, and all the people I know in ibanking/consulting seem to have made a career out of becoming whizzes at excel. Plus my work experience (except for the few months in econ consulting) has been at a public research institution, and my understanding was that MBA programs (not to mention other jobs) are looking for more private sector experience.

I would like to hear more about JD/MBA programs; do you need a great deal of private sector experience? I've already taken the GREs and done quite well. I suppose I'd have to take the GMATS + LSATS for these sorts of programs though...I'm sure there are a plethora of threads on this subject...

Thanks for the thoughts guys.

goodthings
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Re: Should I go to law school...

Postby goodthings » Sun Mar 04, 2012 4:26 pm

...
Last edited by goodthings on Sat Apr 05, 2014 2:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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MellowMantis
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Re: Should I go to law school...

Postby MellowMantis » Sun Mar 04, 2012 4:39 pm

Gail wrote:
Flash wrote:
NZA wrote:
NYC Law wrote:No


Stop trying to collect degrees and get a job.


You mean you can't outrun the loan people by going to school until you die?


+1

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NYC Law
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Re: Should I go to law school...

Postby NYC Law » Sun Mar 04, 2012 6:25 pm

dogman123 wrote:Maybe I wasn't very clear about my background. I have a job. I've had one for two years. I've paid off my UG loans with said job and all I have in the way of degrees is a B.A. Surely thinking about getting a J.D. (for the purpose of becoming a lawyer) would not be "degree collecting."

And when I said I don't like paperwork I meant I don't like sorting papers, alphabetizing, and stapling stuff for hours at a time (this is the kind of work I was doing for my insane boss at my first job). If this is ALL anyone does as a lawyer, surely no one is a good fit. I actually love writing, and don't mind research.

bdubs, I think you are spot on about PhD study in economics. It is one of the main reasons why I'm rethinking the whole thing.

2014, thanks for the advice. I think I"ll do just that, although much of it would help determine my fit for law school more than it would the legal profession.

As for pursuing a career in business, that could be a path I explore, but it's hard to find an industry I"m interested in, and all the people I know in ibanking/consulting seem to have made a career out of becoming whizzes at excel. Plus my work experience (except for the few months in econ consulting) has been at a public research institution, and my understanding was that MBA programs (not to mention other jobs) are looking for more private sector experience.

I would like to hear more about JD/MBA programs; do you need a great deal of private sector experience? I've already taken the GREs and done quite well. I suppose I'd have to take the GMATS + LSATS for these sorts of programs though...I'm sure there are a plethora of threads on this subject...

Thanks for the thoughts guys.


Hm. In that case:

NYC Law wrote:No

bdubs
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Re: Should I go to law school...

Postby bdubs » Sun Mar 04, 2012 6:36 pm

dogman123 wrote:As for pursuing a career in business, that could be a path I explore, but it's hard to find an industry I"m interested in, and all the people I know in ibanking/consulting seem to have made a career out of becoming whizzes at excel. Plus my work experience (except for the few months in econ consulting) has been at a public research institution, and my understanding was that MBA programs (not to mention other jobs) are looking for more private sector experience.

I would like to hear more about JD/MBA programs; do you need a great deal of private sector experience? I've already taken the GREs and done quite well. I suppose I'd have to take the GMATS + LSATS for these sorts of programs though...I'm sure there are a plethora of threads on this subject...


You have a shot at a JD-MBA if you can write a good application. However, I'm not sure that I would recommend that you pursue it until you figure out what your career objectives are.

Frankly, it sounds like you like being an academic type. Unfortunately the route to academic type jobs is by pursuing academic goals, like a PhD. Business is generally not academic, and neither is the vast majority of law (the only exceptions are legal academics, judges, and a very small set of appellate lawyers).

Set up some appointments to speak with some professors and try to find out why your application was weak. Talk to them about your options and try to see if getting a PhD is the best option to accomplish your goals.

Only go to law school if you're interested in being a lawyer who deals with relatively mundane (in an academic's eyes) business issues.

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Gail
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Re: Should I go to law school...

Postby Gail » Sun Mar 04, 2012 6:54 pm

Take the LSAT


If above 175 apply to HYS, if you get in. Yes. You can become an academic and your dreams will come true.


If you can't, then come back and we'll lend your wisdom with 6.8% interest accruing.

alisonmonahan
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Re: Should I go to law school...

Postby alisonmonahan » Tue Mar 06, 2012 1:29 am

I'm sure you can get into some good schools, but I see some possible red flags in what you're saying you like and don't like.

First, lawyers (at least at large firms) don't actually interact with people all that much. It's an incredibly isolating job, which I think a lot of people don't realize. (I certainly didn't.) You have your own office as an associate, generally, and there were lots of days where the only person I spoke to was my secretary. Frankly, it gets depressing if you like talking to other people. Obviously you could do something other than work at a firm, and that might bring you more person-to-person interaction, but the reality is that you probably won't do that sort of work because it's looked down upon.

Second, not liking paperwork is a huge red flag. Most firm work, particularly in the early years, is very boring, and very detail oriented. You're basically the person who has to do the crap no one else wants to do, which involves keeping track of lots of deadlines, responding to silly discovery requests, reviewing documents, etc. If you hate that kind of stuff, you're probably going to hate being a lawyer. (In theory, it gets more interesting eventually, but there's always a lot of trivial detail to keep up with, even when you're the one drafting the briefs.)

Finally, if you don't enjoy reading, it's probably not the profession for you. That's pretty much all you do, particularly in law school. Don't over-romanticize the discussion aspects of law school. It's basically a ton of reading, and fairly superficial Socratic discussion in class.

So, bottom line, I'd strongly suggest you talk to a ton of lawyers before making a decision. If you can't find someone who's job you'd like to have, don't go. If you do find someone who has a job you want, do what they did to get where they are.

And, this might be helpful, for the more existential "should you go" questions: http://thegirlsguidetolawschool.com/sho ... aw-school/.

Good luck!

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TrojanHopeful
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Re: Should I go to law school...

Postby TrojanHopeful » Tue Mar 06, 2012 1:34 am

Gail wrote:
Flash wrote:
NZA wrote:
NYC Law wrote:No


Stop trying to collect degrees and get a job.


You mean you can't outrun the loan people by going to school until you die?


What!? Wait.....what am I doing here then?

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Indifferent
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Re: Should I go to law school...

Postby Indifferent » Tue Mar 06, 2012 1:36 am

didn't read, but the answer is probably no.

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20130312
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Re: Should I go to law school...

Postby 20130312 » Tue Mar 06, 2012 2:27 am

Indifferent wrote:didn't read, but the answer is probably definitely no.

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MrHaephestus
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Re: Should I go to law school...

Postby MrHaephestus » Tue Mar 06, 2012 4:49 pm

Nope.

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boosk
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Re: Should I go to law school...

Postby boosk » Tue Mar 06, 2012 6:18 pm

maybe




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