March 24th, 2015 at 5:46 PM ^

It's funny how there's still a prevailing school of thought that, "Law School will be great, even if you never become a lawyer!"

I imagine the decision to attend Law School for people who don't necessarily think they want to be a lawyer is similar to the thought process for getting married. By the time you wake up and realize the ramifications it's already too late.


March 24th, 2015 at 6:44 PM ^

There is obviously a portion who it makes sense for. But still when you have a Supreme Court Justice saying the nation's brightest and best would be better off going to Medical or Business school, there's a problem.


March 24th, 2015 at 7:03 PM ^

I fell into it like you. I was in law school for a semester and change, and when I left the dean tried to convince me people did a lot of other things with a law degree other than becoming an attorney. Thing is, I could do all of those things without the law degree. I'm lucky I saw the light when I did.

Urban Warfare

March 25th, 2015 at 10:37 AM ^

I was in the class of '11.  At our bar admissions ceremony, the chief justice of the Ohio Supreme Court spent half her speech listing all the things we could do with a law degree even if we never worked as an attorney.  It was one of the most depressing moments of my legal career.  


March 24th, 2015 at 6:54 PM ^

There is ample evidence that law schools are churning out students with law degrees at a rate far faster than the marketplace can absorb, and specific evidence that many schools are massaging the data regarding recent graduates' employment. This for six-figures in debt, exacerbated in part by a prohibition on holding a job during your first year of school.

I'm waiting for the sequel article in three years of the Law School class of 2018 pursuing an LLM because they have nothing better to do.

Personally, I'm doing fine, as my wife is the lawyer in the family and makes a good salary. But when I was looking to change careers 6 years ago, before we were married, I'm glad she talked me out of law school. I've got a fine job that I actually like after getting a degree that cost half as much. I still get to pay loan debt, but at least we could afford a mortgage on the house we wanted. But there are too many lawyers relative to the legal job market, and it's not close. Which is terrible for people with $150k debt.


March 24th, 2015 at 8:29 PM ^

i bounced my way through all 3 years, along with clerking.   who is 'prohibiting' that, and how on earth could they possibly enforce it?

secondly, the financials have changed dramatically since i went to school (our 'papers' were chiseled into stone tablets) but really nobody cares where you went to school after your first job.   if you really want to be a lawyer then hustle for a job, get to know people, develop a personality and some enthusiasm and you'd be surprised what might come your way.   but i do agree with the philosophy of not going b/c  you don't have other options.  go if you want to - then proceed with an enthusiasm unknown to mankind. 


March 26th, 2015 at 9:03 AM ^

DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT perform a Google image search of the words "POV" and "conflated".  You will end up getting some very suspicious looks from those in the tech department and it could cost you your job.

East German Judge

March 24th, 2015 at 6:54 PM ^

Quote of the Day....

“It’s challenging, sounds nice at cocktail parties, and a great match for the hazy, loosely-defined credentials I’ve gained with my cultural studies degree.”

We can all turn off our computers and smart phones now.


March 24th, 2015 at 5:42 PM ^

I came here to downvote you and tell you how law school is a bad decision for the majority of students considering it.  I'm glad I didn't have to do that.


March 24th, 2015 at 10:45 PM ^

Is law school really that bad of a decision?

I'm looking at transitioning from active duty to the Marine Corps Reserve in a couple years and plan to go to law school. I would love to go to Michigan Law but that's probably nothing more than a reach school for a guy like me. I'm looking more at Pepperdine Law out in Malibu where they have the Yellow Ribbon program for my GI Bill benefits and I can graduate without any school loan debt. Moreover, they have an accelerated program where I can complete law school in two years.

It doesn't sound like a terrible career move to me. But after reading two pages of posts in this thread, it sounds like a lot of people aren't big fans of law school. Is it because of the job market being saturated with law grads? Is that more for Big Law or does that trickle down to prosecutor offices as well?


March 24th, 2015 at 11:08 PM ^

live in CA, provided it is a full ride.


But the job prospects are still pretty mediocre. Only about 50% of grads get full time, long term jobs that require a JD. Only 13% get the high paying, prestigious gigs popularly associated with lawyering. 20% of the class is straight up unemployed 9 months after graduating. 


March 24th, 2015 at 11:55 PM ^

Thanks for the post.

My fear is to make this career change, graduate after two years, and be unemployed. I have a wife and two kids to support. We've saved up for this for ten years and we can make it for two or three years but that's about it. Like I said, I want to be a Deputy DA but won't snub my nose at a Deputy Public Defender position out of law school. It at least gets my foot in the door. I'm fine with staying in Cali but wouldn't be adverse to leaving if it means having a job or not having a job. Clark County in Nevada seems like a great place to practice criminal law.

Is the 20 percent unemployment statistic you threw out there because 1/5 of the class didn't apply itself? Are unrealistically looking for high paying corporate gigs? Or is the job market just not there... at all...? Once again, I'm not trying to live sunder the overpass with the family by making this career move.


March 25th, 2015 at 12:01 AM ^

State and local budgets are stretched extremely thin.  And a lot of people want to be ADAs or public defenders.  Don't expect those jobs to be available.  I had my first kid five years after graduating, and I still worry about money for her.  That's despite getting a law firm job that paid well right out of law school.  Also, the older you get, the less marketable you become.  So even if you get that firm job, they push you out after some number of years if you don't make partner.  And very few do.  So then what?


March 25th, 2015 at 12:06 AM ^

No, Actually for you, law would be a god choice, if you can find a way to get out without debt (military, scholarship, mommy and daddy), it is a great choice. Use your benefits. Then I think you have to stay in five years, or stay in 20 years, and get your pension. You will have to some time at sea or abroad, but then finagle your way onto Capital Hill or DOD and when you retire at 46 full bird making a pension of $80,000 per year you can work at a defense contractor for another $200k.


March 25th, 2015 at 3:22 AM ^

My friends at big firms needed to bill 1800-2100 hours a year. Bill. That means insane hours. And God forgive you if you screw up. They also don't honestly pay all that well for the hours. Highly political. Retirement benefits aren't great, insurance is average at best.

Yinka Double Dare

March 25th, 2015 at 10:28 AM ^

If you get out with no debt, I have no problem with someone going to law school even if they aren't sure they want to be a lawyer. Your only sacrifice is time, really. Frankly, I found law school to be quite enjoyable. 

I steer people away from law school who would be taking out loans and don't know exactly what they want to do. There just aren't the jobs out there to support it, and a many people who graduate end up with no job in law, or a low-paying one, and have crushing non-dischargeable debt that they can't pay back. Even those who do get a BigLaw job that allows them to pay down those loans can feel trapped in that job longer than they'd want because they need that higher salary to pay the loans.

Urban Warfare

March 25th, 2015 at 10:45 AM ^

Accelerated law school programs are a horrible idea if you actually want to practice law.   My understanding is that you take classes year round, meaning you can't really clerk or intern anywhere, so you graduate with no practical skills and no contacts. 

As far as career stats, for recent classes, roughly 44% of law school grads actually get a permanent job that requires bar admission within nine months of graduating.  That includes people doing document review, which is like the Wal-Mart of law jobs.  If you have a degree in hard sciences or something and want to do patent law, go for it.  Otherwise, I'd urge you to seriously consider it and read some of the law school scam blogs. 


March 24th, 2015 at 5:42 PM ^

Thank god this isn't for real.  My wife and I are the better part of a decade out and are still paying an extra monthly rent in law school debt payments.  It affects every decision we make, and it wasn't worth it.  And we were among those lucky few to get immediately employed in jobs that paid well enough.  Stay far away from this scam, young Wolverines.


March 24th, 2015 at 5:54 PM ^

I wouldn't call it a complete scam(I'd still recommend going to Law School if you can get into Michigan or any other top program), but the idea that a middling Law School is going to vault you into the upper middle class is long gone.

It's funny that people who supposedly are here to protect from scams are the ones doing the scamming.


March 24th, 2015 at 6:20 PM ^

The problem is so-called "law schools" don't teach students how to practice law.  Call them "Writing and Analysis Schools," and I wouldn't call them a scam.  With a more accurate name, I probably wouldn't have been suckered by the word "law" and my top 20 school's inflated job and grad income stats into paying well more than $100K to become a better writer.


March 24th, 2015 at 11:55 PM ^

How to write and file a complaint.  How to perform discovery.  How to depose a witness.  Motions to make before, during, and after trial.  How to draft a contract.  How to facilitate a business transaction, such as a merger or acquisition.  I learned none of these things in law school.  I learned all of them in my years of working for law firms.  I just don't know how people who start solo practices do it.


March 25th, 2015 at 9:13 AM ^

Most law schools offer courses in the things that you talk about.  I don't think there are too many law schools that don't offer a course on contract drafting or discovery.  Mine certainly did.  As far as drafting a complaint -- the major part of drafting a complaint is composed of the very thing you learn first in law school -- identifying possible legal issues from a set of facts.  You want the law school to teach you how to put it into numbered paragraphs and file it with a court?  I think most attorneys can figure that out.  And your civ pro class probably taught you when you need to move for a directed verdict at trial.

Of course you'll learn more about these things and get better at them as you practice.  But the required courses in law school are absolutely necessary things that you need to learn.  If you want to learn very practical, hands-on things during 2L and 3L, most law schools allow you to do that.

Everyone Murders

March 24th, 2015 at 5:53 PM ^

A sincere tip of the hat to the OP for breaking away from law school when the OP realized it wasn't for him/her.  When you've got yourself in a law school hole and you realize you don't like it, set down the shovel.

Most of those not suited (for whatever reason) to being lawyers still soldier on, amassing debt, a J.D., and a frustrating career path before finding another calling.  Of those poor souls, almost all would be envious of the OP's decision.

It reminds me of Marge Simpson's advice to Homer when he wanted to join the circus as a human cannonball - "Just because you can do something doesn't mean you have to do it!"

(Homer's response was for the ages - "You know, Marge, in a lot of ways you and I are very different people".)


March 24th, 2015 at 5:56 PM ^

Law school is something that requires a lot of research before going into it. It amazes me that some of my classmates are going to regional schools at sticker price thinking they're going to make 150k+ at graduation and the massive loans will be worth it. The number of people that make that amount out of law school is minimal (especially from a regional school) and the jobs that do pay that amount can be brutal. I plan on going to law school, but not without substantial scholarship money. If I can't get the money, I'll choose another profession. 

Cali Wolverine

March 24th, 2015 at 6:04 PM ^

I graduated from Michigan with decent grades, had no idea what I wanted to do (other than make $) and my father was a I said..."I guess I will go to law school." Atter 3 dreadful years of law school, studying for/taking the bar and 10 years of mostly business litigation (fighting with other attorneys and clients and working weekends on disputes without a real dog in the fight...while not spending time with my family), I went in house...and am now a Vice President and director of marketing at a tech company.

Everyone takes different paths in life, but I wish I went to business school and could get those 13 years of my life back. From a work is awesome not being a "lawyer" anymore. So if you don't know what you want to do...go to business school.


March 24th, 2015 at 6:27 PM ^

...I agree for the most part.  I went to Ross for MBA and it was the best decision of my professional life.  Many JDs came over to Ross because they figured out the shit of having a career in law.

The only negative is that Ross (like most top MBA programs) don't really accept students right out of undergrad.  Gotta get about 5 years of good experience.


March 24th, 2015 at 6:32 PM ^

I received my law degree from Michigan and have been practicing litigation for 7+ years.  I was able to make great money right out of law school, but the money could never make up for the lifestyle and the frustrations of the practice of law.

I will shortly be giving up my license and pursuing non-law interests, and I don't think that I am going to miss it one bit.  There is a reason why lawyers have very high rates of alcoholism, substance abuse and suicide.  It is not a career that is for everybody.  Even those that may have great "legal minds" are often driven out by the realities of the practice.  I wish new lawyers lots of luck, but many of them will be out of the practice within 5 years and their debt loads will follow them for much longer.


March 24th, 2015 at 8:41 PM ^

Just got back from a deposition and I truly believe there are 2 types of litigators: those who think they are always right, and those who perceive reality as it is. The first group just live to argue all day long. They just like to argue, about everything. The rest get frustrated by them. Litigation is a tough grind.


March 25th, 2015 at 12:19 AM ^

I Got my mba jointly with my Jd. If you only knew what a joke b school is in comparison, you would slit your wrists. Going from ass hole Socratic real property profs ready to humiliate you to a group discussion about leadership and group projects where everyone gets an "A" for participating.


March 24th, 2015 at 7:50 PM ^

I so agree. I have an mba and a Jd and tell everyone deciding between the two to get a mba. However, if you find the right niche, law can be the most fulfilling career. I work for myself, choose my own clients and do very well. But most of my lawyer friends are miserable.

2 Walter Smith

March 24th, 2015 at 6:05 PM ^

Law school has been a default for college graduates since I graduated in 1994, and probably before then.  Knowing what I know now, the majority of those that chose law school by default regret their decision.