Is becoming a lawyer a mistake?

Discussion in 'Business, Careers & Education' started by CTGuy, Feb 4, 2008.

  1. CTGuy

    CTGuy Made Guy

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    I was sent this post by a fellow law school graduate recently and I empathize strongly with the post. Law school is a total waste of money unless you are in the top 10 percent of your class otherwise from a return on investment standpoint you might as well remain in the workforce and for 3 years.
     
  2. yachtie

    yachtie Senior member

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    Bingo. From the view of being almost 20 years out, I have to say that although the work is interesting and well-paying for me, I wouldn't advise anyone to become a lawyer these days. Too much of a buyer's market.

    FWIW, I'm advising my own kids to look elsewhere than the law for a career (even though they're small).
     
  3. lawyerdad

    lawyerdad Senior member

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    It's potentially useful information, but you have to accept the initial premise that the wisdom of one's choice of career can be determined by measuring the monetary ROI.

    If that's how you approach it, the article's conclusions may well be correct.
     
  4. Piobaire

    Piobaire Not left of center?

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    In answer to the OP: yes.

    In answer to any question that will encourage less lawyers: yes [​IMG]
     
  5. CTGuy

    CTGuy Made Guy

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    It's potentially useful information, but you have to accept the initial premise that the wisdom of one's choice of career can be determined by measuring the monetary ROI.

    If that's how you approach it, the article's conclusions may well be correct.


    I can't really understand what else it would be looked at as. I think it's totally disingenous to say that anyone enters law school wanting to be a glorified social worker or something any less than people entering business school want to. However, the reality is that for most grads they will leave highly indebted and making less than 40k, which after loans leaves them making about as much as an entry level college grad-- it's not something they are telling you in orientation.
     
  6. JBZ

    JBZ Senior member

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    http://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_b...nt_go_to_.html

    I was sent this post by a fellow law school graduate recently and I empathize strongly with the post. Law school is a total waste of money unless you are in the top 10 percent of your class otherwise from a return on investment standpoint you might as well remain in the workforce and for 3 years.


    I don't know that I'd go that far. If you go to law school with the intent of becoming a lawyer or with a good idea of how you're going to otherwise use your degree (and the degree is going to give you a leg up), it may be worth it. There are lawyers out there who genuinely love what they do, regardless of how much money they're making. Of course, the cost of the education is something that really needs to be weighed in anyone's deliberations about whether to go and, of course, there are lots of lawyers out there who are unhappy with their jobs.

    However, as the article suggests, if you go to law school thinking you're going to become rich and/or famous and that your degree is going to open all sorts of doors for you, you're in for a rude awakening. This is particularly true if you do not attend a top or second tier school.

    As I've said before in this forum, there may be a lot you can do with a law degree, but there's also a lot you can do without one. I actually think it's a good idea for less people to go to law school. It shouldn't just be a fall-back for college graduates who just don't know what else they should do. It should be populated by people who genuinely want to be lawyers.
     
  7. Mr. Checks

    Mr. Checks Senior member

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    A JD is still a sure ticket to the upper-middle class.

    Maybe not the "upper-middle class" that the WSJ has in mind (what would that be, $500,000/year?)

    Depends on your expectations and your opportunity cost. For me, a no-brainer to do it over again.
     
  8. mishon

    mishon Senior member

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    A pretty gloomy, albeit somewhat honest, look at the profession. I am almost 2 years out and I still enjoy it but the long hours are slowly catching up with me.

    P.S. I will agree that in today's law school, grades are everything,
     
  9. CTGuy

    CTGuy Made Guy

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    I don't know that I'd go that far. If you go to law school with the intent of becoming a lawyer or with a good idea of how you're going to otherwise use your degree (and the degree is going to give you a leg up), it may be worth it. There are lawyers out there who genuinely love what they do, regardless of how much money they're making. Of course, the cost of the education is something that really needs to be weighed in anyone's deliberations about whether to go and, of course, there are lots of lawyers out there who are unhappy with their jobs. However, as the article suggests, if you go to law school thinking you're going to become rich and/or famous and that your degree is going to open all sorts of doors for you, you're in for a rude awakening. This is particularly true if you do not attend a top or second tier school. As I've said before in this forum, there may be a lot you can do with a law degree, but there's also a lot you can do without one. I actually think it's a good idea for less people to go to law school. It shouldn't just be a fall-back for college graduates who just don't know what else they should do. It should be populated by people who genuinely want to be lawyers.
    Fair 'nuff. I guess my opinions are colored by the fact that I am outside the traditional legal field and probably doing better than if I had been dead set on traditional practice. I'm also unsure how old you are, but speaking to a lawyer I sometimes do work for-- things have changed a lot in even the last 10 years. I also would stand by what I said about the top ten percent business. We're even in the same city-- I can tell you that recent grads from Uconn Law and some of the other local places have pretty much faired somewhere along those lines in my experience. If you're not top ten percent, law review, the pretty much forget any chance at a large firm. Tell me otherwise and I am happy to hear it.
     
  10. lawyerdad

    lawyerdad Senior member

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    I think it's totally disingenous to say that anyone enters law school wanting to be a glorified social worker or something any less than people entering business school want to.

    Why? My intention upon entering law school was to work for the Federal PD's office. I may have sold out, but plenty of others did not.

    I know plenty of people who entered with, and followed up on, a goal of public service or public interest law. One of the brightest members of my law school class was clear from day one that he wanted to be a DA, got that job out of law school, and still holds it. Others who easily could have secured high-paying positions sought out competitive but poorly-paying government jobs, or jobs with the ACLU, various environmental law groups, disability advocacy groups, anti death penalty organizations, and the like.

    I can't really speak to the typical motivations of people entering B-school because I haven't been there, and am not really clear whether "something any less" has any meaning aside from "something less exclusively mercenary", but assuming "glorified social worker" means someone whose career goals are more about public service or social justice [however one might define that], it's simply not true that it's "disingenuous to say that anyone enters law school wanting to be a 'glorified social worker'". Far from being disingenuous, it's an undisputable fact I've seen with my own eyes.
     
  11. JBZ

    JBZ Senior member

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    Fair 'nuff. I guess my opinions are colored by the fact that I am outside the traditional legal field and probably doing better than if I had been dead set on traditional practice. I'm also unsure how old you are, but speaking to a lawyer I sometimes do work for-- things have changed a lot in even the last 10 years.

    I'm 38 (not 39, like that middle-aged guy Lawyerdad; and, yes, I'll retire this joke now), and I graduated in 1995. I have no doubt that things have changed, especially with regard to the cost of education. I believe that my tuition for 3 years was something in the neighborhood of $80,000. The WSJ article indicates that it's more like $120,000 now. That's a pretty significant jump in only 12 years.
     
  12. kwilkinson

    kwilkinson Having a Ball

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    I'm 38 (not 39, like that middle-aged guy Lawyerdad; and, yes, I'll retire this joke now

    Like his old ass should? [​IMG]
     
  13. Bic Pentameter

    Bic Pentameter Senior member

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    I attended law school and currently am reassessing the value of the J.D., both economically and psychologically. I went to a top 25-ish school, and graduated in the upper middle of my class.

    Today, I will readily admit that I went to law school for the wrong reasons and that I had unrealistic expectations. The month before I graduated college, I took the GMAT, the MCAT, the LSAT, and all of the other ...ATs that opened graduate school doors at the time. I say only half jokingly that I went to law school because my scores were the highest on the LSAT.

    I lived at home and paid in state tuition. My parents loaned me the money I needed while in school. I finished repaying those interest free loans a few years go.

    Today, I make more on my single salary than both of my parents did. They were public school teachers, each of whom had masters' degrees. I feel odd to make more in my mid-thirties today than my parents did combined in the early nineties.

    In 2006, I made the jump from a smaller comfortable boutique firm to big law. My salary increased by 50%, but my stress level tripled.

    Last Wednesday, I was told that with the downturn in the economy, the big firm no longer needs me. Of course there is a bit of shock associated with losing my job, but the environment was taking quite a toll on my health. It feels good to be unemployed.

    I would have been poorer, but probably happier had I gotten that PhD in modern Asian history.

    Bic
     
  14. hi-val

    hi-val Senior member

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    Isn't this yet another application of the 80/20 rule in sales and just about everything else? That is, 20% of the people make 80% of the money in the field?
     
  15. HomerJ

    HomerJ Senior member

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    I attended law school and currently am reassessing the value of the J.D., both economically and psychologically. I went to a top 25-ish school, and graduated in the upper middle of my class.

    Today, I will readily admit that I went to law school for the wrong reasons and that I had unrealistic expectations. The month before I graduated college, I took the GMAT, the MCAT, the LSAT, and all of the other ...ATs that opened graduate school doors at the time. I say only half jokingly that I went to law school because my scores were the highest on the LSAT.

    I lived at home and paid in state tuition. My parents loaned me the money I needed while in school. I finished repaying those interest free loans a few years go.

    Today, I make more on my single salary than both of my parents did. They were public school teachers, each of whom had masters' degrees. I feel odd to make more in my mid-thirties today than my parents did combined in the early nineties.

    In 2006, I made the jump from a smaller comfortable boutique firm to big law. My salary increased by 50%, but my stress level tripled.

    Last Wednesday, I was told that with the downturn in the economy, the big firm no longer needs me. Of course there is a bit of shock associated with losing my job, but the environment was taking quite a toll on my health. It feels good to be unemployed.

    I would have been poorer, but probably happier had I gotten that PhD in modern Asian history.

    Bic


    [​IMG]

    At least you came to this realization with a lot of life left.
     

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