Is becoming a lawyer a mistake?

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

  1. chiffonhead

    chiffonhead Well-Known Member

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    I haven't lived nearly long enough to say this, but I really think that doing what you enjoy is the only way to avoid making a mistake in your professional life.

    Soph, my diversity committee says hi. [​IMG]

    amen. my dream job would be in publishing or teaching. to be specific, I'd love to be a music critic/editor.

    if I ever get the chance to get out of the legal field, I'll welcome it. it's too stressful. bill bill bill...make money - that's all I ever hear. tons of deadlines, etc.
     


  2. Mr. Checks

    Mr. Checks Senior member

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    amen. my dream job would be in publishing or teaching. to be specific, I'd love to be a music critic/editor.

    if I ever get the chance to get out of the legal field, I'll welcome it. it's too stressful. bill bill bill...make money - that's all I ever hear. tons of deadlines, etc.


    Hate to dump this on you, but you have the chance right now, today, to do whatever you want to with your life.
     


  3. skalogre

    skalogre Senior member

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  4. Pedantic Turkey

    Pedantic Turkey Senior member

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    There are some very real problems with the state of education in law schools, but you're off the mark when you say "any dope who can read and write can get into law school these days." Most law schools are not that selective, true. But the top tier schools are very selective--if for no other reason than because the LSAT and GPA expectations are set very high.

    Well, there are a lot of schools that aren't selective at all. It's not "literate and you're in" but it's darn close. And then there's the "special cases." I happen to know of at least one second-tier law school where a low 140s LSAT and skin of the right color will get you a 70% scholarship.

    Then end result of it, and I think my point was, the title of the OP is inaccurate-- becoming a lawyer is still a good idea, but just going to law school isn't anything and in and of itself.
     


  5. penguin vic

    penguin vic Senior member

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    maybe so, but I'm not trapped into kissing ass for 10 years just to make partner and up my salary. I'd rather do my work, go home at 5, have a great income and be happy. I know I wouldn't be happy as an attorney. what are these other "options" anyway, besides making partner?

    in my state, there is no such thing as job security anyway. we are an "at will" state - anyone can be fire with or without cause.


    In Australia, the goal of 'making partner' as the be all and end all is becoming more and more insignificant in the minds of Gen X and Y lawyers. Your comment re kissing ass for 10 years seems to indicate that you're in the type of firm that you don't want to be in.

    I'm as cynical as the next guy but the notion that that's what the law entails seems to indicate you've had a pretty limited exposure to legal practice. This is probably why you see 'making partner' as the only option. Some other options include moving into the corporate field, setting up your own firm, moving to the bar, let alone the non-legal avenues (which I agree are available to lawyers and non-lawyers alike). In short, a lawyer will always have a profession (in the true, perhaps archaic, sense of the word). A paralegal (important as they are), won't.

    amen. my dream job would be in publishing or teaching. to be specific, I'd love to be a music critic/editor.

    if I ever get the chance to get out of the legal field, I'll welcome it. it's too stressful. bill bill bill...make money - that's all I ever hear. tons of deadlines, etc.


    So you don't want actually have any interest in the law, being a paralegal or being a lawyer. Your original comment on how much better off you are being a paralegal because you earn more than associates etc is therefore moot - becoming a lawyer would be a mistake for you. You have no interest in the law. Becoming a paralegal sounds like a mistake as well. You want to be music critic / editor.

    In these circumstances, suggesting that someone else would be mistaken in pursuing a career in law and better off as a paralegal is quite irresponsible.
     


  6. rdawson808

    rdawson808 Senior member

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    True. Why would anyone with half a brain go into teaching.

    You are joking right?


    b
     


  7. CTGuy

    CTGuy Made Guy

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    In Australia, the goal of 'making partner' as the be all and end all is becoming more and more insignificant in the minds of Gen X and Y lawyers. Your comment re kissing ass for 10 years seems to indicate that you're in the type of firm that you don't want to be in.

    I'm as cynical as the next guy but the notion that that's what the law entails seems to indicate you've had a pretty limited exposure to legal practice. This is probably why you see 'making partner' as the only option. Some other options include moving into the corporate field, setting up your own firm, moving to the bar, let alone the non-legal avenues (which I agree are available to lawyers and non-lawyers alike). In short, a lawyer will always have a profession (in the true, perhaps archaic, sense of the word). A paralegal (important as they are), won't.



    So you don't want actually have any interest in the law, being a paralegal or being a lawyer. Your original comment on how much better off you are being a paralegal because you earn more than associates etc is therefore moot - becoming a lawyer would be a mistake for you. You have no interest in the law. Becoming a paralegal sounds like a mistake as well. You want to be music critic / editor.

    In these circumstances, suggesting that someone else would be mistaken in pursuing a career in law and better off as a paralegal is quite irresponsible.


    Despite my original comments-- I agree with this statement. Having the law degree will raise your earning potential over the course of your career and also the most lowly associate makes more than a paralegal at the same firm.
     


  8. HomerJ

    HomerJ Senior member

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    You are joking right? b
    That was a follow up on Piobaire's post regarding the "dregs" going into teaching.
    The thing with teachers lacking prestige is a chicken/egg issue for me. Do they get low wages due to the fact the profession gets the dregs of post-secondary graduates or do these dregs tend to go into teaching, ergo the wages are low? We can toss in other things like the teachers' unions, etc., but I think it comes down to compensation. If teachers suddenly started to have an average graduation salary of 75k, we would see a marked increase in the quality of teachers IMO. [​IMG] This is about female candidates only, but it was a fast Google on the subject and I was sure someone would ask for citation over people getting low SATs and heading into Education for their undergrads.
    Here's the SAT scores of various inteded college majors on p.17. Intended education majors ranked 27th out of 38 in Critical Reading, 28th out of 38 in Mathematics, 27th out of 38 in Writing. Intended education majors performed even worse than this ranking would indicate because the intended majors that they outscored had so few test-takers and were in fields such as Construction, Precision Production, Culinary Services, Transportation and Materials Moving [​IMG]. So I said, "Why would anyone with half a brain go into teaching." It was hyperbole but in the context of this thread (return on investment), I wasn't joking; getting a college degree to teach K-12 is dumb. It's not as bad as I thought now that I've looked at salary figures. ~45k median salary, 36.5 hours/week, lots of days off. So the compensation isn't utter crap as everyone clamoring for higher teacher pay would have us believe and other intended majors such as Librarian or Philosphy and Religious Studies (who aren't exactly raking it in) are drawing high-scoring seniors. I don't know what to say about that. It really does attract the bottom of the barrel.
     


  9. lawyerdad

    lawyerdad Senior member

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    Intended education majors performed even worse than this ranking would indicate because the intended majors that they outscored had so few test-takers and were in fields such as Culinary Services

    'Fess up, bob. You only went into teaching because you can't cook. [​IMG]
     


  10. HomerJ

    HomerJ Senior member

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    'Fess up, bob. You only went into teaching because you can't cook. [​IMG]

    Or drive a truck (seriously wtf is Transportation and Materials Moving).

    rdawson, you're a [​IMG] professor if I remember so I doubt this applies to you. 0% of of my professors majored in Education as undergraduates. I don't know how many K-12 teachers were Education majors or how many intended Education majors go onto teach K-12.
     


  11. crease

    crease Well-Known Member

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    Wow, there's a lot of info in this thread.

    Here are my 2 cents regarding some of the issues raised:

    - A Canadian LLB allows you to write the BAR for NY, Massachusetts, and California.

    - You do not have to be in the top 10% of your class to get a BigLaw job in Canada. Usually being in the top 25% of your class will get you a few looks for OCI's. Granted, the market rate is $100K CAD in Toronto as opposed to NY's $160K.

    - A joint MBA/JD (or LLB) will not necessarily make it any easier to find employment. At the end of the day, it all comes down to your grades and how well you interview.

    - For those aspiring future law students, think twice, thrice, and then once more before you decide to submit that application. Understand why you want to go to law school (hopefully it's because you want to be a lawyer).

    - If your interest in the law is synonymous with money, consider an MBA instead.

    - And like anything else, law school will be what you make of it. The readings are often dull and gray. But there's the chance to really develop skills in critical thinking, and you'll certainly see things from a different perspective, for better or for worse. From that angle, law school can actually be kind of cool.
     


  12. RJman

    RJman Posse Member Dubiously Honored

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    the most lowly associate makes more than a paralegal at the same firm.
    Depends. With overtime, paras can outearn some associates.
     


  13. rdawson808

    rdawson808 Senior member

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    It's not as bad as I thought now that I've looked at salary figures. ~45k median salary, 36.5 hours/week, lots of days off.

    So the compensation isn't utter crap as everyone clamoring for higher teacher pay would have us believe


    I would take two issues with this. The first is that the pay and benefits are all that great. It's all relative, as has been pointed out. You are citing a median salary. What's starting salary in your area? That's far more important. For instance, where I used to live, teachers did not make enough money to live in town. (Same was true for firefighters, cops, and others.) Also, the statistic that a teacher works only 36.5 hours per week is obviously wrong. All the teachers in the room raise your hands and total up your weekly hours. Way more than this. This is the official number. It doesn't count any work done after hours, of which there is much when you are teaching. Further, the purported "summers off" rarely turns out to be true either. Too many teachers end up spending their summers working another job or continuing their education (per state or federal mandates).

    The second is that the thread clearly has made it to the point where we have acknowledged that non-pecuniary benefits, and not just money, count in determing whether a job is "worth it." This is true for being a lawyer or a teacher. What are the hours like, are you fulfilled doing your job, etc. Balance this with not just salary, but also costs.

    Specifically, teaching has some serious costs--especially if you are a public school teacher. You are expected to raise the child in the classroom, you are given less authority in your own classroom, you are expected to teach to exams that do not encourage learning but encourage testing. This isn't just "what they say" this is what my sister, my mother-in-law, and many others that I know who are teachers say.

    So who with half a brain would do it? You're right, no one would. Should people, yes.

    Sorry, rant now over.

    b
     


  14. topbroker

    topbroker Senior member

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    ^ +1
     


  15. aleksandr

    aleksandr Senior member

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    Wow, there's a lot of info in this thread.

    Here are my 2 cents regarding some of the issues raised:

    - A Canadian LLB allows you to write the BAR for NY, Massachusetts, and California.

    - You do not have to be in the top 10% of your class to get a BigLaw job in Canada. Usually being in the top 25% of your class will get you a few looks for OCI's. Granted, the market rate is $100K CAD in Toronto as opposed to NY's $160K.

    - A joint MBA/JD (or LLB) will not necessarily make it any easier to find employment. At the end of the day, it all comes down to your grades and how well you interview.

    - For those aspiring future law students, think twice, thrice, and then once more before you decide to submit that application. Understand why you want to go to law school (hopefully it's because you want to be a lawyer).

    - If your interest in the law is synonymous with money, consider an MBA instead.

    - And like anything else, law school will be what you make of it. The readings are often dull and gray. But there's the chance to really develop skills in critical thinking, and you'll certainly see things from a different perspective, for better or for worse. From that angle, law school can actually be kind of cool.


    The only interesting readings I remember from law school were the tort cases. Hm, do I see a trend here?

    Oh, and I'm six months out of law school but I don't see myself as being able to 'think' better than before I went in, unless it was so subtle a process that I can't even tell.
     


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