I am a former practicing attorney, graduate of the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA ) and the George Washington University School of Law (GW Law). Law school was one of the best experiences of my life and my experience practicing law has certainly been a learning experience. I quickly learned that the practice of law was not for me, but the information and knowledge garnered was exceptional. My law degree remains to be one of my biggest assets in business and as I pursue my entrepeneurial endeavors, I have been very fortunate to not have been srapped to working 100 hour weeks to pay back law school loans. Following are the top ten (10) reasons not to go to or attend law school and how each has effected my life.
The best reason not to go to law school and not to become a lawyer is this: CLIENTS. Clients destroy the practice of law and in fact destroy the enjoyment of most businesses, however in law, clients are the worst. Clients hardly ever pay their bills, insist on running the show, though they know nothing about the law, and torment you with incessant calls and emails.
Clients are not for me, some people put up with clients and their whining. I, however seek to create value to users through new business opportunities. No more hand holding and babying grownups.
Law school is absurdly expensive. Most of us don't realize how much money we have just borrowed until we are forced to make our first payment. It's ridiculous! Generally speaking unless your parents subsidize your studies, then plan on paying back your student loans for the rest of your life or for the next 45 years, whichever comes first. Also, whatever salary you may make with your new "firm job" will be severely cut into while making these law school payments.
I am a student loan baby totaling over $120,000 for three years and these loans are strapped to my back for quite some time. At 22 years old, I didn't know fully what I was getting myself into. I thought I was doing the right thing for me. Fortunately, for me, my private business and partnerships have given me the flexibility to pursue my passions which are not in a law firm and I look forward to paying them off soon. Most people however are not so lucky and significant student loan debt is no fun to wake up to every morning over and over again!
The top jobs at firms out of law school are some of the highest competitive jobs in the country. Sure these jobs can often offer you starting salaries of upwards of $120,000, but remember you have significant law school loans to pay back and you are competing for a job that 0.00001 percent of you will get. Additionally, generally speaking your chance at a decent job plummets significantly if you are not at a Top 25 law school or not in the top 5% of your class. Imagine graduating with over $120,000 in debt and praying to get a job that pay s you $36,000 because that is all that is available. On top of all that, you must take the job because you have loans to repay. Mom, Dad, I need to move back in for the next ten years.
Practicing law is far from a 9-5pm job, in fact at the bigger firms it's far from a 9-7pm job. I personally don't have a problem with work but the mundane paper pushing you will be doing isn't necessarily inspiring. Prepare to spend nights in the office, weekends in the office and holidays in the office. All for what? So your managing partner who has gone through this in his past can spend the next week in the Bahamas. When does your time come to be that managing partner? Approximately 22 years from your start date. Good Luck.
Breaking it down further, based on an excellent salary of approximately $120,000 per year, which can only be garnered at the larger firms, you will work approximately 70 hours a week, probably more. Over the course of the year this equals approximately $33.00 an hour. I know some retail managers that make this.
For those of you who don't know, Attorney / Lawyers bill each client per hour of work or even bill for partial increments of time spent on the client. Therefore, if you spend 10 hours at work, most firms require you to bill 8 hours a day. That's 8 hours of work for a client in which your firm is billing that client $200 to $750 an hour. Even if you were to account for every hour and actually spend that time working for the client, every client will complain! You are in a lose / lose situation. The hours you bill are always too much for your client, but never enough for the firm. This is why extra hours and Saturday's and Sundays become important days in the office so you can do more billing.
This beast is two or three days, depending on your state of hypothetical hypotheticals and nonsensical nonsense questions that you will never be confronted with again in your life let alone career. You will study like an animal for three months, only surfacing from your dungeon to eat and feel some sunlight on your face for one insane exam. Plus, if you fail and 40%of you overall will, you have to do it all over again in six months. That's six months of telling your family and friends that you will pass it next time and you have it all figured out. Don't fail it again as 33% of you will and then become suicidal. $120,000 in school loans, holding off on the $36,000 job and no bar certification. Damn!
I failed the California bar on my first attempt and though it was close, the excruciating three months between the first bar and the next bar were brutal. Also, I was overly confident after my first attempt, thus maybe I deserved to be humbled by the almighty bar. Happy to note, that I passed it the second time and thus didn't hit the suicidal mind state.
Law school certainly isn't designed to teach you how to make money, however its focus is to make you think like a lawyer. Thinking like a lawyer doesn't necessarily translate to success in the real world. Most of the lessons you will learn will be in the first three years of your law firm or the first few weeks, when you realize this isn't for you. The only problem is that you have $120,000 worth of student loans to repay.
I know that college went by extremely fast, but that was college. Law school is a different beast, with a poor social scene and students who are so competitive that they do not leave the library ever. This time creeps by. Also, breaks are not spent on vacation, however they must be spent improving your resume so that you can get a good job when you graduate. Think of law school as working hard while in school, approximately 70 hours a week only to work during your summers 50 hours a week. They don't want to work you too hard during your summers, because they are ultimately trying to hire you and then force you into their labor force.
Generally speaking, law school students are competitive, anal, nerds. They certainly are not the guys and girls you had a blast with drinking, dancing and partying all night. Your new friends and classmates will live in the library and will not find much time away from their books.
Generally, for most courses, your entire semester grade will depend on one final exam right before Christmas and one final exam right before summer break. Imagine the stress that will ride on your back as you prepare and then await your grade with no indication as to where you stand. Additionally, all your professors will be traveling and unreachable.
Law school professors are some of the most pretentious and arrogant people on this earth. They know everything about everything. In office hours you will find yourself thinking that God is talking to you and then you will realize it is your criminal law professor engaged in some diatribe about Moses. What does this have to do with Law? Nothing! But can you stop him from speaking...NO! Your grade depends on it!
Just by accepting to go to law school, to your friends and family you have now become a legal authority and the lawyer they know. Before you step foot on campus you will be asked about torts, criminal law, trusts and estates and everything else you can possibly imagine. Your friends friend got caught or a drug charge, your grandma's cousin needs a will, it will never stop. Additionally, these people never intend on paying you even after you are licensed. And what are you to do? Like every other law student, answer the question with authority even though you have no idea what you are talking about.
Think long and hard about going to law school before making the commitment to do such. Take financial considerations in mind and what you truly see your future career. If you are not the client type, law school would put you in serious debt and you don't want to be confined in a cage with a computer take a couple of years and decide if this is what you truly what to do. Either way...Take some time and decide if this is truly what you want to do!
Also see the Top Reasons To Go To Law School: