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Top Ten (10) Reasons Not To Go To Law School | Karemar

Top Ten (10) Reasons Not To Go To Law School

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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.

1. CLIENTS-

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.

2. COST -

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!

3. TOP JOBS ARE COMPETITIVE -

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.

4. INSANE HOURS -

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.

5. BILLING -

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.

6. THE BAR EXAM IS BRUTAL -

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.

7. YOU LEARN NOTHING PRACTICAL -

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.

8. LONG 3 YEARS / BREAKS ARE HORRIBLE -

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.

9. THE SOCIAL SCENE IS PATHETIC -

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.

10. FINAL EXAMS ARE BRUTAL -

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.

Bonus Reasons

- PROFESSORS ARE ARROGANT -

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!

- CONSTANT QUESTIONS AND HARASSMENT -

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.

IN SUMMARY -

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:

http://www.karemar.com/blog/top-reasons-go-law-school-do-i-want-be-lawye...

25 Comments

I agree.

Very good article. I am also a licensed attorney but in the process of temporarily resigning from the practice of law so I can place my yearly membership dues into my ROTH IRA. I graduated law school in 2003. I had trouble landing a legal job after law school. I was fortunate in that I joined the Army Reserve during college in 1997 and continued with this during and after law school. After I realized that I was not going to get a legal job, I went active duty military. My military pay is pretty good because I am an officer with over 13 years of total service. Monetarily, I do not think I got a good return on the money I spent for going to law school. I am fortunate in that I have only $50,000 in student debt and my interest rate is around 1% on this debt. I managed to keep my student loan debt lower than probably most law students primarily because I lived very cheaply while I attended law school and I had a little help from the military and my parents. Some people felt sorry for me because I lived in a very small camper during my first year of law school. I knew one classmate that did not buy a book for one law school class to save money. The classmate just went to the library and checked out the book. Even though law school was a terrible investment monetarily, I did, however, meet my wife during my time at Law School. Also, we have 2 children. If you want to practice law, create a detailed plan on how you are going to achieve that goal and try your best not to fork out a lot of money. If you like working with your hands and want to own your own business, you should learn a trade like plumbing.

aasdfsad

if your not a shark, don't go in the shark tank. go get a nice kush desk job, be a teacher or something.

it takes a wolf to catch a wolf

My ethics professor once

My ethics professor once said, "Lawyers are the janitors of society."

Many people go after the prestige associated with the top 25 schools, but the brutal reality is that prestige cannot pay your bills, nor can it pay your 100k+ law school debt.

At the end of the day this is a personal decision, one that I am honestly struggling with myself. I want to be able to handle contracts and dispute resolution as it pertains to management and marketing. I'm torn between pursing a JD, MBA, or both. I honestly don't need all of the education involved with both, but some aspects of each degree would prove beneficial to my career goals.

With that said, sometimes I wonder if I should just buy books and educate myself or learn from people that are already in the business (experience), but the accreditation is important for me as I eventually want to open my own firm and recruit and manage clients on my own.

Decisions...

Experience vs. Grades

If you are not in the top 10%, or even the top half, of your class but were able to get internships during the summers of your law school years, how much will that help you in getting a job at a respectable firm upon graduation?

At my school, we had multiple choice final exams and were able to see the distribution: 4 questions separated B's and low-C's on a 60-question exam because of the mandatory bell curve, which suggests luck could easily have been a factor as people were running out of time. It is discouraging knowing this given how much emphasis (whether right or wrong) employers put on grades in their selection process.

Some of us adult law students still having an inkling of fun

Im part of a group of "older" (read, not 20's) law students all of whom have decent first careers, and we are attending law school via the online option for this second (or third!) career. While it is not aba accredited, we will be able to practise in our state (but not others) upon passing the bar and we do have to do it in 4 years, not 3. We bring to it our life long experiences. Our group cooperates and we run it like a professional business according to business principles, using sound management techniques (positive feedback, support, fun, external resources). We are all paying as we go, will graduate with zero debt. Half of us already have guaranteed jobs in the legal field upon passing. The pass rates for traditional schools average somewhere in the 50% range or less for the first timers, depending on where in the country you are, with correspondence schools much lower but incrementally closing the gap. Ultimately, we are scheduled to pass together. However, should life issues stop any of us, we will still be able to apply what we've learned. Thought you might enjoy hearing a different perspective!

I'm thinking about Law School also and I am not a triditional st

I love your article. I am thinking about going to Law School. It is a dream long defered.

I live in New England, any suggestion on which Law School would be recepitive to me?

Your Perspective

Excellent post from your perspective. It is highly appreciated, however definitely not the majority. What types of jobs do you have?

Our career profiles.

Its all over the map.
Commercial RE. Insurance. Sales. PI. Entertainment Industry. RE investment property. Director of a Non profit. Retired. Accounting. Two of our group are in law firms, now. It's not the "traditional" norm, but its certainly a huge growth area in the industry, particularly with the available technology leveraging what we can do. Many traditional law schools are boosting their bottom line by allowing a small percentage of the total credits to be taken on line, adding credability. I wont benefit from it by the time I graduate as much as my daughter clearly will in less than a decade.
(By then my books wont be worth anything, but my outlines should still hold their value!) lol.

Which way to go?

I find myself wanting to go to law school but not wanting to practice law. Over the last three years I have purchased and read numerous case and theory books all of which I have thoroughly enjoyed reading/studying. If I can finance it myself by working days and going to school at night for four years, do you think it is a worthwhile way to spend my time and money? Any thoughtful advice would be greatly appreciated.

Go if you want to learn how shit works in America

I'm telling you, no better education after undergrad than law school. If you can pay-as-you-go, you will be worry-free and in the end, you may want to even practice. Look, you could do worse (like not deciding to do anything). You can apply a law degree to many fields. Just do it.

Excellent Post

Excellent post Jeff. I would like to turn this into a full blog post and give you credit for writing it. Can you add a little information about 1L and the paper chase and then I can do it. Also would you like it linked to something?

Great Questions and Considerations

I went to law school, not necessarily because I wanted to be a lawyer, but 1) I was not sure exactly what I wanted to do, 2) had several interests that a law degree is good for ie. politics, 3) was not ready to work yet. Besides the debt, law school was a wonderful experience and the degree has done some tremendous things for me. I am a small business owner now and though I did practice for a little bit, it has been instrumental in my business and relationships. It comes down to a personal question that involves a lot of thought. At the end of the day, what school do you want to go to? What do you want to do? The knowledge is exceptional.

law school is not a good default option

I am a lawyer and I have found a job that I actually like and that pays reasonably well. So my experience is not as negative as yours. I went to law school quite a few years ago when it was far less expensive and those I graduated with did not end up with huge debts. When I look at the tuition my school is now charging, I question whether I would have been able to attend now.
I think law and law school is good for people who actually want to be lawyers. On its face, this is an odd observation. I saw many, many people, however, who went to law school without much thought as to whether they would enjoy being a lawyer. They went because they did not know what else to do with a liberal arts degree. This is an extremely bad idea.

I would love to see a list

I would love to see a list of other things to do with a law degree besides pratice law. I am in my second year in a full time program and will be foutunate enough to get out almost debt free.

What i found a bit off about your list was the social aspect of law school. Perhaps it that i don't attend a top 25, but i have never seen people party as hard as I did my first year in law school. I fell into the hard drinking as well and I found law school to be like high school on steroids, complete with cliques and lockers. I went in unprepaired for the social mine field and trusted the wrong people. Although the level of real world coolness is far lower and the nerdyness higher rest assured there are still the popular people and a caste system deal with.

Great Idea and Commentary

Perhaps I will follow up on that article. I always do invite others to write and submit articles. As long as it is quality it will be posted and I will attribute it to you. Well written.

My classmates in law school

My classmates in law school were cool. We had a good time after 1L. We still worked hard but we learned to relax a little. After 1L you basically know where you stand even if you improve your grades. In general, there are a lot of misrepresentations about law school and the law schools don't do much to dispel those misrepresentations. A prime example of misrepresentation are the job prospects and salaries.

In my experience the median salaries are more in the $40Ks. Also, the competition is fierce for those low paying jobs that people don't even want. It doesn't register with students that the majority of lawyers work solo or with maybe a few other attorneys. I wouldn't be surprised if a large number of people decided to go solo after being discouraged by recruiters and law firms. That really limits your job search unless you went to a highly reputable law school.

Even grads from top law schools find the job market for entry-level attorneys unforgiving. The legal profession is really classist. You'll find plenty of employers that won't even look at your resume because of the school you attended. It's the most absurd business logic in the world. I think they overestimate how many people outside of the legal profession care about "names."

I cannot tell people not to go to law school because you don't know until you go to law school whether you will qualify for those ridiculous jobs that lure people to law school. However, that wasn't my motive for attending law school. I went for knowledge. I don't recommend it for enlightenment. You would be better off buying legal study aids and self-studying. If you're in no rush and you can afford the experience then it's worthwhile in a sense. However, it's hard for me to recommend it given the stress it creates.

I was fortunate to attend law school with good people. I cannot imagine how horrible the process would have been with really competitive classmates. Fortunately, there weren't a lot of people stressing over getting an A- when the class median was much lower.

Excellent Post

Great information and for the record, I am not saying do not attend law school, however I am saying that certain understandings and misconceptions should be taken care of and careful thought should be used.

Plenty of reasons to go

Work full-time, go to night school, and pay as you go. You won't have any debt when you graduate with a J.D., and you'll have an excellent education that can be applied to almost any field you choose to enter. True, the bar exam is brutal.

i'm a lawyer too...

all of your points are very true...i'm at about $150k in debts and recently passed the bar. low and behold...prospects are not as hot as they appeared they would be before i went to law school.

there are some lawyers who are genuinely good. although it's hard to run into them.

let's see where i am in 10 years...hopefully rich and happy doing something else.

8 8 8 8 10? apparently you

8 8 8 8 10?
apparently you don't learn how to count in law school...

Bingo!

Funny and insightful article! I'm not a big fan of college in general, but it really sounds like law school is tough! Unfortunately most kids are taught to become employees from the beginning when they are asked, "What do you want to be when you grow up," instead of being asked, "How do you want to improve society/the world."

I particularly enjoyed this line:
"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!"

LOL, I have felt that way a lot during school.

Great comment How do you

Great comment

How do you want to improve society/the world.

That definitely is the question everyone should be asking! Love it.

yeah dude

love the article dude fuck lawyers!!!

Wow...

Thank you for the most insightful, intelligent comment of all time...

I am a lawyer

Thank you for the comment, however lawyers are a necessary component of our great nation.

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