Friday, November 16, 2007

Whatcha Gonna Do When You Get Out Of Law School

The LSAT is approaching and the application deadlines hear, so it seems appropriate to dedicate YET ANOTHER post to stopping blind law school application. Amber links to this largely accurate post about why you shouldn't do it.

Among the highlights - this well phrased encapsulation of the type of people you'll get to work with - Jerks:

It's not always big things -- though big things are the ones that hit the news -- but patterns of obstreperous behavior and downright stupidity that can wear you down over a day-to-day basis. Bickering over stupid document production requests, delays, phantom schedule conflicts... all these things add up. Contemporary lawyering is often an expensive form of childish game-playing with the rules of civil procedure. It's psychological warfare for minute tactical advantage.
Those who know me know that I salivate over a good procedural battle. I relish knowing the playbook. I frolic in well-timed motions. But even I want to stab out my eyes when things get bogged down in the above-mentioned minutae. Seriously. It's not cool. In congress, it's fun. In the law, it's just retarded.

Also of interest - the reasons why this ain't no intellectual funhouse:

Unintellectualism. Contrary to popular belief, the law is not a particularly "intellectual" profession. Most of the reasoning in legal argument is patently casuistic. Legal arguments are often made in a "kitchen sink" fashion, throwing every conceivably plausible argument into a brief, regardless of the relative strength of the arguments or coherence of the submission as a whole. The practice of law is the development of a habit of extreme intellectual dishonesty where the routine is to state one's opponent's arguments as uncharitably as possible in aid of weakening their impact and conceal every possible fact or principle that is against one's interest which one isn't explicitly required to disclose.
Sounds about right.

This past weekend, an old friend approached me to ask my what I think of Hastings - my law alma mater (my lalma mater?). I told him I couldn't answer that question until I knew why he wanted to know. So we reconvened later in a long, long day to discuss his Life Plans. Now, this guy is awesome. We don't hang out a lot, but he's involved in some of the extracurriculars I take pretty seriously. He's a good union guy - longshore, to be exact. A good egg, through and through. So why ruin it, I asked him.

He gave me a very well thought-out answer to the "why do you want to go" question. He had practical reasons. Hell, they were labor law reasons, which I should totally be keen on, right? Frankly, he sounded like me: he wants to be a lawyer so he can sit across the table from other lawyers when it comes time to renegotiate his contract and really ably represent his union brothers and sisters. That's a far, far better reason than most others you'll here. Except that what he wants is to be an effective negotiator, not a lawyer. In the Venn diagram of life are those two things frequently linked? Sure. Always? Hell no.

So why do it? Why expose yourself to the debt and the time out from a career you love, I asked.

And, as most of these conversations go, the session ended up more about him convincing me that law school is a good decision than me effectively convincing him that *maybe* I know what I'm talking about.

I truly wish him the best. He's a practical, reasonable, smart guy. I think he can get what he wants out of law school and come out less saddled with debt/angst/regret than many others. I just hope, as he's planning to, he finds someone to foot the bill.

Bottom line: don't. go. For realz. Don't go. Unless you want to be a lawyer. And stop nodding your head that you do, you do!, want to be a lawyer, because you really have no idea what it means.


Wonder Woman said...

I've met a few lawyers that regret going to law school but that's easy to say after you've accomplished it. I know, it's counterintuitive to you because you have already accomplished it but if you have a memory, you will remember why you wanted to go to law school in the first place. Whatever the reason may be, it was a valid one. You will always be a lawyer and people will always admire that because they know it's tough. Whether you act like an arrogant pig is up to you and I'm sure you've seen a psychiatrist once or twice. I'm a paralegal that has to deal with immigration and criminal defense clients. I hear their mouths ALL the time. I'm polite, cool, calm and collected and many clients thank me for calming them down. I never take any of their yelling personally, never. I want to be a lawyer because I love helping out the Hispanic community. There are a lot of Notary Publics who pass off as lawyers in my community and I feel my community needs me.

Anonymous said...

Hi Grace,

Your profile, "blogs," and the ages-old post on which you commented leads me to believe you're not a real person or at least slighlty shady and trolling the web. Regardless . . . .

I'll disprove your theory by saying I regretted the decision to attend law school by about six weeks into law school.

You're hinting at some sort of (reverse?) cognative dissonance theory validating the decision to attend law school. That doesn't really work here either.

Many people do not, in fact, admire lawyers and no lawyer deserves admiration merely for completing law school or passing the bar. Works of a certain character call for admiration - not just paying tuition or studying hard.

I think it's fantastic if you are a great, calming, attentive paralegal. But it doesn't have much to do with the price of eggs.

You don't need to be a lawyer to help your community - Hispanic or otherwise - and you should report such Notaries to both their appropriate oversight board and the state bar.

So, as I've always said: if you want to be a lawyer, go to law school. If you don't, do not go. It's pretty simple.

me said...


Being slightly shady and trolling the web I happened upon this blog. I'm trying my hardest to find someone that can really convince me not to go to law school. I am even unfortunately ready to make acquaintances with those sour individuals such as yourself.

Like Grace, and from the sound of things yourself, I find it difficult to take no for an answer. I doubt had this masterpiece fallen your way before law school you would have been swayed at all, and to think otherwise you know is a lie.

P.S. don't pretend like you didn't stay in law school because you didn't want to otherwise you would have left. It's pretty simple.

me..again said...

haha my second to last sentence is awful but you know what i meant

cd said...

Um, okay, me. You're pretty convinced about what I'm sure about, so maybe there's not much point in replying.

I'm not sure I could've been convinced, no. Many very smart, very good people tried to convince me and I still went.

Oh - I should interject: I'm hardly a sour person. I think law school is fantastic if you would like to become licensed to practice law. If you don't want to practice law, don't go to law school. There's nothing to be sour about either way.

I remained in law school because I let my ego be my guide. I hated the thought of anyone else thinking I left because I couldn't hack it. I'm not a quitter but I take that way too far sometimes, even when it goes against my interests.

By all means, basically nameless, self-proclaimed troll, get thee to law school and go with my blessing. said...

Haha thanks. I'll be sure to mention this blessing in my personal statement. Me bothering you aside thanks for the blog. I love reading these sort of personal opinions to gain perspective on the issue. It helps. So thanks.