A surprising number of people answer "no." A really, really surprising number: probably at least 50%. And of the rest, at least another 50% say "well, I'm not sure...I don't think so...but maybe." And these people are not asking my advice idly: they have usually taken the LSATs, and sometimes have already applied to schools. When I ask them why they would got to law school if they certainly-or-probably do not want to practice law, they always give the same response: "Well, it's such a great, all-purpose professional degree."That about covers it.
Memo to all of the people out there who might be thinking the same thing: do not go to law school. Seriously. I know that you have heard that a J.D. is a "great all-purpose degree," but it isn't. That's a lie put about by parents who are trying to trick you into middle-class professionaldom and law schools who are trying to take your money. A J.D. is not an all-purpose degree, it is a law degree. It does not qualify you to become a diplomat, a "senior policy advisor" to anything, a politician, a banker, an aid worker, a political operative, or any of those other jobs that seem like they might be a fun way to satisfy your West Wing fantasies. It qualifies you to be a lawyer, and it doesn't really even do that -there's still the pesky matter of the bar exam. . . .
Imagined J.D.s come with their own proprietary magical thinking, in which dreams of a high salary appear whenever you are feeling broke, and images of skipping a few rungs on the career ladder hover tantalizingly above your mean boss's head. You delight in the potential "security" of having a highly-paid career as a "backup option," while imagining that you would never sell out and stay at a corporate firm; you revel in the prospect of an exciting career scripted by Aaron Sorkin, without wondering how all those legislative aides can live off of $40k a year while servicing their six-figure debts. Imagined J.D.s can be everything you want them to be.
Friday, January 30, 2009
Don't Go To Law School Unless You Want To Be A Lawyer
How many times should we go over this simple bit of advice? Oh, how about one more time since people continue to make the same, wrong-headed arguments in favor of law school. Note, in particular: