Ah yes, 1L is done. Finished. Every final has been submitted, every paper written. My grades are in the hands of God, and I’ve started my summer internship. It has been a long journey, indeed.
Although to be honest, it really hasn’t. It turns out that law school is pretty similar to, well, any other sort of school. There were small differences. For example, this past year gave me my first chance to tango with the Socratic method. And what a dance it was. Plus the people were a little older, the parties a little calmer and the work was taken a little more seriously this time around. Overall, though, 1L was nothing special.
So assuming you’ve already experienced some level of higher education (and if you haven’t, it’s going to be at least four years until my blog becomes remotely relevant) law school shouldn’t be a total mystery. At the start of the semester you will go to every class, vow to read every page assigned and color-code your trapper keeper. By the end you will be skimming cases on the subway, having already slept through torts, and jotting notes on whatever napkin or other vaguely papery surface you can find. Nothing new.
However, there is one big difference. This degree isn’t necessary. Unlike earning your high school diploma and bachelors, law school is not a choice to be made simply because it’s “what you do”. Instead, it’s a degree that you get because you want to be a lawyer. The problem is, of course, how the hell do you know if you want to be a lawyer?
Have no fear, my friends. This week I bring you some information that may help you answer that question, using the school experiences you’ve already had. So sit back, enjoy, and remember: I’m just some 1L “rising 2L” with a blog, and you should never trust a damn thing I say.
Three Reasons to not go to law school.
1. You hate school.
In undergrad, if you had to choose between drinking and going to class, did drinking ALWAYS win? Did you spend the last few weeks of every semester praying for your papers to be done so you could have a month or two of freedom? Did you pick your major out of a hat? Did you select your major in an elaborate “pin the tail on the donkey”-like game? Did your mom choose your major for you?
Can you not think of a single class you enjoyed?
If you answered yes to most or all of those questions, you may want to rethink this law school idea. There are a lot of non-academic aspects of undergrad that are pretty awesome. Even the most anti-learning of souls can have a fabulous overall experience. It’s even possible to get pretty solid grades, depending on your school and major. So right now, you may be thinking that another three years of the college experience could be just what you were looking for. However, if you hated every second that didn’t involve tanning on the quad or funneling in a frat house basement, then think hard about what you really want.
Don’t get me wrong, you can have a fair amount of fun in law school. And as I said, it’s not terribly different from the undergrad experience. But you want to know where else you can have a lot of fun? Real life. No seriously, I’ve been there. Real life is the reason God made weekends and paychecks (I dabble into theology on the side). Thanks to those two elements, you can go crazy for a solid 24-48 hours each week. Sure, it’s not exactly college, but we all have to grow up sometime. And if you don’t like learning, the first adult decision you can make is to not waste another 200K.
2. You love school.
There is of course the other sort of person: the scholar. You too never want to leave the campus, but it’s not because you really like waking up in unfamiliar 8×10 pre-furnished rooms. Instead, it’s because the idea of books, and mothballs, and parchment paper, and strange robes, and other stereotypes associated with academics/wizards get you all up in a tizzy.
While that love for learning may serve you well over the next three years, it’s important to remember that the JD is a professional degree. It is training for a lifetime of advocacy/being a slave to the man. Although there are law school professors, and probably a graduate or two who can finagle a grant or some other nonsense to fund hundreds of Google searches, the majority of law students go on to be lawyers. Or some sort of parody thereof.
If you truly want to spend the rest of your life poor and questing after the fountain of knowledge, get your PhD instead. As Trent has pointed out, you’re just as screwed. Plus, you get to keep your integrity. Sounds like a win/win scenario to me.
3. You hate reading/writing.
If you aren’t at either pole when it comes to love for learning, you are probably in an ok situation. With one exception. I have heard from nearly every real life lawyer I’ve talked to that, regardless of what you see on TV, lawyers spend the majority of their time on reading and writing. Being a lawyer is not about spirited debate, it’s not about high-powered meetings, it’s not about being able to afford a sports car to overcompensate for your small penis. It is about being able to read and write, and in a perfect world, being able to read and write well.
So if the papers and the books were the things you despised most in college, and you pride yourself on being a kinesthetic or musical or some other sort of fake learner, then there may be a better job out there for you. Such as anything that involves anything remotely interesting. So go find it, and leave the law degree to boring fools like me.