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1.30.2005

advice for those contemplating law school in their darker moments

I find myself constantly answering the question "Why did you drop out of law school?" More often than not, the questioner is a law school applicant who is applying for all the same (wrong) reasons I did. Here is the definitive list of reasons people apply to law school, divided by the legitimate reason and then all the bad ones.

Legitimate reasons to go to law school
You want to be a lawyer, actually practicing law as a long term career.

Reasons NOT to go to law school
I studied philosophy or political science
You can do a million other things

You aren't good enough at your major to continue in grad school
That isn't a reason to go to law school. Also, what makes you think you're so good at law?

"Law looks like such a great liberal arts degree, I can do SO many things with it!"
The fact is that law school is where you learn how to read cases, do legal research, and write memos/briefs. If you are not interested in acquiring and using these skills, you will have a very hard time motivating yourself to do all the boring grunt work required in law school.

There are no jobs for people with a BA
Bullshit. Put your resume on monster.com and hotjobs.com during your senior year and you will be getting interviews left and right by the end of January, even if you have mediocre grades.

I want to be a law prof
There are only so many law schools and there are MANY unhappy lawyers (40% leave the profession within 5 years). These jobs are so competitive that you should never count on getting one. Do yourself a favor and look at the faculty bios on law school web sites. You only have a chance if you go to Yale, Harvard, Chicago, Stanford, and to a lesser extent, Michigan, NYU, and Columbia. Even then, you have to do really well and get good clerkship. Of course there are exceptions to all this. The main exception to this rule is if you also have a Phd, in which case you wouldnt really need a JD to teach anyway.

I took a lot of economics, poli sci, and philosophy classes that dealt with law and i loved everything about it.
I did too. It was theoretical, intellectually stimulating, and interesting. Law school on the other hand, is about passing the bar, not learning game theory and philosophizing about the meaning of property rights. You might get a tiny bit of it at some schools, a decent serving at Chicago and Yale, but intellectual stimulation should not motivate you to go to law school. Law is much closer to accounting than to philosophy.

I am creative and I think I would do great things in law school.
Law values conformity and thinking WITHIN the box. Bad move.

I loved the academic environment of college and want to extend it by 3 years.
Law school is competitive, people all want the most prestigious, high paying jobs. Think of it more as the first leg of a corporate rat race than an extension of college.

If you're still thinking of going to law school, go to a university bookstore that sells law books. Pick up an introductory casebook for civil procedure or property. See if you can read ten pages of cases without literally falling asleep.

i would sell my soul for a bulldog