So You Want To Go To Law School

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The Human Q-Tip

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I loved trial work, but hated everything else about being a litigator. Actually, not true. I liked doing fact investigations, initial research, and then assembling the tiny little puzzle pieces that make up a case into a coherent strategy. I was good at it, too. Great feeling when you all of a sudden know what really happened, and how to present it.

But I absolutely cannot stand the tedium of the rules and hoop jumping that is an inextricable component of litigating. And the billable hours requirement. So, I'm out of that.

Now, I just give employment and labor law advice to a few clients, acting more as an advisor/HR guy than as a lawyer. I do enjoy that a lot because I'm actually helping them, and it is much less about the process than just helping a business run correctly. Also do a lot of work, much of it non-legal, with a nationally renown expert in police use of force/shooting cases.
 

Wrathe

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Preferred Iraq to law school
Shit, that's all you need to hear right there.

My sister-in-law went to GW and got her degree and a great job coming out of college as a corporate lawyer. She worked for a firm representing companies who used Asbestos and were being sued for damages. Basically couldn't deal w/ the guilt of screwing over victims and decided law wasn't for her, she hated it and quit. I thought she was bat shit crazy at the time. She just started doing freelance work on the side making low amounts of money but continued to be buried in debt from her education.

IMO, if you're an intelligent person (can grasp concepts in one space and apply that understanding to completely different spaces) vs just being smart (well studied on one subject matter; capable of rote recital of book knowledge but lacking real understanding behind it); go into IT. Pays great and while we've had a huge advancement in recent years, it's really not different than it was 20 years ago. Same concepts just servers are in a different place (ASP vs Cloud computing for example). If you have a good attitude and strong social skills and are able to pick up IT skills; you become a rare breed and will make 6 digits no problem.

After that, it's just finding the right job for you w/ the level of involvement that's feasible for you and your family. After hours support is real, but not all companies use India outsourcing so your phone won't blow up every night (like, say Cardinal Health). The job I worked prior to getting ill was a retail shop. Loved it, most rewarding job of my career. The department is basically dead in the 5 years I've been gone; which is the downside of IT. Things change fast.
 

Wrathe

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I loved trial work, but hated everything else about being a litigator. Actually, not true. I liked doing fact investigations, initial research, and then assembling the tiny little puzzle pieces that make up a case into a coherent strategy. I was good at it, too. Great feeling when you all of a sudden know what really happened, and how to present it.

But I absolutely cannot stand the tedium of the rules and hoop jumping that is an inextricable component of litigating. And the billable hours requirement. So, I'm out of that.

Now, I just give employment and labor law advice to a few clients, acting more as an advisor/HR guy than as a lawyer. I do enjoy that a lot because I'm actually helping them, and it is much less about the process than just helping a business run correctly. Also do a lot of work, much of it non-legal, with a nationally renown expert in police use of force/shooting cases.
I was looking forward to your feedback.
 

Sebastian

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I should re-state:

Go to law school if you have a very precise idea of what field you want.

Very precise. And try interning in that field before hand to see exactly what that life is.

If you are smart enough to get into a good law school, try medicine.

I have friends who are both and the quality of life factor, pay and hours tend to be better for my physician friends.

In some cases, lightyears better.
 

narbar32

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Short answer: don't go to law school.

Longer answer: don't fucking go to law school!

I've practiced for a decade now, the past 5 years doing labor and employment work at a corporate firm in downtown Cleveland. I make a pretty good living, though it would be a better living if my student loan payments each month weren't the equivalent of a second mortgage. Also, although I always joke that I hate lawyers (and none more than myself), I actually like the people I work with. I also have a relatively great work-life balance and get to be fairly autonomous in my practice.

And I still would give anything to go back in time to shake the shit out of 18 year-old narbar32 and make him do anything but go to law school.

For me it feels like all the stress of dealing with a hostage crisis everyday, but with absolutely none of the heroism. I actually considered becoming a firefighter when I left my old firm, as running into burning buildings felt less stressful and vastly preferable to this manufactured life-or-death pressure and drama, but student loans and the time I've invested into building my current practice just made that a pretty unrealistic and risky option when I really thought it through. I feel like for so many of us, words like "stuck" and "trapped" are far too often the first that come to mind when we discuss this topic.
 

The Oi

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For you attorneys who are stuck or trapped, if you weren’t stuck or trapped...if you could choose any theoretical job what would it be?
 

AllforOne

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IMO, if you're an intelligent person (can grasp concepts in one space and apply that understanding to completely different spaces) vs just being smart (well studied on one subject matter; capable of rote recital of book knowledge but lacking real understanding behind it); go into IT. Pays great and while we've had a huge advancement in recent years, it's really not different than it was 20 years ago. Same concepts just servers are in a different place (ASP vs Cloud computing for example). If you have a good attitude and strong social skills and are able to pick up IT skills; you become a rare breed and will make 6 digits no problem.
Ding ding. That's what I did, and I've been so happy I did. I'm sure I've made less in my career than if I had stayed on the big-firm partnership track, but I'm extra sure that I wouldn't have wanted to live that other life, even if it came with more money. I've done quite well as it is, and I like having my evenings and weekends to do what I want ... not to mention liking what I do when I am on the clock.
 

AllforOne

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I won’t delve into my own story, but I will say I’m under debilitating amounts of stress and anxiety all the time. I’ve been trying to get out, but it’s really hard to leave and start over. To anyone, even non lawyers, that is about to start their career, I cannot stress how money can’t be the number 1 priority if possible.
@CavsFinals2016 : if you do want to delve into your own story, go for it. And if you want to work on crafting a strategy to get you out of your current situation and into something that fits better, feel free to DM me. (Or post it here, if you want a group-therapy session.)

Basically: I see the 25-years-ago me in your words. I see the dreading getting up in the morning, and hitting the snooze as many times as possible until you've waited as long as possible before confronting the day. I see the lingering in the shower as long as possible, again to delay the inevitable. I feel the stomach-churning of the drive into work, and knowing that 10+ hours of Ugh is on the docket for today. I know the mental anguish of the drive home, when you realize that tomorrow isn't Saturday/Sunday, and that you're just a few hours away from having to do it all over again. (Or the anguish of knowing that you have to do it all over again even if tomorrow is Saturday.)

I'm not saying I have the answers. I probably don't. But at least I've walked the path that you want to walk, and want to offer whatever guidance and encouragement I can.
 

The Human Q-Tip

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I was looking forward to your feedback.
I'm going to add this -- there were times I really liked litigating, and I know a lot of folks who are still lawyers and enjoy it. Trials, though stressful, were fun as fuck. But 95% of cases never get to trial, so there is a lot of that tedium in there.

But the stress, which I didn't mention but that @AllforOne and @narbar32 did , is a huge component of a lot of lawyering. You basically live by a never ending set of deadlines. You never stop thinking about your cases. Some of that is fun -- I didn't mind standing in the shower or driving in the car and talking through my cases. Kind of how my brain works anyway. But the flip side is the knots in your stomach and the worrying never go away.

If I was going to go into law again, I'd probably have gone into the FBI or something, because that was an option for me. Or maybe DOJ or something. Get me away from the damn billables and time sheets, and have some interesting subject matter. There are careers for lawyers that aren't law firm based. Intelligence agency loves good lawyers. I know some folks who do family-based law and really like it, so I don't want to give to get the impression that it is all negative and everyone hates it. That isn't true. But the advice @King Stannis gave was sound -- don't become "a" lawyer. If someone has a specific idea of a specific field they like, then perhaps they'll really enjoy it.
 

CavsFinals2016

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@CavsFinals2016 : if you do want to delve into your own story, go for it. And if you want to work on crafting a strategy to get you out of your current situation and into something that fits better, feel free to DM me. (Or post it here, if you want a group-therapy session.)

Basically: I see the 25-years-ago me in your words. I see the dreading getting up in the morning, and hitting the snooze as many times as possible until you've waited as long as possible before confronting the day. I see the lingering in the shower as long as possible, again to delay the inevitable. I feel the stomach-churning of the drive into work, and knowing that 10+ hours of Ugh is on the docket for today. I know the mental anguish of the drive home, when you realize that tomorrow isn't Saturday/Sunday, and that you're just a few hours away from having to do it all over again. (Or the anguish of knowing that you have to do it all over again even if tomorrow is Saturday.)

I'm not saying I have the answers. I probably don't. But at least I've walked the path that you want to walk, and want to offer whatever guidance and encouragement I can.
Much appreciated! I will shoot you a message later today.
 

MediumBaller

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I like law school :conf (11): Much less stressful than undergrad in my experience. Idk what being a practicing lawyer is like obviously, but I read a lot of law school horror stories before starting and haven't found them to be true. Unlike undergrad, you just have one big exam at the end. Most of the semester is just reading every night. I'm in my fourth semester and have found plenty of time to hangout with my gf, go to the gym twice a day, get 8 hours of sleep a night, etc.
 
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The Human Q-Tip

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I like law school :conf (11): Much less stressful than undergrad in my experience. Idk what being a practicing lawyer is like obviously, but I read a lot of law school horror stories before starting and haven't found them to be true. Unlike undergrad, you just have one big exam at the end. Most of the semester is just reading every night. I'm in my fourth semester and have found plenty of time to hangout with my gf, go to the gym twice a day, get 8 hours of sleep a night, etc.
Same thing for me -- I suppose it may depend on where you go. If you have a decent amount of self-discipline, there's plenty of time.

And don't let all of us get you down. A J.D. gives you a shitload of options, and most people find something that makes them both happy, and some decent bank. And hell, there are some folks who love the big firm thing -- it all depends so very much on the individual.
 

Huber.

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I like law school :conf (11): Much less stressful than undergrad in my experience. Idk what being a practicing lawyer is like obviously, but I read a lot of law school horror stories before starting and haven't found them to be true. Unlike undergrad, you just have one big exam at the end. Most of the semester is just reading every night. I'm in my fourth semester and have found plenty of time to hangout with my gf, go to the gym twice a day, get 8 hours of sleep a night, etc.
Do most work part time to help pay for law school?
 

MediumBaller

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Do most work part time to help pay for law school?
Not from what I've seen, especially during the first year. Some kids I know do work in the libraries or for professors, and I know a few people who bartend on the weekends, but most don't seem to work during the school year.
 

The Human Q-Tip

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Do most work part time to help pay for law school?
Not that I saw. I did reserve duty that helped, but it was only one weekend a month. Well, until they yanked my ass out of law school and sent me off to war. Ha!
 

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