Unfortunately, this post is long overdue. If you are going to law school, I’m sure you have already mailed in your tuition deposit, signed a lease on your apartment and incurred other expenses. Not to mention spending money on LSATs, campus tours, admission consultants. But it is still not too late from backing out from a potentially bad decision. Several thousand dollars in sunk costs can be easily overcome except for the most destitute.
Now that lawyer-wannabes are starting to learn the truth about the pathetic financial outcomes of most new and mid-career lawyers, they are starting to have second thoughts. I’m certain that they know that as a member of the Class of 2016, they are presumed to be dumbasses unless proven otherwise. But they have to face the difficult question: “What else am I going to do with my life?”
Let’s keep it real –
a lot some of you never wanted to be lawyers – you were in it for the money. You applied because your political science degree kept you out of most science and business track careers. Your only options were a low-paying retail job or a commission only sales or insurance job that was available to a high school dropout. Some of you may have attended decent colleges and need to meet your parents’ and friends’ expectations. To make things worse, unemployment rates for young people and older, recent college graduates are high with fewer older people retiring. You had nowhere else to go.
So you bought some LSAT prep books but didn’t take your studying seriously. Studying was something you did while you were recovering from your hangover. You just droned through the practice questions while imagining yourself surrounded by bottles and models or the young, rich and handsome plastic surgeon or real estate tycoon.
You lied on your personal statement. You never wanted to help people. You never wanted to “promote justice” – whatever the fuck that means. You wrote everything the law school admissions committee wanted to hear. Just don’t mention you’re in it for the money.
You think you’re someone special. In three years, you think the recession will pass. You think employers will line up wanting to wine and dine you like Mitch McDeere in the beginning of John Grisham’s The Firm. In the book, Mitch graduated third in his class at Harvard Law School. You’ll do the same thing, right?
Now it’s August and you’re set to attend orientation at your shitty law school (a.k.a. Top 30 or below, top regional, top ranked in environmental international food law) after deciding between your acceptance letters from Garbage Law School, Hamburger University School of Law, Infilaw and Cooley. You’ve read this blog and others telling you about what a risky and stupid decision you’re making. You’ve read the “Vale of Tears” that chronicle the losers that are jobless after graduation with $150,000 in debt. But you’re going anyway because you got a $5,000 tuition discount and an alumni who was your father’s best friend’s cigar buddy who practices ambulance chaser law “promised” you a job during a drunk night out on the town.
People criticize us for not providing alternatives to law school. Who am I to tell you what else to do with your life? How the fuck should I know? It’s not my problem that you had to choose between law school or waitressing at Applebees. You can start by figuring out what you really want to do with your life. Then spend the next three years doing whatever it takes to get there.
Spend the first year learning about the industries that interest you. Read blogs, books and news articles. Connect with relevant people through Linkedin, Facebook and Twitter and find out what employers are looking for. Get your shit together by reading books on motivation, professional etiquette, working with people and career development to name a few. Try to find a job in a relevant industry.
Then spend the next two years further honing your skills, meeting people higher up in the industry food chain, and publicly showing people what you’re capable of.
If you are short on money, get any job that will pay the bills. Move back in with parents or relatives temporarily if you have to. Fuck what others say. Some of your independent friends are probably living paycheck to paycheck and will move back in with their parents or live off food stamps once they get laid off.
With some luck, you will reach your goal in three years or at least be well on your way to getting there. You’ll be much better off than most of the Law School Class of 2016 who will struggle to find a job and then end up leaving the law after a year or two with $200,000 in student loan debt.