For The First Year Law Students: Two Misleading Sales Pitches Designed To Convince You To Stay

Now that most of you 1Ls are finished with final exams, you will be spending the holidays waiting for your grades. If you do not make decent grades, you will contemplate whether you should continue or drop out.

Most of us will say that you should drop out unless you have independent means of securing a job after graduation. However, law school shills and some happy-happy optimist hucksters selling their “Buy my How-To-Succeed-In-The-Law” book, SEO marketing, coaching seminars or some other positivity/yoga/hypnotism bullshit will tell you two things to convince you to stay in law school:

If you’re willing to put in the effort and do whatever it takes, you will succeed no matter where you go to law school or what your grades are. This is true. However, this does not apply to all people, especially if your goal is to work for a decent firm. The person telling you this will tell you to do the following (without getting into any real specifics):

  • Networking
  • Participating in bar association functions
  • Developing a niche practice
  • Networking
  • Make calls to your family and friends
  • Share office space with other attorneys and get their overflow
  • Networking

Did I mention you have to network?

Now this is true. What they should also include with this advice is the following disclaimer like those found in all lawyer advertising materials:

Individual outcomes may vary. Prior success of others does not guarantee future success. Many factors will determine success, such as (but not limited to): personality, individual connections, prior work experience, wealth, economic conditions, technology and dumb fucking luck. Loss of investment should be considered. Results not typical.

To put it another way, instead of being a lawyer, let’s say you started a business selling widgets, insurance, food, cosmetics, whatever. You need clients and/or customers. If you meet with a consultant or read a business development book, you will be advised to do the following:

  • Network
  • Participate in trade functions
  • Develop a niche clientele
  • Network
  • Call your family and friends
  • Advertise
  • Network

Sounds familiar? Did I also mention networking?

So if the prestigious law firms use your resume as toilet paper, you have to be the entrepreneurial type to succeed outside of working for the government. Most of us are not that type. A lot of us wanted to work a 9-5 job or even a 60 hour/week job and let someone else worry about bringing in business. But don’t say that out loud – otherwise the uppities will call us lazy and entitled!

If your goal is to start your own firm at some point and you are willing to risk failure, then do the above and start NOW. But if your goal is to work for a firm with a high starting salary and gradually work your way up to partner, forget it – that career path is almost euthanized thanks to technology and greed. Now on to the next misleading sales pitch.

A law degree opens doors to careers that last a lifetime and after many years, most of our graduates are happy with their decision to attend our law school. The law school salesmen point to various cherry-picked statistics and alumni testimonials about how most lawyers eventually make $100,000+. They also point to the “After the JD” report which show that graduates several years into their careers are happy with their decision to attend law school.

A lot of things happen in “many years”. The past was different. These older practitioners did not graduate at a time there were two law school graduates for every job available. Also, back then, law schools cost less.

Also, other things happen in your life over decades that make you focus less on being angry. Later, hopefully, you meet a spouse, have kids, get a career in or out of law, etc. You may end up rich, poor, or somewhere in between. When you turn 40 or 50, three years of law school is a small blip in your life.

If I were to ask older practitioners whether I should go to (or continue going to) law school, I am almost certain that most would say no or give some wishy-washy platitude.

There you have it – two sales pitches that should be taken with extreme caution. If these are the best excuses they can give, you should seriously consider dropping out or negotiating a lower tuition before continuing.

Happy Holidays.

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