T Nation

Any Lawyers/Law Students?

I’m having a good time as a 1L in law school but I’m wondering whether it’s worth it in terms of finances and my own personal integrity. I’d like to hear from some other law students and lawyers here about their personal experiences.

You don’t have to be an asshole or be unethical to practice law. It is a difficult profession, but 5% of the bar are assholes who make the rest of us look bad. I worked for a firm where people were constantly missing deadlines, assholes to opposing counsel (to the extent of being chided by appellate judges), etc., and that sort of environment will destroy your desire to practice. I also worked for a firm with good, competent attorneys, and it was a great place. Don’t stay anywhere if you’re embarrassed to admit to others that you work there.

I came out of law school without much debt, so I can’t speak to your finances regarding that; however, most people won’t become rich being lawyers. It’s a great career, and you can live well as an attorney, but it isn’t a get rich quick scheme.

I love being a lawyer and can’t imagine doing anything else, but I have a clean practice - mostly real estate, development, local governments, tax exempt financing, and that sort of stuff. I have no interest in doing family, crim, or other “dirty” work.

One thing do not go to that website Above the law. That website has scared me in deciding whether to go into law. There are a lot of horror stories on that site. I have been finding out that lawyers are just like any other people out there and if you want to get rich you may have another thing coming. The key is to ask yourself why do you want to get into law.

Good this is the perfect time to ask this. Why did both of you decide to go into law? For the LSAT what is it and what kind of questions are on the exam. Even though this is still far off how hard was the bar examination? I do know if you do not pass it you cannot practice in the state that you are in. I live in Delaware and people say this is one of the hardest bar exams to take. I am going back to college I am 30 and I feel that is a possibility. Do you know if law schools have night classes for people that work full time. I am sure it would take me longer to complete the program.

I’ve heard in the USA there is a glut of lawyers, so much so that many students who are lower on the grade scale are having difficulty finding and keeping work. It is worthwhile for you to Google around and find out if this is true. I also found a website, lost it now, that claimed that the ABA and many law schools were being sued for manipulating stats on how many law students found employment after law school.

I’m not actually a 1L, but I’m headed to law school next year and I’ve done a bit of reading here and there on the topic. Unless there’s something I’m missing as a lowly 0L, I think that you need to give us more information before anyone can offer up useful advice.

For instance, is it financially worth it? Well it’s hard to answer that without knowing a few things. What kind of school are you going to? Top 10 school? Strong regional school? Weak school in a saturated market? Are you paying a lot for tuition? What would be the alternative if you weren’t in law school? Do you have skills that would land you a job?

Answers to questions like that would probably be helpful in determining whether or not it’s a net gain going to law school. It’s not the most lucrative profession there is though. If you’re in it for the long haul, I gotta hope that you’re in it for more than just that.

Re: Why I wanted to be a lawyer.

I wanted to read and write for a living. I was never interested in the courtroom or anything like that. I just wanted to read and write, and that’s what I do.

Re: LSAT and Bar difficulty.

I blew a donkey on the LSAT, and graduated in the top 15% of my law school class. Study for it, but it doesn’t predict how you will do in school. Law school teaches you how to pass the Bar. Take BarBri and you’ll be fine. Take it seriously.

Re: Glut of lawyers.

There is a glut of us, but remember, we narrow our specialties and then suddenly, we have a market. There are around 22,000 active attorneys in Colorado. Many, MANY of your classmates will not end up practicing law in the traditional sense. Five close friends, including myself - we all worked for the same firm at one point or another, or went to school together. Two are fully out of the practice (one does legal recruiting, one does some management something), and one intends to leave when he finds a different (political lobbying type) position.

You have to realize, that even if you don’t practice, a law degree teaches you a helluva lot of marketable skills.

[quote]pushmepullme wrote:
You don’t have to be an asshole or be unethical to practice law. It is a difficult profession, but 5% of the bar are assholes who make the rest of us look bad. I worked for a firm where people were constantly missing deadlines, assholes to opposing counsel (to the extent of being chided by appellate judges), etc., and that sort of environment will destroy your desire to practice. I also worked for a firm with good, competent attorneys, and it was a great place. Don’t stay anywhere if you’re embarrassed to admit to others that you work there.

I came out of law school without much debt, so I can’t speak to your finances regarding that; however, most people won’t become rich being lawyers. It’s a great career, and you can live well as an attorney, but it isn’t a get rich quick scheme.

I love being a lawyer and can’t imagine doing anything else, but I have a clean practice - mostly real estate, development, local governments, tax exempt financing, and that sort of stuff. I have no interest in doing family, crim, or other “dirty” work.[/quote]

THIS!! I’m not a law student, nor a lawyer, But I worked in a law firm and the partners were scumbags. They lied and treated clients, other lawyers, and employees like shit. That ran the place as if is was a get rich quick scheme; if they could not use you, or make money off you as soon as possible, they would say that your worthless right to your face.

I personally think it is a terrible time to go to/graduate from law school. The market is absolutely flooded with attorneys and, without turning this into a Politics and World Issues thread, I don’t see the economy getting any better anytime soon while Obama is in power. Unless you are going to a top law school, or have some connections, I would think seriously about pursuing something else if you have any inkling outside of law.

I gotta agree about the specialization part. There are a handful of guys in Texas that do what I do. Beautiful thing is we all talk to each other, share pleadings, etc.

I can’t speak to the finances of it, and having to compromise your morals. 2 deaths in the family have left me w/ no debt and a lot of savings, so I can pick n choose my cases. I’d really rather be broke and have my family. I have zero desire to do family or criminal, but a lot of guys with high student loan debts and bills to pay take these cases and put up w/ scummy clients and human drama to pay bills to feed their families.

Before I started my own practice I was working as an oil and gas landman. The job did not require a law license but I got paid a little more for it. The $ was good and the work was interesting to me. The client had some crazy deadlines plus I was back in the same pre-law school situation were I was taking orders from people with less education than I had. Point is there are non traditional things that you can do w/ a law license.

I think once you’ve started you should stick it out, but I had quit a job, ended an apartment lease, and moved to another city. There was no turning back for me.

Law school is not a trade school (at least it shouldn’t be). You go to learn the law, which can be used in many professions, including business and politics. I have worked as a corporate lawyer, a private attorney, military lawyer and now as a civil service attorney for the federal government. I must say that I found private practice to be the most demanding ethically, followed by corporate law and business generally. I love practicing law for the federal government. I have never felt pressured to compromise, I’m paid well, have great benefits, perfect hours, federal holidays off and much more. Bottom line: “law” does not mean “law firm”.

Law school is definitely worth it. It opens so many doors to so many professions. I believe it is the most versatile graduate degree period.

Most lawyers end up cleaning up the vomit of Capitalism. Law firms are disintegrating thanks to the financial industries implosion last year, and in another decade all the modest, boring jobs will be outsourced to India. Think a long time before wasting hundreds of thousands of dollars in tuition.

[quote]IgneLudo wrote:
Most lawyers end up cleaning up the vomit of Capitalism. Law firms are disintegrating thanks to the financial industries implosion last year, and in another decade all the modest, boring jobs will be outsourced to India. Think a long time before wasting hundreds of thousands of dollars in tuition. [/quote]

Ahhh, but we control who gets to do our jobs. We aren’t like the computer monkeys.

If you don’t think routine things like writing up wills, and real estate transactions won’t be outsourced in a few years you are living in a dream world.

and why is that igneludo?

Because there is an army of Indians being trained as we speak in American law.

[quote]IgneLudo wrote:
Because there is an army of Indians being trained as we speak in American law. [/quote]

Who still can’t enter an appearance in court.

Outsource things like wills. It’s been done for years. And it’s been done shittily, which means more work for American estate attorneys. And anyone with any money, knows this.

[quote]pushmepullme wrote:
IgneLudo wrote:
Because there is an army of Indians being trained as we speak in American law.

Who still can’t enter an appearance in court.

Outsource things like wills. It’s been done for years. And it’s been done shittily, which means more work for American estate attorneys. And anyone with any money, knows this.[/quote]

I am with you 100%, pmpm.

I find it interesting that many of you are shitting on criminal work. All the attorneys I know who do criminal law—whether defense or prosecution—love their jobs. I would much rather do that than civil litigation (what I’m doing now). Better yet would be criminal appellate work. I’m crossing my fingers that I can get into that someday soon.

[quote]eic wrote:
pushmepullme wrote:
IgneLudo wrote:
Because there is an army of Indians being trained as we speak in American law.

Who still can’t enter an appearance in court.

Outsource things like wills. It’s been done for years. And it’s been done shittily, which means more work for American estate attorneys. And anyone with any money, knows this.

I am with you 100%, pmpm.

I find it interesting that many of you are shitting on criminal work. All the attorneys I know who do criminal law—whether defense or prosecution—love their jobs. I would much rather do that than civil litigation (what I’m doing now). Better yet would be criminal appellate work. I’m crossing my fingers that I can get into that someday soon. [/quote]

Trust me - I don’t shit on crim. I thought about doing it, I’m a big “right to counsel” fan. I just empathize too much, and know it wouldn’t be good for me and my personality. I really appreciate the people who can work with individuals going through the shittiest times of their lives, and I know I couldn’t do that.

I just call it dirty work because it deals with humans, instead of land and corporations.

Yeah, ok man. Indians can’t possibly learn how to craft routine, boilerplate contracts. Gotta hire the local American who costs 300% more.

[quote]IgneLudo wrote:
Yeah, ok man. Indians can’t possibly learn how to craft routine, boilerplate contracts. Gotta hire the local American who costs 300% more.[/quote]

I think there is merit to what you are saying. But I once saw a statistic that in Texas 80% of the Wills that the courts declare invalid have problems in the execution, not so much the drafting. You can get a do it yourself will kit and probably draft the will according to the guidelines of your state, but if it is not executed properly the court will not honor it.

Bankruptcy is another area where people try to buy a kit and do it yourself. After the 2005 changes BK laws got a lot more complicated. If you do not do it right the first time you lose some of your automatic stay protections. If you screw it up a 2nd time you have to ask the court for an automatic stay.

The other factor is the whole human element. I’m willing to pay a little extra to understand what the heck someone is saying, plus I really like to keep my money local. A lot of the cases I do for people can be done w/o ever meeting face to face, but for some reason a lot of folks just really want to meet face to face, even if it’s for 10 minutes at a Starbucks.