Should You Go to Law School? Not Unless You Want To Be a Lawyer.

I loved law school, and I am incredibly glad that I decided to go. I am happy with where my career is, and excited about where it appears to be going. In short, my life is good: I am a lucky girl.

Perhaps that is why people expect me to reply with an enthusiastic “yes, definitely!” when they ask me if they should go to law school, and why they are surprised when, instead, my response is: “Well, do you want to be a lawyer?,” and then “no” if they tell me that they don’t.

A surprising number of people answer “no.” A really, really surprising number: probably at least 50%. And of the rest, at least another 50% say “well, I’m not sure…I don’t think so…but maybe.” And these people are not asking my advice idly: they have usually taken the LSATs, and sometimes have already applied to schools. When I ask them why they would got to law school if they certainly-or-probably do not want to practice law, they always give the same response: “Well, it’s such a great, all-purpose professional degree.”

Memo to all of the people out there who might be thinking the same thing: do not go to law school. Seriously. I know that you have heard that a J.D. is a “great all-purpose degree,” but it isn’t. That’s a lie put about by parents who are trying to trick you into middle-class professionaldom and law schools who are trying to take your money. A J.D. is not an all-purpose degree, it is a law degree. It does not qualify you to become a diplomat, a “senior policy advisor” to anything, a politician, a banker, an aid worker, a political operative, or any of those other jobs that seem like they might be a fun way to satisfy your West Wing fantasies. It qualifies you to be a lawyer, and it doesn’t really even do that -there’s still the pesky matter of the bar exam.

I know: right now you are mentally listing the names of all of the diplomats, senior policy advisors, politicians, bankers, aid workers, and political operatives who have J.D.s. I’m sure it’s a long list. Having a law degree certainly doesn’t disqualify someone from holding one of those positions. It might even help a little. But it’s not a requirement, and it’s not the easiest or cheapest way in.

There may be J.D.s in every walk of life in this country, but lawyers’ dirty secret is that their proliferation is due less to that degree’s versatility than it is to the fact that thousands of lawyers flee the profession every year. Seriously. I am not even kidding. Do you really think Cake Love’s Warren Brown runs a successful bakery because of what he learned at GW law? There’s a difference between torts and tortes, my friends. If he’d liked the former, he’d still be practicing law. But he didn’t, and so he’s not. And, given that he really wanted to pursue the latter, he’d have been better off going to cooking or business school.

A law degree takes three years, and costs at least $100k. That means that you’ll be in lawyer-level debt when you finish, which is a problem if you plan to take a non-lawyer job that doesn’t pay well. There are other options, of course: if you go to a good law school, you will be able to get a high-paying job after graduation to repay those loans. But that will take you several years. Once you’re done working them off, you’ll need to find a way back into your chosen field. I’m sure that will be possible -you’re still smart, and educated, and dedicated. It will take time, though. If you choose that route, you’re probably looking at at least six years out of your chosen profession: three for law school, and three to pay off your loans. Ask yourself if your plans sound as rosy once you factor in a six-year detour. (Law schools also have Loan Repayment Assistance Programs, “LRAP” for short, but these usually require graduates to work in a law-related public interest job, and they don’t pay off loans, they just cover the monthly payments. More on LRAP in a later post.)

Imagined J.D.s come with their own proprietary magical thinking, in which dreams of a high salary appear whenever you are feeling broke, and images of skipping a few rungs on the career ladder hover tantalizingly above your mean boss’s head. You delight in the potential “security” of having a highly-paid career as a “backup option,” while imagining that you would never sell out and stay at a corporate firm; you revel in the prospect of an exciting career scripted by Aaron Sorkin, without wondering how all those legislative aides can live off of $40k a year while servicing their six-figure debts. Imagined J.D.s can be everything you want them to be.

But resist the lure of magical thinking: real J.D.s can only be anything you want them to be. They require choices: money or fun, stability or excitement.

If you want to be a lawyer, and you love law, those choices aren’t so bad -the time at the firm will bring you skills and knowledge, and help make you a better lawyer for whatever you choose to do later. The six or seven years that you spend going to law school and grinding away as a junior lawyer are necessary steps in your legal career. But if you don’t want to be a lawyer -if you’re just going to law school to get that great, versatile degree- then you’ll feel like you’re wasting your time, and eventually realize that you also wasted your money.

Don’t do it.

Amanda Taub

59 Comments

  1. I loved this post and it really makes me think about my current situation: political science student who’s quitted law school and works at a governmental human rights institution (in Brazil).

    I’ve quitted law school because it was really hard for me to work full time and still attend two schools. I had to choose and I chose political science. However, I’ve been thinking about going back to Law School.. I don’t really know why (I don’t want to be a lawyer) or if it’s really necessary. The only thing I know about my career is that I want to work at the human rights field and what I’ve been feeling is that if you are a lawyer or at least have a law degree, you are better accepted.

    ALSO, I have a good friend who’s an international relations student who’s been doing a lot of academic research on human rights issues. She’s thinking about doing a masters degree in Europe (on human rights), but most of the good universities require a law degree… I think about going to the US for my masters degree on human rights. Will I face the same problems?

    Law school, then… Is it necessary for those willing to work in the human rights field?

    • This is obviously a losers post! I am a lawyer & find myself to be the luckiest girl on earth & I thank God I went to law school!

      Knowledge is power: having a law degree is power! You can do anyone’s job better than him/her that has actually has a degree specialized in that particular area! You can do a diplomat’s job better than someone who took International Relations or Political Science: or you can be the best anthropologist with only a law degree!

      With a Law Degree you’ll be able to understand almost everyone’s job! That a bonus!

      Please don’t be discouraged to take law. The above piece of information is a total misconception & thus misleading!

      Ta.

  2. If you want to be a lawyer, and you love law, those choices aren’t so bad -the time at the firm will bring you skills and knowledge. . .

    The implication is that if you go to law school, you will work at some firm as a junior associate and have to grind away in that model of lawyerly life, like it or not. I don’t buy it. That you made that choice does not mean everyone does.

    On the other hand, I agree with you completely: if you don’t want to be a lawyer, don’t go to law school! Seems simple enough. 🙂

    • If you go to law school you don’t HAVE to join a firm after graduation. If you’re lucky you can do a judicial clerkship, join an NGO, do a federal Honors Program with DOJ or IRS, or somesuch. But most people who go to law school go to the private sector, and most of them join a firm. Whether that firm is big, small, or inbetween, you will be the junior associate, you’ll know less than the paralegal in the cube next to you about the nuts and bolts of law practice, and it is a grind. It’s all true, and it’s what I’m about to tell a group of prelaw students at a well-known liberal arts college. Everything I’d planned to say appears somewhere on this website, so I’ll be giving my audience a copy of the homepage and the URL so they can explore on their own.

  3. One more thing for potential J.D.s to consider: those high-paying jobs are often available only to graduates from top law schools, or very highly ranked graduates from good schools. You can choose money or fun if you go to Columbia, but neither might be an option if you go to a second-tier school.

  4. Great post. I beat the same drum you beat and try as we might, it never seems to get beatten into the heads of the truly stubborn, truly scared undergrad who needs that “fall back JD.”

    Um, therandomthinkery says lawyers “choose” the crap legal world and implies there’s an easy escape. Kinda. I don’t work for a firm. I DID however, feel compelled to take a law job because I wasn’t going to make enough to cover rent and bills at the jobs I wanted – and I live in a comparatively cheap city.

    When you have between $600 and $1000 per month to pay in student loans alone, your career choices become limited. You don’t need to take the firm jobs. You do, however, need to be comfortable that you’ll be paying off your loans for 20-30 years. With interest.

    At the very least, kids who can’t answer “because I want to be a lawyer!” should take off a few years between college and grad school of any kind. You’ll be healthier for doing so if you eventually end up at law school.

    Oh, and one thing to go a step further. Kids who say “because I want to be a lawyer!” should then be made to explain what a lawyer is and what a lawyer does. I don’t think I knew I didn’t know until about November of my 1L year. I should’ve quit. I didn’t. That was mistake number two . . . .

  5. Even if you want to be a lawyer, and you graduate from a top school, and you pass the bar, there are no guarantees. I know a lot of first tier law grads who are doing doc review as temps for big firms b/c there are no jobs out there.

    I’ve come from a 4th tier school, got a full ride, and worked for a big firm until the market fell apart. Then I was laid off. I was fortunate only that I didn’t have that much student loan debt from law school. But that doesn’t negate the fact that I am now unemployed and I can’t find a secretary job due to my law degree.

    Moral: don’t go to law school unless you really want to be a lawyer, and even then, it’s a long hard road b/c there are too many in our profession already. Better to be a software engineer. They make six figures, and the BLS estimates growth to be 45% in the next 10 years.

    • I’ve just started leaving the degree off my job apps and resume so that I could find a regular job. I experienced the same problem, didn’t really understand what it was to be a lawyer until I was already in law school, and then I was also a little unrealistic in thinking there would be other great options to use the degree. The hardest thing is finding your first job post law school, especially if you didn’t work while in school.

  6. Thank you for this post. I've taken a few years off after my undergrad and I'm ready to use my brain again to work towards a graduate degree. My first instinct was to get some form of MBA, but I've had several professors, family friends (who are lawyers), and my own mother tell me I would make a great lawyer, that I have the close reading and writing skills that would put me ahead of the average law student. And thanks to tuition remission benefit at my job I could go to a top law school for a relatively low cost. So I was seriously considering dumping the MBA goal for the "status" of a Law degree. I imagined I could still work in business and be a dealmaker because of my law degree's power. I'm sure that I would enjoy the work and the mental challenge, but in the end, I really do not want to be a lawyer! Thank you for saving me four years in a part time program working towards a goal I don't really want. I am instead choosing a 16 month part time program which will give me a Masters in Global Leadership- not a bad goal in the end!

  7. The market is bad right now. If you go to law school now you will have a wide array of job opportunities. A lot more then your average BA degree. A BA degree will let you fight the rat race and struggle financially. A law degree will teach you how to think and you will be fine. Don't listen to those that throw the JD in the gutter. They read books their whole life, scored good on a stupid standardized test(lsat), went to a tier one or two school and never learned how to network. Hence, no job. Go to a tier 3 or 4 on scholarship money, network and you will be in the same place less debt.

  8. To Anonymous from Oct 29: Well, yes and no. I don't think many people would disagree that your options are greater with a JD if the comparison is to a BA. But the slog and expense of law school is not the only way to learn "how to think."

    Advanced degrees in History, Anthropology, or Political Science, for example, teach as many if not more critical thinking and writing skills with less financial strain. I agree, there's nothing wrong with law school if you actually want to be a lawyer. If your aim is critical thinking however, there are lots of ways to skin that cat.

    BTW, I have 5 friends who went to law school:
    1 is a practicing corporate lawyer making a ton of money and loving it.
    2 are practicing lawyers who are miserable, 1 of whom is an alcoholic.
    1 is an upper level manager at a publishing house; a ho-hum job making an OK living.
    1 unable to find a job, has become a drug dealer

    There are no guarantees.

  9. I went to law school, I tutor people for the LSAT, and I absolutely agree. Of my closest 10 law school friends, only 3 aren't trying to get out of legal work. Two friends who found the careers they wanted are in law school administration. Did the degree help them get there? Sure, but like you said, they could have ended up in the same place earlier and for far less money by taking a different route.

    If you aren't sure you want to be a lawyer but no one can sway you from attending law school, start somewhere that's cheap. If you get good grades and find you would probably be interested in practicing, transfer up to a "better" school. (Nearly the same classes are required for all first year law students, so transferring is a very realistic option.) If you find you'd rather do something that doesn't require a law degree, you aren't so far in debt from one year of tuition that not being a big firm lawyer isn't an option. This is what all of my friends – even those who aren't desperate to flee the field – wish they had done.

    One last bit of advice: if you think a law degree would be well-regarded in your career, though not required (Tess, this is for you), again, go cheap. Prestige won't matter so much when you have field experience and (an)other related degree(s)

  10. As an undergrad who intends to pursue a law degree and does not intend to be an attorney, I appreciated this article's thoughtful and well-written perspective. But I do not share it. There are many good reasons to pursue a law degree.

    First, I believe the writer understates the value of an education in law. I have encountered numerous CEOs and policy-makers who raved about the value of their law school education, saying that it is, in fact, a major factor in their success and the best preparation for careers in business and politics. As a business student who has taken what is essentially an MBA curriculum at a top business school, I believe that the training a lawyer receives — in areas like logic, argumentation, analyzing information, drawing conclusions about individual situations arising within broader legal frameworks — can actually be much more valuable than the training received in many other professional degree programs, which often teach material which any intelligent person could learn from a used textbook (e.g. accounting, marketing, and finance).

    Second, the writer's argument seems to overlook and devalue what can be some reasonable and well-thought-out reasons for wishing to attend law school. For example, some people simply love law and the idea of learning in a law-school setting but do not possess a desire to do the things that attorneys do in the field.

    Third, a practical understanding of law can be a valuable asset in many settings, and is, in some careers, bordering on a necessity. For example, for those who wish to pursue careers in legal journalism and legal academia, a J.D. probably is a necessity. And it's extremely valuable in certain venture capital, directorship, private equity, and startup settings.

  11. It is not necessary to join a law school only when you want to be a lawyer. Not only in case of law, one can study any subject in spite of fact that one doesn't want to make career in that field. One can study subject for its interest in that subject also.

  12. What if law school doesn't cost $100K? For example, J. Reuben Clark School of Law charges just under $30K tuition for members of the LDS church and I read that the Princeton Review ranked it in the top ten of law schools in the US.

    Doesn't that make going to law school far less risky for some?

  13. @ Anon 7:08

    For some, yeah. Price is important, and if you can pay less than average is definitely lowers the opportunity cost.

    "Just under 30K" a year isn't exactly cheap though, and 3 years is a long time. It's a steep tab in itself, and 99% of us (those who aren't Mormons and don't know exactly which schools will accept us) can't count on that discount.

    But anyone with scholarships or access to cheaper-than-average tuition in a well ranked school definitely ought to factor that into their decision.

  14. I have a degree in both Music and Communication. I'm preparing to go to Law School but to ask me if I want to be a Lawyer is a good question. I simply choose to have a formal education in the Law just as I chose to do in Music and Communication. Although I would not have rejected the opportunities, I had no intention of becoming a musician or a Radio/TV personality etc. The knowledge I have after working in both fields is priceless! I have no regrets. Let's just say I have plans for my legal education and whether I want become a lawyer or not is not as important as the satisfaction in knowing I have the same formal education (legal knowledge) as a lawyer.
    Alternatives exist in every opportunity…so does choice. No guarantees.

  15. So someone,keep me on the right path – is it possible to get a Masters and a JD simultaneously. I used to be all "med school" but recently I'm thinking about Law school. I'll appreciate various input. thanks.

  16. So someone,keep me on the right path – is it possible to get a Masters and a JD simultaneously. I used to be all "med school" but recently I'm thinking about Law school. I'll appreciate various input. thanks.

  17. hi,
    i just wanted to say how much i enjoy reading your blog. in a world full of spin, it's nice to get some fact-based analysis.
    keep up the good work.

  18. As an attorney practicing for about nine years now, I wish I had known prior to going to law school the reality of the legal profession so that I could have analyzed my decision better. I love my career but it is not what I envisioned when entering law school. Further, the huge debt has definitely put a severe burden on me as I feel sometimes that I am a indentured servant to the debt. If I had known what I know now, I would have gone a lower tier law school and probably received a full scholarship rather than go to the prestigious first tier school with no scholarship because it was marketed as leading to a lucrative career. They failed to tell me about the part that most of the other people I was going to law school with came from prominent legal families such as local, state, and federal judges, senators, representatives, and name sakes of giant corporations. I soon found out that for those, they were not going to face the same issues myself and few others from my law school would. Since I was the only one in my family to embark on this venture, I had no connections in the legal community and my parents definitely couldn't afford to pay for my school. Many of my classmates didn't have to worry about their class rank as they already had well paying jobs waiting for them upon graduation. I think that it is important for people to know this prior to going to certain top tier schools because many of the students are legacy students which means they have extensive family history there and/or their families have donated millions to the college. At the end of the day, I made the choice to incur the debt and now I must live with my choice. Most of the time it doesn't bother me, but every now and then when I can't take a family vacation or buy expensive gifts for my children or family members, I see my friends who some of which didn't even go to college doing so because they have very good paying jobs, I become a little resentful because people assume that you must be wealthy if you are an attorney. I hate to disappoint, but most of the time, attorneys make the same amount of money as those with just a plain bachelor's degree. Obviously the illusion of being a lawyer is great because there are more and more law schools opening up every day which means more and more lawyers to compete with each other for the same business. I would encourage anyone who is thinking about going to law school to definitely NOT go if you have to take on any debt at all.

  19. Advanced degrees in History, Anthropology, or Political Science, for example, teach as many if not more critical thinking and writing skills with less financial strain. I agree, there's nothing wrong with law school if you actually want to be a lawyer. If your aim is critical thinking however, there are lots of ways to skin that cat. Personal Injury Attorney Houston

  20. Don't worry about the crappy culture at big law firms. For all the money they pay at the big law firm, when they are mean to you, just smile and ask for more work, when they tell you awful things about yourself or your work, realize that you would be spoiled to ask them to be nice to you. Just take it and write big checks to pay down your loans. Stay as long as you can. If you pay off your debts, save and invest. Never buy into the lifestyle. When you leave, you'll be fine.

  21. If you do not want to practice, don't go. I've never met a seasoned attorney who wants to practice.

    If you graduate and can find a job, you are probably looking at about 50-60k a year to bill 2000-2500 hours. That's billed, not worked. Not only is that brutal pay (and I know many who would beg and move cross-country to get it) but the work is horribly dull.

    Before you go to school, I dare you to find any practicing lawyer (not a former lawyer, legislator, VP of sales, in house counsel) that will say "I love this and want my kids to follow in my footsteps…" Try it.

  22. I really enjoyed reading this post. I did really well in high school but fled the hoards of peers applying for Medicine and Law degrees because I wanted to follow my dream and major in Music Industry and Event Management, which had a much lower enter score. Since I started the course (a Business degree) I realised it was so easy that it was almost boring – I was used to a challenge, and thought, why not combine my Music Industry major with another Law degree, even though I'll never do Law?

    I justified it by saying it would make university more "fun", I would gain prestige and a better 'status' amongst my friends who were all doing 'better' degrees, I would be more employable in the highly competitive music industry, and it would relate to my job… well, only that 1 subject on intellectual property law, or something.

    Anyway, reading your post made me realise that completing a Law degree isn't just 'a fresh challenge'… it's actually really hard work… and if you can't even get a job with a Credit average Law degree than maybe I should just aim for High Distinctions in my easy-peasy Business degree, and give myself the extra time to get more work experience or work more part time hours to earn extra cash.

    Thanks for your insight 🙂

  23. Finally a post that has some common sense in it. What you said has actually made a big impression on me, I'm in a hard situation in terms of making a decision and wanted some of your insight.

    Economics and Psychology double major at NYU. Just graduated this past May. I'm 22 , and I was looking to go to Law school because I thought it was a profession that would open doors and give me knowledge I could apply to any field. My father has a real estate development business, so I thought I could compliment it with a law degree. But after reading your post I feel that an MBA would be a wiser choice. My father said he would support me going through school, but another issue is that I also want to get married within the next year, and I don't think not making money for 3 years is a good start.

    Thoughts?

  24. I think the one caveat to your argument would be a career in academia or legal research.

    I'm going to law school in the fall and I've always waffled between wanting to be a lawyer or sticking around in academia, getting an LLM, etc. Another possible route for legal researchers is public service.. I am currently a government researcher and many of my colleauges are legally trained and conducting human rights research, for which their law degrees have been essential (ie., not just good for developing critical thinking or research skills).

  25. Nicole,
    That's not a caveat to my argument, that essentially is my argument. I'm not saying that you can't use a law degree for careers other than practicing law, I'm saying that if you want a career as a researcher, an academic, or policy specialist, then law school is an unnecessarily expensive path to take to get there.
    I don't doubt that your colleagues manage to put their law degrees to good use. However, the cost of a law degree, in both money and time diverted from other things, is very significant, and so it's worth considering that when you're deciding what degree will best help you get the policy job you want. (For instance, if you want a job in academia, a PhD program is usually fully funded, and comes with the added bonus of actually training you to do academic research. Just saying.)

  26. In order to have a six-figure salary after law school you will need to go to the top law school in the nation, makes perfect sense.

  27. Lots of interesting comments here. Some idealistic at best, blissfully ignorant at worst.

    As someone who has worked in the corporate sector (financial services, corporate securities, government regulators) for almost 15 years, here's my take.

    Go to law school if you want to become a lawyer and practice law. Otherwise, don't.

    As someone with no formal legal training, I've learned on the job to draft operating agreements, negotiate deals, review prospectuses for bankruptcy remoteness, and generally think, write, and speak in an articulate, logical, coherent manner.

    Granted, I don't know how to file a lawsuit against another party or file a motion to suppress, but if I wanted to do that for a living, I would then go to law school.

  28. Recently I was certain to do a business bachelor degree, how ever, just recently a teacher with experience had said that a business degree is a doss, and if there 200 applicants going for a job, a person with a law degree will probably get it over you, and that it is a degree only taken by people who dont know what do with their life + only care about money.
    I don't want to become a lawyer. Perhaps its an instant DONT DO IT THEN! I find law enjoyable over business. And surely a law degree will provide you with a stable beginning, even though you don't want to become a lawyer? I have only today to decide, and decided to release my confusement about career choices onto this post.

  29. I don't know who you are, but I cannot begin to thank you enough. I have gone through a year of law school and am wrestling with whether I should continue or not when I know a career in the law does not fit my personality and the career that challenges me and satisfies lies elsewhere. YOUR IMAGE of a law degree as being an 'UNNECESSARY DETOUR' is absolutely brilliant. Too many of these 'anti-JD' sites exist, create by people who are bitter, and let toxicity and animosity clout legitimate critiques of the why law school isn't always a good idea. Your image is the first fair, even handed, and non judgmental explanation I have come across and I cannot express how helpful it is to me to conceptualize that. I wish you the best on your own journey in the law and every success and happiness. Even though I know I should not play the role of a lawyer in the story of my life, I ALSO know our society needs GOOD LAWYERS who are first and foremost GOOD PEOPLE, and the wisdom you have shared clearly demonstrates that you are one of them.

  30. I agree with what you're saying but still think that the point of the article is that law schools aren't held accountabl­e for keeping accurate records of their graduates' job placements and starting salaries. It's the methodolog­y that really gives a statistic meaning, and too many law schools will do things like only reporting the average starting salary of employed graduates, or not even keep track of how many employed graduates are actually doing the work of a lawyer. If schools were forced to keep track of how many graduates actually went to work in law, people like the unemployed JD wouldn't be in this position.

  31. I'm so glad I found your blog … what an interesting article … and I'd like to weigh in …

    I am an attorney who had a fantastic legal career and has just left the law to be a motivational speaker, blogger, life coach, entrepreneur and … as much as possible … skier 🙂

    Now, on the one hand, I agree with you. The valuable skills I've learned the past few years that allow me to do what I do now (specifically, non-violent communication) can be taught to four-year olds.

    On the other hand, I do find my legal education and training to be extremely valuable for what I do now (which is help people understand and recreate their personal belief systems, thereby manifesting their dream life).

    I've also found that it's easier to be an entrepreneur because my standard for what people are going to pay me is higher than it probably would have been if I didn't start out as a lawyer … which is good … because far too many coaches/healers are underselling themselves in this world …

    But I digress … would love to connect with you blog to blog.

    cheers,
    Erika Awakening

  32. Excellent post, and right on the mark. Having a law degree, and I do, qualifies you to do one thing only, practice law.

    And practicing law, I might add, qualifies you to do one line of work only, that being whatever area of the law you ended up in. Having done litigation for 20 years, that's what I'm qualified to do.

    When looking at law school imagine yourself as a lawyer. And when imaging yourself as a lawyer, imagine yourself as a 47 year old lawyer, or 57 year old lawyer, not as a 27 year old lawyer when its all new and fresh, and then decide if that's what you really want to do.

  33. Currently working a good paying job on tugboats in Alaska. Took the LSAT just to see if a jd was an option and then applied and got accepted to my first choice school. I like the idea of getting a great education and becoming a better thinker even if the job market for lawyers is bad. I'd also like to try to do some good things with my law degree, simple things like getting land set aside for open space recreational use. I've always thought it would be a trip to be a lawyer half the time and boat captain the other half. I only work half the year now and make about 70k. Don't know of I could work 5 days a week all year and sit in traffic. So my question is, can you make positive changes in the world as a lawyer? Can you work for yourself easily? Is law school a stimulating and mind powering experience as I imagine?

    • Cloudhopper, I have a brother in Alaska–beautiful state full of wonderful people. I don’t think, by and large, law school is an especially stimulating and mind empowering experience. But you need to remember that the law is expansive and I don’t think I have ever met someone who liked every area of the law, or every kind of legal work. You may like criminal law, but hate torts, love property, but hate contracts. You may love environmental law, or oil and gas law. You may love trial work and hate pouring over documents, or you may like getting “dirty” and having lots of little clients who you can care about. It is hard to lump lawyers together and generalize about them, because they do such different things–some go to court most of the time, some are in depositions and sifting through documents most of the time, some work with businesses almost exclusively, some do criminal, some just civil, etc. My wife is a tax lawyer, and I am a criminal lawyer–you can’t get much more different than that. So, I guess my point is law school is very much a broad induction into the law, and where you go from there is up to you. You have to be willing to work hard and tough it out through subjects and reading you could care less about. But the point is to get your JD, hopefully with decent grades, and get your foot in the door somewhere. Don’t get caught up in the vitriol on the web regarding the legal profession–it really is a relatively small subset and it does not account for the lawyers who love their work and don’t feel the need to spout off about it online. Many of the haters, I wager, had unrealistic expectations going into law school, and most of them probably just hate the work they have to do to get the money they so covet. I know many people, in the personal injury sector especially, who hate the monotony and endless detail and discipline involved in their jobs, yet a lot of money can be had in this field, so people naturally gravitate towards it. Anywho, I’m rambling. Good luck, whatever you decide. The profession is very rewarding for some, but it isn’t for everyone, and you should talk to a variety of people before you make your decision. Many make the decision lightly, and are stuck between continuing and getting their JD, or folding and turning back.

  34. I am really glad to have bumped into this article as I was searching for what kind of lawyer should I pour my concentration in the upcoming years in law school. I am Psychology graduate in the Philippines at a reputable university and had 2 years of experience in the sales and network industry.

    It was a short window for me to actually gather my self up and condition my mind into going to law school since my Dad requested that I go into a law school with a scholarship which for me is an opportunity too finally venture the field.

    I always fantasized of being a lawyer since I was in high school and thought that it would be nice if I become one, being my Dad is an actual lawyer who practice law in different areas, and as far as I am concerned, for almost 30 years in practice, his current financial state is quite nice. He earns at about 600k to 840k in Philippine peso per anum, which is really not that bad. The lifestyle is not actually the dream of a lifetime, but were actually good. I am aware of the work responsibilities that I will face in the years to come but yes, I want to practice law and become an attorney.

    Otherwise, for those who is stuck in the fantasy of a bigtime lifestyle or the fame of having a JD, DON’T! I advice others to choose a different path as explained in the original article. You might be better off.

  35. I was 100% committed to become a lawyer since I was 8 years old. So it was an easy decision for me. Many people do take the wrong or longer path even if they know they want to become a lawyer. The road is long and tough but if you research the most efficient path then it will save you years on your journey. Also really matters what state you live in. This site is pretty good at breaking down the state specific requirements. http://www.lawyeredu.org/state-requirements.html

  36. Hello everyone, glad to find this website 😉

    I’m from Toronto and I’m considering of becoming an environmental lawyer. My question is, during the time in law school will I be studying subjects related to the type of lawyer I’d like to be or do all law students learn the same stuff and the real practice starts after 3 years of law school?
    And, if someone can provide me more information on the career of an envrionmental lawyer, please?

    • All students learn the same stuff. After graduating, you will decide where to work & nurture the area of law you are interested in.

      Environmental law deals with the laws that govern the environment. For the safe keeping & up keeping of the environment. Since, the world is in highly focusing on climate change, global warming, industrial impacts on environment & numerous issues affecting the environment, lawyers who have gone into specializing in Environmental Law are on massive demand.

  37. Also, how good at writing do I need to be to be able to perform well in Law school and so on. English is my 2nd language unfortunately.

    • You have be a straight ‘A’ student as Law is a tough course. It requires commitment, critical thinking, smart analytical skills, etc.

      I am a lawyer with English being my THIRD (3RD) Language.

  38. This thread has amazing legs to be going on this long. The consensus of this thread seems to be that if you love the law and are willing to invest the time and money, then you should go to law school. But, ONLY if you want to practice.

    I am well established in my career and never expect to make anywhere near the money in law I make now.I would never be an associate in a firm or anything like that. I can afford to pay for school without incurring debt (but it is certainly money I could spend elsewhere). Of course, there is the matter of time (part-time program).

    Honestly, it might be cliché but I really do love learning about law. I have studied on my own over the years and in various business law classes, I have always enjoyed debating cases with my peers. Is that enough to warrant the investment of time and money? I equate my desire to obtain the education the same as if one had an interest in finance and wanted to take some finance education for its own sake.

    Given all that, I then ask, if not law school, how does one satisfy that thirst for knowledge? Law seems an odd “hobby”. I have read so many books on law that I never know if I am reading the right things. A friend of mine said the experience of law school alone was worth it just for the academic exercises with her peers. I suppose that can come in any college setting (MBA, etc).

  39. I am very successful completed Diploma Paralegal,this is simple question to ask.Is there any chance to completed degree in Law or to become a lawyer by proffessional.Good comment I read.

  40. Don’t be misled by the above article. Law is the root of all knowledge. You don’t necessarily take law to be a lawyer. Mark my words, a Law Degree put you on the top of the pyramid of knowledge. You will be able to understand almost everyone’s job: you believe it or not, you can do someone else’s job better then him/herself can do that same job: in a manner that can make your friend doubt his field of specialties.

  41. Don’t be misled by the above article. Law is the root of all knowledge. You don’t necessarily take law to be a lawyer. Mark my words, a Law Degree puts you on the top of the pyramid of knowledge. You will be able to understand almost everyone’s job: you believe it or not, you can do someone else’s job better then him/herself can do that same job: in a manner that can make your friend doubt his field of specialties.

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