Lawyer… too late for me

Yay, you’re a lawyer! Four years of grunt undergraduate work, 3 years of what is equivalent to mental bootcamp. A barrage of exams such as SATs, LSATs, ethics, BAR, county, etc, and now you are set and licensed to practice and everything.

It’s not what you think.

-First off, unless your grades are in the top 15%, you won’t get a “dream” job at a medium to large firm. Most don’t. Even the brightest find out there are %15 people who are brighter than them.

-But even if you do, you work 80 hrs per week (no joke) until you exhaust yourself and keel over. The road to “Partner” is littered with associates. After 5 or so years, they can simply tell you, “You’re not going to make partner. Go elsewhere.” Five years down the drain. Yay!

-Medium to small sized firms aren’t so bad b/c they don’t work you to death, but you don’t get paid as much ($120,000 at a large firm vs. $50,000 at a medium-small one). Which matters because…

-You have a $100,000 debt. No joke. Law school is expensive and while there are loans out there “perfect for law students,” they mean perfect for them. So you will have a debt of $40,000 to $100,000, or more, depending on location and which school it is. Unless you are covered by family. In that case, you are in the %10 minority of what people refer to as “lucky bastards.”

-Because of the above, don’t even think about starting your own practice straight outta law school. Building a client base that is feasable for solo practice often takes years. You won’t know what to do anyways – 80% of your law classes teach you THEORY, not practice. A seasoned paralegal at a firm knows more than an attorney who’s been praciticing for five years. Yes, it’s true. More than once have I seen a fresh face ask their secretary, “what does U.S.C. stand for?” If YOU don’t know, it’s ok – chances are, neither does your lawyer!

-Law isn’t as glamarous as you think. You’re not going to be Jack McCoy from “Law & Order,” or Matlock, or anything. Ninety-five percent of your time is spent doing research; boring, tedious, torturous research. Three pecent will be devoted to your time with clients. The other two percent – you are in court, sitting on what seems to be legally-bounding uncomfortable church pews.

-Landing a job is hard, even if grades are good. Brown-nosing is what law students do well – future lawyers, remember? You must be good at “small talk” and “mixing,” and all that crap. And good luck with mail-outs. Most don’t even bother to respond, leaving you sucking wind while frantically trying to figure out how to pay your upcoming rent.

-your family won’t understand the tremendous pressure law school and law practice takes. They’ll still think of you as their normal “Ed,” “John,” “Kelly,” or “Quinn,” and won’t understand if you can’t go out or see them or call them sometimes. Prepare for familial and friend-related strife.

-Do you like wearing suits all day? If not suits, then maybe at least pants, and a dress shirt, and a TIE…ALWAYS a TIE. My neck is shrunk one size due to me wearing ties so much. Note to potential lawyers: If you step inside the place of business without a tie, you will die, at the hands of senior partners.

-If you go into criminal law, be prepared to defend the scum of the earth! Pedophiles, rapists, robbers, murderers, gangstas, white supremacists, and 12-year-old punks who torture animals in a way that would have made Mengele squirm. Sounds fun?

So: Don’t go to law school unless you REALLY, REALLY want to be a lawyer. Read some books about law schools and working as a lawyer before you decide.

Yes, there are perks, like having your mom say, “My ______, the lawyer,” but mostly it’s not that great. Really. It’s too late for me, but you have a choice….