Okay...so I'm almost done reading Sammy Davis, Jr's autobiography. No really! So I'll come with something to say about that when I'm done. It's supposed to be terribly inspirational, but to me it plays as really sad.
So here's the next edition of the advice feature, with the kind permission of a reader who e-mailed me:
I am considering law school. I have the grades and all that prereq stuff, but I feel like I'm hitting the career default button, I guess, by applying to law school. Now, you said in one of your early blogs that you kind of went to law school with little to no expectations to actually practice. So, here's my question... is the work that is required once you get into law school worth doing if you don't want to practice? I think what i'm asking is this- considering that there are SO MANY lawyers in the country, and hell, in the world, why would I go to law school if I don't want to practice? I also have a back up plan, so my world won't crumble if you tell me not to go...and oh, in an unscientific poll of my friends and family, the vote is split down the middle, so you're the tie-breaker. No pressure....:)
Thanks for your note! I totally understand where you’re coming from and I was exactly in your position at this time last year. I don’t feel like I can give a good final answer to your question for some time, since I’m only one-sixth of the way through school and I haven’t gotten my grades and I haven’t worked a single second in the real world in any law-related field (unless you count teaching LSAT, which I don’t). However, I’ll try to give you an update about how I feel compared to when I was in your shoes.
First off, being in law school has made me somewhat more interested in actually being a lawyer. I’m not sure whether I’m now more than 50% interested, but certainly more than when I started. So one reason to go is that you may find that you really like it and it really is what you want to do with your life. I don’t necessarily think that’s enough to make such a big commitment in time and money.
The main reason I think I decided to do what I’m doing is that I had a bad time in the job market after I graduated from college and wanted to make myself permanently employable. It may seem a little perverse, but in my heart of hearts I kind of see law as something to fall back on if I can’t figure out what I really want to do. At the same time, I’m leaving myself open to law actually being what I really want to do. I have a lot of other interests, though, and it sounds like you do too. If I truly believed that I could make a living being a novelist or a record producer or stand-up comic or some sort of television personality, I wouldn’t hesitate to punt on a law career entirely. Obviously, other people will feel differently depending on their personal and financial priorities. But I would say that the practical concern of having a degree that will let you make a living is a good reason to go to law school.
Finally, I think that this is the right place for me to be right now from an emotional standpoint. I have had my trials and tribulations and frustrations in school, as you’ve read, but when I really think about it, I feel a lot more comfortable and emotionally secure where I am than being miserable and frightened by the uncertainty of the job market. So I think you should consider how you’ll feel being in law school compared to your back-up plan. I wonder if your back-up is other school or if it’s work.
So that’s my two cents, or maybe more like four because I felt compelled to ramble on a little.