Was it all for nothing? Did you spend $100,000+ on a law degree only to find yourself buried in student loans with no jobs on the horizon? Do you feel paralyzed and hopeless?
What if I could show you a way to salvage at least a part of your sunk costs? What if I could offer you a path to really help people; to make the difference you dreamed of; to affect the kind of good in the world that inspired you to go to law school in the first place?
Well friend, today I have just that opportunity for you. It won’“ make you any money, I’m afraid, but it will improve, and possibly even save the lives of thousands of people considering getting a law degree. You can use the vast life experience you earned while getting a law degree to teach new prospects to run in the other direction!
While it may not be the glamorous law job you dreamed of, this is quite possibly the absolutely most useful thing you can do with your law degree right now. You really can make a difference, and your law degree can matter.
Spread the word “Don’“ Go to Law School!”
I just read a book that will help you use your shiny new law degree to help people. It’s called “Don’t“ Go to Law School (50 Reasons), by Tamara Day. Tamara is a recently licensed attorney (2013 or so) who found herself in the same situation many of us do. She had just slogged through three years of law school hell, studied for and took the bar exam and jumped through all the bureaucratic hoops to get her law license, only to find herself saddled with over $100K of life crushing debt and no prospect of finding a law job. But Tamara did not wallow in the misery of her plight. Instead, she wrote this book to sound the alarm for prospective law students. Her book lucidly and succinctly explains, in exquisite detail, exactly why the aspiring law student should seriously reconsider her aspirations.
In addition to the economic arguments made by Prof. Paul Campos, which I discussed in detail in my blog entry “It’s Not Your Fault”, Tamara makes some excellent points about the effect going to law school will have on your career and on your social life. For example:
- Law school will ruin your resume—or as Tamara says it “turn your resume into Swiss cheese without the holes. If you’re going to law school from a job you got right after college, you’re wasting three years you could be using to gain experience and build up your credentials, leading to higher paying jobs in the future. If you are planning on going to law school directly from college, that’s a three year gap in your resume where you have not only not gained an education that will lead to a job as a lawyer, but you will have obtained little to no experience that is meaningful to an employer in any other field. Tamara recommends that instead of going to law school you spend that time building up your skills in your current job, applying for higher paying jobs in your current field, or pursuing a graduate degree in a field that actually has jobs, like IT
- Law school will clobber your dreams—Imagine your life in ten years. What do you see in your future. Marriage? Children? A house? Travel? The time you spend and the debts that you incur from going to law school will put you at least several years behind the 8 ball for all of those things. You won’“ have any time to develop any sort of meaningful relationship with an SO. Try to get a mortgage? Good luck when the bank sees you have all that student debt. Travel? The debt will say something about that too. Kids? Law school has caused you to delay establishing yourself in your life for so long that they could be a long way off even if you are in your late 20’s or mid 30’s. This last point is especially important to women because, as Tamara points out, they have a limited number of child bearing years, so having to defer starting a family really narrows the window.
- Law school will ruin your relationships—When you’re in law school, you’re in class at least 15 hours a week. For every one of those hours, you are spending at least three hours of study (and I think that’s optimistic). A typical law student’s life consists of 12 to 18 hour days in class and studying Monday through Friday, and at least 6 hours a day on a typical weekend. You won’“ have time for your friends or family, and after three years of this, you might find that the friendships you had going in have withered for want of tending. Now, this might be worth it if you got a lucrative law job out of it, but as Tamara points out, that’s a real long shot.
So What Does This Mean to You?
You may be thinking, “but I’ve already gone to law school” what use is this information to me now, other than to depress me and reinforce that I made a bad choice. Like Tamara, you have a chance to take your experience and use it to help others avoid a lot of pain, expense and disappointment. You can use your law degree to convince others not to get a law degree. Even if you don’“ have the imagination or knowledge to point them to other options, you can at least make it clear to them that Law School is a very bad option. That is, I believe, the most meaningful way you can use your law degree today.
What Should You do Now?
If I could I would give a copy of this book to every person in my life who was considering going to law school. I would give copies of this book out of Christmas presents. I anyone who receives Tamara’s book will find that it is the single most valuable gift they have ever gotten. It’s as if you are writing them a million dollar check, because not only are you saving them hundreds of thousands of dollars in tuition fees, but you are giving them an alternative path to happiness whose value cannot be quantified.
Lest you think I’ve been fecicious in this post, I assure you I am dead serious. This is something truly meaningful you can do if you have a law degree and you are disillusioned because you feel you are not able to use it in the ways you dreamed. Use it as Tamara did. Use it to educate others. Although it may not be quite in the way you had imagined. You will be using your law degree to do an enormous amount of good.