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Kid wants to go to law school..........

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Kid wants to go to law school..........

Old 07-13-2012, 01:31 PM
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Default Kid wants to go to law school..........

So my kid, age 21 graudated from college with a BA in History and recently received several admissions to the local law schools. While I'm proud of his efforts in trying to advance his education, I have some serious doubts about him pursuing law.

I've read a few articles recently about how difficult it is for recent law grads to find jobs and I even hear of attorneys a few years in practice having financial difficulities.

And further compounding the problem I hear that once you have the "JD"
contrary to claims by the law schools that the degree "opens doors" it actually can become a hinderance in non-legal employment.

We paid for his undergraduate schooling, and he has good grades, he worked through college (part-time), helps around the house, etc. Honestly he's a really good kid but I don't want him making a serious mistake by going to law school.

The schools he's looking at are about 40K per year ! I'm more than willing to help pay for part of a graduate education, but he'd have to take loans to cover the rest. (we already paid about 120K for the undergrad)

In light of what I'm hearing I'm simply unsure if law is a good idea. He has a genunine interest in it, but I don't think it's a passion. He's not looking to make millions, just mainly wants a secure good "career" and thinks becoming an attorney will give him that.

What are your takes on this ? Am I over-analyzing ?
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Old 07-13-2012, 01:34 PM
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There's a few lawyers here....Should be interesting.

BTW - Where are you located?
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Old 07-13-2012, 01:48 PM
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Old 07-13-2012, 01:53 PM
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At the end of the day, law school was a good idea for me. I graduated in 1991. I practiced in my own office from 1991 until 2001 and then left the practice. I was very unsatisfied with the practice of law, but I had unrealistic expectations going in. I also was a history major. At 40 K a year , I understand your concern. In my current profession, I get asked all the time about pursuing law school. If you are chasing money, prestige or power, then think again. You will make more money, along with prestige and power, with an MBA. If the end goal is a 9-5 job , with a nice paycheck, it will work, but you will have to determine the cost/benefit. The average lawyer in Florida makes between 75-125K a year, nice , but I know salesmen who make that. Yep, I know lawyers that pull 200K, and I know ones that pull 50K.

That being said, a law degree will open doors. It will give you analytical and organizational skills unmatched in another professional degree. I do not buy the law degree being a hinderance in a non lawyer job., but it might not help either. Perhaps a third of my law school class does not practice law, but uses the skills it gives you in a business setting. I had classmates end up in the FBI, medical administration field, non law enforcement Federal Service, and I could go on. When I practiced, my richest clients, owned their own businesses. If your son has an interest in the law, has been accepted, and understands it is training in a thinking methodology, not vocational training, and he expands, his interest beyond the 9-5 "going to court", he should find it rewarding. If he thinks it is a ticket to punch to a high paying job, just for showing up, he will be discouraged. Good luck.
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Old 07-13-2012, 02:10 PM
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Graduated with a degree in economics from Duke in 1972, law degree (J.D.) from University of Kentucky in 1975. My dream was to obtain an MBA,but unfortunately was never realized. I cannot say that my law degree was a mistake, but in today's world, a law degree is not a ticket to great wealth except for a very exceptional few, who not only graduate from the top schools at the top of their class, but who also truly enjoy the practice of law (which in truth is not much fun for most of us).

My first job out of law school was with a federal agency best know by its 3 initials (that is all I can or will say about that). Ultimately I left the employment of the federal government to return to Ky to practice law. I am now retired at age 62, and the thought of returning to practice sends shivers through my body. No thanks. I did enjoy it for the most part, but am thoroughly burned out. It is a demanding profession.

Today many graduates of good schools are having trouble finding work. Starting your own practice is still a possibility, but don't expect much income for several years. Most government lawyers make less than six figures. Most private attorneys don't do much better. A few at the very top make tremendous incomes.

A law degree can open the door to other professional opportunities. I still believe an MBA/Law degree is the way to go. Most importantly of all, your son needs to be truly interested in the law to even think about law school. Otherwise, he will soon become truly disheartened about his career choice.

I wish him the best, but encourage him to think carefully and long about what he really wants to do.
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Old 07-13-2012, 02:16 PM
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As a lawyer, it was a good decision for me... But, the big-firm market is different now for lawyers who are not top of their class. Going to a mid/low-tier school and paying $40k/year will not be wise if he is not "all in" as far as studying goes and does not graduate in the top 10%. Otherwise, he will not get looked at for a "big law" job. If he wants to go solo or do other work like criminal defense, it may not matter as much. In that case, he would most probably need to be a better businessman than lawyer. State schools offer a better choice since budget is a concern, and around here the state law school is probably more respected than the private schools. In the end, I can not recommend against it because it worked out well for me. But, $120k+ is a lot of money and it will take a long time to pay it back especially if he does not like practicing law.......... And one more thing, I know people who went for a year or two and dropped out. They got the worst of both worlds. Having to endure law school and pay the debt, without the corresponding ability to earn a good living as a lawyer. Have him think about that, because quitting law school and/or not passing the Bar should never be an option once you start.
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Old 07-13-2012, 02:20 PM
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How'd he do on the LSAT? As trite as that sounds, it is a very good predictor of law school success, which is a very good predictor of career prospects. (Plus, if he did well on the LSAT, it is probably an indication that he likes doing this kind of sh*t.) The top students at good schools can get good paying jobs starting at six figures, but below the top there is a big gap. The middle/lower students have much harder times getting jobs and make much less. It is definitely a tough market for the middle/lower students right now, but that could change in 3 years too.

Another big question is why does he want to go to law school? I think to be a happy lawyer you really need to enjoy logic, reading, writing, and analysis. Many people go to law school because they want to have the trappings of a lawyer (money, prestige, etc.) but they don't have the aptitude or dont want to actually do the work. Plus being a young lawyer can really suck. Especially in the beginning, the hours can be grueling. If you don't really want to work hard, law school is not the place to go. Try business school - I have the impression the business school guys take classes on what kind of martini goes with lunch.(just kidding)

Finally, no one really knows how well they will do, or whether they will like law school, until they go (it is very different from college). Given those uncertainties and the soft job market I would caution your son about incurring a heavy debt load. I chose to go to a second tier school instead of a first tier school because they gave me close to a full scholarship and I have never regretted that decision.
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Old 07-13-2012, 02:32 PM
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Man reading this makes me glad I didn't get a JD. I wanted to after my MBA and have been thinking about night school, but I thought it would open doors in business. Funny seeing the other side where you guys say to get an MBA instead.

Thanks for saving me a boatload of money though
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Old 07-13-2012, 04:07 PM
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I know lots of lawyers who no longer practice because they hated the work. I also know a lot of attorneys still practicing who hate the work, but do it 'cause they have to.
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Old 07-13-2012, 04:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Hooper View Post
I know lots of lawyers who no longer practice because they hated the work. I also know a lot of attorneys still practicing who hate the work, but do it 'cause they have to.

I know lots of physicians, dentists, plumbers and carpenters that also hate the work but do it since they feel they have no alternative.


To be successful as an Attorney requires a mastery of great/good business skills, entreprenuership and a strong desire to succeed. Most attorneys I know are either lousy businessmen or lousy attorneys, that makes for a failing combination. That said, having a J.D. opens up many doors in many differing areas of law, maritime, transactional, domestic,criminal, etc. Surely there are areas your son would find comfort in.

So to my whiney bretheren who seem to have forgotten that no one put a gun to their head and forced them to work at some arcane job in a faceless government agency or being an associate at a 2000 billable hour firm, there are many opportunities out there for the taking, some folks made better choices or had better skills and luck than others, like me, I'm Happy because I've always been a fisherman /boater first and lawyer second.


Oops! My NOSE got bigger, like Pinnochio

Last edited by Schmaltz~Herring; 07-13-2012 at 05:04 PM.
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Old 07-13-2012, 04:54 PM
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Did he take the LSAT yet?
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Old 07-13-2012, 04:59 PM
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Originally Posted by OldPete View Post
Did he take the LSAT yet?

With a 3.7 and a 168 lsat he's golden!
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Old 07-13-2012, 05:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Schmaltz~Herring View Post
With a 3.7 and a 168 lsat he's golden!
Where did you read that?
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Old 07-13-2012, 06:58 PM
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I'm a lawyer at a fairly large firm and am actively involved in recruiting. If your son has real drive and high scores, law school may make sense. BUT, gone are the days when law school was a viable alternative for kids who just didn't know what else to do. Those are the ones who graduate from a private law school in the middle of the class with $100,000 in student loans and job prospects making $40,000.

So, if I could sum it up, law school is a good idea if you have the smarts to get in a good law school and graduate towards the top of your class OR If your parents are willing to foot the bill so you don't get in debt. If neither of those conditions exist, I would advise against it.
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Old 07-13-2012, 09:17 PM
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I think law school was a great idea for me. I got shot in the Army and the V.A. paid my way!

I have loved the law from day one and been very fortunate. My greatest joy is helping people, sometimes no pay, sometimes big pay. The bottom line is I've always said I'd do it for a hobby if I didn't do it for a living.

I love the boating/fishing and especially rebuilding older boats. One criticism of the law practice is that few things are tangible, appeals, unappreciative clients, verdict was too small (never had anyone say too big) When I redo an old Hatteras, I can stand back and look at something that's pretty, finished, and I know who to blame if there's an issue.

Over the years that has balanced me.

The practice has changed, I do P.I. work and, with the advertisers and all the chasers, cases are harder to come by. I'm nearing the end of the practice, just had kidney cancer and need cervical fusion and back surgery.

I miss it dearly already, the interactions with folks who need a little help, many here on THT. That's what we lawyers owe as dues for having the honor of being able to practice, help the little guy in need.

I think it's a great profession, a legal education gives a logical and critical way of thinking that will serve you well in life.

Tell you kid he may or may not get rich, he may be a government employee or work for a public defender, prosecutor or trial lawyer. If you do the right thing in the practice, Karma kicks in and if you help folks in need and take 'em fishing sometimes, you rack up Karma points and it comes back tenfold.

We have tons of lawyers these days, it has steadily grown in my 30 years, but we don't have as many, like me, that live to do this work, love the trials and conflict and feel such satisfaction when someone sees you on the street and tells his wife "that's the guy that saved me when I was in trouble over bla bla bla and he never charged me"

If the dedication comes first, law school is a great thing. Mine was a natural process after being a cop and criminal investigator, getting shot and looking for a career that didn't require me to pass a physical agility test like the department did. I even tried to run the test and my right shoe was filled with blood, I just couldn't go back as a cop.

I'm just a lucky boy and the stars lined up for me and the law degree for a guy who would screw with people for a hobby found a way to make a good living. (kidding) I have always enjoyed the ability to ferret out the truth, smell liars at ten feet and not take no for an answer for my clients. It's a satisfaction seldom found elsewhere.

Last edited by Shark1007; 07-13-2012 at 09:35 PM.
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Old 07-13-2012, 09:51 PM
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Several comments (I am not a Lawyer).. Recently I have been helped by several attorneys... One member on this board has been very gracious and helpful and I am very greatful.

A fairly good friend worked with me and was a fellow LEO. He felt that being a LEO was not prestigious enough for him and it isn't. He saved his money and went to a local law school. For almost 8 to 10 years he jumped around from State Attorney, private attorney, working for the state etc. He finally got into the Border Patrol and is stationed in AZ. He told me he really hated the practice of law and forgot how much more he really enjoyed the hands on aspect of Law Enforcement. He is 39 years old and starting over and will be right at 60 when he can retire. 60 is awefully old to be chasing illegals and drug dealers in the desert but I am truely glad he landed on his feet and has found something he really likes again..

I have a BA in History also. Other than going to Law School does your son have any other interests or desires on a job?
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Old 07-14-2012, 02:40 AM
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It's good that you are expressing an interest in your child's education and career path now, but I hope you dope slapped him when he decided to get a BA in 'history'. And you spent $120K for a history major. Ouch.
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Old 07-14-2012, 03:51 AM
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I am not a Lawyer, but I have a cousin who got out of law school 2 years ago. When he graduated, he was 160K in debt. He was unemployed for a year and now has a job (not as a lawyer) making 40K a year. He is smart and has his act together. He went to law school knowing that he was a hard worker, a good kid, and very (book) smart. He firgured with all of his credentials, he would find this great high paying job at the end of it. It didnt happen.
On the other hand, a friend of mine got a job at a law firm after he graduated with his undergrad. He is a hard worker, and was 22 years old. Not knowing exactly what to do, he started working at this firm for $10 an hour. Well I guess the people at the law firm liked him. The law firm PAID 100% for him to go to law school, paid him a salary while he did it, and now works for them full time. He took the firms private jet to the super bowl this year and sat in a private box, compliments of the firm. I guess that these are two extreme ends of the spectrum. My friend in the good place got out of school and did his time working for nothing before he went back to law school. He worked his tail off for this firm and in the end it worked out for him.
My cousin on the other hand was one of the people that went to law school because he didnt really know what else to do. He is very smart and I call him a professional student. He will be paying off his law school debt for the rest of his life I'm sure.
My point here being, it might be a good idea to get some time in the field. Work for a law firm as a paper stacker if you have to. See if you are good at it and like it, and THEN go to law school. Dont go there with no experience and right out of college because you think there will be some fairy tale amazing job when you get out. Good luck.
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Old 07-14-2012, 05:26 AM
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I am an attorney in private practice. I limit my practice to real estate law, zoning & planning, estate planning/elder law, and landlord/tenant matters. I am an expert at those particular areas of law in my home state. I love my job and couldn't think of doing anything else. 25 years ago, I went to law school four nights per week in Boston while working full time. By going at night and working, I paid the school bills every semester and walked out of law school with no student loans. I had zero free time but it was worth it. Your son may want to think about doing something like that. I read once that roughly 25% of those who graduate from law school actually practice law and I believe it. Only a few of my law school friends are in private practice. One is a police chief, another is the vice president of human resources in a fortune 500 company making $ 500,000 per year (I make much less), another is the president of a bank, another is a Secret Service agent, another is in the State Legislature, and another prosecutes criminals for the DA's office. A law degree demonstrates to an employer the ability to work under extreme pressure, ability to analyze reams of data, ability to communicate effectively, ability to negotiate and/or debate, etc. Such skills are much sought after in many professions besides the practice of law.
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Old 07-14-2012, 05:50 AM
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This site is one of my daily reads....hes a lawprof whos written alot about the higher ed bubble and law schools particularly. Just keep scrolling down.

http://pjmedia.com/instapundit/?s=law+school+bubble
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