I guess I’m in the mood to tell people what to do. Two more cents…

Don’t go to law school. Become an artist instead.

When I was studying at Northwestern, I wanted to major in fine arts. My parents talked me out of it.

This was a mistake. I’ll tell you why.

As you probably know there is a whole genre of blogs that declare Law School is a Scam. My opinion, law school isn’t a scam. It is a very risky investment.

If you want to be a lawyer you need to decide this is what you want in undergrad. And then knock yourself out getting good grades and a high LSAT score. Why? Because law school is going to cost you upwards of $150,000 and it is nearly impossible to pay that back unless you work for a big firm. If you want to work for a big firm, you need to graduate from one of the top fourteen law schools. If you get into a school that is ranked from 15 to 50, you are going to need to rank at the very top of your class to get a job.

Law is a very hierarchal profession. It is very hard to get around it.

If you want to go into a public interest job like Criminal Defense, you are going to need to know a second language like Spanish or Portuguese depending on your geographical area.

If you want to work for the government, you need to have a connection. I mean a solid connection like a family member who is an elected official.

Also, if you are over 30, don’t do it. A law firm isn’t going to hire you. Why? Because the more an associate works, the more money the partners make. You don’t have as much energy as someone in your twenties. Furthermore, the older you are the less tolerance you have for this shit. The hiring partner knows it and so do you.

Study art in college. Creativity is devalued in our society so the skills are rare. But we live in a visual world. Between mass marketing, the internet, video games and t.v., visual artists are in demand.

My brother went to art school, and I went to law school. Guess who has a job with a Fortune 500 company…

Plus, it’s way more fun than being a lawyer.

8 thoughts on “I guess I’m in the mood to tell people what to do. Two more cents…

  1. As you know, I went to law school in my thirties. I’m turning 40 this year, and will be a 6th year associate. It has worked out for me (this year’s job change notwithstanding). I see what you’re saying about the energy of a 20-something (I don’t have it), but in my experience, firms valued the worldly know-how of 30-somethings, and even in some cases, 40-somethings.

    No doubt, however, that neither my nor your story is THE story, and that your categorization of law school as a “very risky investment” is 1000% true.

    Now I’m gonna go disagree with your last post, too, since I’m back from vacation and at a computer. :)

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  3. SIgh. You have had a dumb, hell of a time. There should be more artists and there should be fewer lawyers. I really, really believe that getting the first job is the worst part — and that the first job is almost always the worst job.

  4. And public accounting? THIS. Especially the age bias.

    The only break I caught is that unlike lawyers, CPA’s are actually in demand right now and I found a nice queer friendly firm willing (desperate enough) to take a chance on a 41 year old from a second-tier school (but still top of his class).

    It’s unusually rough out there right now for jobs, especially mid-life career changers. Here’s hoping you can put that law degree to use in some capacity, someday! I’ll let you know if we need any lawyers in our office once I’m settled!

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  6. Googie, you know that I love your wit and writing style and I really hate that you have been faced with so many career struggles post law school. It sucks, no way around it.

    And I may be a very fortunate exception, but my story is exactly what you advise others not to do. I had a successful 1st career and began law school at 35 at a top 20/25 school. It was a huge risk, and going back to school was harder than I imagined it would be. I worked my tail off but my 1L year grades were not impressive. That made getting early selection for interviews harder, but I found that I did well at getting myself chosen for lottery slots. And because I had some life experience and could engage better than the average 25 year old, once I was in front of someone, I had a pretty good shot. I ended up with multiple callbacks and offers.

    In my job, I can and do put in as many hours as the 25 year olds. Am I tired every night? Hell, yes. Afterall, it is 9:41 pm on a Tuesday and I am typing this on the train home from the office.

    If I were less tired I could probably more eloquent. Perhaps I will blog about this myself at some point. But take heart that your legal path is not a dead end.

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