Recently, I asked one of my professors to write me a recommendation for law school because I plan on applying in the next few years after I get some work experience. He quickly agreed, but dashed my good mood by proceeding to tell me what a mistake I was making by taking the law school path. He even offered his daughter’s post-law school disappointments as a cautionary tale of sorts. Most discouraging was that I have heard and thought about similar issues many times. Not too long ago, the New York Times even ran an extensive and pretty grim article on why law school may not be a worthwhile investment. So I find myself still grappling with the tough question, “Is law school really a losing game?”
Cost is a huge issue. Law school is a commitment of many years and loans with more zeros than can fit inside my brain. Post-law school job prospects are also pretty bleak unless you attend one of the top schools in the country.
I find myself still grappling with the tough question, “Is law school really a losing game?”
Unfortunately, competition for a coveted spot in one of these hallowed halls is brutal. Once you do get a legal job, others point to the 80-hour weeks of billable hours new associates face as a deterrent. Most importantly, I am passionate about writing and often wonder whether the two are mutually exclusive. Can I be a lawyer who writes or a writer with a legal background? Would my student loans allow me to pursue this combination?
Despite these significant drawbacks, there are definite pros as well. A legal education will give me the tools that I need to be able to help and counsel people, and making a positive impact is a huge priority for me professionally. In my case, there is also intense family pressure to pursue law. For my immigrant parents, seeing their child educated and well on her feet in a respected profession would be affirmation that their struggles to adjust and succeed in a foreign country were worth it. A stable job as a lawyer would also allow me to give back to my parents once they are older.
Unfortunately, there is no easy solution and no simple way to reconcile the pros and cons. Law school is a risk, and one that I am still assessing.