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Law school: Would you do it again?

Based on a recent shopping trip to Target and a review of the weekly ads in the Sunday Baltimore Sun, the school year is about to start.

Students will soon be flocking to their institutes of learning, whether the student is a first grader learning to read and write or a Ph.D candidate drafting her dissertation in molecular biology and the absorption rate of fat by mice in hopes of solving diabetes in humans (which my crazy-smart sister got her Ph.D in a number of years back).

This summer, Bowie & Jensen hired a summer intern/worker/helper/runner who will be starting his first year of law school at the University of Baltimore in September. He’s a smart kid with a good work ethic and should do well in law school.

During a conversation about the resignation of Dean Closius (which is a blog best left for those more knowledgeable about the subject than myself), the discussion turned to the topic of the current economy and the practice of law — i.e. if there are no law jobs, why go to law school?

In a comment to an earlier blog on Generation J.D., Jill hit the nail on the head when she wrote that even if told there were a high likelihood she wouldn’t have a job a full year after graduating and passing the bar, her “hubris would have blinded [her] into believing that all of those attorneys who couldn’t find jobs were doing something wrong.”

The “would you do it again?” question comes up more often when I am with a group of attorneys/friends. The responses fall into three categories:

  • a minority love the practice of law and would certainly do it again
  • a larger group love what the practice of law permits them to do (i.e. it’s a decent living and what else would I do?)
  • a majority say they would not have chosen to subject themselves to three years of the Socratic method and discussion of the commerce clause to only end up reviewing documents in a small, overcrowded conference room for a case that has nothing to do with the United States Constitution.

(This unscientific survey involves practitioners approximately 8 to 10 years out of law school, with a proportional mix of private practice, government, and non-profit workers, whose incomes widely vary.)

I am uncertain how the numbers of years of practice adversely affect one’s perception of the practice of law, though I have met a number of jaded older attorneys in comparison to jaded younger attorneys.

Why is there a majority of lawyers that wish they could rewrite the past? Is it the “L.A. Law/Ally McBeal/Law & Order/whatever new attorney show that is out there that allows a case to be filed and a trial to be scheduled the following day without the need for discovery” effect? I don’t know.

For me, the answer to “would I do it again?” is both easy and complex. There are moments when the practice of law invigorates me (usually after a big win or a great settlement) and times when the level of frustration with the entire system leads me to curse my decision.

The bottom line is that I usually enjoy the practice, love the fact that I am able to use my degree to help others through pro bono and various state and local bar association activities, and, but for law school, I would never have met my wife (who was a year behind me at Maryland). In hindsight, and based on the last reason alone, I have come out ahead.

One comment

  1. I absolutely would not do it again. Why pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for constant physical and mental pain?