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Legal Depression

Probably because it's the beginning of my first year, and I'm not really 'assimilated' into the culture of law yet, I'm being struck by a few observations. The foremost of these is that, at least by all appearances, lawyers may be a generally wealthy group, and may, on average, be smarter than their peers, but they do not seem to be a happy lot.

With the single exception of The Civ Pro Blogger, I don't know of a single practicing young lawyer (not in pro bono work or with some burning issue driving them) who would consider themselves mostly happy with their work, surely not enough to wax lyrical about it. It's a matter of legend (though I could probably provide blog references if I weren't up to my eyeballs) that people working at Big New York Law Firms are depressed and overstressed corporate drones. One young female lawyer who serves as a role model for me has, I've found out, decided to take a retreat to a Buddhist monastery this summer to get away from it all. (So that's why there weren't many emails.) On a slightly more academic level, one of the better pieces in Looking Back on Law's Century discusses in great detail the low level of job satisfaction endemic in the profession.

This doesn't bother me too greatly on a personal level: I have my own reasons for going to law school and becoming a lawyer, and whatever the problems, it serves my needs. But it does make me wonder why a lot of very intelligent people have managed to develop a system that makes them, at the same time, almost unjustifiably wealthy and yet certainly not proportionately happy.

While I'm learning about Civ Pro, Torts, Contracts, and Criminal Law, I also want to spend some time wondering about why we've set up the profession this way, and what can be done to change it. So far as I can tell, for all the pro bono craziness that goes on in this place, it might not be a new Kuntsler or Cardozo who's needed. Perhaps, and it's just a thought, the greatest public good might be done by a new Hammurabi or Solon, particularly with a bent towards making the practice of law more humane not just for society as a whole, but for the profession itself.

If anyone has any suggestions for places to look for more information on this topic, it would be appreciated.

Update: One of my fellow 1Ls was discussing the 'morale' at the law school with me the other day. I was reminded of a P. J. O'Rourke saying that I can't quote directly, but it's from Give War a Chance. Roughly, he said, "Asking about morale is talking about how well things are going when they're not really going well at all. No one asks about the morale of a good drunken orgy or a summer picnic."

Thanks go out to anyone who can provide me with the proper quote.

Update II: I should probably point out before I get any further responses that the depression referred to in the title of this post is not mine, but a general depression I'm sensing in the profession.

Update III: I have been advised to read On Being A Happy, Healthy, and Ethical Member of an Unhealthy, Unhappy, and Unethical Profession by Patrick J. Schiltz, which seems to be quite a comprehensive law review piece. So far as I can see, it's good advice.

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Shortly after I left the profession (never to return) I ran across a reference to a survey that the ABA's Young Lawyer's Section (IIRC, ABA members under 36 years old or admitted to the bar 5 years or less regardless of age) had commissioned of its membership. The results were not shocking to me at the time, though laypersons I discussed them with were amazed. The ABA found that of the young lawyers they surveyed, something around 75% or so (IIRC) were dissatisfied with there careers, and would seriously consider switching careers if they thought they had a valid career option other than law practice. An even larger percentage (around 80% or so) said that they would not choose the law as a career if they could live their life over again knowing what they knew then, and an even larger percentage (high 80's%) said they would strongly discourage their children from becoming lawyers. Personally, when asked about law school my advice to JD2Bs is don't do it unless you have wanted to be a lawyer since you were five years old and saw your first Perry Mason rerun on TV. [Even then, I counsel, drop out after your first semester if you're not in the top 10% of your class, but that's just based on my perception that if you're not top 10% the hassle in finding a job isn't worth the pain; your mileage may differ.] Based on my experience, you have to be really, really fascinated with the law and in love with being a lawyer to be happy doing it, and it's clear to me that Derek Bok was right when he noted that too many U.S. college students were entering law school not because they truly wanted to be lawyers, but because they were bright, ambitious and couldn't figure out what else they wanted to do with their lives (a description that fit me perfectly). I can say that the past 10 years I've spent as an ex-lawyer have been orders of magnitude happier and more joyous than the almost 13 years I spent as a law student and practicing lawyer. I also truly believe that if I had remained a practicing lawyer I would be dead now--very possibly by my own hand. Keep your minds open and try to be objective; if the law is your perfect profession, very well and good--you're one of the lucky ones. But if you're miserable in law school, and unhappy during your summer clerkships (and try to be objective; my experience was that a lot of firms made summer clerkships a "bread and circuses" recruitment tool which hid the true misery of their associates from their prospective recruits), you'll probably be miserable as a lawyer. Take it from one who's been there: it's never too late to quit the law.
I would like to add that at least at the pro bono firm where I worked, the lawyers were generally a miserable lot. True, a number did enjoy what they were doing, but compared to other places I have worked, a lot more people were miserable then the average. So don't think that going into pro bono is the key to hapiness. All the advice I have ever gotten is similiar to the above post, don't do it unless you like the law.
INTERESTING. No solutions just questions here. I've had a varied career (firm, business, clerk, start-up, start-up and now at small firm with a healthy dose of pro bono work). And I still eternally debate the "right career path".
GADZOOKS. I have a lot to say. Cleavelin's comment, depressing as it was, is largely true -- I think law for many is a "I'm not sure what else to do" choice. And even if lawyers don't start out as risk-averse and conservative, those are the traits that make you successful for the most part: learning how to identify the precedent that has worked and direct actions so that they stay within those lines. It's not a very creative profession and, once you're in it, the culture and the norms don't encourage balance or innovation or self-expression. And the hours required for most folks don't permit that to happen away from work. So a lot of lawyers don't have some ingredients that I think are essential for self-determination and happiness. Oh heavens, Anthony, you've got me all worked up. What you've hit on is a profound sadness in the profession -- what a waste, all these talented people living joyless lives. It makes me sad and angry. I'm going to think about this and try to respond more later.
Well, I doubt I've 'hit upon' it. The article you gave me, linked to, has an awful lot about depression in the legal profession. Indeed, I was amused to read about 'Professional Satisfaction Task Forces' and blue-ribbon panels discussing the topic. There's something amusing about people making $250,000 per year sitting around a table wondering why their profession isn't happy. Either that, or sick. Again, though, I've chosen the life and intend to stick to it, and frightening stories of the illnesses of big firm life aren't so much what I'm wondering about. (Strangely, I don't think terror at this point about my future will help my urge to study.) What I'm wondering is how one industry managed to get so many brilliant people (and believe me, I'm enjoying being around so many brilliant people here, and I doubt Columbia is unique in this), amass so much in the way of wealth, and yet become, by all reports, so amazingly dysfunctional. I understand the LSAT=> Big Law School => Big Law Firm Associate => Big Law School Partner => Big Law School Senior Partner conveyor belt. What I don't know yet (but would like to learn) is how it got that way, what the underlying factors are, and how, perhaps, it might be changed. Schiltz seems convinced that it's money, and the eternal desire for more of it, particularly towards his closing, but my first impression is that he hits on it earlier--a profound sense of competition, of which money is merely used as a indicator. But he also points to a lack of honor and etiquette: the idea that talking about money was, fifty years ago, gauche, whereas now it's a subject of conversation. Why did that change, and now that it's gone, is law no longer a 'profession' or 'calling,' but instead just a 'business?' It probably seems foolish to put this in print, but I do want to say this: I think it's the result of a system that enforces a view of artificial scarcity. With due respect, unless I've not seen something as a 1L that I should have, this stuff isn't that tough in reality. Yes, it's a lot of work, and I won't claim to understand my Torts class fully. But there's a lot in life that's been tougher--I certainly felt more stressed trying to memorize 3,000 kanji in undergrad. I doubt that there's anything here except the sheer workload that any dozen of my former colleagues at any of my jobs could have done, even ones who might readily admit that I'm a bit brighter than they. On the other hand, a lot of it seems to be deliberately designed to make the process as insane as possible. How many times have I heard that "your 1L year is determinative of your career" from anyone and everyone. Why in God's name would you set up a three-year system where that's so? What does the Bar do that justifies such a huge expense for another exam at the end of one's degree? From the LSATs to, as I'm told, the Bar Exam, none of this makes pedagogical sense to me, nor can I understand it from a systems viewpoint. I don't know if it was always this way, or why it's so; I just know I have to live with it. But I'd like to understand why, because if there is a reason, it leads to acceptance, and if there's not, it leads to change. What I do know is that something does not ring true about very wealthy people setting up panels to discuss why they're not fulfilled. Is there something within the system, as it's evolved, that limits change from within, and if so, what change needs to occur from without?
This is a topic that I have great personal interest in, after having almost dropped out of Columbia after my 1L year because of depression. To make a long story somewhat shorter, I ended up taking a leave of absence to work on a Masters degree in transportation (which was strangely therapeutic), and am now back at law school, in the process of finishing up my J.D. While I was trying to sort out my own feelings, I remember reading a couple of studies (this was several years ago, so I don't have the cites) that compared individuals on several measures, including both anxiety and depression, before and after they started law school. Before law school, the study group demonstrated levels of depression consistent with the general population, but during the first year of law school, rates of depression jumped to anywhere from 15-40% of the study group. However, in similar study groups of graduate students and medical students, although there was a marked increase in anxiety during the first year of school, levels of depression remained at normal levels. On a more personal level, I noticed something really interesting when I decided to take my leave of absence. I expected my classmates to think I was absolutely crazy (particularly since this was still during the hiring "good years"), but oddly enough, the only people who thought I had lost my marbles were the administration. Indeed, the associate dean had a nice long talk with me about the lost wages I would be giving up by taking a leave of absence (at that point, I could have cared less). Among my classmates, however, I noticed what could only be described as admiration. A few even expressed it directly, commenting on how I managed to "get out." I think Cleavelin hit the nail on the head--we all need to remember that we can leave the profession at any time. There's something about both law school and the legal profession, however, that funnels people in a single direction, and makes getting out incredibly hard. At this point, I'm keeping my mind open about the future. I'm going to be taking the bar in February, and have a job lined up at a respectable patent law firm. At the same time, I also realize, though, that this does not have to be my permanent life if I don't want it to be--I'll just have to see what happens. On a side note, I've noticed that attorneys working in very specific fields (patents, real estate, tax, etc.) are generally more satisfied with their jobs than those who practice in more generic areas. I wonder if anyone else out there has observed this...
As someone who worked hard to get into medical school and then left it, let me offer what I think makes young people get into a profession that makes them unhappy. 1. The mental picture they've got has more to do with a conviviality among peers - they imagine the caliber of the people with whom they'd get to work and imagine that it is constantly stimulating, and they can have this image while having no idea what the actual work is like. 2. If you were a 'promising' young student in a small town like I was, you looked around and saw a handful of challenging professions that looked like they earned a lot of respect (and we get off on that too), so you chose from that set before getting halfway through college. Only later did it become apparent that the world is a bigger place with more options than the butcher, the baker... 3. And then there's being on the track, which has been expensive and a lot of work already... Just my $.02 - K
Hmm, one of my professors here at SBS is a business historian and he's just starting out to work on the legal professions evolution. (he's previously covered management consultants). Anyway, he's Chris McKenna and while he's not published anything on this yet he might have something in six months or so. You can find him in the faculty section of http://www.sbs.ox.ac.uk - if you ask he can probably direct you to the right literature. Thing about law is I suspect the roots go back a *veeeeerrryyy* long way.
I think your satisfaction with law, like any career choice, depends on what you make of it. I'm sure there are plenty of unhappy middle managers or computer programmers in the world. I think the unhappiness of lawyers (in particular) comes from the general personalities that the law tends to attract. Lawyers tend to be workaholic perfectionists--and it's hard to find happiness that way. I find law incredibly exciting. It's one of the few fields where I get to be creative, analyze situations, solve problems, and interact with people. I think it's fun. Then again, I, like Scheherazade, work in an environment that allows me to do all of those things. If I was at Biglaw, I may not have the same outlook. I'm starting to ramble (and I've got to read a 60 page deed of trust), so I'm going to leave it with this--you can be a happy lawyer if you want to be one, but you have to be a happy person first.
Dave, your comments inspire me to rip off a Tom Lehrer joke: "Law practice is like a sewer: what you get out of it depends on what you put into it." You do have a point that's well taken; if you can stand the law as a subject, and the day to day drudgery of law practice as a way to make a living, it's possible to be happy in the profession. I expanded on the point in a post on my blog, but basically I was never suited to be a lawyer, and it was the biggest mistake of my life to go to law school and become a lawyer. Unfortunately, that's the kind of mistake that you don't realize you've made until you're too far into it... My point is basically that if your legal career is making you depressed, there are alternatives. If you're suited to be a lawyer, but not suited to be a Big Firm lawyer, you can find another practice alternative. If you didn't goof off while you were in law school (like I did), if you like the study of law and legal theory (like I didn't), and if you graduated high enough in your class (like I definitely didn't), law teaching is an option. Perhaps you can find an alternative career which uses your law degree, but which isn't law practice. Not everyone should take the drastic step I did, and leave the profession for an entirely different career. On the other hand, though, the single most common reaction I got from other lawyers after I left the profession was, "Good for you! I wish I had your guts. If I could, I'd quit law practice too." And not one lawyer who heard I was leaving the profession either told me I was making a mistake or tried to persuade me not to leave. I think that this shows there there may be something significantly wrong with law practice in the U.S. that isn't going to be fixed as easily as urging an unhappy lawyer, "Buck up; you can be happy if you choose to be."
Len--"if you can stand the law as a subject"?!? Of course you won't enjoy being a lawyer if you can't stand the law as a subject. You won't enjoy being a lawyer if you even frame the question as whether you can stand the law as a subject. I think that in order to be a happy lawyer, you have to genuinely enjoy the law. But if you do, even big, big-city law firms can be actively enjoyable. I'm only a 2L, but my wife is a junior associate at a large Vault-top-50 law firm in Washington, DC. She genuinely loves her job. I genuinely love being a law student, and from the taste of the work that I had this past summer and my wife's experiences, I expect that I'll enjoy mine too, even though I'm following her into the big law firm world. Of course, part of this may be that (as far as I can tell from here) DC is a bit less insane hours-wise than other cities; my wife works only very rarely on weekends, and except when things are unusually busy for a particular case, she leaves work weeknights at around 7. From chats with attorneys at other firms around here, I get the impression that this is not all that unusual. But we are talking about a schedule that lets one bill north of 2000 hours a year. If you spend that kind of time doing anything that you can just barely stand, you're going to be pretty miserable--perhaps the reason there are so many miserable lawyers isn't anything about the job or the profession except the fact that lots of people go into law without any real interest in the topic.
DC 2L: ... perhaps the reason there are so many miserable lawyers isn't anything about the job or the profession except the fact that lots of people go into law without any real interest in the topic. DC, in my experience that's not the only reason most young lawyers are miserable, but it's certainly a big one. Quite possibly the biggest one. From what I can tell, a lot of folks can tolerate doing a job that doesn't interest them if they can fill their outside-the-job life with activities that move their souls. But if one elects to enter a profession that one isn't interested in, and it demands practically every waking moment of one's life, then one is on the fast track to misery, no doubt.
I realize I'm a little late on this - but The Rodent (URL: http://www.emplawyernet.com/info/index.cfm?CFID=8509736&CFTOKEN=48231716)would be a good place to look.
I realize I'm a little late on this - but The Rodent (URL: http://www.emplawyernet.com/info/index.cfm?CFID=8509736&CFTOKEN=48231716)would be a good place to look.
Unusual ideas can make enemies.
Dear everyone.... I am really sorry to write to you about this... but after reading your comments I couldn't help but wanting to write and give you a bit of perspective... You are a lucky few - you were able to go thru all the exams, hours and hours of hard work, studying, etc and actually make it to Law School and actually were given a chance to make a difference in the world by being part of the legal profession. (sorry for the choice of cliche terms...) I received 7 denial/ rejection letters from law schools and I have 4 more letters... that are up in the air and I don't expect them to read anything different then the first 7.... I tried hard... I worked hard... I studied all my life, I received numerous honors and fellowship... but because of my extreme "up and down" past... and maybe because my low LSAT score I am being denied admission into the profession of my dreams... I am not kidding when I say "dreams"... Ever since I saw my grandparents and my mom practice law back in a very, very far away country I wanted to be an attorney... Back in a very far, far away country it was a well- respected profession - the attorneys were the only, and the limited few defenders from the Big Brother - the State with it's KNOW IT ALL government... I dreamed about being an attorney, about overcoming all odds... I dreamed about helping people... Immigration to this country changed everything, even turning up-side down the sacred dream of becoming an Attorney, turning this dream into something perverse in the eyes of others - instead of being sacred, it became shameful to even mention that a person wants to become an Attorney... not because of greed or because of lacking the ability to stand the sight of blood (and thus being able to practice medicine... or join the Mafia...:) no... not because of that... but because she wants to be an Attorney, for the sake of being one... well, my point was - when I started to write this down, guys, please VALUE the chance that you were given, don't throw it around as if it was some unnecessary burden that you wish you were never given... may be it's tough now... all the exams, all-nighters and over-dose of cafeine pills are giving you a head-ache that you can't shake and depression that you can't stand, but in a matter of a year or two, you'll be able to make a difference in this world, and make people like me very hopeful... that maybe some day, on some miraculous night, I'll open my mail-box and will be able to join your ranks... the ranks of very unhappy Attorneys, yes... unhappy, but able to make a difference in this world... don't take that for granted...
JT: Best of luck to you and I hope you get in the the schools you're dreaming of. And believe me, I recognize the good fortune of having gotten here.
Im in the midst of my spring term exams and this site depresses the hell out of me. I have to admit that there is litle satisfaction in law school, and I have been asking myself why I am doing this to myself. I mean how many times can you read about someone getting their fingers chopped off in a meat grinder or a cow getting run over by a train. Most of the people I've come accross are snobs and arrogant as Hell. I think this profession attracts people who are pricks. I agree with the one post that its is a way out for a lot of people who dont know what to do with their lives. i was in consulting before this and didn't like that very much either, so i thought I'd try something new. I'm not sure what the right path is and feel like I'm committed to this now, since I gave up so much to get here. I don't want to be trapped in the big firm political scenario and would like to one day put up my own shingle; although, I know it takes experience before you can do that.
Im in the midst of my spring term exams and this site depresses the hell out of me. I have to admit that there is litle satisfaction in law school, and I have been asking myself why I am doing this to myself. I mean how many times can you read about someone getting their fingers chopped off in a meat grinder or a cow getting run over by a train. Most of the people I've come accross are snobs and arrogant as Hell. I think this profession attracts people who are pricks. I agree with the one post that its is a way out for a lot of people who dont know what to do with their lives. i was in consulting before this and didn't like that very much either, so i thought I'd try something new. I'm not sure what the right path is and feel like I'm committed to this now, since I gave up so much to get here. I don't want to be trapped in the big firm political scenario and would like to one day put up my own shingle; although, I know it takes experience before you can do that.
Im in the midst of my spring term exams and this site depresses the hell out of me. I have to admit that there is litle satisfaction in law school, and I have been asking myself why I am doing this to myself. I mean how many times can you read about someone getting their fingers chopped off in a meat grinder or a cow getting run over by a train. Most of the people I've come accross are snobs and arrogant as Hell. I think this profession attracts people who are pricks. I agree with the one post that its is a way out for a lot of people who dont know what to do with their lives. i was in consulting before this and didn't like that very much either, so i thought I'd try something new. I'm not sure what the right path is and feel like I'm committed to this now, since I gave up so much to get here. I don't want to be trapped in the big firm political scenario and would like to one day put up my own shingle; although, I know it takes experience before you can do that.
I wanted to suggest a relevant resource that can help many of the people in this discussion. Just about every state (and many provinces in Canada) have Lawyers Assistance programs which are free, confidential and open to law students, attorneys and judges dealing with the unique stresses of life in the law. Attorneys statistically have approximately double the rate of addiction as the general population and, according to some studies, *three times* the rate of depression... which means if you're in a room with three friends, and it's not you, it's probably one of them. Many of the people we see have both an addiction or dependence along with depression and the stress of the job makes it harder. We have several good articles online at our site for the New Jersey Lawyers Assistance Program at www.NJLAP.com along with a link to Lawyers Assistance Programs in each state. The articles include personal stories from law students and attorneys who have experienced depression and alcohol, drug and gambling addictions. There's also good material on stress. If it's not relevant for your situation, consider passing it along to a friend who may need it. Best of luck.
I couldn't access the Vanderbilt article, but I would really like to read it. Would you mind reposting or emailing the link? It's interesting to see this thoughtful analysis, by the way - there are reasons so many of us have left law firms. (Practising ten years, went in-house after six)
Erin: I'll try to find a copy available online: I didn't know the link had broken. In the meantime, the citation is 52 Vand.L. Rev. 871.
I realize this post is over a year old. However there are a few things I think you should add to your thoughts on this issue (which I have thought about a great deal): Depression begets depression. The general attitude of those around you affects your attitude. Considering the time one spends at school and doing school tasks and the insular quality of law school (at least mine) this tendency is only increased. Alcohol is a depressant. Once again, I've no clue about Columbia, but at UT alcohol is very much apart of the law school culture and the lawyer culture in general. I feel that as first years this availability of alcohol (often free) and how most of the first-year relaxing activities involve beer, at the least (like drinking at the local pub after flag football) encourages way too many first years to use alcohol as a stress release. A great number of my classmates arrive in class hungover. A few still drunk. Most weekend adventures involve 6th street and drinking until they cannot remember most of the night. So, yeah, alcohol= depression and it doesn't ever really make a person feel better, just numbs. Stress: related to the above discussion of alcohol. Assuming most law students are intelligent they presumably had a fairly easy time of it in undergrad and probably never developed good stress coping techniques. I hope your school is different but ours has never, not once, offered a stress relief/management course, workshop, lecture or handout. I know that many med schools do. Personal: I have clinical depression. Law school has not made this any worse or any better. Given, I've spent the last two years working very hard on it so that might balance things a tad, but I doubt it. I suspect the reason for this lack of impact is because I already had the tools to deal with my depression before I ever reached law school. If this has any spelling mistakes or such, sorry. It's late and I haven't slept.
I went into law for the Wrong Reasons. I was under the mistaken impression that I could participate in a profession that, while bastardized by the inevitable greed and unethical behavior that capitalism breeds, is ultimately about public service and doing good for humankind and fostering social justice. While I was in a profession that encompassed all of this before I applied to law school, I was also under the mistaken impression that I would be able to make a decent living doing something good for people. It took me about one year of school and one summer internship to realize I was duped. Government and public interest jobs, which seem to encompass the values I looked for in a job, pay next to nothing. I made more as a social worker, net income, taking into account the huge loans I took out to go to school, the fact that my tuition was raised 29% during the three years that I was there and due to budget crises, the university completely ran out of scholarship monies that I otherwise would have qualified for. The fact remains that being in the top 10% of your class and obtaining a pretty cool (although temporary) clerkship does not make it easier to get the low-paying jobs, they tend to open up and fill as needed and they generally couldn't care about the fact that you didn't sleep or eat for three years in pursuit of the perfect GPA or the perfect Law Review casenote. On the other hand, suuuure, if you are young, attractive, preferably male, have boundless energy and little hope for a family or a committed relationship, you can sell your soul to a corporate law firm. It's not just the hours of these places, which can vary and occasionally can provide for free weekends and not-too-late nights, but the environment seems to have changed people that I know.... Many of these people are now accustomed to their income, hate their jobs but don't think about leaving, or even if they claim to like their jobs, like them because they are now unemotional or ultracompetetive and are generally obsessive and have lost all ability to interact on a human level. They say things like "How DARE my Secretary expect me to talk about her day, doesn't she know how many minutes she is costing me?!?" Secretly, I know they are thinking the same thing about their boyfriends/girlfriends/spouses/children/parents/pets. All I was looking for was a Life that Doesn't Suck, but it's too late to take back law school. Now I have to do something I will potentially hate or disagree with or face a lifetime of never being able to pay off these horrible debts, sacrificing all earthly pleasures, much to the shame of my well-meaning but materialistic family.
it's funny. I don't know how but after the last christmas break and half way through my 2nd year in law, i sit hear wondering what the hell I got into. The thing is this was the time I anticipated being most relaxed. I have landed my summer job and this leads excellently into articles. I am taking an intensive one month course in a moot class. I've elected for it to be pass /fail. Everything should be down hill from here and yet i couldn;t be more unhappy. Those around me have noted that i get in this "funk right before exams and now it seems that the 'funk' has creeped up at a point when my life is finally coming to a more (and i use the word very lightly because i have yet to meet very many balanced law students) balanced point. Its almost as if the exposure to a 'normal' life. An afternoon watching a movie or skating in the winter sun that just makes me more angry that the rest of mylie seems so heavy with burden. I mean i know... boo hoo poor law student, there is countless more severe problems in the world but what happened to an afternoon break or leaving work at home. I just feel like it may never end.
I am not in law school nor do I intend on going. But I have entertained the possibility for a long time. A few months ago, I decided that absolutely under no circumstances would I go. I have worked with lawyers for the majority of my post-college experience, and not the big law firm variety...human rights, people concerned about others, making an impact, etc...I have seen how interesting the legal profession has the potential to be. But there is a huge problem among the the "best and the brightest"--the law school plague. I rarely have worked with, been friends with, or met a lawyer who would have chosen the profession again or who actually enjoys the everyday drudge, but many people end up in it because there is a sense of urgency about making something of yourself. People go to law school out of fear...fear of uncertainty, fear of failure, fear of not finding a job, the anxiety of not knowing what to do with your life, wanting to "help people" but not really understanding that there are a variety of other professions that are more satisfying to that end. "I want to do human rights, so I will go to law school." huh?? Having no experience, no real exposure to the possibilities in this world, quicker than you can say "admitted," very smart people are sinking over 100k into a career they are not even sure they would enjoy. "You can do so much with a law degree." No, you can't. One of the biggest misconceptions about law is that by going to school for 3 years, you somehow have a license to do anything and everything. There is a mistaken notion that law degree=professional freedom. It does not, at least not to the degree that most people think it does. My advice to anyone considering a law degree or those about to start law school is spend as much time talking to law students, new and seasoned lawyers, money-makers and do-gooders. I have seen many people waste years of their life. And it saddens me. I know only two lawyers who think of law as their passion, their life, their calling, and I say, good for them. But the rest (and I know many), gaze at me with envy, wishing they too had looked into it a bit more before taking the financial and professional plunge. Good Luck.
I have been practicing 10 years and my job satisfaction is declining rapidly when I feel it should be on the rise. Currently I work for a big (international firm) in a non-partnership mommy friendly position for which I am paid a respectable salary but it does not make up for the fact that I am no longer interested in litigation and other people's problems. I have done everthing including criminal, civil, government, small firm and large firm private practice and I have never loved any of the work but I admit to enjoying some of the accomplishments (e.g. winning a trial). When a big firm lawyer I know heard that someone left the profession, he said "Great, they made it over the wall." I think many, perhaps most lawyers, would leave the practice if they could find something as lucrative.
I am a 2l I finished in top 11% of my class first year but could not get a job in a big firm owing to my c's in legal writing both semesters. I went to law school because my father although he does okay never had jon stability and i though that was important. however after my firts year i develped panic attacks and i think i am now depressedd i want to drop out but i owe a lot of money and i am super scared. does any one have any advice?
I am a 2l I finished in top 11% of my class first year but could not get a job in a big firms owing to my c's in legal writing both semesters. I went to law school because my father although he does okay never had job stability and i though that was important. however after my first year i develped panic attacks and i think i am now depressedd i want to drop out but i owe a lot of money and i am super scared. does any one have any advice?
I am a 2l I finished in top 11% of my class first year but could not get a job in a big firm owing to my c's in legal writing both semesters. I went to law school because my father although he does okay never had jon stability and i though that was important. however after my firts year i develped panic attacks and i think i am now depressedd i want to drop out but i owe a lot of money and i am super scared. does any one have any advice?

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