Don’t Go To Law School

How’s that for an attention-getting title? Let me start by saying that the title is not my advice for you or anyone. It refers to something that was said to a student I know. Let’s call this student Anne.

Anne had decided at an early age to study law in college. She was very involved in Mock Trial competitions in high school and researched colleges and universities that would prepare her well for entry to a Juris Doctor program. She was interested in criminal law specifically, and in the juvenile justice system. She hoped one day to become a juvenile court judge.

While Anne was an undergraduate studying liberal arts and social sciences, she began to read news stories and hear people talk about how the legal profession was in a downturn, how there were too many attorneys and how law school graduates were unable to find work in their field. This made her uncomfortable, as law school was expensive and notoriously grueling.  Rather than becoming educated in a field that didn’t need her or going into debt that she wouldn’t be able to pay back, Anne decided to do some research.

All of this happened many years ago.  So many years, in fact, that Anne did not have the internet to use as a resource.  She didn’t have the luxury of simply emailing some attorneys to ask them for their advice.  What did she have instead?  A large, paperback, gold-colored book appropriately titled “The Yellow Pages”.  For those of you who haven’t seen one of these dinosaurs, they used to be about 4 inches thick and you would flip to “A” for attorney and there would be an alphabetical listing of attorneys in your city.  So Anne did just that.  She set a goal to find 20 attorneys who would allow her to interview them.  She called far more than 100 attorneys to get that number, but ultimately she had her list.  Some were new to the profession, others nearing retirement.  Some were in private practice while others worked for the state or local government.  There were women and men, working at big firms and small.  Anne drove around town meeting with them for weeks, asking them all the same list of questions.

In the end, not one of the 20 advised her to go to law school, something which still shocks me.  They all had different reasons – the profession not being what they had anticipated, burnout, bureaucracy, long hours.  Anne was disheartened but decided to follow the one piece of advice an experienced attorney offered.  He asked, “Are you passionate about anything else?”  She thought that was a bizarre question, since she was passionate about lots of things, so she answered, “Yes.”  He then said, “Good.  Then pick something – anything – else you’re passionate about and do that.  When you find yourself no longer passionate about it, go to the next item on your list.  When you’ve exhausted that list, law school will still be here.”

And that, my friends, is why I haven’t gone to law school yet.  🙂  My passion for the past 24 years has been and continues to be, education.  I’ve been a student, I’ve been a teacher, I’ve worked in college admission, I’ve consulted with colleges and universities on the use of technology.  But what I absolutely love is helping people like you – students who have no idea what to study in college; students who are great athletes, artists or thinkers but not great students; students who are underachievers; even students who have worked hard and know just what they want to be when they grow up – I like helping you too!  So give me a shout and let’s see what kind of transformation we can bring about in your life.  I hope you’ll be as glad as I am that I haven’t gone to law school.