It’s been a while, but finally we are back with another reasons to go to law school contender. Let’s remind everyone of the rules:
1. You need two reasons.
2. They must be good reasons (good enough to overcome the expenses).
3. They must be for going to law school.
So, without any further ado, here we go:
I’m a new reader of your blog, first reading your comments on bitter lawyer and then reading more from your own website, and after seeing the other responses I decided to state my two reasons for attending law school and let you see how they stack.
First I’ll say the weaker reason, which is that I believe from the basic information I’ve gathered about lawyers that I would be good as a litigator. I enjoy researching and formulating arguments to difficult issues as well as am comfortable preparing papers, or in the future briefs, for said arguments. I am a comfortable public speaker and generally persuasive in a factual as well as traditional communication sense (persuasion based on naturally unreasonable human responses such as emotional situations). I also am well adjusted to deadlines and finishing work as well as performing under pressure which from my understanding is of utmost importance for a litigator.
My second reason continues the first, I am genuinely interested in being a lawyer. My undergraduate degree was political science with a pre-law concentration. I spent a year out of school to pay a little back on my loans and thus establish some credit, which I had not done before undergrad. I also worked at the GA Department of Revenue so I could gain some, if only minor, experience. I plan on either going into the Judge Advocate General program with the Navy or a local District Attorney’s office after law school, preferably doing summer associate and externships with either during my 2L and 3L beforehand. After several years, most likely a minimum of 4 years, I plan to apply to be an Assistant US Attorney.
The main downside is the debt that I will be incurring and the general understanding that most government sector jobs don’t pay nearly as much as private sector jobs. I slacked off in some of my core classes and it dragged my GPA down so I did not receive a scholarship for my first upcoming year and I plan on attending a 3rd tier school, but for me the money (and debt I will be burdened with) are an expensive but acceptable loss in exchange for me learning the skills and gaining the ability to practice law. Also, since I plan on going into what is considered public interest careers, I will, if I haven’t paid off my debt beforehand, plan on taking advantage of new programs to clear federal loans after 10 years of public interest work.
So in finishing, my first reason is that I have what I believe to be the skill sets that traditionally fit a lawyer, and my second reason is that I plan on and desire to be a lawyer after graduating. I know these 2 reasons work in conjunction but they are my reasons for going to law school since, as many people say including yourself in previous blogs, law school only really prepares you to be a lawyer.
Mercer University School of Law
US News #127, $35,695/yr
I really hope I didn’t ever say law school only prepares you to be a lawyer. That would be false. It doesn’t even prepare you to be a lawyer. What it does is let you check off a very important box allowing you to sit for the bar exam, an exam law school doesn’t prepare you for. Law school does open the road to becoming a lawyer, but it hardly prepares you to be a lawyer. But, on to your reasons.
1. I’ll Be Good at It
Not the worst reason in the world. People are generally happier doing jobs that they are good at. Not that hard to understand that we’d rather excel than struggle. The trouble with using this as a reason for going to law school is that it’s very hard to predict what actually being a lawyer is like. When you look at what lawyers do and then compare it to your skillset, it’s easy to miss the mundane day-to-day tasks, and also easy to not comprehend the repetitive nature of it all. You’ll spend more time filing motions for a continuance as a right than you will research novel arguments.
But, assuming you are exactly as dull and mechanical as you portray yourself to be, I’ll count this as a reason for going to law school. It would be a very good reason if you were prescient, but since it’s impossible to anticipate how you’ll really enjoy law, we’ll give this a B- (the curve helped you out a bit here).
2. I Really Want to Be a Government Prosecutor
You plan on getting into JAG? AHAHAHAHAHAHA!
No, no, sorry, that was-AHAHHAHAHA!
Seriously, if there’s not already a uniform hanging in your closet, you have as good of odds of getting into JAG as you do getting a Supreme Court clerkship. Those are insanely competitive jobs. It’s also a pretty miserable job your first few years, being shipped around to different air force posts in random hick towns, helping soldiers on their way to Afghanistan prepare their wills, and occasionally prosecuting a PFC for possession of a controlled substance.
But, let’s look at your second choice of jobs, working for the local DA.
You’ll notice I didn’t laugh quite so loudly. This is a much easier job to get, but still very, very tough. Consider that you’re going to be competing against students from UGA and UA (tied at #35), Emory (#30), Vanderbilt (#16), UVA (#9), Knoxville (#56), Georgia State (#61), and a bunch of kids from lower ranked schools, like Cumberland (#127) and John Marshall (#140).
The legal market is going to be a very scary place for at least the next 5 years, and there’s a good chance it will never fully recover. That means you’re going to be competing against not just the kid from Atlanta who went to UVA and really wants to be a state prosecutor when he graduates, but also the kid from Atlanta who went to UVA hoping to get a job in big law, but is looking to the government as a backup.
If you were getting a very nice scholarship from a T-14, I’d think you’d actually have some decent reasons for going to law school, but the fact of the matter is Mercer is not going to help you fulfill your dreams. Fewer than half their students have a job lined up at graduation, any job.
At 9 months after graduation, only 14.5% of Mercer grads have any job with the government. Only 58.9% of grads have a full time law job. The numbers don’t lie, it’s simply a bad bet.