Earlier this week I issued a challenge: Identify two good reasons to go to law school. And, much to the satisfaction of my ego, some people have responded. Here is the first e-mail I received:
I was talking with a few of my law school friends about this. And depressingly, you are right. Most of us can think of one good reason, at best. However, a friend offered up her reasons, and here they are: 1. Genuine interest in the law and 2. Bank of Mom & Dad are footing the bill.
I must admit, those two reasons sound pretty solid (better than mine – “I couldn’t think of anything else to do after undergrad”).
Feel free to tear apart her reasons and mine (though going after me would be too easy in this case).
@Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law
USNews #98, $37,850/yr
First, let me say that I’m flattered you and your friends sit around discussing what you read on my blog. I am a huge egomaniac, and this pleases me. Second, get a life. Moving on to the reasons presented here…
1. Genuine interest in the law.
This one is a bit ambiguous as to whether it is an interest in practicing law, or an interesting in being a lawyer, which are two worlds apart. I undergrad I took four philosophy of law classes and found them fascinating. Law school was far less interesting, and legal practice bore no resemblance to the academic aspects of either. But, we’re not playing Reasons to Be a Lawyer, it’s Reasons to Go to Law School, so I’m going to go ahead and assume this is a purely academic interest in the law, and not an interest in being a lawyer.
If you are genuinely interested in studying law, law school is not the place to do it. You will have several required classes that you will likely have no interest in, and you have to deal with scheduling conflicts and class lotteries to get into the ones you really want. If you want to study law, don’t go to law school, go to the law school book store. You’ll save yourself about $100,000 and a lot of time and frustration.
I’m going to let the readers put this to a vote though. Is an academic interest in law a good reason to go to law school? Not just any reason, but a good one.
2. Mom and Dad are footing the bill.
This isn’t actually a reason to go to law school. All this does is lower the bar for how good your reasons need to be. You need super compelling reasons to spend a mountain of cash on a law degree, but only so-so reasons to get one for free. But, you’re not getting a law degree for free. You have three years of lost wages, so law school is going to cost you somewhere between $90,000 and $180,000 in lost income, though I suspect Mom and Dad are providing some living expenses, which means the lost income isn’t quite as drastic.
More importantly, however, Mommy and Daddy aren’t going to law school for you (unless you’re one of the 40% or so of law students who cheat, largely by having Daddy lawyer write their lawyering brief and take home exams). You, not Mom and Dad, have to put up with three years of all the work, stress, and socially backwards personalities that go along with law school. So, while having your parents pony up the money lowers the bar for how good your reasons need to be, it does not bring the bar down to zero, and it is not itself a reason to go.
3. Nothing better to do after undergrad.
How about nothing? Seriously, lounge around in your underwear all day playing X-Box and eating Cheetos. Being bored is not a reason to subject yourself to a mountain of debt and three years of torture. If you can’t think of anything better to do, that is clearly just a lack of imagination. How about getting a job? Get a little green in your pocket, maybe some experience, and take some time to figure out what you really enjoy doing and what you hate doing.
Of course, I shouldn’t come down too hard on you. This is the reason I went to law school. I had a degree in English and Philosophy. I didn’t really know what else to do, and figured law school sounded respectable. People want their daughters to marry doctors and lawyers, right? Maybe I’d make some cash and get laid, though mostly my reason for going was I couldn’t think of anything else to do.
Too bad I never seriously considered getting an MFA. What the hell was wrong with me?
[Do you think you have some good reasons to go to law school? E-mail them to firstname.lastname@example.org, and I'll happily tell you why you're wrong.]