Monday, April 07, 2008

On dashing dreams

I was working an admitted students event this weekend.

Preface: I made the choices I made for law school for my reasons. I don't care (much) about prestige or rankings and it won't matter (much) in the work I want. But let us be blunt. Forgetting the US News and the Rankings debate, we can all agree there are the top schools, the also rans, and the rest. We can quibble over the details on the edges of those categories, but the school I chose is squarely among "the rest."

There were two people there that had such a skewed view of reality that I wanted to smack them upside the head.

One was a man who was about to uproot his family and school-aged children and move halfway across the country to come to my school. He was changing careers because, and I quote, he wanted one of those BigLaw jobs in Not-Very-Nearby Market with the $160k starting salaries.

Another wanted to go into legal academia, but admitted he didn't do well enough on the LSATs to get into the schools that would more likely get him into those doors. Still, he said, he really thinks he can do it because his mind totally works on that theoretical level and he's not interested at all in the practical aspects of practicing law.

To the first I wanted to say this:

What the hell kind of mid-life crisis is this? And if you're seriously going through with this, why would you put your family through this on the 1 in 10,000 chance you will actually land one of those BigLaw jobs coming from a non-prestigious school? I mean, if your scores put you in this tier and you really have no other options, at least go to the similarly ranked school IN YOUR TARGET MARKET. In short, sir, it would be cheaper for your family if you just went ahead and bought the convertible.

To the second I wanted to say this:

Dooode! You're like 19 years old. You don't want to graduate college and go into the work force. Law school seems like a good plan. You really think you'll be #1 in the class and still do keg stands on the weekend. (Note: I am serious. He talked about keg stands.) I get it. If you're sincere about this being your life's ambition though, Dooode, take a year off, study your ass off for the LSATs, and try again. Cuz if you're not willing to do that, Dooode, the legal academics and you won't ever get along.

Instead, I bit my tongue and remembered that these people are grown-ups and free to make whatever decision they think will make them happiest. If you recognize yourself, its not too late.


nicolle said...

such a necessary dose of reality for certain law school applicants, Butterflyfish. it's too late for those two people you ran into...but hopefully not too late for others who may read this.

Anonymous said...

Our student ambassador at the ASW went out of his way to tell my group (each member of whom had been out in the world working for at least 2 years) that we were already so far ahead of most of the "straight out of college bunch."

He said that no matter how hard you tell them it will be, they all seem to think it's keg stands and partying just like undergrad. I'm glad to know that this is a universal mistake. :)

Butterflyfish said...

Life, universe, etc... don't get me wrong. There are still opportunities to party like an undergrad. Whether or not its advisible is another question. If do it very occasionally, its probably a good way to blow off steam and get to know some of your classmates on a social level.

Kel said...

Hey, thanks for this post.

--From someone who will be attending a school in "the rest" of the pile.

Useless Dicta said...

Amen sister!!! I would say that you should send those two applicants over the Useless Law School, they'd fit in great. Somehow the law students here are both deranged with expectations of $200K jobs in Big Law (in a mediocre city not on the coast) and I'm pretty sure the law students do more Keg Stands in a single weekend than most of the frats across the street manage in a whole week. Then again, it's probably better for our ranking if we don't keep recruiting more of the same.......

JacquelineC said...

I thought you might be interested in an article I wrote now up on The Glass Hammer: In Her Shoes Golf, Stilettos. I'm coming up on my 20 yr reunion. Nonpracticing - happily. Am shocked, even horrified, by some of the ground lost. I loved certain parts of litigation practice but didn't love a lot of the lifestyle.

You might get the story about my first shoes in court. Enjoy.

Law Ingenue said...

I'm in one of "the rest" law schools, fortunately it's in my geographic area, which is why I picked it (along with the fact that it allows me to attend in the evenings while I work full time).

I knew when I went to law school that getting over $100,000 salary-wise when I got out was not realistic. Plus, being older only adds to the strikes against you!

And the only profs at our school who went to "the rest" type school are adjuncts and the rare exception. The rest came from Tier One schools.

I love the witless wonders that are just out of undergrad. They crack me up. I just want to remind them that making $40,000 a year trying to pay off a $100,000 student loan when you graduate will make you wished you stopped partying after your second day in law school. Boy are they in for a surprise!