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.