Law School: A Closer Look at The Decision

Yesterday we offered a short history of the corporate legal job market for the benefit of those who are contemplating going to law school.

As a sign of how challenging things are for current law grads, here is a story from the National Law Journal about certain law schools that are paying potential employers to give their law grads a “test drive.” Innovative? Yes. Sustainable or replicable? I’m not so sure.

At the end of the video, there was a brief outline of how a law student facing a deadline on an admission deposit might work through the decision process.

Here it is, slightly rebranded:

I thought a standalone run-though might be helpful, which is here ( 5 + mintues):

As a final note, a few months ago Dean Robert Ackerman of Wayne State Law School penned an article in the National Jurist entitled “Is Law School Worth It?” It really breaks through a lot of the noise around the issue. I’m not totally objective here, as Dean Ackerman leads my law school. This article was published right around the time of a notable New York times article about law school (here) and also mentions the dreaded U.S News law school rankings.

Dean Ackerman’s observations strike me as sound for prospective law students in any era. Read the entire article; two points really resonated with me.

The first shows that Dean Ackerman isn’t trying to pack law school to the rafters with students:

Do not apply to law school if money is your primary motivation. There are easier ways to make money. The law is a profession requiring hard work, intellectual ability and the desire to serve others. Apply to law school if you are intellectually curious about the law, if you have a passion for justice, and if you want to help people.

And his final “words to the wise” show that there are other things to do than big-time corporate law:

While a Big Law firm paying six-figure starting salaries may be your cup of tea, don’t obligate yourself to obtain this type of employment if you were motivated to study law for other reasons. Many lawyers find fulfillment working in smaller law firms, in government or for public interest organizations. Some find their degrees useful in business or education. The advantage of a professional degree is that it makes you the master of your own fate, and expands your career options. The idea is to make a living, not a killing, and to make a contribution along the way.

So it’s really about going into the law with eyes wide open. Stories of frustrated law students claiming they were misled about career opportunities are not really an indictment of law school per se, but they do make you wonder why these students are there in the first place.

First year law students learn quickly that ignorance of the law is no excuse. These days, ignorance of the legal industry may be even less defensible.

Make this important decision with preparation and confidence, and then take your talents to South Beach, or wherever your first choice is located.