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000ike
Posts: 11,196
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4/8/2013 2:59:42 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
Sorry to use this site as a personal consultancy, but you guys are probably the most reliable source I know.

Is it a good idea to study to be a lawyer? Apparently, a lot of people want to be lawyers because it's the stereotypical respected career with high pay....but I've heard horror stories, like this one: http://nz.answers.yahoo.com... . Basically, if you're not graduating from the top of your class, from a top college, you're screwed, competing fiercely for 30-40k entry level positions. Then for many of the lucky few who actually manage to find a job, many still are unhappy with it as a career choice. Yet, you just spent upwards of 100k on law school, and investing 7 years of your life studying and working vigorously. So, how much truth is there to all of this?

I'm not averse to going into STEM fields because I love biology and chemistry, but I'm not a very technical person, and also not sure if I'd like to do anything that involves a lot of math. My skills lie more so in writing, speaking, and analyzing. So, any help will be appreciated. Sucks that I have to decide all this in the next 1-2 years.
"A stupid despot may constrain his slaves with iron chains; but a true politician binds them even more strongly with the chain of their own ideas" - Michel Foucault
bossyburrito
Posts: 14,075
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4/8/2013 3:05:54 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
Do you like law?
#UnbanTheMadman

"Some will sell their dreams for small desires
Or lose the race to rats
Get caught in ticking traps
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To relax their restless flight
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bladerunner060
Posts: 7,126
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4/8/2013 3:07:06 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 4/8/2013 2:59:42 PM, 000ike wrote:
Sorry to use this site as a personal consultancy, but you guys are probably the most reliable source I know.

Is it a good idea to study to be a lawyer? Apparently, a lot of people want to be lawyers because it's the stereotypical respected career with high pay....but I've heard horror stories, like this one: http://nz.answers.yahoo.com... . Basically, if you're not graduating from the top of your class, from a top college, you're screwed, competing fiercely for 30-40k entry level positions. Then for many of the lucky few who actually manage to find a job, many still are unhappy with it as a career choice. Yet, you just spent upwards of 100k on law school, and investing 7 years of your life studying and working vigorously. So, how much truth is there to all of this?

I'm not averse to going into STEM fields because I love biology and chemistry, but I'm not a very technical person, and also not sure if I'd like to do anything that involves a lot of math. My skills lie more so in writing, speaking, and analyzing. So, any help will be appreciated. Sucks that I have to decide all this in the next 1-2 years.

All jobs run that risk, though. There are precious few jobs that REALLY guarantee a high pay based on degree alone, ignoring relative worth. Because when that happens, people flock to it, and oversaturate it, and dilute the pool of candidates.

What's most important is to wonder both what you'd be best at, and what you'd most enjoy. Likely salary factors in, of course, but no degree's going to guarantee you any specific salary, so relying too much on the idea is a dangerous way to get disappointed.
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Mirza
Posts: 16,992
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4/8/2013 3:07:43 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
Definitely do NOT seek a career in something that doesn't awaken your motivation. If you are good with writing, how about journalism, or something else media-related? If you go with political science and philosophy, there is often a great amount of writing and analysing to do in both. For example, working for the government with a degree in political science and philosophy means you'll be providing insight into various issues, and how to best tackle them.

Nonetheless. What interests you the most is probably what is important. Not the money or status involved.
000ike
Posts: 11,196
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4/8/2013 3:08:06 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 4/8/2013 3:05:54 PM, bossyburrito wrote:
Do you like law?

Well I have no way of making that determination. I took mock trial for 2 years and I'm taking it next year. I liked that - if that has any significant resemblance to a lawyer's work.
"A stupid despot may constrain his slaves with iron chains; but a true politician binds them even more strongly with the chain of their own ideas" - Michel Foucault
000ike
Posts: 11,196
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4/8/2013 3:13:39 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 4/8/2013 3:07:43 PM, Mirza wrote:
Definitely do NOT seek a career in something that doesn't awaken your motivation. If you are good with writing, how about journalism, or something else media-related? If you go with political science and philosophy, there is often a great amount of writing and analysing to do in both. For example, working for the government with a degree in political science and philosophy means you'll be providing insight into various issues, and how to best tackle them.

Nonetheless. What interests you the most is probably what is important. Not the money or status involved.

Not if my life depended on it. I can't stand watching the news for more than 15 minutes, their voices start to annoy me; the subject becomes suffocatingly dry. Philosophy comes across to me as non-concrete and conjectural, essentially made-up and dressed in jargon to seem less fictional. I'd be depressed in a field like that.
"A stupid despot may constrain his slaves with iron chains; but a true politician binds them even more strongly with the chain of their own ideas" - Michel Foucault
Mirza
Posts: 16,992
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4/8/2013 3:18:51 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 4/8/2013 3:13:39 PM, 000ike wrote:
Not if my life depended on it. I can't stand watching the news for more than 15 minutes, their voices start to annoy me; the subject becomes suffocatingly dry. Philosophy comes across to me as non-concrete and conjectural, essentially made-up and dressed in jargon to seem less fictional. I'd be depressed in a field like that.
Apparently you already have a degree in denial.
Thaddeus
Posts: 6,985
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4/8/2013 5:11:04 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
I am currently doing a masters in Engineering, however, I'll be doing a graduate diploma in law after I finish. The only reason I am doing this is because I have a training contract lined up with a city firm - they will pay for my GDL and LLB.
(assuming there are similar programs for american undergrads); if you can't get a training contract lined up while at university, I can't recommend it. Far too risky.
Andromeda_Z
Posts: 4,151
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4/8/2013 10:09:27 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
Have you considered becoming a technical writer? The best way I could describe this is as a link between STEM fields and journalism, but you'd probably do much better by simply searching for job descriptions. From what a quick Google search showed, this would require a degree in communications, English, or something of the sort - a degree with very little math and geared towards those good at writing (something you indicate you're skilled at). Or perhaps just go for it and study Biology. As a Chemistry major, I can't recommend it if you don't care for math. But Biology appears to be less math-intensive. It does involve some math, of course, just not as much as Chem or Physics. I can't tell you anything about law, sorry. It wasn't something I found interesting so I didn't look into it any.
Khaos_Mage
Posts: 23,214
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4/9/2013 1:05:12 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 4/8/2013 3:08:06 PM, 000ike wrote:
At 4/8/2013 3:05:54 PM, bossyburrito wrote:
Do you like law?

Well I have no way of making that determination. I took mock trial for 2 years and I'm taking it next year. I liked that - if that has any significant resemblance to a lawyer's work.

There is more to the law than a trial. There is corporate law, constitutional law, patent law, criminal, family, etc., all of which has/may have a trial aspect to it (only one person usually speaks at a trial, yet many are involved). However, I think a lot of lawyers' work is research and navigation.

As to your OP, there are many lawyers out there, and it is highly competitive. O would assume, like any other degree, an internship is best (along with timely graduation), as getting your foot in the door is the hardest part.
However, you could always start your own firm and go from there...

Personally, I am not quick enough on my feet to be a lawyer, otherwise I would probably do so (however, I may become a tax laywer/enrolled agent).

I currently work with a lawyer who delivers pizza; he has been doing doc review for almost two years as a temp after going almost two years without a lawyering job after graduation. Of course, it took him three tries to pass the bar, has diabetes, and anger issues, so these might have played a factor, too. He says the market is REAL tough, but that could be an economy thing, or a local thing.

My friend's brother is a lawyer of some kind. I don't remember if he graduated in MN or CA, but he lives and works out there. I don't remember hearing about him having too tough of a time finding work, but this was 10 years ago.
My work here is, finally, done.
DakotaKrafick
Posts: 1,517
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4/9/2013 1:16:56 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 4/8/2013 3:13:39 PM, 000ike wrote:
At 4/8/2013 3:07:43 PM, Mirza wrote:
Definitely do NOT seek a career in something that doesn't awaken your motivation. If you are good with writing, how about journalism, or something else media-related? If you go with political science and philosophy, there is often a great amount of writing and analysing to do in both. For example, working for the government with a degree in political science and philosophy means you'll be providing insight into various issues, and how to best tackle them.

Nonetheless. What interests you the most is probably what is important. Not the money or status involved.

Not if my life depended on it. I can't stand watching the news for more than 15 minutes, their voices start to annoy me; the subject becomes suffocatingly dry. Philosophy comes across to me as non-concrete and conjectural, essentially made-up and dressed in jargon to seem less fictional. I'd be depressed in a field like that.

If you have a passion for writing, you could try... writing. Not necessarily anything media-related; fiction, maybe. The question is: Do you have a passion for writing or do you simply recognize you're good at it?
Logic_on_rails
Posts: 2,445
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4/9/2013 1:29:35 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
First thing I ought to say is that the American market for law is different than the Australia market for law. There's also some differences in legal system and some trivial matters (ie. we have wigs for barristers) . That said, I have been inside and worked for a law firm (specifically, solicitors) for a short while on work experience; my experience is limited but is more than many from this job plus mock trial.

First thing is that you shouldn't expect to jump into a barrister or solicitor role. Most lawyers start in a paralegal role. Mock trial is a lot of fun and is extremely useful for both solicitors and barristers, but it's not a great representation of court life. In my short while at this law firm I went to the Administrative Decisions Tribunal once. That was in a particularly busy week with a big case. Solicitors do not go to trial often; they do lots of preparation work for trial first. Also, many lawyers aren't related to trial work - mediation and arbitration are growing in popularity for reasons of cost. My firm specialised in retail and commercial law, with a focus on mediation.

As for pay? Can't really comment. Research for the Australian market suggests the average university graduate salary is above the average law graduate (which is forced to do a double degree in Australia at some places) ... at first. Once you're with a firm for 5 years the pay is substantial. As to the 'perks' of a law firm, I was with a fairly small firm, but it was still nice, and is far better than non-corporate jobs (like retail, which I've also worked in) . Furthermore, paralegal work isn't as boring as it first seems. Of course, my firm was incredibly friendly, which isn't the norm...

Don't be deluded into thinking law is about court and barrister work. That's an element... yet a small one. On the other hand, being a lawyer is an interesting career (from my brief look at it... work experience as a school student doesn't last long) .

As to the American job market and a law student's perspective, I recommend this (somewhat lengthy) article http://www.artofmanliness.com... (Forget the site name and prejudices... it's actually quite a good site) . The article does a decent job explaining some things, even though my experience in a law firm is slightly more optimistic than this somewhat dour recount. Read the article.

I hope I've helped. I'd have more to say, but exam preparation calls.
"Tis not in mortals to command success
But we"ll do more, Sempronius, we"ll deserve it
bluesteel
Posts: 12,301
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4/9/2013 2:56:21 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
I am currently at a top 10 law school. We recently had a speaker who told us that if you don't go to a top 15 school, your job prospects are not very good. Even IF you go to a top 15 school, the median salary is extremely misleading because it is thrown off by a small cluster of people (maybe 10-20% of the class) who go to work for large firms. So even at top schools, there is a large cluster of people making only 50-80K a year, masked by the people making $220K a year. In addition, at my school, the bar passage rate for the bottom third of the class is < 55%.

There's no harm in taking the LSAT. But if you're in this for the money, you need to do well on the LSAT, do well in law school, get a firm job, and then be willing to put in 2000 billable hours a year. There's a reason that lawyers have the highest rates of substance abuse of any profession. Law school is also not like college. Everyone is miserable at least some of the time. There are definitely good times, but lots of tedious, annoying, and stressful times as well.

But your skill set seems adapted to law school.
You can't reason someone out of a position they didn't reason themselves into - Jonathan Swift (paraphrase)
1Devilsadvocate
Posts: 1,518
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4/11/2013 10:26:19 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
I was considering law, but from what I hear, it's a pretty crowded field now.
I have 2 cousins that graduated law school, one from Harvard, the other from Columbia. Both had a hard time finding a good Job.

I think these will be helpfull:

"Why Attending Law School Is The Worst Career Decision You'll Ever Make": http://www.forbes.com...

"Just How Bad Off Are Law School Graduates?": http://ideas.time.com...

http://www.shouldyoubealawyer.com...
I cannot write in English, because of the treacherous spelling. When I am reading, I only hear it and am unable to remember what the written word looks like."
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http://www.twainquotes.com... , http://thewritecorner.wordpress.com... , http://www.onlinecollegecourses.com...
TUF
Posts: 21,310
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4/11/2013 10:36:56 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
I really wanted to be a lawyer. I decided I didn't want to devote the seven years though to be unhappy and rich, as a lot of lawyers are. It's a treacherous job, and schooling might be tough. I took a fee paralegal classes though AND that is something I DEFINITELY reccomend. Only takes two years to get a degree too.
"I've got to go and grab a shirt" ~ Airmax1227
RoyLatham
Posts: 4,488
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4/13/2013 6:52:04 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
There is an interesting way to straddle the professions. Get a undergraduate degree in science or engineering, then a law degree. Then become a patent lawyer. In the US, a STEM degree is required to become a patent agent, which is the precursor to patent law. Just an idea.