Dixie Darr

Future Recovering Lawyers of America

In Uncategorized on January 25, 2011 at 6:25 am

When I learned that my best friend’s daughter, Andy, wants to go to law school, I had my usual kneejerk reaction: skepticism and dread.  My eyes rolled and I thought, ”just what the world needs—another lawyer.”

Huge Debts, No Jobs

It didn’t help that that I had just read a New York Times article about law school graduates facing huge debts but no jobs. I’m guessing they didn’t expect that. Basing your career on predictions of future openings is always risky because, not surprisingly, those predictions are usually wrong. When it is someone from the law school itself foretelling a rosy future, consider that he or she has a vested interest in getting you to enroll.

Of course, I seriously doubt that these future recovering lawyers picked law as their career because someone told them we need more lawyers. Chances are better that they were influenced by the glamour of TV lawyers and the belief that a law degree would guarantee a high-paying job.

The field of law is littered with people who chose it for these reasons only to find out that it was neither glamorous nor necessarily lucrative and that they were spectacularly unsuited for the job.

I once met a woman who was cleaning my neighbor’s house. She was also a lawyer. While trying to establish her own practice, she worked as a housecleaner to pay the bills. “It’s all cleaning up dirt,” she said. Another neighbor was astonished when I told her this story. “I thought lawyers made a lot of money,” she said, clearly confused. Some do, I agreed. Some don’t.

Know What You’re Getting Into

I suggested that Andy find an internship in a law office or maybe work as a paralegal or legal assistant while she’s finishing her undergraduate degree. That way, she would at least know what she was getting into.

The Times article points out that “the glut of diplomas, the dearth of jobs and those candy-coated employment statistics have now yielded a crop of furious young lawyers who say they mortgaged their future under false pretenses. You can sample their rage, and their admonitions, on what are known as law school scam blogs, with names like Shilling Me Softly, Subprime JD and Rose Colored Glasses.”

Anyone who’s thinking about law school would be wise to give the field a clear-eyed inspection.

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