I was talking to a good friend and she mentioned that a young lady she was mentoring was interested in becoming an attorney. She told me she advised the young mentee to pursue another profession. She said, “Do not go to law school!” She was adamant. She had two reasons to support her prospective. First, she believed that law students do not consider the financial burdens of attending law school before taking the plunge and second she believed that the person did not understand what the practice of law really does to the mentality of the person.
I have to admit she had two great points but I would never instruct a person not to be a lawyer. In regards to her point about debt. Debt is a burden. I mean the total debt of law school is about the cost of a house in many states. A person could get a job at the big firm to clear the debt but then another set of problems takes place. There is no spending time with friends, family or doing anything because the intense hours will chain the person to their desk filled with cases. With all that being said, I still do not think it is life crushing for the person to become a lawyer. A prospective law student and young lawyer could create a plan that better positions them in the legal field. Yes, it is risky to become a lawyer because the field is overpopulated but so are a lot of other professions. However, I would advise the person to do a cost-benefit analysis, think about what skills he/she already has that can enhance their desire to become a lawyer and develop the plan early to execute paying off student loans.
Contrary to my friend’s point, I believe people know the intensity of the field. This is the one thing that is glamorized on television. Practicing law does not change a person’s mentality. The field is service based meaning that we as lawyers are called to serve our clients by giving our all. However, we ignore that there is a warped culture among lawyers of being a “bottom-feeder” or winning at all costs. When I see someone that prescribes to allowing the law to “change them,” it is because they were already bent to toward the warped culture. They entered the field because they wanted to perpetuate this behavior. Prescribing to this culture is not mandatory. You could practice law and still be sane, have a sense of compassion and develop strong bonds with others. As a law student or young attorney, a person could serve to the fullest and function perfectly in this field without being a cut throat, disloyal, dishonest, or bottom-feeder. The law does not have to affect their mentality.
I cannot lie to you, law school is stressful and being a lawyer could be just as stressful, if you let it. But I would venture to ask any physician or teacher, if they had high amounts of debt, worked long hours, and if there was not culture specific behaviors perpetuated within their profession. They would probably say “yes” to all of my questions. So, if you are reading this and you have a desire to attend law school, I say do it but do your due diligence. Connect with a seasoned lawyer in the field that you are interested in and asked them to help you examine the advantages and disadvantages of attending law school. This cost-benefit analysis will either encourage and solidify your future as a lawyers or point you in the direction of a new career path.
So if you are reading this and you have a desire to attend law school, I say do it but do your due diligence. – Ebony Griffin
The legal field can be overwhelming but I would not ever tell a young person to run far away from this profession. It is definitely not what it was years ago but this does not mean it is the worst career choice you could make. It just means you will have to do your homework, ask yourself if are you called to serve in this profession and be creative in developing your own niche.