Since I was a little girl, the only thing I wanted to be when I grew up was a lawyer. Not just any lawyer either-a trial attorney that was in a court room every day. There was no chance I would be a doctor (I hate needles and pass out when I see blood), a veterinarian (like my little sister who is much better at that science stuff), or even a corporate executive (how does someone even do that?!). Law was my career choice from the beginning, and I have had no problem admitting that to anyone who will listen. Lately, however, I have received the same response from people when telling them what I do with my life and why I wanted to go to law school. Why would I go to law school when I will not be able to get a job and when I will come out with more debt than buying a new home? After hearing it every single time, one has to start wondering if it really is worth the time and the effort.
While reading Dean Lawrence Mitchell’s Op-Ed piece in the New York Times, “Law School is Worth the Money,” I found myself nodding in agreement while reading about how discouraging the media has been when it comes to the prospect of law school. There are entire websites dedicated to lower tier law schools, blog posts that destroy the desire to even google your law school, and op-ed pieces that make students feel they are wasting their time. The article appropriately explains that prospective students believe it is “irresponsible” to attend law school, and that these irrationalities have begun to prevent possible students from even trying to wait it out for the three years. Everyone knows the job market is, for lack of a better word, unfortunate, and everyone knows that graduate school costs money, but that should not discourage prospective law students from even trying to brave the murky waters. To me, that seems like a slippery slope that would never end. Soon it will be “College costs money, so let’s wait it out and see if it’s worth it at some point.”
Dean Mitchell asks in his article, “What else will these thousands of student who have been discouraged from attending law school do?” and I think that is an excellent question. For students like me, it was law school all the way; I would not have been happy anywhere else. Where else will these students go? Are they destined to walk the earth without purpose or in dead end jobs? Dean Mitchell explains that this is an investment in your future. Being a lawyer is not a first job at Bloomingdales selling expensive jeans to customers (Yes, at one point I did that!), it is a career that will always be a necessity. Everyone has a crazy uncle who has a few too many speeding tickets, or a grandparent who needs their will drafted. If anything, law school is teaching you invaluable skills that cannot be measured by the amount of money on the tuition bill.
Walking through the hallways during finals time seems to be something I can only describe as stressful. Students are worried about doing poorly on an exam, which will cause them to get a bad grade, which will cause them to not get an interview, which will cause them to not get a job. I can absolutely see how this would be discouraging to someone who was considering studying the law, but there is something to remember. If you want to be a lawyer, BE A LAWYER. GO TO LAW SCHOOL. In twenty years, you do not want to look back and say, “Hey! Maybe I should have gone to law school to become a lawyer!” There is nothing more satisfying than the first time you get to stand up in a courtroom and say, “Yes, your Honor.” That feeling is something I hold on to every time I think about finals or debt, and that is exactly what I think that Dean Mitchell is talking about in his article. It is not “irresponsible,” it is exactly what you are supposed to be doing, and if that is what you want to do, then law school it is!
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