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Is it really worth it being a lawyer?

sflibrasflibra Registered User Posts: 2 New Member
I've read some articles about how the profession has become over saturated and most lawyers say the would not go through all the trouble to be a lawyer again. I've always been interested in working in law or politics, but most of all I really want to help people and not have a job where I am sitting on a desk all day. Law seemed like a perfect profession but now I'm not so sure.
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Replies to: Is it really worth it being a lawyer?

  • 10s4life10s4life Registered User Posts: 584 Member
    I'm not a lawyer nor studying law but my uncle is a judge and contrary to what the media shows, being a lawyer is mostly sitting at a desk all day (and night) :)
  • HappyAlumnusHappyAlumnus Registered User Posts: 1,097 Senior Member
    I like being a lawyer. I help people and it is intellectually challenging. It does involve sitting in front of a computer screen all day, night, weekend, etc. (or being in meetings all day). I would be a lawyer only if I went to a school in the top 20, though (which I did).
  • MotherOfDragonsMotherOfDragons Registered User Posts: 3,951 Senior Member
    edited June 16
    My father in law, brother in law, and sister in law are all lawyers (patent, trial, and trademark, respectively). Lots of sitting, lots of reading, lots of writing. Only in the case of the patent attorney (with a chemical engineering bachelor's degree as a required foundation), is there also lots of money.

    I'd recommend volunteering or shadowing in the area of law you're interested in. It's a real eye-opener.

    And fwiw, the FIL went to the least-prestigious law school of the three of them...

    Their advice when people say "I want to help people" is "volunteer somewhere".
  • AboutTheSameAboutTheSame Registered User Posts: 2,557 Senior Member
    Law is mainly a business. That's the first thing to understand. If "helping people" means criminal defense or tenants rights or whatever cause floats your boat, you are probably looking at low paying public interest work -- or trying to do it on the side after your day job, but good luck with that since the practice of law at the high-paying level requires many sacrifices in terms of hours away from family and friends and hobbies (see the post by @HappyAlumnus above). Some people like it and thrive. I found a different path (a niche job, if you will) many years ago, and I enjoyed having the time to coach D's soccer team, etc., even though my job still involves sitting at a desk and reading and writing. 30 years in, and I wouldn't change a thing. I did not encourage D to go to law school, however.
  • gclsportsgclsports Registered User Posts: 293 Junior Member
    I enjoy the *legal* work I do as an attorney, and that includes a lot of sitting at my desk researching and analyzing and writing. It also includes a fair amount of running around going to meetings, depositions and court. For me, I would estimate the breakdown as 70% at my desk and 30% running around, but that varies a lot depending on what you do and where your clients are. I also happen to practice a type of law that I can believe in, and that helps a great deal. You don't always control that choice, and sometimes have to do whatever pays the bills. What I absolutely loathe about being an attorney is the politicking both inside and outside the firm, the constant marketing, and having to keep time. All of which is necessary to the business side of the practice. But if you love the law for the sake of law, you should realize there is a lot more to the practice of law than just the legal work. That's something I wish I had known before I was knee deep in law school debt.
  • MandalorianMandalorian Registered User Posts: 1,510 Senior Member
    It depends on the law school and field of law.
  • HappyAlumnusHappyAlumnus Registered User Posts: 1,097 Senior Member
    @AboutTheSame is correct. Being a lawyer requires lots of hours (for most types of law). You have to basically give up non-legal activities in life; you can't be a lawyer AND be the most committed volunteer at your child's school, for example.
  • NoteworthyNoteworthy Registered User Posts: 244 Junior Member
    Short answer? No

    Long Answer? Based off of your post, it will not be worth it to you.
  • melvin123melvin123 Registered User Posts: 559 Member
    Ditto on the recommendation to shadow/ intern etc before making any decision to go to law school. At my 20 year reunion, 90 percent said they regretted going into law, but the other 10 percent love it. Before making such a major time and financial commitment, you really need to see this for yourself. Also, don't go into this field thinking you'll make a lot of money. Most lawyers don't, but a few make quite a lot. Those that do oftentimes have a lot of pressure on them to bring in clients, which can be difficult because big firm billable rates are so high; you have to get deep pocket clients and there is a lot of competition for them. Perhaps the happiest classmates were district attorneys who, although they don't make so much, really felt that they were making a difference in society. Also, you should know that there is a lot of discussion in the field about what impact artificial intelligence is going to have for this career. I don't know too much about that other than seeing that it might decrease between 40-60 percent of legal jobs. I have no idea if that's true, but it's something to look into.
  • WildestDreamWildestDream Registered User Posts: 225 Junior Member
    edited July 4
    You know that for the vast majority of working hours, lawyers are "sitting on a desk all day."
  • juilletjuillet Super Moderator Posts: 11,599 Super Moderator
    I've asked more than a few lawyers I know if they would recommend the profession to an average college student today and they always say no. I ask them if they would become lawyers again given the chance. Some say no, others are hesitant, few say yes.

    But I think it depends a lot.
  • roethlisburgerroethlisburger Registered User Posts: 1,675 Senior Member
    You know that for the vast majority of working hours, lawyers are "sitting on a desk all day."

    This is far from unique to lawyers. I suspect for the vast majority of white collar jobs, you sit at a desk in front of a computer all day or else in conference rooms at meetings all day.
  • jesse'sgirljesse'sgirl Registered User Posts: 407 Member
    @HappyAlumnus, why would you only choose law (again) if you could go to a top 20 school?
  • NoteworthyNoteworthy Registered User Posts: 244 Junior Member
    @jeese'sgirl I think there some was study that showed 70% of graduates with a job requiring a bar-certification within their first 2 years after graduating came from top 20 law schools.
  • MidwestmomofboysMidwestmomofboys Registered User Posts: 2,855 Senior Member
    edited August 7
    @jesse'sgirl -- Law school is only "worth" it if you have a JD from a top 20 school because there are fewer and fewer jobs, and they tend to go to grads from the top 20 schools. Yet grads from the lower tiered schools still have massive law school debt, typically, without the opportunity to get the higher paying jobs that will allow them to pay the loans back. And doing the kind of law that doesn't pay much more than a regular job means you are indentured to your loans for years. While there may be some exceptions, the schools which defer and then forgive student debt if you go into public interest law are usually only the highest ranking schools, not the lower ranked ones.

    While the #1 student at a lower ranked school, or even the #1-2 students, may be able to get the top, high paying jobs -- with law school classes of 150+ students, the chance of being that #1 student is remote. Most law students are admitted to law school because they had high undergrad gpas -- so everyone is pretty much at a comparable level. Yet the curve at many law schools is strict, and by definition, maybe only about 10% get As. So students should not go into law school thinking they will, of course, be at the top of the class because they were successful as undergrads. Sometimes, students attend lower ranked schools because they get generous merit awards from those schools, designed to improve the school's ranking by drawing in high stat students. In order to keep the merit award -- and be able to afford law school without substantial debt -- some schools require the student to maintain a high gpa which, again, is very difficult to achieve in law school, regardless of the student's undergrad experience.

    Bottom line, it is not a good bet to borrow $200,000+ to go to a lower ranked law school when the chances of getting a job which will allow you to pay back your loans are slim.
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