A lot of articles I read about practicing law or law school aren’t that great because the author doesn’t seem to understand the subject matter very well.

I can’t say that about this article by Amanda Taub titled 7 reasons you shouldn’t go to law school. Ms. Taub went to law school and practiced law. She seems to get it.

Here are some of the key points:

  • It is true that many lawyer jobs are very well-paid. But many aren’t, and even those that are are prone to burnout and instability.
  • Graduating from law school doesn’t necessarily mean you even get a job as a lawyer.
  • Most large firms have a pyramid structure, with large incoming classes of junior associates that get winnowed down over the years until just a few individuals remain. The rest have to leave. That means life as a “biglaw” attorney isn’t the safe, stable professional career path that many people think it is.
  • And even if you do manage to defy all the odds and make partner, that’s still not any guarantee of stability. Partners are under tremendous pressure to bring in clients and high-billing projects. Those who don’t can be cut out of their firms’ equity proceeds — or pushed out entirely.
  • While I do have friends who enjoy their legal careers, I have many more who don’t. And that’s not that surprising, because it’s hard to be happy when you’re spending the majority of your waking hours doing work that you picked because it seemed like a safe option, rather than because it was actually what you wanted to do. And it’s hard to do good work when you’re unhappy. And law is full of people who chose their jobs that way, and who now find themselves consumed with frustration or mired in depression.
  • A law degree is not a “great all-purpose degree.” That’s a lie put about by parents who are trying to lure their children into middle-class professions and by law schools who want their money.

These are all good points that many prospective law students don’t hear. Comically, there are lawyers who work in Big-law who aren’t aware of her point about job stability. At least until they are shown the door.

People sometimes ask me if I think that no one should attend law school. The answer is no, that’s not what I think.

My point is that law school is for people who want to be lawyers and will not incur massive debt obtaining their degrees. These are the only people who should consider going to law school.

  • Al Ghindal

    Who “wants” to be a lawyer? The article lists some points from a defense firm worklife point of view (possibly the worst job in the world). One aspect the PI guys have to worry about. Everyday cars are getting better accident avoidance technology. It’s already trickling down from the high-end brands. At the same time 18-wheelers are getting this tech too. The mass tort game has been mediocre as well, good ‘ol days never to return. How is one supposed to sympathize with a recent grad?

  • Saltwaterpappy

    I intially went to work for an insurance defense firm. After two years of having uptight, insecure-incompetent, and ignorant adjusters trying to tell me how to practice law, I determined that my personality was better suited to suing them rather than representing them. Thirty-five years later I still take great satisfaction knowing that I am part of a process that brings relief to individuals and order to society at large.