Career Alternatives, Dahlia Lithwick, Law Schools, Student Loans

In Defense of Going to Law School: A Prudential Perspective

A prudential perspective, because it appeared in Slate’s advice column, Dear Prudence (alongside an inquiry from a woman dating a wonderful man who unfortunately has a “micropenis”):

Dear Prudence,

I am just a little over a year away from becoming a lawyer, and I’m miserable because I hate it. I wasn’t forced into the profession. I just mistakenly believed that since I loved to read and debate, law was the natural progression. But I don’t like law, and I’m not applying myself to it wholeheartedly. I can’t imagine being in this field for the rest of my life or even a few years. My parents have sacrificed and spent so much on my education, and I have no idea how to tell them that I made a mistake. Worse, my mom thinks this is my dream, and I don’t have the heart to tell her that it isn’t. The only thing that really brings me joy is escaping into books that have nothing to do with law. Please help me.


So what did Prudence say to “Inadmissible”?

We don’t want to deprive Prudie of her proper pageviews. Read her response here (scroll down past the micropenis lady).

The ATL reader who alerted us to this item was not very impressed. She translated Prudence’s response as follows:

Dear Inadmissible:

Everyone hates the law. Good luck, and enjoy a life of indentured servitude to Sallie Mae. Unless you can become the next Dahlia Lithwick or John Grisham. Then you’ll be ok.

— Prudie

Ah, but does the questioner have student loans? There’s no mention of debt in the initial question. Perhaps this person’s parents paid for law school? From the original query: “My parents have sacrificed and spent so much on my education, and I have no idea how to tell them that I made a mistake.”

If that’s the case, then Prudie’s advice seems sound. Just suck it up and get the degree. At least your parents, who bankrolled your education, will be able to brag that their kid is a lawyer. Think of a kid with a law degree as just the latest form of conspicuous consumption, like a handbag from Hermès or a car from BMW or Mercedes (two of ATL’s fabulous advertisers).

If debt is involved, the question is closer. Elie and I recently debated whether an unhappy law student should drop out of law school.

Here’s how we’d like to handle the original “Dear Prudence” question. You’ve probably already read many of Elie’s anti-law-school rants, and you’ve probably already read my more cheerful counterpoint, In Defense of Going to Law School. You don’t need to hear from us again.

Rather, we’d like to hear from you. Pretend that you are “Dear Prudence” and received the query above from an unhappy law student.

How would YOU respond? Please offer your concise responses — try to keep them to one paragraph — in the comments. In a future post, we may highlight some of our favorites. Thanks.

P.S. This isn’t the only recent “Dear Prudence” column fielding a query from someone in the legal profession. See also here (answering a question from a twentysomething, debt-free lawyer who bought a new car — and then got criticized by her annoying liberal friends for it).

Size Matters: I’m dating a man with an extremely small penis [Dear Prudence / Slate]
I Love You, Man: My husband is too close to his best male friend [Dear Prudence / Slate]

Earlier: In Defense of Going to Law School

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