Education / Schools, Interview Stories, Job Searches, Law Schools, Money, Student Loans, Summer Associates

An Update on the 1L Who Considered Dropping Out (But Didn’t)

Martin Luther dropped out of law school and he did just fine for himself.

Not all of our coverage of law schools is depressing; we bring you happy stories as well. In recent weeks, we’ve written about one law school dean’s creative (and healthy) student outreach program, a law student demonstrating kindness to animals, and someone having fun — perhaps too much fun? — in the library.

Let’s continue the good cheer. Back in the spring, we wrote about a law student who was thinking of dropping out of school. He sought our advice — and, surprisingly enough, my colleague Elie Mystal advised this fellow to stay in school (even though Elie is generally not a fan of legal education).

Some commenters disagreed with Elie (shocker), and urged the kid to drop out. But now we bring you an update suggesting that perhaps Elie’s advice was sound….

To recap, let’s look back at this law student’s situation, as of April 2011:

I wondered if you might be able to give me some advice? I’m a 1L at [a top 10 law school] and I’m in the precarious — and, unfortunately, unenviable — position of being at the bottom of my class. I worked really hard — as if that matters — but I guess sometimes your best isn’t good enough.

Anyhow, I’m closing in on the end of the year and I’ve almost entirely lost any motivation to continue this law school game. I don’t dislike law school per se, but I am extremely pessimistic about my chances to make this law degree “work” in a dying profession during a horrible economy. I don’t think I’m being unrealistic in harboring these views.

I wondered what advice you might give someone in my position, assuming that (1) I don’t have fantastic pre-law-school work experience, (2) I do have an otherwise useless liberal arts degree, and (3) I’m getting significant financial support from my parents (who are supportive either way).

Elie urged this fellow, whom he nicknamed “Mr. Meh,” to stay in school. And that’s what Mr. Meh ended up doing. We recently got back in touch with him, and he updated us on his job search:

The advice of a plurality of your readership notwithstanding, I decided to stick it out and did better (though not miraculously so) in the Spring. My grades cumulatively are not amazing — though also not horrible. I report that I have over 10 callbacks (and several offers) in a few markets.

Looking back, I’m not precisely sure what the take-away from my story is; I have classmates from up and down the curve with fewer — or no — callbacks, and I have friends with similar grades who have also done quite well. Looks like the Career Services mantra on interviewing well may account for some of the variance, but luck surely also plays into it.

Thanks for checking in, and all the best to my peers going through fall recruiting.

We thank Mr. Meh for the update. Who doesn’t like a happy ending?

So, law students, should you try this at home? In other words, how much relevance does Mr. Meh’s story have for you and your career plans?

On this score, I’d add just two observations. First, in case it matters to some of you, Mr. Meh has given us permission to be more specific about his law school. We originally identified him as a student at a top 10 school, but we can now reveal that he’s at a top 6 school. (He did not want us to be more specific than that.)

Second, just because Mr. Meh has landed multiple job offers despite so-so grades doesn’t necessarily give his story a “happy ending.” What if he goes to a firm for the summer, but gets no-offered? What if he goes to a firm after graduation, but gets laid off? What if he goes to the firm, excels as an associate, makes partner — and then wakes up as a 50-year-old partner and asks himself why he’s miserable?

But look, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. For now, congratulations to Mr. Meh on all his offers. In this economy — with hiring still soft, and the prospect of a double-dip recession on the horizon — landing gainful summer employment is no small feat.

Earlier: A 1L Who Should Stay In Law School

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