Here at Above the Law, there’s been a long-running debate between our editors over the benefits of going to law school. As most of our readers know, Lat is in favor of going to law school, and Elie is usually against it. My own views fall somewhere in the middle.
And regardless of the brand name quality of the law schools we attended, we can each express our opinions about the costs and benefits of going to law school because we’ve been there ourselves.
But what happens when someone who didn’t attend law school — someone who apparently doesn’t even know how long law school lasts — starts giving out career advice to prospective law students?
Ridiculousness, and lots of it….
This morning, CNN published an opinion piece entitled “Law school is a waste of time,” written by Penelope Trunk, the co-founder of Brazen Careerist. Trunk, who went to graduate school for English — although you wouldn’t know it from the poorly-written article — lists five simple reasons why law school is a waste of time, and presumably, why prospective students shouldn’t go to law school:
1. Being a lawyer is about sales.
2. You are not going to be in a non-profit.
3. Going to law school is a cop out.
4. A law degree is not useful.
5. You are not different.
For the purposes of this post, we’re just going to address points one and two from Trunk’s list, but you can check out the full list here.
Of being a legal salesperson, Trunk writes:
Law schools rely on the LSA and school grades to determine who will get into the program. However once you are a practicing lawyer, what will matter is whether or not you can get clients. Clients don’t choose their attorney based on their test-taking skills.
Wait a second, did I take the wrong test before going to law school? What is the LSA? Is that the test you take before you go to Trunk’s magical lawyering school, “invest two years and $150K,” and come out on the other end with a law degree?
Of working for a non-profit organization, otherwise known as a public interest job, Trunk writes:
Many, many students think they are going to law school to join a non-profit and change the world. The problem is law students have to pay back their debt — no small amount when we’re talking law school. So unless you are independent wealthy, you’ll have to go to a big law firm first, to pay off your school loans.
Here’s a newsflash for our brazen careerist: most people go to law school with the hopes that they’ll be able to work in Biglaw. Most people go to law school because they think that it’s a sure-fire way to make good money for the rest of their lives. Helping people isn’t usually on the top of their to-do lists.
These people want to change the world alright, but they want to do it with their fat bankrolls. An aspirational wish of securing justice for all isn’t an accepted method of payment at Sallie Mae.
Of course, we wouldn’t expect a professional beach volleyball player to know things like this, but that’s probably just a consequence of scoring in the bottom 20th percentile in quantitative reasoning on the GRE.
So in the end, if you’re looking for advice as to whether or not you should go to law school, you should consult with someone who knows what the hell she’s talking about. Trunk might think that going to law school is a waste of time, but reading her tripe was the biggest waste of time of all.