A little more than one year ago, Elie and I asked our readers what they would have done if they hadn’t gone to law school. The answers in the comments were varied, but in light of the state of the job market for entry-level lawyers, this was the one that stood out the most to me then, and stands out even more to me now:
“Shoot myself. It would have been quicker and less painful.”
While that may be incredibly depressing, it speaks to the feelings of a new generation of lawyers, many of whom have been languishing in unemployment and drowning under heavy student debt loads for months, and in some cases, years. Now, if you’re lucky enough to be complaining about the size of your Biglaw bonus, these circumstances aren’t applicable to you. But unfortunately, as we all know, money can’t buy happiness. Regardless of your standing in life, law school still might have been a bad decision for you.
Which brings me to this question: all things considered, are you still happy you went to law school?
I started thinking about this question after a tipster directed us to this post at #WhatShouldWeCallMe:
Like most law school applicants, you were probably thinking about how you wanted to save the world. Or how you’d be the envy of all of your friends with your shiny professional degree. Or the oodles of cash you’d earn, because you’d heard a law degree is one of the prerequisites for the ability to roll around in piles of money.
Now that you’ve graduated, or now that you’re nearing graduation, you know that you probably won’t be able to save the world (unless you want to be poor), and that no one is envious of a person with umpteen dollars of loan debt, even if they’ve got a fancy Biglaw job that allows them to bill upwards of 2200 hours each year. Your attitudes about the wonders of law school might have changed significantly since the time you enrolled.
As for me, it might sound crazy, but I’m still happy that I went to law school. I’m a nerd. I like learning. No, I didn’t go to a T14, and hell, I didn’t even go to a law school in the Top 100, but the academic experience was well worth the cost. But was it worth $183,563.27 (my current outstanding law school loan debt)? That number is cringe-worthy, but sadly, I signed up for it. I knew just what I was getting into when I enrolled at a “TTT.”
And no, my first job wasn’t all that I dreamed it would be, but I made the best of the hand that I was dealt. When I moved on to this job at Above the Law, I’d never been so happy in my life. I sometimes wonder if I’d have even gotten this job if I had gone to a better law school. Perhaps my “non-peer pedigree” is what made me different.
If anything, my law school experience taught me how to take a joke and face criticism (which are traits that come in handy at ATL). Sure, I have regrets, and despite the fact that I’ll have that disgusting debt hanging over my head for the rest of the life, I’m happy I went to law school… but I’d be happier if I weren’t so damn poor.
So, readers, now I’ll ask you: are still happy you went to law school? Tell us your thoughts in the comments.