Friday, January 25, 2008

A Law Degree ain't What it's Cracked Up to Be...

So, as most of you know, I am an attorney. I went to one of the best law schools in the country. Suffered through three years of law school coursework, tortured myself for 10 weeks in Summer 2004 studying for the bar exam, passed the exam, got sworn in as an officer of the Court later that year, and then decided that I didn’t want to practice law.

Well, things didn’t exactly happen in that order.

I went to law school knowing that I wasn’t interested in a traditional law practice. I was one of those poor souls that got caught up in the myth that getting a law degree opens SO MANY doors. I was under the impression that – with a law degree – you could do anything and everything under the sun. Maybe, at some point in history, that was true. But these days… not so much.

What I found is that getting a law degree actually pigeonholes you. Once I passed the bar exam, I decided that it was time for me to find a job. Not another job as an attorney, but perhaps some “law-related” job that I would find more interesting than the job I had been working. But, here’s what happened: every time I’d go to an interview, someone would say, “But, you’re a lawyer. You don’t really want this job… do you??” Um… yes. Otherwise, I would not be sitting here having this conversation with you, moron! Clearly I am not just interviewing for my health!

So, what I found was that people would take me out of the running for a job just because I had gone to law school. It got to the point where people started suggesting that I take my law degree off my resume. No, no way, uh uh, forget it! I am still paying for that degree and will be for the next 30 or so years. No way am I gonna take it off my resume!!

Needless to say that I was dejected and bummed about my situation. I would never go as far as to say that I regret going to law school. I absolutely do NOT. If nothing else, my law degree is a conversation piece. People always want to know what it was like to attend law school, and people LOVE to ask me for legal advice. Newsflash folks: lawyers get paid for their knowledge and time! Why would I give you FREE time and information when I could be getting paid ridiculously to do so?

I often decline to give legal advice anyway. I usually refer people to a practicing attorney that specializes in that particular area for assistance. It’s been four years since I graduated from law school. Most of what I’ve learned has already evaporated from memory so, truth be told, I’m probably not the best resource when it comes to legal analysis.

I guess I’m saying all this to say that law school isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. Don’t get duped into thinking that doors will magically open just because you have a Juris Doctor on your resume. Before you assume the HUGE financial responsibility of three years of law school, consider whether you can do whatever your dream job is WITHOUT the degree.

One day, when I have the time and the energy, I will create a post that will focus on everything I wish I knew before I went to law school. There is a lot of ground to cover on that one. Maybe I’ll work on it this weekend…

1 comment:

JG-HIS-STORY said...

I thought that was a great Blog Kelli.

You are very smart Women and you can do anything you put your mind to.

Remember a degree doesnt define the person, the person defines the degree.