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Should you talk your friends out of going to law school?

Professional Responsibility?

By Leah Weaver

As new attorneys, we know that the legal job market is terrible. You can check out any of the numerous law school “scambloggers,” who’d be happy to tell you just how awful it is, or (for those who know that the plural of “anecdote” isn’t “data”) you can check out the recent post on , regarding lawyer overproduction.

So what do you do when someone tells you that they’re planning on going to law school? Encourage them to chase their dreams? Or start forwarding links to the scamblogs?

I currently know of two people who recently sat for the LSAT and are in the law school application process. I think they’re both going into the law for the right reasons and with reasonable expectations, so I think they’ll both be all right. Yet I find myself sending them links to articles and blog posts like this one, warning of the glut of young lawyers and the potentially ruinous debt load.

I asked my friend Howard this question, and unsurprisingly, he’s not encouraging people to follow their bliss to law school. He says, “unless they have a background that complements the JD, it’s not worth it. If they’re 22 and just out of undergrad that’s okay as well, as any graduate degree can cost a ton. But mid-30’s thinking of a new career… NNNOOOOOOO!!!!!”

So readers: how about you? I feel like we all know someone who, despite all evidence that it’s a terrible idea, is planning on attending law school. How do you approach the topic?


  1. I have a friend who is moving back to the midwest for law school. I know he’s been thinking about it for a long time, so I don’t doubt his motives. I told him to go to the school that allows him to graduate with the least amount of debt and to avoid going to school in the Twin Cities because the market is hypercompetitive. He took my advice, so hopefully it works out for him.

  2. Why don’t people pursue real work anymore? How about plumbing, welding, car repair, brain surgery. You know, real stuff. No more law, p.r., organizing, hedge fund management (what is a hedge fund, anyway?).

  3. I ask them, “what do you want the JD to DO for you?” Oftentimes there is an idealist view of what it means to be an attorney. Before spending time and money running toward a dream, I help people think through what they hope to get from this achievement. In the process people either realize another (cheaper) path is even more likely to take them where they want to go, OR they get crystal clear on why law school is the only path. People who understand what they want from the degree from the start may make better choices along the way that help them get the elusive job. I ask the same question of those who ask me about pursuing a PhD.

  4. If you are a true friend, you will advise your friend not to go to law school. This field is severely over-glutted and the majority of new graduates will be unable to find jobs in the legal profession. Also, as a result of the intense competition, the quality of life in the legal field is bad. Even those lucky few who secure positions at large and medium-sized firms are overworked and unhappy.

    The other problem is that getting a JD will render you overqualified and unemployable for non-law jobs. Non-lawyer hiring managers believe that all lawyers are rich and successful (ala Hollywood) and will regard you as a complete loser for either being unable to find a job in such a hot field or for investing so much time and money in education not to use it in such a hot field.

    It’s almost laughable to read these positive non-scamblogs and to witness (often unemployed and underemployed) JDs falling all over themselves to project a positive outlook. In a way, lawyers, collectively, are their own worst enemies. Lawyers as a group are responsible for the worthless ABA which continues to accredit more law schools and for the lack of a real lawyers’ guild to look out for the bottom 90% of lawyers’ economic self interest.

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