LSATuckerMax: Why You Should Not Go to Law School

Alright, first off let’s pat the June LSAT takers on the back. You’ve done it! Next, I’d like to give a golf clap to all you soon-to-be LSAT champions who are just starting your LSAT prep. Now, on to business. What’s this whole LSAT thing about anyway? Law School. Recently, I read a really interesting article written by Tucker Max, an American author and public speaker best known for his New York Times #1 Best Seller I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell. The article was entitled Why You Should Not Go to Law School. In the article Max outlined the top six reasons why someone shouldn’t go to law school, and though I find Max’s prose and theories to be quite crass and rudimentary at times, I found myself surprised at how often I agreed with the list. Therefore, I have recreated the list here for you with some of my own explanations of why I agree with Mr. Max.

The 6 Wrong Reasons to Go to Law School:

  1. I like arguing and everyone says I’m good at it.”
    Very few lawyers ever partake in anything similar to the conventional “argument.” Most people who say they like to argue tend to argue more to be contentious rather than for the intellectual challenge of it all. With the exception of the top law schools, you won’t find yourself stuck in intellectual discourse during your studies or lectures. You learn black letter law and if you are lucky you might get a question on how you feel about the consequences of such laws.
  2. I want to be like Jack McCoy from Law & Order or [insert your favorite legal TV Show character].”
    If you don’t know it by now, you need a huge reality check. No television show has ever correctly depicted life as a lawyer. It’s not this romantic, drama-filled career where you get to yell, “I want the truth!” and give five-minute speeches before every witness interrogation. Being a lawyer is tedious and, frankly, boring. TV would never want to have a show about some lawyer writing out interrogatories and filing them in a timely manner with the court.
  3. It’s the only way I can use my humanities degree.”
    Wrong. There are so many things to do with this versatile degree. In this day and age a literate, intelligent and well-read person who can write is a huge commodity. *Cough* Yours truly is using her humanities degree quite well! Don’t sell yourself short, buddy.
  4. I want to change the world/help homeless people rescue stray kittens, do something noble.”
    I don’t completely agree with this statement of Tucker’s, because I do think if you really do have your goals set on helping out, then being an attorney is a great pathway towards this. However, make sure you know what you are getting yourself into. Most of those “change the world” jobs don’t pay much, and many of you will find that you are forced to get a high paying corporate job to pay off those loans! So, all the more reason to be patient during your LSAT prep and truly maximize your LSAT score; the higher your score, the more financial aid you will be offered. And, if going to law school to help people is really your dream, there are loan forgiveness programs that are geared towards public service jobs.
  5. I don’t know what else to do.”
    I hear this from my own students alllll the time and it makes me want to punch a baby…almost. If you don’t know what to do, then why would you want to choose a ridiculously rigorous three year course load that will leave you in hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt just to find out you may not have actually wanted it? It’s okay if you don’t know what you want to do. Take the time and really think about it, do some research, ask some people, get your hands dirty!
  6. I want to make a lot of money.”
    Tucker really broke this explanation down for me. People look at those high powered lawyer jobs and think, gee, $140,000 a year is bomb. Well, let's take a moment and think about it. Most large corporate firms that pay this kind of dough require somewhere between 1,900-2,000 billable hours from their associates. This is total number of hours of actual work you can bill directly to a client. On average it takes about 10 hours in the office to accrue 7 billable hours. This means a typical attorney has to work about 2,700 real hours in a year to meet their minimum “billables.” That means working 7.5 hours EVERY SINGLE DAY OF THE YEAR. Dividing that we get $50 per hour. There are a myriad of jobs that pay this amount and don’t require three years of law school: funeral director, marketing manager, financial aid officer, etc. Now, don’t get me wrong, I do think being an attorney is one way towards “making a lot of money.” But, it’s certainly not a guaranteed way, nor is it the only way.

Overall I thought it was a smart and comical read. But, I don’t want this to discourage those of you who really do want to go to law school. In a recent study the ABA asked lawyers if they would recommend a legal career to others and 6 out of 10 of them said no. But, that means 4 of them said yes! My advice to you is to really think about it. This is isn’t just the next three years; it’s your life.

Happy Studying! And congrats again to those who just took the exam!

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