1. Being a public defender is not as noble as you thought.
So, you are going to be a public defender, eh? You are going to help the down and out? Your clients will come to your office, you will serve them coffee and you will rationally and logically explain to them their legal options. They will decide which path they want to take and you will represent them. They will shake your hand and thank you for helping them. LOL, you silly.
First off, your client will almost certainly never ever tell you the truth. So, this idea that they will communicate important facts to you is just pure fantasy. Secondly, your client is on drugs. So, instead of having a rational and calm discussion about the case, your client will scream and threaten you and then ask you for a hug. All in the same day. And of course when they threaten you and call you various colorful names, you can’t say “fuck you” and never talk to them again like you would with almost any other human being in the world. Instead, you will have to go home and work on their case, so you can represent them to the best of your abilities. Then you will come to work the next day and start the cycle of hugs and threats all over again.
2. Suits do not actually look cool – On you.
If you don’t currently wear one every day you are thinking, “Nuh uh, suits make everyone look boss.” You know who looks good in suits? movie stars, because they look good in everything. Also, they are wearing thousand dollar suits. You are wearing the cheapest possible suit that still looks presentable and mostly fits. And your suit isn’t fresh from the cleaner, it was bunched up in the back seat of your car where you threw it on your way to court. And it has a coffee stain on the sleeve–at least, you hope that’s coffee. So, at the end of the day, you look a hell of a lot more like Beetlejuice than Don Draper.
3. Debt does not just suck, it really sucks.
“Don’t worry about it” they said. “It’s like just having one extra bill a month.” “Law school pays for itsself.” Sound familiar? Yeah, because everyone who went to college in the 1970s assumed that college was basically the exact same kind of deal 40 years later.
Well, it turns out, they were wrong. Law school tuition cost has risen between 2.5 and 5.3 times the inflation rate. So, next time some retired and rich lawyer says “It’s totally worth it. Even if you don’t go into law, having a degree is very valuable,” you should probably punch them in the face.
4. Lots of people are capable of being a lawyer.
Yeah, it seems special. Everyone is all like “doctors and lawyers” like those are equally impressive professions. But, the truth is, they aren’t. It takes a lot of schooling to be a doctor. A JD is really a two and a half year program. And being a lawyer really isn’t all that difficult either. It’s tedious and it takes a lot of patience to read 3,249,438,743 pages of discovery, but it isn’t particularly difficult. You know what’s difficult? Brain surgery.
5. Being right doesn’t mean you win.
So, you get a new case. The police just walked into your client’s house, for no reason. They had no right to be there. There was no probable cause. You tell your client, “I think we can win this thing.” The problem though? After the police trampled right over the Fourth Amendment on their way into your client’s home, they found your client was committing half of the possible crimes a person in your state can commit. Sure, you are right on the law. But no one wants your client out of jail, so you lose.
Or, say you found some interesting and complex legal issue that means you win. It means millions of dollars for your client. You spent days writing a brief for the court which clearly explains the law and convincingly distinguishes unhelpful cases. Opposing counsel just glossed over your arguments, because there’s no legal defense to your arguments. You are right. But, you don’t get to make the decisions. The judge does. And the judge read your brief and opposing counsel’s brief yesterday in between rounds of golf. And frankly, he doesn’t know anything about securities law anyway. So again, you lose.