I’m a 2L Who Hates the Law


QI’m a second-year law student (at a T1 school), and I know that I don’t want to work for a law firm.  The thought of drafting pleadings and motions for the next ten years makes me sick. The good news is that I knew going into law school that I probably didn’t want to work for a law firm. The past three semesters and my summer experience confirmed this.

Now, I need to decide what the hell I’m going to do. I’m interested in business, particularly investing, but unfortunately I have an undergraduate history degree, and that’s not getting me anywhere. My question is: What options are available for someone in my position? I understand that’s a very broad question, and I’m hoping for a response of more than “drop out.”

Maybe you’ve heard of people in similar situations and have some advice? I’m thinking outside the box and considering pursuing a non-legal internship this summer. Thanks for your advice.

AOkay, I promise not to suggest that you drop out. Actually, I think dropping out right now would be sort of stupid since you’re almost halfway home—and you’re at a T1 school. A law degree from a top school is still a plus, even if you have no interest in ever practicing law. It’s not an automatic door-opener into the financial world, but it’s a leg up relative to a BA or BS.

I admire your unambiguous disdain for practicing law and you’re unequivocal commitment to pursuing non-legal jobs right away. If you’re this sure you hate law now, you’ll not like it any more three years down the road. So you’re off to a good start.

As for my advice, I think your idea to find an out-of-the-box summer gig is a great one. Forget the whole law firm summer associate thing and look for a job or internship with an investment bank, hedge fund, private equity firm, etc. The good news is that unlike the legal biz, Wall Street is humming right now. I had a drink with a senior banker at Merrill Lynch Friday night—and he told me that he’s never been busier. So, believe it or not, now might be a good time to look for a Wall Street job.  Who knows, it might even be easier to find a good finance job than a good law job.

Good luck!

Ex-Bitter is a former big firm lawyer who now doles out advice to anyone who asks. Got a question? Email it to advice@bitterlawyer.com. Or read more Advice from an Ex-Bitter.

11 Comments

  1. Alma Federer

    November 23, 2009 at 3:38 am

    Hello!  I’ve been working for over 6 years at a law firm and I’ve never drafted a pleading or made a motion.  This writer is totally unfamiliar with legal practice!  Before abandoning the law, this guy should go into corporate law and then see how that is.  If he’s at a T1 school, he must have done something right, and he can always try I-Banking later if he is any good at all.

  2. Guano Dubango

    November 23, 2009 at 4:32 am

    Stick with it, my man.  I did not even have a JD when I came here in search of new horizons.  Instead, I learned to parlay my legal education at Accra U into an internship in your Library of Congress.  From there, I met a buxom woman who attended Georgetown University, and she was applying to law school.  Since this was the only way I would continue to be able to be close to this woman, I too applied to law school.  Once I was admitted to the LLM program, I realized that there was no shortage of other women in need of male attention.  This continues to this day in the law firm world, so you should not throw all of that away without trying.  I must warn you that you will have to be adaptable, since not all women lawyers have model looks.

  3. Gets It

    November 23, 2009 at 6:36 am

    This advice is spot on.  Don’t waste your time with practicing if you already know you’re not interested.  Start you real career now.  There’s no point in wasting three years in BigLaw.  Wall Street doesn’t care about that experience. Trust me.

  4. BL1Y

    November 23, 2009 at 7:23 am

    I know lawyers like to make things complicated and think the obvious answer is usually a trap, but I’m going to throw it out there anyways: JD/MBA.

  5. Anon

    November 23, 2009 at 7:27 am

    BL1Y: Must be thanksgiving energy… But that’s a great point.  If the school has good one…

  6. Craig

    November 23, 2009 at 8:30 am

    High School history teacher.  Great hours.  Great vacation time.  Great benefits.  No pleading or motions. Sound good?

  7. BL1Y

    November 23, 2009 at 1:22 pm

    @7:27: Nah, I just have better ideas when I sit around all day eating leftover pizza and playing Halo online.  ODST Firefight anyone?  XBox Live name is BL1Y.  Unemployment rocks.

  8. Mannie

    November 23, 2009 at 5:11 pm

    Thanks, good advice. I was in a similar confused situation myself and work at a firm now, which is so-so, but would prefer to do something more exciting with my degree and experience.

  9. Anonymous

    November 23, 2009 at 5:49 pm

    I would have much rather spent the last two years getting kicked in the gonads than have spent them in the law.  The advice is spot on.  if you hate the law, get the hell away and hustle, young man, hustle.  I’ll be out of this profession by 3/15/10.

  10. Anonymous

    November 24, 2009 at 3:07 am

    The only reason for you to get your JD is to become a bigger magnet for women.  Without the JD, you will not have this essential credential for fun with the ladies.  You can always quit the law later, but completing a JD ensures access to better looking women.

  11. Eltee

    November 29, 2009 at 5:14 pm

    The military could use a few good men… practicing law, of course. 
    If you are into financial matters, the Army has a bunch of attorneys whose job involves negotiating contracts for the Department of Defense, which may be more to your liking than working at a typical law firm. 
    Or you might prefer court martials once you find out that you won’t spend ten years drafting documents before you get your first crack at the courtroom.
    The pay is less, but there are loan forgiveness programs that apply to people who serve in the military, so that might be worth looking into. 
    At any rate, it should be different from your previous experience, and hopefully better.

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