I’m Nervous Law School Isn’t Worth It

Q I am a 2L at a fourth-tier school. My grades aren’t spectacular—top 50%. Are my chances of ever having an awesome career and making at least enough money to pay off my student loans (and have some to spare) completely hopeless? Should I just drop out now?

A Slow down and take a deep breath. Having an awesome career and making money have nothing to do with where you went to law school or what your damn grades were.

Having said that, if your goal is to get rich working at a prestigious, high-paying law firm, you have absolutely no shot. Not out of law school anyway. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t lots of great legal opportunities out there for you. Smaller, entrepreneurial firms would seem to make more sense than traditional, grade-sensitive firms. Government jobs present great opportunities, too. Not to mention great training. I have lots of successful friends who started out in the public sector. Some worked at the Manhattan DA’s Office, a few at the SEC, and one, Marc Korman, who began his career at the Chicago Public Defender’s Office.

Bottom line: If your goal is to be a lawyer, dropping out is stupid. You know what they call the person who graduates at the bottom of their law school class?  A lawyer. So suck it up, study hard and graduate.

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.

7 Comments

  1. it gets better

    September 29, 2008 at 3:20 am

    I was lower part of my class, but networked like crazy as a 2L and 3L.  Got a fancy firm job and a Gov’t job, took the G-job and haven’t looked back.  The job has its moments, but for the most part I get to do things I want to do, and don’t have to work on the weekends. 

    Grades are only one part of getting a decent job.

  2. Anonymous

    September 29, 2008 at 4:04 am

    It’s good to get the law degree, even if you don’t wind up practicing law.  After all, the MBA degree may be worse for the next 5 years.  When you have a law degree, people are impressed.  Hence, even if you don’t become the next big lawyer in town, you will still be able to claim you have a law degree (and perhaps a member of the bar also).  If youre a woman, it will be impressive to men, who will view you as a leader (if not a meal ticket); conversely, if youre a man, women will look at you as a leader (if not also a meal ticket).  Hence, continue to tool on, get the degree, and all the benefits associated therewith.

  3. EX-ASSOCIATE

    September 29, 2008 at 7:48 am

    Keep your head up and push on through. The hard part is over and you are halfway there. You have a lot of options with a law degree. And remember, the only thing worse than graduating from a fourth tier law school is dropping out of one…

  4. Been there

    September 29, 2008 at 7:57 am

    Been there! Slow down, take a night off and relax.  Youre going to get a good job.  I was also at a 4th tier lawschool and I was not in the top 10%.  I have a great job at a great firm.  Are there 500 lawyer in my firm? No.  But do you really want to ever hear the words due diligence??  I always laugh when I read it on thsi website. 

    Do not quit…do not even think about quiting.  Frankly, youre too invested to quit.

    From here out you need to decide what you are going to do for your career.  How are you going to distinquish yourself?  I suspect there are many programs that you are not taking advantage of at your school…moot court, journals, etc.

    AND, for crying out loud youre not even 1/2 way through…i have A LOT of friends who moved from the top 50% to 25% or higher in their last two years!! why?? everyone on law review already has what they want…they WILL start to slack off…put the presure on them…I did..I moved 15% in my 2nd year you get make huge strides this year.

    okay, now get to class!

  5. TJW

    September 29, 2008 at 8:42 am

    Came out of school that bounced between 2nd and 3rd tier, had medicore grades.  Got into a company doing privacy work as a vendor, hopped to a firm after a year focusing on Technology, hopped back to a fortune 500 company after a year and half as counsel.  All of my counterparts are 5th-10th year attorneys from big firms.
    Tenancity and persistence pays huge when you never take no.  If you beleive what people tell you are, then you are that.
    FTW and be the lawyer you want to be.

  6. Al Dickman

    September 29, 2008 at 11:54 am

    I didnt go to a top school, nor did I graduate at the top of my class.  I did do something right.  I married a college student whose dad was impressed with my law degree and who has mucho dinero.  Now I don’t think this avenue will work for everyone, but this is not a bad ace in the hole to have.

  7. RMD

    October 26, 2008 at 5:48 pm

    Being a lawyer is a solid profession that carries some prestige along with it.  As far as your concern it’s not worth it – be advised, for the first several years, it’s not.  Don’t buy the bullshit that some smaller firm paying you half of what the big dogs are paying will let you have a life.  They won’t.  You’ll just get paid less.  Enjoy.

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