The Craptacular Truth about Law

Yesterday as I was visiting my beau for lunch I stopped in and said hi to his boss.  He knew I was looking for a new job and he had a connection in one of the other Big Firms here in the city and asked if I would be interested, to which I replied with an emphatic "NO".  Then he asked me about non-profit work, which I have no problem with, and he asked if I'd be interested in a Christian legal services organization.  Again, "NO".  I explained that I had no desire to go back into the traditional practice of law and was merely looking for something legal skill related, and he proceeded to give me the look that you might give....oh..... a crazy person. 

But I ain't crazy.

If I've said this once, I've said it a thousand times:  Law is not a Golden Ticket.  When most people hear the word "lawyer" they automatically think "big money" and "ballin" and "powerful" and "successful".  When I hear the word lawyer I think these words: depressed, unhappy, struggling, overworked, undervalued, underemployed, unemployed.  I'm sure people think I'm being pessimistic and just reacting to my own unfortunate set of circumstances, and that if they were to go to law school things would be different for them, but I'm not.  I have friends-- licensed law graduates -- working temp jobs, secretary jobs, waiting tables, running clothing stores, teaching, everything BUT law. Then there are my friends taking a stab at their own law practice, dealing with clients who don't want to pay, can't pay, or want to have "business meetings" to either holla at you or get as much free info out of you as they can.  You also have the government attorneys who make around the U.S. median household income, if they're lucky, and the non-profit attorneys who have to work second retail jobs to make ends meet.  Finally you have the just flat out unemployed who are plagued with the problem of being "overqualified" for EVERYTHING and can't even get a job at Target.  Most of my friends who started out with the "dream jobs" at big firms are no longer there, either forced out by the firm or by their own last shred of sanity, and finding themselves in one of those situations mentioned above.  More than one friend has voluntarily walked out of a six figure job into nothingness... no new job, no prospects, nada.

Those are some powerfully compelling arguments against law as a profession.  Yet they are arguments non-lawyers don't hear or don't want to hear.  There are still waiting lists a mile long at law schools full of people who just want to further flood an already oversaturated market with their pipe dreams of instant success and fortune.  Let's just stop the madness already.

I recently came across a blog, The Unemployed Lawyer, written by another law school alum, and while I don't necessarily want my misery to have company (meaning I'm wishing misery on someone else) it's always nice to know it ain't just me and something I'm doing wrong, a feeling that has many, many of us law grads and licensed attorneys feeling quite dejected and questioning our self worth.  She sums it up pretty well in this post that made me tear up a little bit because it is so very true:

"I went to law school, passed the bar, and now I'm doing something completely unrelated to my over priced degree. And I'm broke. Are you going to finish that drink?" 
It makes us feel pretty shitty when someone in the bar (or anywhere) asks us what we're doing with ourselves these days, and that's the "craptacular" truth we're forced to reveal (or cover up).  I recently skipped being a guest at an awards breakfast, invited because I was the top undergraduate business school award winner the year I graduated, soley because I didn't want to have to explain that yes, I was the top business grad, yes, I graduated cum laude from law school, yes, I had the Big Firm job, and yes, I'm now working a county job that doesn't even require a degree and doesn't pay my basic bills.  Because the general public is so deluded, they think we're idiots, or damaged goods, and the worst are the prospective law students who think that we must have done something wrong and that they can do it better.

Naw, honey.  If you wanna take a stab at graduating cum laude with a published law review article and see if your results are different, be my guest.  But this is across the board regardless of your class rank.  I see shining stars get shot down from the sky every day.

I guess my point is the same point that I constantly make on Twitter that law isn't the express lane to success, but also that I'm not crazy for telling that jealous mistress named Law to kick rocks, and I'm tired of being looked down upon (and looking down on myself) for reaching my goal and finding it to be an ill fitting dead end.  This break up is ending with "It's not me..... it's you" and NOT the other way around.