Should I drop out?

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Anon1

Should I drop out?

Post by Anon1 » Thu Apr 11, 2019 5:01 pm

Title pretty much says it all. Pretty miserable in law school, can't stand virtually all the people I go to school with and rapidly losing interest in law as a long term career.
What complicates things is by most conventional metrics I have a pretty good thing going here. Straight As first semester at MVP (roughly top 2%) and a little over a half tuition scholarship. Unfortunately the grades do pretty much nothing for me since I have no interest in biglaw or clerking, but it still makes it feel harder to walk away. Any thoughts?

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ymmv
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Re: Should I drop out?

Post by ymmv » Thu Apr 11, 2019 5:08 pm

Law school is nothing like legal practice, and liking one has very little relation to the liking the other. That said, there's little point in taking on massive amounts of debt for a field you don't want to pursue.

Did you have a career before law school you could return to, or did you go straight through from undergrad? What attracted you to the law in the first place? Do you think you'd find fulfillment in public interest work?

I would look into taking a sabbatical from the coming year at least while you consider your options so you're at least not racking up additional debt in the meantime. Lots of people took a year or two off at my school and either came back or pursued other careers.

Anon1

Re: Should I drop out?

Post by Anon1 » Thu Apr 11, 2019 5:21 pm

ymmv wrote:
Thu Apr 11, 2019 5:08 pm
Law school is nothing like legal practice, and liking one has very little relation to the liking the other. That said, there's no point in taking on massive amounts of debt for a field you don't want to pursue.

Did you have a career before law school you could return to, or did you go straight through from undergrad? What attracted you to the law in the first place? Do you think you'd find fulfillment in public interest work?

I would look into taking a sabbatical from the coming year at least while you consider your options so you're at least not racking up additional debt in the meantime. Lots of people took a year or two off at my school and either came back or pursued other careers.
I wanted to be a public defender when I came to law school. I do in still think it would be fulfilling, although I'm nervous about sticking this out, taking on a bunch more debt, and then burning out after a few years of that. Particularly because no other areas of law really interest me.
I worked for about five years before law school and could probably return to a similar field. Unfortunately, the most I ever made before law school was like 35k a year with pretty limited room for advancement, which is part of why I came to law school in the first place.
I appreciate the insight that practice isn't really like law school, I can only hope that's the case. Looking into taking a year away is also an excellent idea. If I have the urge to go back after that, then maybe that would be a good indicator this is the right move.
I suppose the part of law school that really caught me off guard is how deeply I dislike most of my classmates. They strike me mostly as humorless, uptight, obnoxious overachievers. This is made worse by the fact that they all drink the kool aid that our school is so "collegial." The thought of working with people like this for the rest of my career is honestly deeply exhausting. I know this is a petty and bitter complaint, but it bothers me way more then I ever thought it would.

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Re: Should I drop out?

Post by Nony » Thu Apr 11, 2019 5:22 pm

If you’re a 1L, what are you doing this summer? Is it worth doing that and seeing how practice feels compared to school? (If you’re not a 1L, what did you do last summer and what did you think of it?)

I think it’s probably worth trying out the summer if that’s your situation, but I think the sabbatical is an excellent idea if you don’t like it. Give yourself the chance to go back for at least a bit, but there’s no reason to suffer.

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Re: Should I drop out?

Post by UVA2B » Thu Apr 11, 2019 5:23 pm

Is it safe to assume you're a 1L? That could be important here.

As ymmv said, legal practice and law school will be fairly different, especially in the interactions you have with classmates/coworkers. Until you experience legal work in something that ideally interests you in legal practice, you can't know for sure whether it's a long-term career for you. That says nothing of whether you should or will though.

You have done extremely well for yourself, and you have every opportunity for a promising legal career, so you have to answer some hard questions and make some difficult decisions fairly soon. I would probably approach your decision like this, in some variation for your individual circumstance:

1. Try to finish the Spring semester strong. You clearly know what you're doing, you've already invested in this semester, and you have zero incentive to cut out now. Set yourself up for if you change your mind, or alternatively, be able to point to how well you did, even though you decided it wasn't a career path for you.

2. Go into whatever you're doing this summer with an open mind. That doesn't mean try endlessly to convince yourself that you love what you do, but be open to that possibility. It's entirely possible you could hate the 1L curriculum, law school classes in general, law school social politics, or the people you find yourself surrounded by in law school, and you could still potentially enjoy the real world where the pressures of law school are gone (there will be other pressures, but they might not affect you the same way the law school stuff does).

3. At the end of the summer, and prior to next semester's disbursement/tuition payments, try to take a dispassionate approach to both law school and what you experienced in your summer. Decide what it really is you do and do not like about both law school and legal practice. Weigh what parts you think could be a temporary problem (don't like your section, haven't found a practice area you're passionate about, law students seem to be D-bags to you, etc.), and weigh what you think is a lasting problem within the profession and your place in it. Once you've taken stock of both your personal motivations in pursuing a law degree and where you sit now after your experiences, decide whether you could do something more fulfilling. If you did something prior, maybe you should go back to it. If you've always had a passion for something non-law related, maybe reengage that career path. Or maybe you still haven't found what you want to do for the foreseeable future, in which case you have to decide whether there is any possibility of a law degree being a part of a future you could see yourself in.

Once you've considered all of that, and once you've weighed this from every angle you can, step boldly into making a decision. That could mean continuing on with your education, or it could be leaving this entire career path in the rearview. But either way, you will have given it sufficient attention and introspection to decide where you should go from here, wherever that may be.

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Re: Should I drop out?

Post by Nony » Thu Apr 11, 2019 5:26 pm

Adding (because we cross posted): you could just have a crappy class. It happens (one of the years I overlapped with at my school was widely considered terrible). I know LSL makes a lot out of atmosphere/culture doesn’t matter, go for the money/outcomes, but cultures do differ and this might not be a good one for you. Depending where you are, I suspect a PD office will be VERY different.

Anon1

Re: Should I drop out?

Post by Anon1 » Thu Apr 11, 2019 5:36 pm

Thanks everyone, there's a lot of great advice here already. I think you're all right that I need to see how I feel after my summer job (which is actually legal aid, not public defender work, but should be close enough in terms of culture). Hopefully that'll rekindle the passion that got me interested in this career in the first place and it'll obviously give me a chance to be in a different environment for a while. If I'm not feeling any better about things after that I think the advice to try to take a year away is excellent, it never even occurred to me that I could do that. I definitely plan on finishing the semester strong, even if I never wind up coming back I want it to be on my terms and know I did the best I could while I was here.

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Re: Should I drop out?

Post by lolwat » Fri Apr 12, 2019 3:46 pm

I think you've got a great thing going right now (top 2% at MVP can get you at least a shot at practically anything you'd probably want to do in the law). I agree, see how you feel after your summer job. And beyond that, if you're interested in the work but not the people, maybe just start getting out there instead of staying around your law school. I didn't particularly like most of the people in my law school class. Something that helped me personally was just not trying to be social. I mostly just did my own stuff. (Although, as with any large group of people, I did manage to find some people I got along with, but that was actually more in 2L and 3L once I was out of my assigned section/classes.) There's plenty you can do by yourself, in your community, or maybe if you like your summer job you can see if you can find some school-year internship/job that lets you put in like 15-20 hours a week or something like that.

Also I find that once I was out in practice, people often are genuinely more collegial especially in non-biglaw settings. I think that'd be true in a legal aid or public defender setting.

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Re: Should I drop out?

Post by quiver » Fri Apr 12, 2019 8:23 pm

lolwat wrote:
Fri Apr 12, 2019 3:46 pm
I agree, see how you feel after your summer job. And beyond that, if you're interested in the work but not the people, maybe just start getting out there instead of staying around your law school. I didn't particularly like most of the people in my law school class. Something that helped me personally was just not trying to be social. I mostly just did my own stuff. (Although, as with any large group of people, I did manage to find some people I got along with, but that was actually more in 2L and 3L once I was out of my assigned section/classes.) There's plenty you can do by yourself, in your community, or maybe if you like your summer job you can see if you can find some school-year internship/job that lets you put in like 15-20 hours a week or something like that.
Completely agree with this. I mostly kept to myself in law school, but that was completely different from practice. It's pretty easy, IME, to just hunker down for 3 school years and then be a normal person in a normal work setting after that.

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Re: Should I drop out?

Post by HelloYesThisIsDog » Sat Apr 13, 2019 1:20 am

I was pretty miserable and not sure I wanted to be a lawyer at all at the end of 1L. Once I started my summer job I was so relieved because I loved it. Give it until the summer and see how that goes, like everyone is saying. 1L is particularly heinous and unpleasant for many people.

Keep checking in if you need a sanity check/want to vent about the many terrible law school personalities you're encountering!

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Re: Should I drop out?

Post by CS1775 » Sat Apr 13, 2019 10:30 am

Anon1 wrote:
Thu Apr 11, 2019 5:36 pm
Thanks everyone, there's a lot of great advice here already. I think you're all right that I need to see how I feel after my summer job (which is actually legal aid, not public defender work, but should be close enough in terms of culture). Hopefully that'll rekindle the passion that got me interested in this career in the first place and it'll obviously give me a chance to be in a different environment for a while. If I'm not feeling any better about things after that I think the advice to try to take a year away is excellent, it never even occurred to me that I could do that. I definitely plan on finishing the semester strong, even if I never wind up coming back I want it to be on my terms and know I did the best I could while I was here.
PD offices, at least the two I'm familiar with, tend to have an interestingly unique culture. Swearing is permissible and I don't mean the odd "crap" or "damn." Lunchtime conversations revolve around drug use, prostitution, indecent exposure, rape (including kids), people getting beat up, and when there's a murder case, people want to see the pictures. It's sort of a dark gallows humor. PDs have meetings and generally talk to each other about case theories on a regular basis - the fact that I sat in and listened to strategy conversations at my current PD internship was a bump during my interview for my upcoming 2L summer student practitioner position.

If you want to know if you can be a PD, meet PDs. Legal aid is similar but I would say less "interesting."

Your grades indicate that you can succeed in law school. If the artificial sense of collegiality bothers you, find people who share your points of view, or at least find people who you can vent to. 1L year is a rather enclosed environment - your 1L year friends are the people you sit next to during orientation, assuming you stick with them. 2L year affords you more liberty to be with people of your same mind because you should be picking the classes you want now and designing your own experience.

I agree with everyone else: stick out this semester and finish strong and do your summer internship. If you can enjoy your summer work, you know that you want to be (some manner) of lawyer. If not, then its probably time to pack it up before 2L year begins and you take on more debt.

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Re: Should I drop out?

Post by beep » Sun Apr 14, 2019 12:21 pm

I hated 75% of people in my LS class. The trick was finding the other assholes who felt the same way. Drastically improved the experience.

Agree with others who have covered the actual substantive points

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Re: Should I drop out?

Post by lawman85 » Tue Apr 16, 2019 7:47 pm

There have to be some people in your class year that you end up liking. I had no issue with all but a handful of people in my LS class, but a lot weren't the sort of people I'd hang around with outside of school. I found a great group of friends (including people outside of LS) during 1L spring semester and had a fucking blast during 2L and 3L.

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Re: Should I drop out?

Post by CS1775 » Thu May 16, 2019 9:01 pm

So how's OP doing?

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