I forwarded WSO to a friend looking to switch industries and decided to search its consensus on the legal profession. Even with the naysayers carrying the day, there is still too much positivity. I would know, I left a career with upward mobility, entree to the M7, skill building, networking, and strong undergraduate credentials for a top 30 law school. No one I've met with anything "going on" career wise after undergraduate days would still choose to pursue a JD (this includes Yale, Harvard, and Stanford with the exception of a handful of litigators, see below). The only ones very happy with the decision in retrospect had a bogus undergraduate degree (BA in humanities from satellite non-flagship state U), a menial job, and preexisting debt such that a Hail Mary for corporate law had to pan out for solvency.
For anybody at any stage of life considering law school, please feel free to ask any question and expect strong pushback if you are considering the plunge. My most important advice is as follows:
- Only go if you are certain you want to be a litigator and have spent several months shadowing a litigator (do not work as a paralegal, this will pigeon hole your resume). If this is done, remain skeptical and understand what it took for the litigator to achieve his or her position in the industry and the opportunity cost it entailed. Also understand that what litigators at big law firms do is nothing like its portrayal in the media and is nothing like what small firms do (actually go to court).
- Only go to a T13 for at least half tuition off or a T50 in your hometown for free. Any more debt than this and you've lost 3 years of law school plus 4-6 years of poverty post-grad minimum. With the pandemic and structural changes, the bottom half of the T13 is still a big gamble.
- Do not begin law school past age 26. You do not want to start your career in your 30s and drain whatever saving you may have. Building a nest egg is much more difficult with the JD path.
- Do not count on more than a handful of years in big law. Expect a major pay cut and change in practice area.