Dear Mr. Schaeffer:
I have a very simple request. Can you point me towards the cheapest accredited law school in the U.S.? If that same school is of the correspondence or on-line variety, all the better. I’m 45 and went through a nasty divorce a decade ago and I’m still broke and my children hate me. I’m considering the law not as a corrupt racket but as a corrupt racket that will allow me to get back on my feet. I think I can do it. I already know a lot from ten years ago when I ran out of money and had to represent myself in my divorce and figured out how to make my then-wife’s attorney turn circles by filing silly motions and absurd, though perfectly legal, discovery requests. Of course, I lost anyway. But now I’m thinking: if I can’t beat them, why not join them? And if there’s a way to join them by paying a small but reasonable amount to a fly-by-night law school that would give me a degree without a lot of work, I’d sure be appreciative. I’m also hoping that once I’m out, you can direct me to some sort of lawyer job that’s easy but still pays a six-figure salary. Why should everyone but me get all the breaks?
Thanks in advance for any help you can provide!
Signed, Feeling Bitter in Boston
Dear Feeling Bitter:
Your letter is a perfect illustration of our natural human tendency to want whatever it is we can’t have. In your case, you want to be a lawyer. But you’re probably better suited to setting up fry sets at Ponderosa or, perhaps, robbing convenience stores. Is my answer condescending? It isn’t meant to be. Consider the other half of the equation. While you dream of being a lawyer, actual lawyers are lying awake each night thinking about how great it would be to work as grill chefs at Ponderosa, flipping the ribeyes and winking at the cashiers and persuading their set men not to rob convenience stores. You’ve been thinking all this time that lawyers are better than you, but we’re all pretty much the same.
There is one difference between you and the typical lawyer, however: despite our similarities, we can’t all be grill chefs. You strike me more of a set man. Now that I think about it, that’s probably why you’re feeling bitter. While a grill chef has prestige and a large amount of freedom to walk up and down the line, the set man must stand over the steaming fry vat and risk burning his forearms every time he retrieves the baked potatoes from the oven. As you might have guessed, I’m speaking from experience. As a faithful employee of a St. Louis Bonanza during high school, I worked my way up from dishwasher to set man to the very pinnacle of success: that’s right, grill chef. It’s that experience that gives me the know-how to precisely analyze your problem. The thing that was invariably holding the set men back, other than their bad haircuts, was an ability to concentrate. I’m pretty sure that’s what you’re lacking.
What does it mean for you? Learn to concentrate and get your hair cut and the job of grill chef can be yours. While it’s not quite the same as being a lawyer, you’re certain to find it more appealing than a life of crime. And I don’t think you’d like robbing convenience stores either.
Your friend, Evan Schaeffer
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Author's Note: The question in this post is derived from a similar question I received from the author of Views from the Waterline. The question was left for me in the form of a comment to this post: "The Fulfillment of a Dream: I'm Mentioned in a Legal Disclaimer."