How to Feed a Lawyer (and Other Irreverent Observations from the Legal Underground)

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Maryland Law Student

I am a 3rd year student at Maryland Law, and am taking a version of the "anti-establishment" route. I am not in any of the law journals, nor have I even tried to interview with BigLaw. There are two reasons.

1) I want to enjoy my job. I went to lawschool for a challenging career after working for three years in another profession. I enjoy law school, and am looking forward to working as a lawyer. I want to interact with clients, file motions, and argue them before the court. I want the challenge of jury trials and the on your feet thinking to win them. The idea of being in an office 80 hours a week doing document review and deposition prep work is about as appealing as 4 root canals at one time. Which leads me to...

2) I have managed to have a life at lawschool. Although I am not in the top 10% of my class, I have still managed to learn as much as my fellow students. And through this, I have had time to see my family, be with friends, and to keep up on other interests. This has made lawschool enjoyable, and I will look back on these years fondly.

I laugh at people who went to lawschool to make a lot of money and end up at a large firm, and are then miserable. There are much easier ways to make money that require a lot less student loans.

Much of my work has been done in clinics, and other out of law school experiences. I have interned with a judge, the government, and a disability lawfirm. All of these have been great experiences, and have made me a better lawyer and have been valuable to my education. A good mix between classroom and practical education is an excellent way to go through lawschool. And much more fun than "bluebooking" an 80 page law review article that no one will ever read.

There are civilized ways to become a lawyer. Killing yourself may open certain doors, but you must look at what you sacrifice to get there.


I recently solicited Mike and Evan for advice on this very topic and both gave helpful answers. I'm already doing the Law Journal thing, but for next year, I decided not to do moot court. (I will continue Law Journal -- otherwise I would have to meet the senior writing requirement -- yuck). Instead, I am going to do the maximum amount of clinical work the law school allows and, if possible, I am going to attend some CLEs. So, I guess when I graduate, I will have a good mix.

"I laugh at people who went to lawschool to make a lot of money and end up at a large firm, and are then miserable. There are much easier ways to make money that require a lot less student loans."

I agree. If I simply wanted to make a lot of money, I sure and hell would not be going to law school. For me, the legal profession is about helping others. My old law school had a practice interview program where law students could choose to interview with a legal employer. My interviewer asked my why I am in law school. I said "I view the legal profession as a helping profession and I want to help people." Afterwards, he told me that was a bad answer. I was not being "practical" enough. I decided I would continue to give that answer. I will not work for an employer that is not client-focused.


I had a similar "employer" experience. Our school has a mentor program, and although I'm a lowly 1L, I signed up. I was assigned a partner at a firm, who had the idea that "mentor" meant "read your resume over once". Now, I've been out of school for 10 years. I have a great deal of (I'd thought!) relevant industry experience... and I'm published. Not once, but dozens of times. His response, "none of that is legal experience. Take it off" I asked how, if I removed all this, I was to differentiate myself from other law students. He said, "make law review and be in the top 5% of your class". Great advice.

I didn't chose to go to law school for the money either. Hell, if I wanted money, I'd be getting my MBA at another area school where starting MBA salaries make starting law salaries look like chump change. I chose law school to work in a field directly related to my interests. Yes, I'm trying to do some typical resume fodder (editing for a journal, etc.) but if an employer can't see the value of my other experience, they are definitely not the employer for me.


As far as the non-establishment route goes, I think I'm taking it. As a matter of fact, I don't even know what "BigLaw" is. '

I'm clerking with my father in the Rule Six program in Okanogan, WA, first year, and working as a public defender for the Colville Confederated Tribes. They don't require that you have graduated from law school, just that you pass their bar exam.

The down side? Reading about law is just not NEARLY as fun as practicing law. Its hard to make time for studying when you could be researching your client's case.

Speaking of which, what am I doing here? The internet... its distracting.


Should you try out for law review?

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