3 years after graduating from law school, my biggest regret about law school is...

The time it made me waste. I should have prefaced this wnewtoboard9906/07/12
Spot on. People don't think about the time investment (whicbodog06/07/12
This is a much better way of saying everything I was trying newtoboard9906/07/12
"if I could go back to that age, knowing what I know now" soothesayer906/07/12
The things we learn...too little...too late. Before law sqdllc10/10/12
You are right to point out the time investment with law schounemployedvol06/07/12
I tend to agree with this. The false dichotomy is thinking dupednontraditional06/07/12
Not true. Plenty of people built business empires out of notbaraban06/07/12
Agreed. Facebook (despite the turd of the IPO), Google, andwhatwhut06/07/12
Yep, baraban, you're right. Honestly, between living in a mdupednontraditional06/08/12
Oh, pumpkin, did I hurt your feelings? You just need to accebaraban06/08/12
But is everyone knowledgeable or diligent enough to be an envinsamoh10/09/12
This is true. Entrepreneurs are risk takers. Even among qdllc10/10/12
The opportunity costs are staggering, especially your prime digitalserf06/07/12
One of the biggest regrets of my law school career is the tibigsal06/07/12
I don't actually regret law school at all ... It was either denpaonna06/07/12
Showing up and sticking around the second time.unfrozenlawyer06/07/12
same here...gahhh...4th_registration06/07/12
unemployedvol, you raise an interesting point and one I thounewtoboard9906/07/12
Hindsight is always 20-20 and the grass is always greener onutgr06/07/12
Oh c'mon, everyone looks back on their 22 y/o self with someonehell06/07/12
Not really. Law school requires a three year investment obodog06/07/12
Yes, law school takes 3 years. But lets take an honest lookonehell06/08/12
I should have done more research into postbacs and grad progvespucius06/07/12
During the three years I "wasted" in law school, all my frieshitlawjedi06/07/12
after college, I got a crappy job and worked for a year. A fjohnsmith06/08/12
You should never regret the past...it justs wastes your prestingmu9906/08/12
This is good advice, but easier said than done. To look backnewtoboard9906/08/12
I don't think that is an inevitable aspect of human nature. tingmu9906/09/12
It's hard not to dwell on the past when your past is exactlyhomelesscrackheadesq06/10/12
The only thing I can say is that I believe you have to let gtingmu9906/12/12
I understand your point, but telling myself "I'm OK, you're homelesscrackheadesq06/12/12
Well, maybe you should tell yourself "it is what it is," andtingmu9906/12/12
.. not going to the worse school (NYLS) full ride. Student lawacs06/08/12
Three years out, the thing I regret most is that I did not grubbernecker06/09/12
There are plenty of things I would have done differently in justice_scalia06/09/12
Had I stayed in politics, I probably would have pissed someokeithd06/10/12
Valpraiso Law school would have been a nice choice.mordecai06/10/12
From a career standpoint, I no longer have regrets. From a pmississippilawyer06/10/12
newtoboard99, What do you do for work today? I'm glad soprofligateclarity06/12/12
In one of my earlier posts I agreed that the options for mosnewtoboard9906/12/12
That's why you need to separate work from life. Yeah I woulkw6713a10/14/12



newtoboard99 (Jun 7, 2012 - 7:14 am)

The time it made me waste.

I should have prefaced this whole thing by saying that my law school cost me next to nothing due to scholarship money and my own common sense (even at age 22, I wasn't stupid enough to take out $150K to go to some mediocre law school).

But now, after being out of law school for 3 years, I can honestly say that the time it made me waste bothers the hell outta me. I look at these young college juniors, seniors, and fresh grads and think "man, if I could go back to that age, knowing what I know now, I'd have soooo many options and soooo much time." Hindsight is truly 20/20, but it's human nature to think like this. Now, the funny thing is that a lot of these kids are going to make the same mistake.

I will also add this though: if I had been stupid enough to take on a mountain-size load of debt to go to law school, then that would trump the time concern and would most certainly be my biggest regret. I truly feel for those that are drowning in student debt.

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bodog (Jun 7, 2012 - 8:52 am)

Spot on. People don't think about the time investment (which might be an indicator of a problem from the outset - law was always about money).

Put it this way: we will all make vastly different amounts of money throughout our lifetimes and lead vastly different lifestyles. But death is the great equalizer. We are all here on this planet for 75-85 years and only a select portion of those years are your "prime" as they say in sports.

You can never recoup time past. It will always be on your resume, your online dating profile, your personality, and in your aging bones and blood. You can switch careers, remarry, remodel your house, etc...but you can't get in a time machine.

Many of us wasted our best years the moment we filled out those LS applications

And most of us double down on this bet. It's not like we instantly decide law school was a mistake. We keep plugging along - retaking bar exams that were failed, working meaningless shitlaw jobs or toiling away in doc review dungeons, doing CLEs, workshops, networking.

Trying to salvage a mistake can be worse than the original mistake.

One day you wake up and you realize that you're 35 years old, trapped in the body of someone who is 45, and you have nothing to show for it all.

You know the expression "it's never too late"? Yea...that's bullshit.

What person, when they are old and grey, would not trade $50,000 for just one more year of being 24 - autonomous, healthy and strong? A world that is wide open and a dick that stays hard all night...

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newtoboard99 (Jun 7, 2012 - 2:24 pm)

This is a much better way of saying everything I was trying to convey, nice job :)

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soothesayer9 (Jun 7, 2012 - 11:31 am)

"if I could go back to that age, knowing what I know now"

Hindsight...20/20. There is a reason why we don't have time machines.

If you could go back, you could buy Google stock, or Apple, or Facebook, or Myspace, etc. If you could go back, you wouldn't need to go back.

ie, if you had the tech to build a starship from a holodeck, you wouldnt need to.

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qdllc (Oct 10, 2012 - 1:04 pm)

The things we learn...too little...too late.

Before law school, I tried pursuing a career I knew (deep down) would never come to pass. I blame my thick headed determination to not quit when that would have been the smarter thing to do.

I will always regret the 10 lost years I could have spent on a more realistic goal.

Now it's 11 years since LS, and I'm still not getting ahead. I'm facing a layoff, and if needed, I'll work at a grocery store to have a paycheck. I realized just last week that could wind up working at the same grocery chain I took a job with over 20 years ago but thought I could do better than.

If that happens, I don't know how I'll wrap by head around the reality that I could have stayed with them for over 20 years and been farther ahead than all my efforts to forge a "better future" with education.

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unemployedvol (Jun 7, 2012 - 9:50 am)

You are right to point out the time investment with law school and all thigns that come with it. Having said that, wouldn't your other alternatives be filled with wasted time? So what if you got a great job right out of the gate, you would look back in a few years and think what time was wasted getting a job immediately. Your best years are wasted doing most everything. Few people are able to go through it and not waste those years, whether it is doing it through law school, doing it sitting around looking for a job or already doing the 9-5. It is all a waste unless you spend it doing something you love. How many can actually say that?

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dupednontraditional (Jun 7, 2012 - 10:39 am)

I tend to agree with this. The false dichotomy is thinking that "instead of wasting my time in that stupid job/degree/marriage," you instead had the equal chance of jetting around the world making hedge fund deals and having lunch in Paris twice a week, or something else. You just chose poorly, stupid, that's all (and now you deserve your fate, according to the Boomers).

Even in my "good" job with no debt prior to lol skool, I didn't have the cash reserves to do anything significant like "start a business" or do the other recommendations from the self-help books. I was "wasting time", yet there were no other clear alternatives.

Truth is, people need backing in order to achieve these lofty goals, and no one is a self-made man. Mitt Romney wasn't built in a day.

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baraban (Jun 7, 2012 - 10:43 am)

Not true. Plenty of people built business empires out of nothing. Just admit that you don't have the intelligence/ideas/drive to make it happen.

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whatwhut (Jun 7, 2012 - 10:49 am)

Agreed.
Facebook (despite the turd of the IPO), Google, and Amazon to name a few.

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dupednontraditional (Jun 8, 2012 - 2:51 pm)

Yep, baraban, you're right. Honestly, between living in a manhattan penthouse and inventing the next Facebook killer-app/food-processor combo, I'm amazed that you have the time to post on JDU.

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baraban (Jun 8, 2012 - 3:55 pm)

Oh, pumpkin, did I hurt your feelings? You just need to accept your mediocrity and move on, instead of lamenting on the message board about how "no one is a self-made man." Some people are self-made and most are not. You and I are not, but unlike you, I don't blame others or "lack of backing" for my failures.

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vinsamoh (Oct 9, 2012 - 9:16 pm)

But is everyone knowledgeable or diligent enough to be an entrepreneur? More people should be encouraged to do it and it should be pointed as an alternative to college, **but** it isn't everyone's cup of tea.

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qdllc (Oct 10, 2012 - 1:08 pm)

This is true.

Entrepreneurs are risk takers. Even among them, there are different calibers of risk takers. If you don't want to risk losing everything, you can't gain the world.

That said, it is much easier to be successful if someone is bankrolling your venture.

People who start with NOTHING and build great things often are immigrants who come from abject poverty. They are accustomed to working long days for peanuts and see what they can gain here in the USA as a miracle.

Most Americans will not work that hard for anything...something that has killed entrepreneurship in America.

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digitalserf (Jun 7, 2012 - 10:55 am)

The opportunity costs are staggering, especially your prime early 20s years. If it didn't pay off it is huge debacle. You will have to work 2x as hard to catch up and never reclaim those years.

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bigsal (Jun 7, 2012 - 11:03 am)

One of the biggest regrets of my law school career is the time that I lost.

Also, because of federal caps on student loans and the law school scam, Stafford loans were not an option for me to take premed coursework.

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denpaonna (Jun 7, 2012 - 12:30 pm)

I don't actually regret law school at all ... It was either law school or grad school for English lit, and there's no way I'd be making as much money with the lit degree, lol. I also am a person who loves school and would go forever if I could, so I really enjoyed law school. I met some of my current best friends, and I thought the experience was really fun. I dont have a crushing amount of debt, though, so that helps. I also LIKE being able to tell people that I'm an attorney ... Even though the importance factor is a facade it still works and people assume I'm important.

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unfrozenlawyer (Jun 7, 2012 - 1:44 pm)

Showing up and sticking around the second time.

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4th_registration (Jun 7, 2012 - 5:20 pm)

same here...gahhh...

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newtoboard99 (Jun 7, 2012 - 2:43 pm)

unemployedvol, you raise an interesting point and one I thought of in my head when I started this thread. I agree that, even several years ago (I'm talking pre-2008 financial crisis), the options for most students coming out of college weren't that great. In my honest opinion, and this is based on my own observations of people I knew in college and what I have seen since finishing undergrad, the only majors that seemed to really pay off with a real job (i.e., a decent starting salary and at least some benefits) were the following majors: accounting, computer science, finance, and pretty much all the different kinds of engineering degree. For the majority of all other majors, more school seemed inevitable, either because their undergrad majors were completely useless (e.g., liberal arts) and they finally realized it as seniors, and/or they bought into the law school scam and thought that was an easy way to both (1) achieve financial prosperity and (2) a prestigious career, and/or they bought into the notion that more school is always better (likely as a result of encouragement from their baby boomer parents) etc.

With respect to my particular situation back then, I went to a very "prestigious" undergrad and majored in a combination of economics and public policy. I didn't spend the time to look for a job because I was so set on law school. However, I am confident that I might (emphasis on the word "might") have been able to land a job coming right out of undergrad. It probably would have been a public sector job that paid $30K-$40K and might have had limited, if any, benefits. And I likely would have lost that job when the market crashed in '08. However, knowing what I know now, I'd rather have been in that position and there's many reasons for this: the work experience would look good on my resume, I might have been able to network and make some good contacts during that time which could have lead to "bigger and better things," I likely would have learned more and more about the glutted legal market and that likely would have persuaded me away from law school (and thus would prevent me from earning a degree that I will never use in my life). But this is all relative. The grass always does look greener on the other side. I'm sure if I had actually done all this, at many points I'd ponder "what could have been" if I had gone down the law school route. Again, it's basic human nature.

Time is truly an interesting concept. As others have mentioned above, time is finite and you can never ever get it back. If you lose money (say on a bad investment), you can, theoretically, earn some more and, while you may not be able to technically get back the lost money, earning more money can, in some ways, make you feel as though you've recouped your losses. That doesn't happen with time. And death is indeed the great equalizer.

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utgr (Jun 7, 2012 - 3:01 pm)

Hindsight is always 20-20 and the grass is always greener on the other side.

Most people go to law school because at that time it is the best option. LS is prestigious to the masses and it does kick the can down the road for 3 years. A lot of LS students are smart. Not all but a lot are even at second tier schools like BLS and St. Johns. 85%+ pass the bar the first time. All the others should not have been in law school in the first place. What other profession treats its new admits as badly the prestige-whorish law does? The person who graduates last in their med or dental school class is still a doctor making a pretty good living. In law school that person is trying to hide LS off their resume!

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onehell (Jun 7, 2012 - 3:07 pm)

Oh c'mon, everyone looks back on their 22 y/o self with some regret. And that is ALWAYS because you have so many options and so much time.

You tend to look back and think you didn't realize this plethora of choice that lay before you, and that if you had understood how many options you had, you would have made a better selection.

But if you're really honest with yourself, you will remember that in reality, even 22 y/o you knew he had lots of options and choice. For most youth, that is a paralyzing and fearsome fact of which they are acutely aware.

You KNEW you had lots of choices and you were trying very hard to pick the right one, which is the same thing you are doing now, albeit with an ever-decreasing number of choices and an ever-increasing amount of information upon which to base them.

You picked law school - and all other choices before and since - based on the information that was available to you at the time. If it's any consolation, you likely would look back now in a way similar to this no matter what choice of path you made. Law school is not unique in this respect.

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bodog (Jun 7, 2012 - 11:10 pm)

Not really.

Law school requires a three year investment of time and you spend a healthy chunk of that doing countless hours of worthless shit out of the classroom, like figuring out the rule against perpetuities.

Now, making mistakes in young adulthood is par for the course. It's another stage in the maturation process. But I know for a fact all my non-law school friends didn't dig up a pile of shit anywhere near as large as I did.

Granted some of them picked the wrong career or married the wrong woman or got a DUI, etc...but I can't think of any of them that wasted the amount of time and money that law school frequently demands.

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onehell (Jun 8, 2012 - 3:18 pm)

Yes, law school takes 3 years. But lets take an honest look at those three years.

There is one. test. per. class. per. year. If you don't want to read the cases, there are tons of canned outlines and whatnot. Law school is frickin' easy. There is PLENTY of time to party and live the young life, so I don't regret the time really.

And as to the money, the OP was saying that what he regrets most is the lost time. So I limit my discussion to the time only, not the money. I regret the money. I don't regret losing the years any more than I would have regretted anything else I could have done. It was easy, it was a desirable city, and it provided more intellectual stimulation and social approval than waiting tables would have.

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vespucius (Jun 7, 2012 - 5:11 pm)

I should have done more research into postbacs and grad programs. Should have taken gre at roughly same time i took the lsat and chosen accordingly.

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shitlawjedi (Jun 7, 2012 - 5:23 pm)

During the three years I "wasted" in law school, all my friends who were smart enough to get a basic four year accounting or engineering degree were out there getting started on adult life. (i.e. buying their first home, getting experience in their first jobs, marrying and starting families, starting up a 401(k) etc.) I am now earning less than most of them, with three lost years of productivity and minus many thousands of student loan dollars that are thankfully paid off, but which could have gone toward a retirement or making a down-payment on a home.

I didn't purchase my starter home until I was 32 years old and I still feel like I am well behind the financial curve of where someone should be at age 40.

Sadly, I will see the effect of this decision on the other end too when they are in a much better spot than me upon retirement.

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johnsmith (Jun 8, 2012 - 3:07 pm)

after college, I got a crappy job and worked for a year. A friend from college got a job at the same place. The pay was less than $30,000 a year. I thought, I can't do this the rest of my life and went to law school. Friend stayed at shitty job. She got promoted. She just bought a house on the water and I live in a one bedroom condo.

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tingmu99 (Jun 8, 2012 - 3:42 pm)

You should never regret the past...it justs wastes your present. Why do that since you can do nothing to change the past?

The best approach to life is to learn from the past, but don't dwell on it, plan for the future, but don't obsess about it, and live in the present! This is a major key to happiness in life.

The past (mistakes and all) teaches us how to be better people, as long as we are only open to its lessons.

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newtoboard99 (Jun 8, 2012 - 4:36 pm)

This is good advice, but easier said than done. To look back, to think "what if" and to regret are, unfortunately, a part of human nature. But there's also a benefit here: reflecting on the past can help us with our future decisions. But to just dwell on the past just for the sake of dwelling on the past does, as you mentioned, waste the present.

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tingmu99 (Jun 9, 2012 - 12:10 am)

I don't think that is an inevitable aspect of human nature. Because I don't do that. Think about the past to learn from it? Yes. Dwell on it or regret it? No.

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homelesscrackheadesq (Jun 10, 2012 - 6:56 pm)

It's hard not to dwell on the past when your past is exactly why you're so miserable in the present. Going to a mediocre law school ruined my life - permanently. It's been three years since I graduated, and I'm still only working part-time, haven't made one loan payment, and live with my parents. The best "advice" my school can give me is "go become a DEA agent" - as if it were that easy!!! So yeah, I dwell on the past. I think about it when I go to sleep and think about it when I wake up. I pretty much think about it 24 hours a day because everything I do necessarily reminds me of it. When I'm at the gym, I think about it, because I'm aware that I'm not at work like everyone else my age. I think about what a goddamn fool I was. Government agencies actually contacted me several times back in 2006 because I scored high on a civil service exam. I turned them all down because I wanted to be a lawyer and believed the crap my school sent me in the mail. I think about where I'd be today and how many doors would be open for me if only I had had half a brain. Getting a law degree slammed all those doors.

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tingmu99 (Jun 12, 2012 - 5:11 am)

The only thing I can say is that I believe you have to let go off all of that in order to be able to maximize your ability to succeed in the future. I think our mental outlook often does more to hold us back than any other factor. Internalize the lessons your past has to teach you, then move on. Things will get better with the right outlook.

Let me tell you a story. It's about a Buddhist monk who decided to visit heaven and hell (and somehow had the ability to do so). He first went to hell. Hell consisted of a bunch of people sitting around a round table. They looked miserable. They were emaciated and sullen. He was at first surprised that the were so thin, because there was ample food in front of them. But as a new individual joined the group at the table he was able to discern the cause. By the rules of hell, people had to eat the food with chopsticks. But every time anybody reached down to pick up the food in front of them, their chopsticks grew three-feet long and so they couldn't put the food in their mouths. Everybody but the new person had long since given up trying. What a miserable existence indeed. Being forced to stare at wonderful food that one could never eat!

After this the monk went to heaven. From afar he saw that heaven also consisted of a group of people sitting around a table full of food. But these individuals were healthy and happy. They were smiling and jovial. Curious about the reason, he quickly moved closer. He soon realized the rules of heaven were exactly the same as the rules of hell. Everybody had to use chopsticks to eat the food in front of them, and each chopstick grew three-feet long when one tried to grab the food in front of them. The difference with this group, though, is that when that happened, they would simply pick up food on the other side of the table and feed each other!

The moral of this story is that we can choose whether to live in heaven or hell depending on our outlook and reaction to life's events.

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homelesscrackheadesq (Jun 12, 2012 - 1:38 pm)

I understand your point, but telling myself "I'm OK, you're OK" only helps me for a few days before reality starts to sink in again.

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tingmu99 (Jun 12, 2012 - 4:31 pm)

Well, maybe you should tell yourself "it is what it is," and then devote all your energy to thinking about how to make it something different. If you're exerting too much energy thinking about how you got there, it'll take away much-needed energy to resolve the situation.

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awacs (Jun 8, 2012 - 4:30 pm)

.. not going to the worse school (NYLS) full ride. Student loans, ouch.

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rubbernecker (Jun 9, 2012 - 1:01 pm)

Three years out, the thing I regret most is that I did not go sooner. (For fainting scambloggers out there, this is not intended to disagree with your message.) I went to start a second career and I was already a married father, so I never really fit in with the young people at law school. I met so many great young people, smart and accomplished and clearly ready to become kick-ass lawyers, but they were at a different stage of life than I was. I was not some kind of nontrad outcast, but I would have been much closer friends with these awesome men and women if I had been 10 years younger. Also, tuition would have been significantly cheaper.

On the flip side, I agree with onehell that law school was easy, and I fortunately it coincided with the years my daughter was a baby. I came out as one of the lucky ones -- a job at a highly regarded local firm with great pay, decent hours, and truly interesting and challenging litigation work -- but any full-time job is going to take more time than law school. I certainly do not regret getting home at 2:00 every afternoon so I could sing to my baby girl in the rocking chair at nap time.

As many have said in this thread, your entire life is one giant opportunity cost, because everything in the universe is powerless against time. Regrets about life choices are inevitable, particularly among law school graduates, but if you make the best of wherever you are in life, you are never really wasting time.

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justice_scalia (Jun 9, 2012 - 7:44 pm)

There are plenty of things I would have done differently in my career, but if I could go back, I'd still go to law school. It's worked out pretty well for me.

The way I see it, since you can't go back, don't excoriate the 22 year old version of you for his or her decisions; that person, just like you today, was working with imperfect information. Rather, you have to try and devine what the 40 year old, or 50 year old version of you would want you to do now. Put in those terms, it becomes very clear that there are never any easy answers.

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keithd (Jun 10, 2012 - 7:07 pm)

Had I stayed in politics, I probably would have pissed someone off for some stupid reason, gotten fired, and had to go to grad school anyway. So aside from being able to go back to age 18 and decide to become a MedicalDoctor, I should have gone to law school at a 4th tier, barely accredited school, that would give anyone with an LSAT over 160 a full ride, and which was located in the middle of nowhere, where the cost of living was cheap as shit. Then I could have come out of school with maybe 50k in student loan debt (UG plus law school cost of living plus bar loan), put it on IBR, and moved to a major doc review city, where I'd still be doing doc review, only with perfect credit and with debt that would actually be repaid in 20 years.

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mordecai (Jun 10, 2012 - 7:44 pm)

Valpraiso Law school would have been a nice choice.

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mississippilawyer (Jun 10, 2012 - 9:39 pm)

From a career standpoint, I no longer have regrets. From a personal standpoint, I have many.

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profligateclarity (Jun 12, 2012 - 6:29 am)

newtoboard99,
What do you do for work today?

I'm glad some posters took the time to note that most people would have done little better with those 3 years. Think of it like 1 crappy job you didn't have.
That's no big deal.

It is not the 3 years, but the entire package. The opportunities forgone before and after law school, as well. The 2 years prior, the LSAT prep, the few years after law school. It's more like 7 years, as a package. Now, that adds up to something real in your lifetime career span. So, if law didn't work out for you, that may be a tragic 7 years that is harder to recover from. But, 3 years, anyone can recover from.

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newtoboard99 (Jun 12, 2012 - 10:36 am)

In one of my earlier posts I agreed that the options for most people fresh out of undergrad are not that great, but I would now rather have gotten a shitty job right out of college w/ meager pay and little or no benefits instead of the JD. The reasons are numerous. And one of them is the fact that I could avoid the negative perceptions many (perhaps most) non-legal employers have of job applicants with JDs. I have a serious issue w/ having the title or label of a "lawyer" b/c there's a lot of bad that comes with that if you are trying to break into the non-legal world of employment.

3 years is a lot of time. Even if you worked a shitty job for those 3 years, having 3 years of actual, substantive work experience is better than what a lot of people have on their resumes. So, if the "entire package" includes only the 3 years in law school, I still feel that it's quite a bit of time, especially for those who went to law school right after undergrad b/c, in theory, you have more time and patience when you're in your 20's to establish some sort of a career.

For me, the "entire package" was as follows:

1 summer studying for the LSAT before my senior year started
3 years of law school
1 year working in a judicial clerkship
1 year trying to find work after the clerkship ended

Total time: approx. 5 years

I don't want to provide too many details about what I'm doing now for fear of outing myself, but let's just say I've been able to rely upon family connections to gain ground in the non-legal world and I'm also completing coursework part-time to get a non-legal grad degree. But this is all stuff I could have done right after undergrad.

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kw6713a (Oct 14, 2012 - 10:25 pm)

That's why you need to separate work from life. Yeah I would probably undo law school. But I spent most of the 3 years with the woman I would eventually marry. I also spent a lot of time with my family. Those are the aspects of those three years that I try to focus on.

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