In the spirit of Lent, a time of penitence and reflection, it's not too difficult to summon up a regret or two about law school.
With the benefit of hindsight, many things we were lacking in our law school experiences have become crystal clear. We know, it's all a part of a magical "Chicken Soup for the Soul"-type journey, but who really lives a life bereft of regret?
Reflecting on our own pasts, we offer up these ten of our crowdsourced regrets about going to law school:
1. 'I Should Have Gone to _____ School First/Instead'
Lawyers and JDs didn't emerge from the womb with the singular quest to graduate from law school. We have myriad loves: art, philosophy, business, fashion, and those extra-legal interests didn't just shrivel up and die whenever we began our 1L years.
It isn't uncommon for law school graduates to regret not pursuing business school or a scholarly track before locking their wheels into the law school track. It's not too late to go back for many young attorneys, but school fatigue and mounting law school debt typically weigh against more education.
2. 'I Should Have Taken Time Off to Work'
An increasing number of law school graduates are kicking themselves for not working in the time between undergraduate and law school. With many new JDs finding out the job market is a cruel mistress (like in Wisconsin), many regret graduating with no (or very little) full-time paid experience on their resumes.
Yes, almost every law student does internships during law school, and some are even paid (or should be, anyway). But they're no substitute for solid years of full-time work experience -- which we may have had if we took time to really work before law school.
3. 'I Should Have Learned What Lawyers Actually Do'
Many law school graduates were a bit confused about what lawyers did on a daily basis prior to diving into law school. "A JD is a golden ticket to any job on the market," was their mantra. And many law school hopefuls ignored their doubts and forged ahead.
Although we've playfully mused about the things one can do with a J.D. other than lawyering, many of the most lucrative jobs are only available to JDs who actually want to practice law.
4. 'I Should Have Gone to a Cheaper Law School'
Since many students could not afford law school without financial aid of some sort (see: no job experience), many blindly dealt with the federal government. We took out hundreds of thousands in loans to invest in our future legal careers.
One problem. The job market is still terrible. Since graduates aren't earning the six-figure salaries many law schools promised they would, it isn't hard to regret choosing a cheaper option. Or even a law school in a city with a lower cost-of-living. NYC and SF are great, but JDs gotta pay their loans, too.
5. 'I Should Have Done a Semester Abroad'
Like undergraduates, law students often regret not taking advantage of their schools' semester abroad programs to see the world -- on someone else's dime. Especially since, for many of us, that big international post-bar vacation never happened.
Still dreaming about that semester that could have been in Brussels? Well snap out of it, and stay tuned for Part II of "10 Regrets About Going to Law School."
- Determine if Law School Is Not the Right Move (U.S. News and World Reports)
- No JD? No Problem, Say 5 States (That You Might Not Know About) (FindLaw's Greedy Associates)
- One Degree Just Not Enough? Why Not Add An MBA to Your JD (FindLaw's In House)
- Indie Law Schools Facing Debt Rating Issues; Legal Jobs Decline (FindLaw's Greedy Associates)