Friday, May 23, 2008

Anyone taking the LSAT or Bar Exam soon?

I've been inspired to write on my experiences with taking both of those, though I haven't quite the energy to do it right this minute. I probably will soon, though. I have a few pieces of advice to offer, for what they are worth. Anyone about to take either? I do recall hearing Apostate is about to take the LSAT and I know a few people in law school right now. Oh such a joy it is to take tests...


Anisa said...

well i was seriously thinking about going to law school...until i saw your previous post.

so i was going to take the lsat...

Anisa said...

by the way do you regret going to law school? would you have done things differently looking back?

if you did not have the scholarships would you have not gone?

DBB said...

Anisa - why did you change your mind? You can make a very good middle-class living as a lawyer. You can do even better than that if you are willing to work ridiculous hours and put up with a lot of crap.

I don't regret going to law school - I'm glad I went, I'm really happy to be a lawyer now. I did not see a future in my preivous profession.

I was planning on going to law school even before I knew I would be able to get a scholarship - though I think it worked out much better with it. I don't think I'd be particularly happy right now with $100K in debt from school. I probably would have waited to have kids, perhaps waited too long. As it was, I had no debt and so just as I graduated, my first child was born and then three months ago, my second. Since my children make me very happy, I can say that I have no regrets as to how things worked out.

(I also may have delayed kids if I had not changed professions and gone to law school - my job situation was precarious).

I'll write more about the LSAT and the Bar Exam later. The LSAT is not that hard - the main problem with it is the time limit.

Anisa said...

To answer your question:

My top reasons why I think I am better off NOT to go to law school:

1. I have a family (I'm the mother, married, with three young kids). So if I go to law school, it would have to be about three years from now -- which means I would be the age 40 yrs by the time I graduate...which leads me to the next reason:

2. I'll be too old! I'll be competing with good lookin' smart 25 year olds!

3. I would likely get great marks in law school (I'm confident, anyways) but there is a dearth of decent scholarsips at canadian universities (obviously I live in canada and prefer to stay)

4. With no scholarships, I'll end up having a mountain load of debt. Not a good starting point at age 40.

Interestingly enough, young men and women sacrifice their twenties and thirties for education and work; often they will delay having children or at least limit the number of children. Which makes sense. However, personally, I could not imagine starting a family n my mid-thirties or early forties -- I know some mothers can, but I find it incredibly exhausting (and yes, daycare is an option, but an expensive one plus I'm not a big fan of daycare anyways).

I did things a bit differently -- I completed my degree and married and had kids. But at this point, I struggle to see the usefullness of obtaining a law degree when my employment opportunities will be a lot more limited (not to mention the debt that I will incur during my studies).

Your thoughts?

DBB said...

First, age should not be an obstacle. In many ways, it can be a boon - especially if you already have your kids out of the early years. Right now, having young children really limits my options for the sort of job I could take. If my children were older, as yours will be, I'd have much more flexibility. (And also no day care costs).

I was in my 30s before I started law school. I've only been out a few years now and I'm approaching 40. I was among the older students in my class, though there were still plenty of students far older than me.

Don't think of yourself as competing with 25 year olds - you really don't need to - you are in a different place than they are. You also have a lot of life experience, and I think that can matter a lot. The law isn't just about the law - it is about dealing with people in real life situations - the more real life situations you've dealt with in your own life, the better.

And for me, even when I was 25, I sure wasn't good lookin'! And you can be smart at any age.

I don't know about scholarships in Canada - here in the US, lower tier schools in particular are easy to get great scholarships at if you score well on the LSAT - many schools will just about pay for your school if you do well enough. Sure, there is less prestige, but if you aren't looking to work at a huge, prestigious firm, it really doesn't matter. Why pay all that extra money for the same law license as you get if you go to a lower tier school?

I worked in school in my prior career and went to class at night. While I didn't have to pay for school, even if I had to, I had a good paying job that would have greatly reduced the debt I would have incurred. You are probably in a better financial situation than most 25 year olds are - you have had time to save and invest. Many 25 year olds start off with debt from undergrad.

If you can find a way to do it cheaply or get a scholarship, the debt would not be so bad. Ultimately, it comes down to whether you think you would enjoy doing it for a living.

I am much happier now that I'm a lawyer, even making less money than I did before. I feel like I have a lot more options for myself for the future as well, including opening up my own solo practice if it comes to that. I like the idea of being my own boss. That's something you can't do in many professions.

Anisa said...

thanks for your feedback
i'm still thinking about it...