Let me preface this post with the following: we have an amazing group of students attending Solo Practice University ranging from 3Ls to twenty year veteran professionals. It is also not our practice to share conversations outside our walls. However, within one of our favorite groups, The Student Lounge, I posed the following question:
“If you had to do it all over again, would you go to law school?’
With permission I’m sharing the answer from new SPU student, James Blount Griffin, and I hope you appreciate the sentiment.
“I went to law school later in life and got out during good times. My big-law job was not a good experience. My small-firm experience has been much better. I feel called to be a lawyer, so I would do it again, though anyone who thinks he is ready to go to law school should jump into a cold river as the snow melts and imagine being in it for a few months or years.
Don’t go to law school unless you are willing to play the most common end game: solo practice. If you are gutsy enough to play the end game of solo practice, you are probably savvy enough to navigate working for a firm, at least for a little while, but don’t wait for “your ship to come in.” You are going to have to build the ship from stem to stern.
If I had to do it again, a cheaper law school and a judicial clerkship would have been better training for practice. I should have gone to the local courthouses, introduced myself to the judges, clerks, and deputies, and sat in the courtrooms a hundred days to get a feel for the life of lawyers and various types of practice. The fact that I did not do so indicates I was less serious about learning my craft than I thought I was.
Lawyers can figure out if you are gutsy enough to practice on your own, and if you are not, they will exploit your fear of failure. A firm may want your credentials and 2000 hours a year, but the firm doesn’t really want you as a partner unless your presence makes the pie bigger for all. To make partner, you are going to have to prove to them that they cannot afford to watch you leave. The effort is probably better spent on a venture of your own design and control.
Law practice is more like chess than checkers. The end game is that you cannot depend on a law firm, many of which have less permanence than rock and roll bands, to develop your clients, skills, and business sense.”
I couldn’t have said it better myself, James, especially on the heels of this article discussing how temp work is becoming the new norm now that workers simply can’t find permanent employment.
If you had to do it all over again, would you go to law school? If you would, what would you do differently today?