Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Should a 1L having second thoughts about law school withdraw?

Yes, according to a reader poll conducted by Above the Law.  The question was raised by an anonymous 23 year old 1L reader at an unidentified "1st tier" school who is having doubts about law school for financial reasons (i.e. too much anticipated debt and too few jobs).  Almost 80% of the readers polled (you'll have to log-in to read the poll results) as of this writing suggest that the student in question drop out.

Personally, I think it takes a lot of courage for any law student to voluntarily withdraw.  Too many students enroll, and then stick with it despite misgivings, for all the wrong reasons (i.e. the expectations of their parents, their peers, not knowing what else to do with their lives, etc.) .  I think this is a big reason why there are so many unhappy lawyers. 

If a student is having doubts about law school, the easiest thing to do is simply ride out the three years and hope to figure it out later.  In my experience it's unusual, especially among the youngest students, to have the kind of faith in oneself that it takes to say "I'm still not sure what I want to do with my life but this probably isn't it."  You can always re-enroll if you later decide you still want a law degree.  The few students of mine who decided to withdraw are quite memorable to me because their decision to drop out defied convention and showed real courage.

In response to those who say that students who withdraw from law school because of debt/job concerns never wanted it bad enough to begin with, I disagree.  You can have all the passion in the world yet still be pragmatic and realistic about your ability to make a living at it.  

My two cents.



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