Do Not Go to Law School — Here’s Why

Tucker Max gives six reasons (n.b.: some bad language). I’ll add a seventh: if you want to study constitutional law in law school, you would be happier studying economics under Paul Krugman.

A few samples from Tucker Max (the text that follows is his):

1. “I like arguing and everyone says I’m good at it.”

…If you like arguing for the intellectual challenges it can present, that’s an understandable and reasonable position. Everyone likes a healthy, intelligent debate right? Well, understand that being a lawyer has almost nothing to do with arguing in the conventional sense, and very few lawyers ever engage in anything resembling “arguments” in their commonly understood form. You aren’t going to be sitting around a fine mahogany desk sipping scotch with your colleagues discussing the finer points of the First Amendment; you’re going to be crammed in a lifeless cubicle forced to crank out last-minute memos about the tax implications for a non-profit organization trying to lease office space to a for-profit organization (if this gets your juices flowing, maybe the law is for you after all).

You won’t even be having fun discussions in law school. In law school, the people who want to “argue” a lot are called “gunners” and are reviled by everyone, even the professors. Make no mistake about it: Law school is not a bastion of intellectual discourse. It is a [expletive] TRADE SCHOOL. You are all there to be trained to think and act exactly the same way as everyone else in the profession, so you can then be a drone in the legal system. No one is interested in your opinion. The only one of those that matters is the one expressed, with a capital “O”, by the judge(s) in whatever case you are currently reading.

2. “I want to be like Jack McCoy from Law & Order [or insert your favorite legal TV show character].”

The actual job of being a lawyer is NOTHING AT ALL like what you see on TV.

It is possibly less like the real thing than any other profession depicted on television. Every doctor I’ve ever talked to scoffs at shows like ER and House, but they all say that at least the diagnoses are connected to the physical symptoms we see and are treated with the proper kinds of drugs. In legal dramas, the exact opposite is the case. Don’t think so? The next time you get a DUI (if you’re going to law school to be like Jack McCoy this WILL happen), represent yourself and try to give a speech while questioning the arresting officer. You won’t make it longer than 30 seconds before you’re held in contempt and locked up for wasting everyone’s time. Is that a little harsh? Maybe. Welcome to the grown-up world.

There is NO lawyer/law procedural that even remotely shows what it’s like to be a lawyer. You know why? Because being a lawyer is not only soul-crushing, it’s REALLY BORING, and that doesn’t make for good TV….

4. “I want to change the world/help homeless people/rescue stray kittens/do something noble.”

…If you go to law school with just some vague notion of public service and no sense of real, directed purpose, you WILL regret your decision. My first day in law school, the entire class was gathered in a lecture hall and they asked everyone who wanted to be in public service to raise their hand. At least 100 people did. Do you know how many ended up in a public service job three years later? Three of them. The other 97+ didn’t stop wanting to make the world a better place, they just didn’t know what it actually MEANS to help poor people for $30,000 a year when they raised their hands three years earlier. They hadn’t tested their moral resolve in the crucible of suffocating debt. A $140,000/year job at Skadden Arps is a hard thing to ignore when you’re staring down the barrel of a $150,000+ debt burden and $1,700+ monthly loan payments that start real quick after graduation.

If you want to cultivate a life full of bitterness and resentment a good way to do it is go to law school thinking you’re going to be a crusader for change, then end up having to become the very opposite — a corporate lawyer drone — to pay off your law school debt. This happens to pretty much everyone in law school. If you want to change the world, that’s awesome — go do it. Don’t go to law school, having a law degree doesn’t help you.

Read the whole thing.

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  • Pastor Ko-Rect

    Litigation is far removed from natural justice. Politically incorrect parties would be better off spending their time and money in a casino rather than a court. In terms of choosing a profession, everyone should take a look at an eternally lasting degree in theology.

  • TJ

    When I was in college everyone I knew was pressuring me to go to law school because I loved to debate (as if law has anything to do with logic). I never warmed up to the idea, mainly because the thought of spending all day studying tedious, lifeless legal code seemed like a waste of my life, but also because of the massive debt incurred. The final nail on the coffin was when I asked two law students why they got out of the racket and they gave me the unvarnished reality, which contradicts every single description you get from the average person who entices you to be a lawyer. That decision is definitely among my list of “wise life choices.”

  • Andre

    I wish I had caught wind of these posts prior to signing the dotted line on my law school enrollment form and my FAFSA.

  • Aaron

    After earning an undergraduate and a graduate degree in philosophy, I went to law school in order to provide myself with a means of making a living. I then practiced law for many years before finally giving it up to become a legal writer, a well-paying job that enables me to work from home on my own schedule. I think the author of this piece gives quite an accurate view of the grim experience of becoming a lawyer and the even more grim experience of practicing law. All the lawyers with whom I used to practice tell me I’m a lucky S.O.B. for having managed to escape the profession. My own feeling on the matter is that going to law school and becoming a lawyer is one of those things that I’m glad I did, but I wouldn’t want to do it again, and I certainly wouldn’t recommend it to anyone else.

  • Travis Province

    I finished up my master’s degree in theology last May. The job prospects for me look about as good as those who are graduating with law degrees – that is to say, not good at all. Of course, I’m glad I earned a degree in theology, as God used my time in school to lead me to the Orthodox Church and I’ll apply for PhD programs soon, but a theology degree just isn’t very marketable.

  • vox

    The laws of each state vary, but there are a handful of states that allow “reading the law” to become a lawyer; more akin to the old apprentice way, like our founders. Some of these states actually require some law school before reading the law. Has anyone reading done this? Please post your experience if you have.

    Here’s some general info from Wikipedia:

  • Pastor Ko-Rect

    Thanks for the link. Even if you learn on your own without law school, every state, except Arizona, requires a blessing by the legal monopoly before you can represent another in court. The monopoly promotes tough jail sentences for those who do not get this blessing (biased exam). When you go into court to fight for yourself, you are considered a “fool” because you did not hire one of the monopoly’s approved servants. This leaves no room for pro-constitutionalists and very little room for fair judgement in the court system. I cannot see how any true believer in Jesus can possibly stomach this government sanctioned “legal” torture. This is not a good profession.

  • Pastor Ko-Rect

    Congratulations on the completion of a valuable course of study. My point was that the study of litigation and ‘the law” is not a study of fairness or morality. It is a study of how to use the wishes of various judges (influenced by politicians) to justify winning a debate. You are a more valuable citizen in a republic as a theologian than you would be as a lawyer. It is a sad state of affairs when the only way to earn an living is to serve the beast.

  • Jonathan Jaech

    There are many reasons to be critical of what the legal profession and law school have become, and this article hits on a few of them. But even in a stateless society, people would hire legal advocates to assist them with dispute resolution (although licenses to practice law would not be required); there is nothing inherently evil or statist about advocacy work. Quite the contrary. It is still possible to find at least relatively satisfying work as a lawyer if one is not too greedy and is a bit lucky — and has a moral core. Just don’t take one of those big firm jobs without knowing what you’re in for (and have a soul that is resistant to crushing).

    For a lot of people the investment in a law degree is not worth it, or creates a huge debt with a lot of pressure to work as a high-paid corporate lawyer, so be careful. Law school is not a necessity to qualify for a law license in many or even most states (for example, in California see If you were born to be an advocate or legal counselor, you might consider an alternative route. At least until libertarian ideas prevail and compulsory occupational licensing is discarded as the anti-competitive, statist relic that it is.

  • Ryan William

    Interesting discussion. For many days I am reading the statements by many people “Not to go for law schools”. I don’t know why they are saying this. Is there any reason behind their statement. Please guide if yes.
    However, my cousin have the law degree from and he also got a good job and high income. But the point is that why people say “not to go to law schools”?Interesting discussion. For many days I am reading the statements by many people “Not to go for law schools”. I don’t know why they are saying this. Is there any reason behind their statement. Please guide if yes.
    However, my cousin have the law degree from and he also got a good job and high income. But the point is that why people say “not to go to law schools”?