Thomas E. Woods, Jr., is the New York Times bestselling author of 11 books, including The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History and Meltdown (on the financial crisis.) A senior fellow of the Ludwig von Mises Institute, Woods has appeared on MSNBC, CNBC, FOX News, FOX Business, C-SPAN, Bloomberg Television, and hundreds of radio programs... (Read More)
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].”
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.