Last year, I took umbrage at another blogger's advice to avoid, at all costs, becoming a lawyer. However, in conclusion, I wrote:
A law degree is not necessarily a ticket to great wealth. It's not a free pass into the upper class. It's something that lets you do a job. If it's a job you want to do, it's a good thing. If your heart really lies someone else, it's a burden and it sucks. Make your own choice.Don't just take it from me. Take it from Kristen Wolf, who rolled up tens of thousands of dollars of law school debt, only to discover that she didn't want to be a lawyer:
A B+ student at B[oston] U, she thought she could expect a starting salary of around $85,000 if she went into private practice—which is, she says, what BU and other such law schools listed as the average for their graduates on their admission materials. But, as detailed in an earlier ABAJournal.com post, such averages can be comprised of stratospheric starting salaries paid to a lucky few stellar students at the top of their class—for first-years at top-paying firms in major cities, annual pay can now exceed $160,000—and much, much lower salaries paid to the rank-and-file of ordinary law graduates.Wolf, who is on a "one-woman mission to talk people out of law school," notes the financial realities:
It affects my life in every way. And the jobs that you think are going to be there won’t necessarily be there at all. Most people I know that are practicing attorneys don’t make the kind of money they think lawyers make. They’re making $40,000 a year, not $160,000.Fact is, most lawyers never make the kind of money that non-lawyers imagine that they do. As I read somewhere else (I really wish I knew where - honest!), most laypersons think it's like LA Law, but reality is closer to the early days of The Practice. Which is not to say that some lawyers don't become fabulously wealthy. But they're the exceptions, not the rule.
So, I'll reiterate what I said last year - if you don't actually want to practice law once you're aware of what it's really like, don't go to law school. It's money poorly spent and grief you don't need.