July 30, 2006

CHESTER TRIES TO DECIDE WHETHER TO GO TO LAW SCHOOL: Much commentary ensues, including this item at the WSJ law blog.

My take: Now that a standard B.A. is worth about what a high school diploma used to be — an entry ticket, and no more — a law degree is probably the closest graduate analog to what a liberal arts B.A. used to be. It’s good for a lot of things besides law. But, like a liberal arts degree, it’s not for everyone. An M.B.A. does something similar, though perhaps a bit narrower, but does it in two years.

But be sure you scroll down to read the comments of Tucker Max, especially the part about student loan debt. I regularly see students who blithely take on a lot of debt in school, and are then surprised at how it limits their choices later. Student Loan debt isn’t always bad, but you should take it very seriously.

Finally, while I know some lawyers who are happy, most aren’t. It’s possible, of course, that they’re the kind of people who weren’t really happy before they became lawyers — not surprisingly, the field has an attraction to people who like to complain. But it’s also true that older lawyers seem to enjoy it more — and to have enjoyed it more when they were new at it — than today’s lawyers. I think the practice of law is substantially less enjoyable than it used to be, even if it’s sometimes more lucrative. That said, I actually liked practicing law when I worked for Dewey, Ballantine. But if I were still there today, I might not like it as much.