Don’t Be a Lawyer? Will I Be Encouraging My Kids to Go to Law School?

Have you ever seen My Crazy Ex-Girlfriend on the CW? Pretty funny stuff.

The show centers around a Harvard-educated lawyer who, on the verge of making partner, leaves her top-shoe New York law firm to move back to her small hometown to pursue (or stalk, depending on your perspective) her first love from summer camp.

The impetus for such a drastic life change? A butter spread commercial.

Did I mention she also suffers from severe mental illness, including depression, anxiety, and hallucinations?

Okay, that part is seriously not funny, but what is funny are the show’s scorching song parodies mocking everything from the serious like mental illness (okay, still not that funny) to the not so serious like UTIs and one-night stands.

As you might imagine, this 43 year-old yoga pants wearing, car pool driving, snotty kid nose wiping mom can’t relate to the songs.

Except for one.

This last week’s episode featured what might be the most accurate summation of why being a lawyer can suck, really, really suck.

A cautionary tale for pre-law majors, all in the style of Bobby Brown’s Every Little Step I Take, do yourself a favor and check out “Don’t Be a Lawyer.”

Crammed full of lawyer jokes, the song features such zingers as “the job is inherently crappy, that’s why you’ve never met a lawyer who’s happy” or “there’s so many other professions that don’t turn you into Jeff Sessions.”

And the one that hit way too close to home for this one-time big firm corporate lawyer…

“[D]id you hope one day that you’d find a way to spend four years workin’ on a pharmaceutical company’s merger with another pharmaceutical company?”

Though for me, it was an apartment real estate investment trust merger sucking years out of my 20s.

Nope, not what I envisioned for myself when I was telling my second grade teacher I wanted to be a lawyer when I grew up. Spoiler alert. My career did get better, much better, after I paid my dues in BigLaw.

As funny (and deeply tragic) as that song is, it got me thinking.

Would I encourage my kids to go to law school?

Let’s eliminate who should not go to law school.

The soon-to-be college grad who has no clue what she wants to do.

Remember when your kids were little and would complain they were bored and didn’t know what to do? You would tell them to go clean their room, mow the lawn, walk the dog, or do some other soul crushing/time sucking chore.

That’s what law school and being a lawyer is to someone who doesn’t know what they want to do. Because I can tell you from experience, they aren’t going to like law school or being a lawyer anymore than they liked cleaning their room.

Okay, so what if your kid has always wanted to be a lawyer. I’m talking about a kid who has an affirmative desire to be a lawyer, not a kid who argues about everything (let’s be honest, that kid is just annoying and needs to accept what he gets and not throw a fit).

Should your want-to-be Perry Mason go to law school?

The answer to that question is simple. Return on investment.

Law school ain’t cheap. According to U.S. News & World Report, one year of law school at a public in-state law school averages $27,864. At a private law school? Be ready to pay around $47,112.

Times three, because law school is three years. Plus books, room & board, etc.

The average law school debt for a graduate is $112,776.

That’s a lot of dough.

I could go on and on about how to calculate a return on your law school investment. But that’s where you would stop reading (heck, even my eyes would start to skim proof reading it).

Let’s cut the math and make it simple.

How many years are you going to have to spend at a soul-crushing, life-consuming, taking years off of your life, job in order to pay off what was spent on your law school education before you move on to a legal job you really enjoy?

And here’s the kicker, those six figure jobs that everyone assumes every lawyer has? The job that will help you pay off your law school debt quickly (or at least in under a decade)? They are few and far between, reserved for only those that graduate from the top (and coincidently most expensive) law schools.

Luckily for me, the answer was not many and I am now doing work I really enjoy.

So back to my original question, am I going to encourage my kids to go to law school?

Fortunately it’s a moot point with Daughters 1, 3, and 4. Daughter 1 wants to be a paleontologist, Daughter 3 wants to be a park ranger, and Daughter 4 wants to be a princess (but still undecided as to whether she wants to be actual royalty or a cast member at Disney World).

So that leaves Daughter 2, the one and only offspring of two lawyers who has expressed an interest in being a lawyer.

What am I going to tell her?

“Honey, whatever you want, Daddy and I will pay for it.”

Kidding.

Fortunately for her, she will grow up with a front row seat to what being a lawyer is actually like. The good (money, respect, and from time to time, a chance to really help someone), the bad (long hours, stress), and the ugly (no shocker, there’s a lot of yelling, name calling, and arguing in the legal profession).

If after seeing all that, she still wants to be a lawyer, and she can get into a top but reasonably affordable school, then I will encourage her all of the way.

And vault her to favorite child status for growing up to be just like mommy.

Copyright © 2018 by Siobhán Fitzpatrick Kratovil. All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

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