Tell me about Law School/being a law-talking guy

So I’m thinking about applying to law school to become a lawyer.
My background -
31 years old
MBA, undergrad in Engineering
About 7 years work experience mostly in technology and managment consulting
Looking to stay East Coast

My motivation:
-Money (I wish I had a loftier professional goal…but in the end it’s really about money)
-I think I would be good at it
-I want a job that does not require lots of number crunching
-I tend to be adverserial by nature which is not the greatest trait to have as a consultant
-I’m at least as smart as any lawyer I’ve met so I definitely CAN be a lawyer

Basically, I am interested in any thoughts that current law students, lawyers or people who were lawyers have on the subject.
-employment outlook
-career paths
-things you like
-things you hate
-whatever come to mind

Having gone to law school, I can tell you it’s VERY difficult, especially first year. And it is VERY expensive. I graduated in 1997 and I’m still paying it off. Although I like doing what I’m doing, I kind of wish I hadn’t gone. And a lot of friends that I went with now wish the same thing. Lawyers are a special breed and there is a reason for all of the lawyer jokes. Do you have specific questions?

I only lasted a semester before I ran screaming out of there. I got 2 B’s and a C, which was not bad considering the amount of time I invested in it but I just could not see doing it for another 3 1/2 years. Contracts and Torts were okay, but Modern Property Law did me in. It is the most tedious stuff I’ve ever had the misfortune to read (aside from the Wheel of Time books), and literally could not stay awake while reading the text book. Of course, I worked all day and went to school at night so I was tired already. I don’t recommend this route if you can avoid it.

Here’s what I remember about school:

I did more reading in one night than I did in my entire undergrad career.

A flair for will come in handy but it won’t carry you. You have to know your shit. For instance, if you don’t know the difference between a fee simple absolute and a fee simple subject to a condition subsequent, no amount of will mask this fact.

It was very expensive.

Since the law is so fluid and since it varies so widely from state to state, you don’t study laws, which is what I throught we’d be doing. Instead you read a LOT of case studies and the arguments each side made. What the judge ultimately decided is pretty much beside the point.

Briefs are meant to be just that. Learn to be concise.

It will help you immensely if you know how to type. In my day you could either hand write or type your exam. And I can type a hell of a lot faster than I can write.

Everyone in class was as smart or, in most cases, smarter than I was. I hated that.

Torts gave me an ulcer because I always agreed with the dissenting judge.

That’s all! Good luck to you!

Well, he said he has an undergrad in engineering, and an MBA. At 31, I would br suprised if he’s still paying THOSE off. I know I’ll still be paying off my engineering undergrad degree at 31, assuming I only make the minimum payments.

That is to say, I wouldn’t be suprised.

Things I like: I enjoy the work

Things I dislike: I don’t like the thought of working the hours that I’ll have to work to make the money that I want but eh, with a poli sci degree and a healthy dose of greed you can’t be choosy

Schools: I wanted to go to a Tier 1 school b/c I heard it was easier for jobs so I went to one. I don’t regret it-I’m at a very decent school (Top 25) but not like a Harvard or anything. The people aren’t that competitive. Almost everyone gets some sort of job-most people seem to get decent to very good jobs (everyone has a different definition).

Lifestyle: I have a great lifestyle. First, I live in the boonies (which I complain about incessantly but I have to admit it decreases my costs) which means pretty much everything is cheap. My school is ugly on the outside but compared to my undergrad (McGill University in Montreal), I feel like I’m living in the lap of luxury. Certainly it is very technologically up-to-date, spacious and the library is supposedly in the top 5 or 6 in the country which makes my life easy in a lot of ways. I have some really good friends that I will keep for life although I don’t have much in common with most of my classmates-but the friends I do have ease the loneliness of constant studying. I feel like my professors and the University support me-I know some people who don’t feel that way and I understand where they are coming from but mostly I feel like I was babied and cossetted throughout through lawschool whereas McGill couldn’t have given two hoots about me or making my life easier. Kinda funny when you think about the fact that with the average age of law students being a bit higher we would be mollycoddled less than undergrad but hey, I’m not complaining. I soak up their goodwill like a sponge. I study a lot and sometimes I freak out about it and exams and the fact that this program + the area I live in hampers my love life, but then I call my father or head over to my school shrink and they mollycoddle me through that as well. I love the work and I’m good at what I do so I’m doing really well in school (top 25%). I don’t know-I feel pretty relaxed these days but I’m a 3L so maybe it reflects that more than 1L craziness. So in summary

Work: sometimes dull, oftentimes fascinating, very time-consuming
Life: could be worse

I sort of wandered into lawschool whimsically (had nothing better to do, my father told me to go to an “appropriate grad program” or he would throw me out of the house) for lack of direction or purpose in life but a desire to make lots and lots of money and it turned out great. I don’t know about that lots and lots of money stuff anymore, though. I mean, I’m kinda lazy-I’ve really resented studying this hard for the past couple of years but I liquidated several assets to pay for school so I wanted a good return on my investment.

Golf Claps

The legal profession is very crowded and competitive. There are waay to many lawyers. Stay away, make it easier for the rest of us to earn a living!

Actually, with your background you could probably practice patent law. There aren’t too many patent lawyers and they generally do quite well.

My advice on law school is the first year is the most important. A significant portion of your legal career can be determined by your grades in your first year of law school. Studying very hard in your first year of law school can be quite productive.

No offense, but I would not go into lawschool with an attitude that “you’re at least as smart as any lawyer you met” or with the thought that an “adversarial attitude” will help you. To pass lawschool exams and do well you need to spend lots of time waffling about either side of the issue-except that you have to be really succint about it all so you can get through the fact pattern (or as I like to call it, Story Time) within the alloted time period. Also, it doesn’t matter how smart you are-it doesn’t necessarily mean you will be a good lawyer or more accurately, good at passing lawschool exams. I know people who are way, way smarter than I am-but I am better at taking lawschool exams. I know someone I consider a complete twit-someone who is very anti-intellectual and this person is at the top of the class. If you met said individual you would probably write this person off as having no intelligence whatsoever-but hey, this person is AMAZING at lawschool exams and adept with legal writing. It’s really much better to withold judgments about lawyers & intelligence and who is and isn’t smart in school-I mean everyone is admitted because they have potential according to the admissions comittee but I’ve definitely seen people write me off b/c I’m kinda laid-back (or even funnier, write-off the twit I mentioned) to then be stymied by the fact that this or that person who comes off as head-in-the-clouds could possibly be pulling in As.

If its money you want go get yourself admitted to the patent bar. As an engineer you can sit for the patent bar and if you pass, you can then work as a patent agent for a law firm that prosecutes patents or for a company. No need to go to law school and you will make good money. You also get to argue with patent examiners, which, if you like arguing, will give you endless enjoyment as there is a never ending supply of bureacratic nonsense to argue about. Once you’ve learned about patents (have sufficient experience) try to get work with/as a venture capitalist, touting your MBA, engineering, patent experience.

As an aside, check out the article one “White Space Patenting” in Intellectual Property Today. It describes how patent portfolio strategies can be set up.

If its money you are after and given your background, law school is a step sideways.

cj, patent attorney

Actually I am fortunate enough to be free and clear of loans. My folks took care of my undergrad and a big chunk of my MBA, although I actually did the work/evening school thing and paid as much of it off as I could (which was a lot). Anyhow, I digress.
anu-la1979 - I don’t mean to imply that I’m smarter than every lawyer I’ve met. Just that I feel that based on the lawyers I’ve known, I think I have the intelligence and ability.

Could you give me a little more detail about what law exams are like? What kinds of skills are required?
cj finn- Yeah…I kind of figure it would be kind of a lateral move. But the law is something that has always appealed to me (at least I think it does). Plus it’s more of a concrete profession than “consulting”. Besides, I alrady work the hours…mind as well make the salary.

A couple of concerns I have:
-Want to make sure it’s what I really want to do
-Not getting a decent law job when I graduate
-Huge debt

I’ve taken different types of exams since 1L (group, public policy/undergraddy poli sci type exams, projects) but all my first year exams fell into the same pattern. Completely closed book fact pattern exams (one exception was Civ Pro where we got to have the Federal Rules). Basically they teach you caselaw all semester and how to analyze the legal issues, you read study guides to memorize the black letter law and then they lob a multiple page “fact pattern” (basically a story containing a number of legal issues) and you have to pick out the legal issues, apply the black letter law and then analyze according to what you learned in class. The difficult part is that the fact pattern is seemingly endless, stuffed to the gills with legal issues and you are expected to do a thorough but succint analysis of as many as you can get through. That and you have to memorize so much stuff. The memorization didn’t really bother me-I found the hardest part is knowing how much analysis to give to each legal issue so that you don’t get bogged down on just one, being extremely succint yet thoughtful under pressure etc…