Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Want to be a lawyer? DON'T do it for the money.

There. I said it again. People read about the $160,000 salaries that entry-level attorneys at the largest firms in the largest cities are earning and think, "This is the job for me!"

Please, please, please don't go to law school if money is your only goal. There are better ways to make a lot of money. You should either have a passion for law or for something related to law or because you want to be in business or some field where you think a law background might help. And read this story first if you don't believe me. Remember, the coin you read about is only available to the top grads of the top law schools at the top firms in the top cities. There are probably more entry-level lawyers making $30,000-$50,000 than $160,000, and they are saddled with debt up to their ears.

Disclosure: I've been on all sides of this argument, so I know about what I speak. I've been a small firm associate making close to market pay, a small firm associate making next to nothing, a government lawyer (you KNOW what that pays), a BigLaw associate making market and a boutique firm associate making market. I like what I do. Can I see myself doing other things? Yes. That is one reason why I write. And maybe someday I will do something else. But I have loved my work more than not the last 14 or so years, I've paid off my debt, and I have transferable skills that will work in a business now to boot.
Don't say you weren't warned.


Mike Hosey said...

I'd say that you shouldn't pursue any career that takes scholastic and financial prep unless its what you really want to do. Otherwise all that money and prep is a waste of time that could be spent honing other skills.

Don't let any career fool you because of the potential money. If you love what you do, sacrifice for it, and remain committed to it, you will make a comfortable living. You might not be rich, but you'll do o.k.

Unless you're really good at what you do, or have a skill that few people have, more than likely you're pay is going to be much less thatn 160,000 regardless of the career or the sexy fantasies presented for any particular career by the fictional media.

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