Wedding Woes

I don't think it's for you?

Dear Prudence,

I recently started my first year of part-time law school. I enrolled primarily because of how much money I hoped I could make as a lawyer. I’d been feeling rather aimless, a bit insecure regarding my job (I work as a contractor), and uncertain whether I’d ever make enough to do more than live hand-to-mouth in my very expensive city. I just started school, and I hate it. I hate that I’m putting between 40 and 60 hours per week into something I don’t love (on top of the 45-plus hours I put into my job). I hate that I’ve had to give up cooking, that I can’t see friends or family, and that I abandoned my writing group, yoga, and other hobbies. I hate that I’m not happy anymore. I’m numb and jittery, half asleep, or severely depressed. Do I hate the subject matter? Let me give you a proper lawyer’s answer: It depends. But do I love it? Do I want to spend the rest of my life reading hundred-page cases and trying to glean a rule from them? Things could get better. I know it’s a great opportunity and I should be grateful. However, in addition to the insane workload, most early-career lawyers actually don’t make much more (and some make much less) than I do, and I’m worried I’ll never learn to love it and will then be stuck in an unsatisfying career. At the end of the day, I miss my old life. I just want to be happy again. But is that enough of a reason to quit? Should I?

—Halfhearted Law Student

Re: I don't think it's for you?

  • ShesSoColdShesSoCold bend over and I'll show ya
    Moderator 5000 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its
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    If you only wanted to make money, you shouldn't have enrolled in the first place.

    There's more to happiness than money. And I'm not willing to sacrifice happiness for money anymore, personally.
    Image result for someecard betting someone half your shit youll love them forever
    mrsconn23short+sassycharlotte989875
  • There's a glut of lawyers right now for this exact reason: people going into it to make more money. It sounded like they had a great life other than not quite enough pay; I think they should quit and look into education to further the job they already have. 

    image
    MesmrEwe
  • If you enrolled thinking it would bring you more money and then you found out that lawyers don't make a lot of money then I think this isn't the greatest choice.

    But I think a better solution is to possibly talk to a career counselor to set some long term realistic goals. 
  • My advice would be finish the first semester and see how it goes. You’ve already paid for it you’re not getting a refund half way through. And then if it’s still this bad explore the whole world of ways to make more money without spending a fortune on school. 

    I wholeheartedly agree with this.  The LW might as well finish out the semester.  Maybe they will have a change of heart.  Though, probably not.  At the end of the semester, if the LW still feels this way, they need to drop out and nip this in the bud.  Becoming a lawyer is not for the feint of heart.  It's a lot of time and a lot of money.  And then what's the end goal?  A job the LW will hate for the next 30 years?  Dude/Dudette!  Don't yoke yourself to that kind of misery.

    I'm curious what kind of contractor they are.  Could he/she branch out and start their own business?  A GC is actually the first thing that pops into my head, but I realize there are other kinds.  If the LW is indeed a GC, omg, what are they even complaining about?  A GC can make BANK!!!  And even if times get slow, they are perfectly aligned to flip houses.

    My other curiosity question.  Why are they living in a HCOL city?  Would it be feasible for them to move to a much more affordable city?  I grew up in a HCOL area and moved to a MCOL city after college.  Words cannot even describe how much financially easier and less stressful (because of that) life became!

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    eileenrob
  • My advice would be finish the first semester and see how it goes. You’ve already paid for it you’re not getting a refund half way through. And then if it’s still this bad explore the whole world of ways to make more money without spending a fortune on school. 

    I wholeheartedly agree with this.  The LW might as well finish out the semester.  Maybe they will have a change of heart.  Though, probably not.  At the end of the semester, if the LW still feels this way, they need to drop out and nip this in the bud.  Becoming a lawyer is not for the feint of heart.  It's a lot of time and a lot of money.  And then what's the end goal?  A job the LW will hate for the next 30 years?  Dude/Dudette!  Don't yoke yourself to that kind of misery.

    I'm curious what kind of contractor they are.  Could he/she branch out and start their own business?  A GC is actually the first thing that pops into my head, but I realize there are other kinds.  If the LW is indeed a GC, omg, what are they even complaining about?  A GC can make BANK!!!  And even if times get slow, they are perfectly aligned to flip houses.

    My other curiosity question.  Why are they living in a HCOL city?  Would it be feasible for them to move to a much more affordable city?  I grew up in a HCOL area and moved to a MCOL city after college.  Words cannot even describe how much financially easier and less stressful (because of that) life became!

    I read it as contractor = temp employee, otherwise I would hope they recognize the huge money they could make as a GC.
    charlotte989875MyNameIsNot
  • Holy crap, did they talk to a single lawyer before deciding to go to law school? I work for lawyers and have coworkers in law school and they do it because they love it. That's it, the money isn't and shouldn't be a factor because there's a huge surplus of lawyers graduating and passing the bar every year and only a limited amount of jobs where you can make the big bucks. But the lawyers making $250k/year are the ones who get to the office at 5am and stay till midnight and take home work too. What a terrible reason to take out hundreds of thousands in loans (unless they're independently wealthy and don't need loans, but going by that letter I doubt it). Why not go to med school, doctors make lots of money, too.
    VarunaTTcharlotte989875eileenrobSTARMOON44
  • The semester is sunk costs at this point, so finish or not they’re out the money, so might as well finish, hopefully with decent grades (rather than now and failing/withdrawaling from everything), then figure out what to do. 

    But seriously did they not talk to a lawyer about 1) what lawyers actually do (read hundreds of pages of documents, write summaries, read more documents) or 2) what lawyers actually make (not much, initially depending on the type of law), or 3) what lives are like for lawyers who want to make a ton of money (working all the time)? I mean I was a pre-law advisor for a while and these are the first things I’d tell students...
    short+sassy
  • Ro041Ro041
    Sixth Anniversary 1000 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer
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    The two worst reasons to go to law school are:
    1. ZOMG I love to argue!
    2.  I want to make money!

    Anyone who goes to law school should genuinely be interested in jurisprudence.  That being said, practicing law is nothing like law school (H and I are both lawyers).  That further being said, the amount of time you work is not commensurate with how much money you make as a lawyer.  Have you ever talked to a public defender?  They work non-stop for a pittance.  I work for the feds and make more than state attorneys and the expectation is that I work 40 hours per week.

    I disagree with @InLoveInQueens re: the lawyers who make over $250k work from 5am til midnight.  H is on track to make close to that this year and he bills around 60 hours per week.  He leaves home at 8:30 and is home by 6 mot days.  We make dinner together and he goes from a long run before bed.  His weekends are usually free though he will answer emails and work on stuff if we are just watching tv.  It really is how efficient you are at billing and what the culture of your firm is that dictates how many hours you work per day.  

    think @VarunaTT is another lawyer on these boards so maybe she can give her experience too.

    charlotte989875VarunaTT
  • @Ro041, just a paralegal, but a paralegal b/c I decided against law school after researching number of attorneys in the fiels, median/average incomes of attorneys vs. law school debt, work/life balance, etc.  I don't think I would've hated being an attorney at all; I do think I would've been the kind of attorney I don't like working for.

    So much depends on which sort of area you want to practice, where/who you want to practice as, where/who you want to practice for.  I've worked for boutique firms, one that was a single practicioner, and turn-and-burn firms.  I haven't worked for a governmental entity, but I've interacted with their offices many times.  They're all different characters.  It's been interesting over the years, to see friends and colleagues who went through school and their takes on it and baby attorneys grown into partners and their thoughts on the field.
    Ro041downtondivamrsconn23
  • short+sassyshort+sassy
    5000 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its First Answer
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    edited October 4
    Casadena said:
    My advice would be finish the first semester and see how it goes. You’ve already paid for it you’re not getting a refund half way through. And then if it’s still this bad explore the whole world of ways to make more money without spending a fortune on school. 

    I wholeheartedly agree with this.  The LW might as well finish out the semester.  Maybe they will have a change of heart.  Though, probably not.  At the end of the semester, if the LW still feels this way, they need to drop out and nip this in the bud.  Becoming a lawyer is not for the feint of heart.  It's a lot of time and a lot of money.  And then what's the end goal?  A job the LW will hate for the next 30 years?  Dude/Dudette!  Don't yoke yourself to that kind of misery.

    I'm curious what kind of contractor they are.  Could he/she branch out and start their own business?  A GC is actually the first thing that pops into my head, but I realize there are other kinds.  If the LW is indeed a GC, omg, what are they even complaining about?  A GC can make BANK!!!  And even if times get slow, they are perfectly aligned to flip houses.

    My other curiosity question.  Why are they living in a HCOL city?  Would it be feasible for them to move to a much more affordable city?  I grew up in a HCOL area and moved to a MCOL city after college.  Words cannot even describe how much financially easier and less stressful (because of that) life became!

    I read it as contractor = temp employee, otherwise I would hope they recognize the huge money they could make as a GC.


    That was my second thought, but long-term temp.  I did that.  I worked for a defense contractor on Navy projects.  I was Project Support/HR.  Most people I supported were various IT roles.  But there were other types of jobs on our projects also.  I never described my role as being a "contractor", because that described my employer.  However, doesn't mean anything to describe the work I did.  Though, perhaps that's just me.

    At any rate, I want the real answer to what this person does for a living, lol.  Because I'd bet there are a myriad of options they could take to compliment what they already know/do, into something better paying.

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  • It sounds like LW didn't put a whole lot of thought into the decision to go to law school. It is a huge time and financial commitment, and while the payoff is pretty big for many (both in terms of money and job satisfaction), for many, it is not. Aside from those who go into law and don't get that payoff, I know (or know of) quite a few people who got their law degree but couldn't get jobs as attorneys once they were done with school. That's a lot of time and money to spend to not get a job you want. 

    I agree with @VarunaTT (I'm a paralegal too, btw!) that LW should get out of this now before more bills/loans pile up and more time is spend on something that is making them this miserable. If the problem was mainly some anxiety or feeling overwhelmed by the workload, I would say give it a little more time, but I think this is way beyond that.
    image
    VarunaTT
  • edited October 4
    Ro041 said:
    The two worst reasons to go to law school are:
    1. ZOMG I love to argue!
    2.  I want to make money!

    Anyone who goes to law school should genuinely be interested in jurisprudence.  That being said, practicing law is nothing like law school (H and I are both lawyers).  That further being said, the amount of time you work is not commensurate with how much money you make as a lawyer.  Have you ever talked to a public defender?  They work non-stop for a pittance.  I work for the feds and make more than state attorneys and the expectation is that I work 40 hours per week.

    I disagree with @InLoveInQueens re: the lawyers who make over $250k work from 5am til midnight.  H is on track to make close to that this year and he bills around 60 hours per week.  He leaves home at 8:30 and is home by 6 mot days.  We make dinner together and he goes from a long run before bed.  His weekends are usually free though he will answer emails and work on stuff if we are just watching tv.  It really is how efficient you are at billing and what the culture of your firm is that dictates how many hours you work per day.  

    think @VarunaTT is another lawyer on these boards so maybe she can give her experience too.

    I probably should have qualified that with anecdotal and the ones I know personally. I have only personally seen that from either partners who don't really do much of the billable work at all (I don't think you can bill golfing and networking 😄) or ones who do all the work and either work for huge NYC firms or their own practices who really can't leave work at work at all. 60 billable hours a week isn't anything to sneeze at, but it sounds like your H has some pretty great time management.

    My coworkers in law school have made me 100% decide to not go that route, they're working (either at work or at school work) from 8am to 10pm (and that's just actual work, not counting commute). They work so hard, it's impressive.

    This thread made me realize just how many paralegals we have here!
    VarunaTT
  • MesmrEweMesmrEwe
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    edited October 5
    And THIS is why one must always answer the question "But do you want to BE a Lawyer (used car salesman, teacher, preacher, secretary, etc.)???" especially before the investment is made.  AND the cost of the investment!  LW needs to finish out the semester, cut the losses and put that energy into finding a different career path..  Someone working that many hours in a profession should be far more comfortable income wise.
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    short+sassySTARMOON44
  • MesmrEwe said:
    And THIS is why one must always answer the question "But do you want to BE a Lawyer (used car salesman, teacher, preacher, secretary, etc.)???" especially before the investment is made.  AND the cost of the investment!  LW needs to finish out the semester, cut the losses and put that energy into finding a different career path..  Someone working that many hours in a profession should be far more comfortable income wise.

    My major was business, because it seemed like a nice wide and general choice, lol.  It was a good choice, but I wish I'd been more selective in the jobs I took early in my career.  And set myself up for a more lucrative path than what I ended up with.

    But it's all good.  Once I figured out what I actually wanted to do for a living (real estate investing)...in my late 30's, lol...things started finally falling into place.  Just wish I'd started much sooner.

    I once heard a comedienne joke that adults ask kids what they want to be when they grow up...because they are looking for ideas!

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  • VarunaTTVarunaTT
    Tenth Anniversary 10000 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer
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    edited October 5
    especially when you consider that even a reasonable law school tuition in student loans means you're paying out 500-1000/mo for the majority of your career. 
    This was actually one of the reasons I had in the "con" column. I had figured out based on median income for attorneys in my state, the "reasonable" tuition in my state, and the income taxation bracket and realized the additional I would be able to bring back home and also have added expenses and time of just being an attorney that I really didn't consider worth it.
    MesmrEwedowntondivaMyNameIsNot
  • LondonLisaLondonLisa London, UK
    2500 Comments Sixth Anniversary 500 Love Its 5 Answers
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    There is a triangle to professional development: Work-life balance, salary, not many years of training/experience. In 99% of jobs you can only pick 2. 

    I dont think it is inherently wrong to get a professional degree to accelerate income, but it is naive to think part time law school would be anything but a major time suck. And even if she does get a position in a firm, she is not going to be able to do book club/ yoga etc- they work 80-100+ hours a week. My barrister/solicitor mates are ALWAYS in the office during their first 10 years. It is usually only with 10+ years of experience that you can start to pull back to working ONLY 60 hours a week. 

    But instead of just 'making money' she should be thinking about professional jobs she enjoys doing and focusing on that. Contracting can be very annoying, but she didn't say what industry. Even a postgraduate/ professional certificate could have done more for less effort. Such as a professional certificate (from a good university!) in project management, or even specialising in IT etc could earn a lot more money. 

    There are very few jobs that earn a lot of money in high-end cities that don't require working 60-80 hours a week. I am grossly underpaid for my education level, but I work in international development, and have a pretty good work/life balance. My friends who have insanely high salaries are consultants/ bankers/ traders who regularly work 6 days a week/ 80+ hours a week. 

    She should work backwards, and find what salary bump would help her live a more balanced life (ie: a 15% bump would mean x, y and z). 

    Or else, simply move to a more affordable city. Yes it is hard to start over, but if a goal is something like homeownership, she has a much better likelihood of doing that in Cardiff or Manchester, than London. 
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