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Dear Future Lawyers

As thousands of soon-to-be law students prepare for the LSATs tomorrow, here’s something they should consider: a list of the top 8 bad reasons for going to law school. Here’s one of the finest:

(7) I want to help poor people/save mountaintops from being blown up in West Virginia/stop human right violations in Africa/make a difference in this world.

Cynical law students tend to dismiss their classmates’ interest in doing anything but trying to make money by pointing out how these noble ideals soon crumble in the face of the realities of On Campus Interviewing. But that’s the point: It turns out there’s very little money in law for doing anything other than representing the interests of the rich and powerful. That doesn’t mean people who claimed to want to do something else were disingenuous: more likely they were merely naïve. If you want to go to law school to help poor people, please keep in mind that in America in 2011 nobody who matters gives a rat’s [patootie] about the interests of poor people, so unless you’re independently wealthy or extremely lucky you will not be able to help poor people by going to law school.

Check out the full list here.

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  • Kenny

    Timely post, Mr. Mead.

    Everyone should to read the full list of bad reasons for going to law school.

    It is good, even though it does not explicitly state strong enough the main reason for not becoming a lawyer — namely their tremendous over supply.

  • Jim.

    This is one reason I didn’t go into law. Too much emphasis has been placed on the lawyer-as-agent aspect of their role in society. You are expected to faithfully serve your employer to the exclusion of all other virtue or even conscience.

    This is wrong. This is one of those cases to apply CS Lewis’ observation that following any one virtue to the exclusion of all others will turn us into devils.

    Lawyers of decades ago were known to say to their clients, “What you’re doing is wrong. For heaven’s sake, knock it off!” And their profession (not to mention the law) was respected enough that often that had some good effect.

    Nowadays, the reaction to “What you’re doing is wrong” is “What can we do to hide it?” or “What sort of donations can we make to make sure it’s legal?” There too many lawyers out there (yes, cynical types) who will accept a fat paycheck in return for being this type of minion.

    Again, a little fear of hellfire, and weekly reminders of what God expects humans to be, would go a long, long way to cleaning up the system.

    It could even rehabilitate the reputation of the legal profession as well.

  • Luke Lea

    That’s rather harsh. Especially wanting “to make a positive difference in the world, ” which just happened to be the motto of one of the two prep schools here in Chattanooga. I thought it was a good motto, certainly better than “to serve is to rule.” But then I was a public school boy all the way.

    Post Script: Recently that local prep school built a fancy new entrance gate on which they inscribed the new school motto: “The business of life is business.” Egad! The founder of the school — a man from New England if I am not mistaken (or maybe it was Virginia) — would be rolling in his grave if he knew.

  • Stuart Wilder

    I have practiced for 32 years, and except for a stint as an assistant district attorney (which itself was a satisfying way of helping society) I have always spent not inconsiderable time (full time as a public defender, and the rest of the time through court appointments) helping less fortunate people and worthy organizations navigate the system. If you are not a greedy [jerk], you can make time to do some feel good things while making your living in more conventional ways. That being said, the number of people going to law school today is ridculous.

  • Seth

    This list is rather silly and should not be taken seriously. It leaves no possible reason to be pro-law-school. And the “bad” reasons to go can be applied equally to any other profession. Even worse prospects than law: astronomy, fine art, any liberal art, psychology, architecture, education, journalism, drama. Law students fair better than all of them. So why does everyone pick on law?

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