April 03, 2007

Theory and Practice

by PG

Staying In and Dropping Out and Worth a Post? and Maybe Not has collected more comments over a longer period of time than almost anything else on De Novo. The latest comes from "S," who asks, "Can someone give me some idea as to whether or not hating law school reflects realistically on whether or not you would hate the practice of law?" Jeremy's link to Scheherazade Fowler provides some answer to the question, though mainly in the form of ambiguities, as well as another set of comments over the last few years from frustrated law students.

Some aspects of law school are reflective of legal practice, and some are not. Legal research and writing, for example, are genuinely relevant to litigation practice, though they get shafted in most law schools. If S loathes searching for and reading cases and code to complete school assignments, S probably won't like having to do it for work assignments either. On the other hand, much of what you can do in law has very little parallel in legal education. Real estate attorneys, for example, seem to spend a lot of time revising contracts, which is not a task I've had to perform in almost three years of law school. Due diligence? Nope.

I would encourage anyone who is considering dropping out of law school after her first year to do her damnedest to get a job involving real legal work that summer. Work for free, if you have to, but it's worth the time to figure out whether anything in practice actually appeals to you. In this pursuit, a local general practitioner might be more useful than a large law firm; though you probably won't get to do work relating to securities and other expensive areas, they're unlikely to be easily within your understanding after only a year anyway. You at least can get a feel for what Real Lawyers do, and whether it's something you want to do too.

(I like much of legal education, so I spent my first law school summer as a professor's research assistant. Unless you want to go into academia and think it will somehow be drastically different than the schooling you hate, I don't recommend this job as a way to help decide if you'll complete your degree.)

April 3, 2007 02:39 AM | TrackBack
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