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Margaret

I love Scheherzade, so when I saw you on Mike's blogroll, I thought I would swing by. What a marvelous post and a thought-provoking one on MANY levels. What kind of teacher is he?(that's what I do for a living, so I was just curious) Being a teacher allows me to also be a very hands-on and involved parent because I do have the time off and hours my children do. (more or less) I am not rich or particularly successful, according to society, but wouldn't change my life if I could.

Your post reminds me of a friend who I counseled to drop out of law school (long before I attended law school). She was very unhappy with law school, and had started exhibiting, for her, personally dangerous behaviors. Her family had a hard time with her dropping out of law school (they were big on education, and all highly successful). She pursued other avenues and was quite happy (and successful) with her decision.

UCL

As someone who loved law school and loves the practice of law, I think it would be a good thing--a GREAT thing--if every person who was bitter about the legal profession chose to drop out of law school part-way despite having originally enrolled. Unfortunately such people usually end up graduating instead. Then they become part of the profession and complain about it endlessly for the next 50 years, driving law-lovers like me insane. So yes, I highly encourage anyone who doesn't believe in the greatness, honor, and wonderfulness of our profession to please, please stay away... and if you happen to enroll in law school, do as Scherezade's former classmate did.

Tulipsaki

I basically liked law school too. It wasn't always a bed of roses, especially since I wasn't one of the smart ones who "got it," but it did stretch me intellectually. However, in practice, I find myself continually bored and like all the new brains I acquired in law school are now fizzling away. What's with that?

Soujiro

I will be going to law school to withdraw/defer in about one hour. The two triggers (not reasons)? 1) Today is the last day of the 100% full refund and 2) panic. My torts exam was the most difficult and stressful test I've ever taken, bar none. I never stress out about tests, but this one sent me whimpering before and after the experience. So yesterday, as we received copies of the exam questions for a "going over the exam" session, I re-lived that feeling of panic and stress, simultaneously wishing I wouldn't have to experience it again during yesterday's class by being called on, and feeling as though I couldn't take that exam again at year's end.
Ask yourself: Do I have the urge to be the best in law school, to be better than everyone else at every little project, paper and answer? Or do I only feel the need to do enough just to get by?
Then ask yourself: Will I be able to do this work competently in the future? Will I be happy doing it? Why am I doing it?
Shadow a lawyer for a day at his or her firm. Hang out at the courthouse and observe these professional litigators. Talk to those currently in practice about not only their experience, but the experiences of others around them.
I do not have the passion. I do not have the strength. I will withdraw/defer in less than an hour because I asked myself the questions above and found that I could not answer them quickly and confidently in less than 10 minutes.
Thank you for your blog. Even if only for the past 10 minutes, you've made me feel less a quitter, and more a man who can live by the legal equivalent of Saint Augustine's profound statement that it is better to have loved and lost, than to never have loved at all.

I should have left law school seven years ago, but stupidly stuck with it. Interestingly I just finished the most significant constitutional case in the High Court of Australia that Australia has seen in 80 years. (this is the position of the Australian media more than my opinion.) I now feel comfortable enough to leave.

Amy

This is very much my story. I was actually doing very well in law school, but one day ... I just didn't come back. I know I would have done good on my finals, I knew my stuff. I liked the hard-work, my friends and my professors, but I just didn't find the law compelling.
I didn't really tell my friends or anyone untill the day after. I loved reading about how you could tell a difference in the way your friend carried himself. That was me. I felt so good. I felt really brave, as weird as that sounds.

If anyone reading this is thinking of dropping out, you've got some hard questions to ask yourself. I'm not telling anyone to drop out, but just don't be afraid to drop out if that's what you feel you need to do.

Thanks so much for this post!

Christine

Thanks for the post, man - I know it was a few years ago, but I can't say it's not still inspirational.

I just quit law school less than an hour ago. I am going back to music school and I am finally going to be true to myself. I shouldn't be proud of who I am -- your friend was clearly proud of who HE was -- and we're not all cut out to be lawyers.

Nothing, not money, not prestige, can bring you the same happiness of doing what you really love to do with the people you love the most.

"So yes, I highly encourage anyone who doesn't believe in the greatness, honor, and wonderfulness of our profession to please, please stay away... and if you happen to enroll in law school, do as Scherezade's former classmate did."

"greatness, honor, and wonderfulness" - What type of law do you practice? Just curious.

wil

This is the best thing I've read in a long time. Right now, I'm seriously considering quitting law school. After years of regretting not going to law school (even though I went to grad school and have a great job)I finally decided to go ahead and go to law school, I've always wanted to do that so I always felt like I was not fully realized because I wasn't a lawyer. Well, what do you know, now that I'm finally there I hate it! I do not enjoy going to school and I miss my free time and the times I could be giving to my family instead (I go to law school part time and I have 2 kids), I now feel that I'm actually pretty succesful in life as it is and that I don't need a law degree (that I probably would never use) to be happy. But, at the same time I feel that if I quit, I'm a failure. I'm just so confused, but right now, everything points to leaving school...

Melissa

I'm so glad I found this post because at least I know I'm not alone. I'm considering leaving law school but I'm just so scared of what my next move will be. I currently work full-time and go to school part-time but I work in a law firm and hate it almost as much as law school. I've got some decisions to make.......

Will

Thanks so much for this inspirational post. I am considering dropping law school as well. I do not want to practice, no longer have interest in the material, and am terrified that any meaningful job opportunities will be denied because a JD that I didn't want/need.

Disgruntled law students and those contemplating law school need to find more more posts like this!

Howard

I dropped out of law school in 1990. I had survived 1st year, and then took a year off because I didnt know if I wanted to continue. I went back at the urging of family and lasted for 3 months, before finally dropping out. I wound up falling into the car business where I stayed for the next 18 years, and now have started a new job with a software company. I have regretted dropping out for the last 10 years. I have jobs...not a career. Money is awful. If I had gotten the degree, whether I stayed in law or not, I would have had options. Dont drop out. Stay with it. In the end, you will be glad.

John

This post is amazing. I'm waiting on letters from schools right now to see if I got in and how much money they offer. I really haven't decided if I want to go to law school. It just seems like the next step. I've done well in a top tier undergrad school and I think have the potential to do well in law school. My main inspiration to go is my father...not pushing me but his success with the law. He makes upwards of 300,000 a year in a one man private practice. I've run into his clients and his collegues and from what I understand, my dad isn't a daytime tv ad guy. He is legit. He lives a great life playing lots of golf and travels extensively. I really appreciate the questions posed by Tulipsaki. My primary question is:

Knowing only a little about law school, the study of law, the practice of law, etc. What are strong reasons to go? How can I make a good choice about it without trying it?

Evie

I literally found this post by typing in the statement "What should I do if I quit law school" and it was the most uplifting thing I could possibly read right now.

My parents are hugely disappointed because my younger brother has already graduated his (shorter) accounting degree and I'm still floundering in my law degree with bare passes, a few fails and one postponement. I'm clearly unhappy with where I am and I want to quit so badly. But of course, my parents are still holding the "dropping out of university is shameful for the family name" card on me and I don't think I can bear it anymore. Reading this has made me decide that now is the time to make up my mind what I want out of my own life regardless of my parent's or anyone else's wishes and even though it will take a lot of work to start from scratch, but the end result of being more satisfied with my path in life will make it worth it. Thank you. So much.

B

I quit law school earlier this year from one of the best litigation school in the world and it was the best decision of my life. Some of us are not cut out for a legal life. I aced my tests and papers and found the material actually quite straightforward, but I just couldn't see myself pursuing this forever. It just wasn't my calling.

Being a "dropout" is such a horrible connotation. I find myself neglecting to mention the entire year on my resumes and other applications because people want to put "dropouts" in a box. I am doing quite well already though, making more than my law school friends will for the next 5 years at least (excluding their debt), and I have more time for myself than they. I am buying a house soon and thinking about children and a part time MBA while my law school friends often tell me they are putting kids off until they make partner. I just value time for myself more I guess... please don't think I am trying to be holier than though, it is rather the opposite. My law friends seem to always want to assist, produce, and win. Perhaps I am simply selfish. I like me, and I like being free. A non-law life is free as a bird to me :).

Jane

I work full time in a law firm as a litigation clerk. I find my job really stressful and the workload unbelievably heavy - I literally work non-stop, often working through lunch & working at stop speed just so that I can stay on top of things. I have a Bachelor's degree in arts management but love the mental challenge that my job entails. My bosses (lawyers) give me lots of freedom and independence where my work is concerned and i am grateful for that 'cos I learn a lot of stuff each day. Many people tell me that I should have studied law instead of getting a degree in the arts. I did enrol in a UK external law program (internationally recognised & the only "foreign" law program recognised by the board of qualifying law degree in my country. I study entirely on my own with no tuition. I finance my studies with my own savings & the fees are costly due to the exchange rate. Even before enrolment, I have never desire to be a lawyer should I qualify to be one! I just thought if would be nice to have a law degree (wrong reason to study law I guess!) in addition to my current degree. Besides, I have been working in a law firm most of my working life so I thought it was the most natural thing to do. I only sit for written exams (unseen). Exams are essay writing form. The program currently does not require written assignments or research papers & is purely exam based. Students must pass ALL subjects at each level / year. Students who fail one subject and pass the rest will be deemed to have failed a particular level / year and will need to re-sit ALL subjects. Unfortunately I did not anticipate how much my studies would take out of me. I mentally, emotionally and physically exhausted. Sometimes I feel that I am on the verge of a mental breakdown. There are constant interruptions beyond my control (at work and at home) and I can't seem to devote enough time or energy to my studies. I do have family commitments + 4 dogs to care for. I thought I could manage it all but it seems that I can't. I am currently contemplating quitting my law studies to "cut my losses" financially (I have already spent more than $15,000). I do feel like a failure if I quit but then again it has more to do with caring about what people think & my own low self-esteem. Although I haven't made my final decision, I am likely to quit my studies within the next few days. I will still work in the same law firm as a litigation clerk. I will never be able to earn as much as a lawyer but I will be happier. I wish to pursue my love for arts & crafts which hopefully will develop from a hobby into a small part time business that could supplement my income :)

Anonymous

Scheherazade, your blog renders an important public service. Thanks for helping to inspire me to disembark from the expensive ride into hell that is 1L.

Anon

I Googled something along the lines of 'quitting law school', and I'm glad I found this link.

For years law school was secondary to my dream of going to med school. I spent many nights home working when I could have gone out, and I managed to turn some disappointing high school results into results that ultimately got me into one of the best undergraduate law schools in the country, and the day I was offered a place still stands as one of the proudest moments of my life.

However, I've only been here a few weeks, but after all that hard work I can't help but feel all my efforts have been wasted, and that I've chosen the wrong path, a path that may take years to correct.

It's hard to pinpoint what exactly makes me want to give up something I've worked so hard to achieve, and I can't help but feel that my place in law school has denied someone who may be far more enthusiastic as me the fulfillment of their dreams.

Maybe it's the lack of stimulation I gain from the material, or maybe it's the self-imposed right that many of my classmates place on their futures as professionals in the field. It could even be the fact that I don't think I'll be able to deal with another four years of hundreds of hours of work coming down to a couple of hours and a 100% exam. Whatever it is, it's made me feel entirely disconnected from both the material and the school as a whole.

I've been kept awake at night by the thought of the decision that I'm going to face in four weeks' time, when my enrollment becomes complete and my academic transcript is affected forever.

I was more than happy in a liberal arts course before I transferred, but I wanted more, and while I never thought I'd say this, receiving that email saying that my application was successful has done far more harm than good.

Even worse is the thought of letting down both family and friends. While I'm a firm believer that it's never too late to turn things around, turning my back on law for a place in a graduate medical school that could be described as speculative at best seems like too big of a risk to take.

I guess I'm blessed in that I have those four weeks to decide whether or not it's for me before tuition fees become final, and that, should I choose to return to my old degree, I can apply for postgrad and still complete it in the minimum time.

I guess it's the thought of withdrawing from law school, only to be rejected from my dream place in med school that's keeping me here for now, but at the same time I can't help but think that if I continue, I'll be regretting this decision for years to come.

Thank you for this blog. It's pleasing to know that there are others facing the 'should I or shouldn't I' decision of withdrawing from law school.

shane

Thanks for all the posts. I actually wish there were more from people who DIDNT quit though, but who were thinking about it, and whether they regret no quitting. Of course, if I had a law degree right now, I wouldn't be upset that I did, but as I'm finishing my first year, I really wondering whether to go back for second year. I tried getting a job at a firm this summer so I could see what the profession is like from the inside, but it didn't work out. The thing is, I'm in the same situation that many of the people who have posted were in. I always thought I'd be a lawyer. Every time I met a lawyer, I'd be jealous that s/he had the degree and the status and I didn't. So I eventually went, after taking three years off after undergrad. I am married with two kids, so it was a big financial risk (as I guess it is for anyone) to go to law school. From week 2 I started thinking about quitting. During exams at Christmas, it really started thinking hard. A coupe days before classes started up for the fall, I was DREADING going back to school, but my wife told me to just finish the year, so it wasn't a total waste. So now I'm just about done (though still five exams), and the questions about whether to quit are constant. I'm definitely not going to make any decision before exams are done, but I need to make one before the fall, so I dont waste my entire summer stressing about it. There are pro and cons of both. I really can't see myself enjoying being a lawyer, I never really did. I always thought that just having a degree could open doors for me. Maybe it can. But is it worth the money, the pain, the depression of the next couple years, when I could be getting work experience that could help me more possibly? I just dont know. Then there's the rest of my life to worry about. A law degree seemed like a good safeguard. At least if I had a law degree I could always go practice if my family was in a rut financially. But what I really want to do is open my own business. I want to start a business with a family member or friend, and feel like I'm achieving something. I know I couldn't live with myself if I never started a business OR finished a law degree. I don't know, I'm at a loss. I just dont know what will be worse. Giving up the security of a law degree and disappointing many many family members, who will probably think I'm just a quitter, or spending so much time and money to become certified in a profession I know I wont enjoy. Life sucks sometimes.

Sam

i quit law school. went to the university of utah. everyone thought i was nuts. now none of them can find a job and they're massively in debt. i feel bad for them.

PHM

I went to law school in the mid west in 2007 (from NYC) to my first choice, a Top 100 school. I was unprepared for the academic program involved and began experiencing severe anxiety towards the end of my first semester due to the pressure of family obligations 2000 miles away and returning to school at a fairly advanced age (39). I was given the bad advice by a teaching assistant to proceed with my finals because "no one gets below a 'C' with the curve;" my grades were: B, D-, and an F. I took a medical leave of absence to have the symptoms of anxiety and depression I was experiencing evaluated and treated by university medical professionals. I returned the following Fall semester to repeat the classes, and found myself unable to balance work, and school, and still a little bit rattled by having receiving the poorest grades of my lifetime in my first semester. With the loneliness I was feeling, symptoms of depression, and concern about not being able to work as a part-time student in the prime earning years of my life, I withdrew from school. Two months later, I immediately regretted the decision, and was re-admitted for the third time to retake the first semester already $30,000.00 in debt. My third semester was somewhat of a success however I made two critical mistakes: I did NOT take practice exams in preparation for two finals, and handed a paper that represented 60% of my grade late by twelve hours; I ended up with a B-, C, and C this time around. The anxiety of being on academic probation and having little margin for error eventually resulted in more severe health problems for myself, an inability to concentrate, pressure from my family and friends, a decreased and weakened confidence in myself, and I eventually withdrew from law school altogether, $79,000.00 in debt. I will always regret having quit, even with the mounting debt, and not securing the J.D., and not having found a way to enhance my mental fortitude, find the right help and resources and the right mindset and support system to get the job done. I am now faced with trying to explain to my family and friends what went wrong, address psychological issues I never experienced before attending law school, and returning to a career I have been absent from for three years without being able to explain why I went to law school and did not work for three years and do not have a law degree to show for it. If I had to do it all over again, I would have went to a Tier Three school and a little more relaxed environment for someone my age - the first year is the toughest and if I was successful I could transfer; otherwise I could remain in the Third Tier School and earn one of the most coveted of graduate degrees: a J.D. Think carefully about yourself, especially if you have been out of school for sometime, about what you are capable of, and what this degree might mean to you. I now dread turning 55 without a professional degree, and not a minute goes by that I do not wish I knew in 2007 what I know now; as of today, the law school experience, while providing some of the fondest memories of my life, has in many ways ruined my life. A law school curriculum, particularly for non-conventional students, should be designed to give such students every possible chance for success (e.g., three exams per class in the first semester, not one final and an automatic dismissal for students with a G.P.A. of 2.20 or less).

Sara

PHM, i agree with u on the value of attending a poorer law school. i'm at oxford law school (got in by the skin of my nose), & having a miserable time cos everyone is sooooo much smarter than me!! I barely scrape through, have a few fails, a constant sense of inadequacy, self-loathing & sadness, plus a very low self-esteem. I should've gone to a 2nd tier law school. I would've learnt more cos the teaching method would be suitable for people with an ordinary level of intelligence, like me :(

Amy

On the fence... I am officially half-way done with school. I like law school, I have friends, I am in the top of my class, Moot Court, Journal, and I even had a summer associateship lined up for next summer... but the thing is - I hate Moot Court, and I hate my Journal. I like the classes but from what I can tell they are the furthest thing from the actual practice of law... I don't even know if I want to be a lawyer after drafting briefs and cite-checking for months on end. I'm good at it, and that is fine and dandy, but is it worth putting in another two years (including the bar) and lots of $ just to be in a job I dislike?

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