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(Message started by: Stephen Jones on May 24th, 2006, 8:01pm)

Title: Leaving law school
Post by Stephen Jones on May 24th, 2006, 8:01pm
Hi all,

I just finished my 1L year at a top 20 school. I am considering withdrawing for a year or two to go back to work.

Can anyone think of the problems I'll face when I return? Will legal employers look at my like I have two heads for taking a 12-24 month break in the middle of law school?

My situation is:
-no legal job lined up for summer
-mediocre grades (probably 20-40th percentile)
-good engineering job offer for ~50k / year

Ultimately I think I would enjoy doing patent prosecution at a small to mid-size firm. Part of taking a break is that I lost my motivation for much of the 2nd semester, and think that a hiatus might make me more focused when I return. I also have a hangup about not being 60k in debt, and saving while working would make debt on graduation more like 5k-15k.

Title: Re: Leaving law school
Post by patento on May 24th, 2006, 8:28pm
If you are really really determined to leave the school but still want to be a lawyer, this would be my suggestion; attend an online law school (california based), finish remaining years. This will allow you to take DC (provided you finish 1 year in ABA approved school) and CA bars. DC bar is not that difficult to pass. This way you can take an engineering day job and still become a lawyer. Online schools are cheap and you can study in the evenings and on weekends (without leaving home).

Title: Re: Leaving law school
Post by Isaac on May 25th, 2006, 6:08am
If you can get permission to take a hiatus and return to law school, I don't think taking a year off would be a big deal.  

I would not recommend an online program in lieu of returning to your current program.  While you could become a patent attorney licensed in CA and DC using that plan, I think your employment prospects would be much diminished over those resulting from completing law school at a top 20 program and maybe even over those from graduating from any reputable ABA approved law school.

60k of law school debt may look like a lot, but I'm not sure that in the long run taking a 50k job in the middle of law school is an economically sound decision.   I can't make your debt calculation of 5-15k work.  Further you might also consider  the potential lost year of a significantly higher salary than 50k.

Title: Re: Leaving law school
Post by prosdog on May 25th, 2006, 7:35am
Its awfully tough to go back to school after taking time off.  I remember more than one 1L that took off, planning to come back and never did.  Stick it out.  If you take summer classes you could finish up in a year and a half.

My humble opinion, just get it over with.

Title: Re: Leaving law school
Post by daven on May 25th, 2006, 7:55pm
I think you're just burned out.  Work an engineering job for the summer and you'll most likely look forward to going back to school by August.  

I haven't been to law school, but doesn't it get easier after the first year?  Maybe you could work a part time engineering job while attending school full time.

I vote that you finish school.  Two years will fly by. ;)

Title: Re: Leaving law school
Post by Stephen Jones on Jun 16th, 2006, 8:37pm
Thank you everyone for your feedback. After a little soul searching, I decided to stick it out for three years straight through law school. Taking a side job for a break just doesn't make that much sense, I have realized.

Title: Re: Leaving law school
Post by Malini on Jun 30th, 2006, 11:02pm
Think long and hard about taking a year off.  I "stuck it out" and burned myself out.  I have an outstanding education but could not concentrate to take a bar exam.  This lead to depression, which sounded like no big deal.  It is a big deal.  To be in a top law school, you have accomplished a lot.  The higher you climb, the further you fall.  

What happens if the stress gets to you and you get under a C average?  You will be on probation and then no law school will give you a chance.  This happened to a friend of mine.

The more stress and failures, the harder it is to bounce back.  One year off to clear your head and know what you really want to do is worth more than any amount of money.  

I wish I took a year off.  After loosing concentration due to depression and failing exam after exam (I failed by 3/1000 of a point) I lost hope, friends and even my family got angry I didn't "snap out of it".   Now, after several years, I have to start studying, then explain to employers what the gap in my resume is about.

You are VERY SMART to think about this NOW ahead of time.  Law school is not much different the second or third year.  All law schools are pressure.  If you need to clear your head, you will return refreshed and confident.  How many law students actually get recharged as the 3 years wear on?  

Graduating with overwhelming debt brings you down as well.  Working your first legal jobs expect 60 to 80 weeks at least.  Is the income going to make the stress go away when you need to generate 2,000 billable hours to the clients that no other more experienced attorney wants to deal with in the firm?  

My time away was not my choice but I can assure you I am returning to this profession fully recharged.  I could have shortened it by taking a year off just to get a complete break and feeling good about doing some relaxing engineering work.

I'm not unique or a looser - this happens to other brilliant people in this profession.  GIVE YOURSELF the best when going back to school.  If you do, you will soar to the top of the class.  As an engineer, your workplace will respect your goals of going to law school and see you as a valuable asset after you graduate.

If you leave for a year in good standing, you will not hurt your career.  If you come back feeling confident and refreshed, that will come through when you finally interview after graduating.  There are plenty of noble reasons for taking a year off that are neutral when interviewing.  The best reason of all is that you needed to take the time to determine if this is really what you want.  Upon graduating, you have proven that with a decision to take a year off and make this decision.  

Who would you hire?  Someone desperate to finish so they can make more money sooner? or someong who took their time to decide that this is what they truly want to do?  

Title: Re: Leaving law school
Post by TataBoxInhibitor on Jul 1st, 2006, 7:26am
Ill just put my two cents in.   I graduated with more than twice that debt from law school.   At the time, I still had undergradute debt on top of that.    While it looks pretty scary on paper, it is possible.   I did not know many people that that their tuitiion paid in law school.   My suggestion is, try and get a scholarship or something and DONT take out the maximum loan amount if you can afford to.  

....though, my payments do look similar to mortgage payments, in the end, I will have paid off a J.D., not a house, which is a little unfortunate....

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