General Question

Eggie's avatar

Did I waste my life earning a law degree but not becoming a lawyer?

Asked by Eggie (5921points) 3 weeks ago
20 responses
“Great Question” (5points)

I am currently doing a law degree but I am having some second thoughts. This degree however costs a lot and it was a lot of hard work. If I don’t becone a lawyer, did I waste my life and money?

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JLoon's avatar


Legal training improves critical thinking, writing, and organizational skills. Those can be valuable in any career.

You’ll also gain a sense of detachment and irony, which will aid you in observing how many godawful human beings actually succeed in the profession of law.

Forever_Free's avatar

Not at all. You will come out with an invaluable perspective and countless tools for any work force.
I have a few close friends that graduated and passed the NY bar. They both went through the phase of not working for a firm even after passing the bar

Love_my_doggie's avatar

No. Law school teaches knowledge that can be used in so many fields.

My husband has an expensive law degree. He practiced law briefly, hated every minute of it, quit, and never looked back. His education led to a career in politics, and he more recently founded and now runs a successful gun-violence prevention organization, working continually with state and federal law. Law school was the springboard for where his life took him.

Caravanfan's avatar

What do you want to do?

Eggie's avatar

@Caravanfan. I want to be a criminal defense attorney. I am just a little scared it would be too stressful.

jonsblond's avatar

Any time spent educating yourself is not a waste of time.

cookieman's avatar

Not at all. After working in law and criminal justice for many years, my wife went to law school and earned an expensive degree too. Never practiced law. Instead, she got into education and became a Dean of Students.

Caravanfan's avatar

@Eggie If you want to be a criminal defense attorney then you’re in the right field. If you’re having some stressful moments thinking about it then therapy might help.

JLeslie's avatar

No. Once you have the degree you can try being a criminal defense attorney, and if you wind up not liking it you can do something else. Having a law degree can be beneficial in many fields or in a different type of law if criminal defense winds up not being what you expected.

Career paths often are winding roads and I once read a statistic that most people on average have three significant career changes in their life time. The pressure to pick exactly what job or career will suit us for the rest of our lives when we are 20 years old is unrealistic for most people. One, it’s hard to know, and two, being able to change as you change or circumstances change is a more realistic idea of a life career than picking one single career.

Don’t let fear stop you. Fear has cost me in my life. I didn’t realize how much until recently. Hesitating or not trying something because of fear I missed out on so much, and I’ll always have to live with what could have been. Try. If you hate it, you can do something else.

Graduating from school at any level is just simply a scary, stressful, and uncertain time. We graduate and embark on trying to get a new job in our field and learn the ropes and it’s precarious for most people.

A friend of mine worked as a lawyer, and then eventually she taught law. Now, she writes legal thrillers and makes so much money writing books. You never know where your experience will lead, and your education is part of your life experience.

Forever_Free's avatar

To further this, getting a college degree in anything you are interested in is far from a waste of time.
I am many years past getting my Masters in one field and now pursuing an undergrad in Music at Berklee. Your pocketbook is the only one that questions education.

Call_Me_Jay's avatar

I worked with a lawyer for ten years who made most of his money buying & selling real estate and financing the construction of a few apartment buildings.

So I got to know a few attorneys in that field and in my eyes it seems to be a common thing. They turned their lawyerly skills towards negotiating business contracts for themselves rather than clients.

Also, we did very well for a few years working on real estate taxes, poring over Chicagoland tax records to find messes where taxes were overpaid and we then helped clients reclaim their money. Our biggest score was a $120K check from the county. I think our fee was 10%.

We had non-lawyer competitors, but one of our big selling points was, “Attorneys are licensed by the state and can be disbarred/punished for sketchy business practices. We are accountable.”

Call_Me_Jay's avatar

“We” meaning the attorney and me the sidekick. I am not an attorney.

elbanditoroso's avatar

You may have wasted it, only time will tell. As others have written, some skills might turn out useful, but perhaps not. Only time will tell.,

LadyMarissa's avatar

You are still young & have plenty of time to decide what you’re going to do with your life!!! I see NO reason to feel you are wasting your education. With ALL the knowledge that you’ll be accumulating, you don’t have to decide today exactly what you want to do. You seem to be having a self-doubt anxiety attack. Close your eyes, take several deep breaths, exhale slowly & relax. Refocus your thoughts by listening to some of your fave music, think happy thoughts, work at making yourself feel happier. It’s NOT always easy, but it does help!!!

Another thought…have you considered working for the Innocence Project??? You could still be a defense attorney but I would think that the stress level would be less intense. Actually, you could volunteer your time while still in school. It might give you a more realistic idea of what to expect & whether or not it’s your thing!!!

SnipSnip's avatar

Of course not. Many many people get law degrees who have no intention of practicing law. But, I’ll say the legal education is helpful in most any career you find yourself. It is a doctorate degree. I know about 10 who are in the financial sector….not as an attorney. There are some who teach, particularly undergrad legal/paralegal/criminal justice/law enforcement/business law etc. It will help you daily if you decide to create or buy a small business of any kind. After law school you’ll never look at the world exactly the same. You will always consider duty and causes, obvious liabilities, professional misbehaviors, and all things constitutional. If you can stick it out, I hope you do. I would think it a real shame not to finish.

smudges's avatar

Don’t let fear stop you. Fear has cost me in my life. I didn’t realize how much until recently. Hesitating or not trying something because of fear I missed out on so much, and I’ll always have to live with what could have been.

Thank you for describing my life so succinctly.

Blackwater_Park's avatar

IMO your career should involve a little stress. It’s an important motivator and reminder that what you do is important. Even if you don’t become a laywer, you did not waste your time. Education is never a waste of time.

Blackberry's avatar

Not at all. Some employers will be smart enough to recognize the time, dedication, and discipline involved, and that shows a character trait.

elbanditoroso's avatar

I think there are two different factors to consider:

1) will @Eggie be a stronger, more well rounded, mature person for having studied law even though he didn’t become a lawyer? It seems that most people who answered this question said yes

2) was the decision to spend $50000+ (or more) on a law degree a wise investment? I think that’s the issue. One can become more mature and well-rounded for less than the cost (and time and effort) of a law degree.

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

No. It looks like you caught it just in time. Let it be a learning experience. You are still young enough to try something different.

If you don’t have the ”Fire” in your profession then it’s good to find something that does. I would work a minimum wage job for a couple of months to get perspective.

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