Too many people use law school as a back-up plan without truly understanding the implications of doing so. Many people make the mistake of assuming that a law degree is a versatile one that will open doors across a variety of industries. The success of Bill Clinton, Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani, Theo Epstein and others only makes matters worse because people point to these individuals to validate the previously mentioned assumption. Clearly, all these individuals are successful, but getting a law degree wasn’t a sufficient condition for their success… I’m willing to guess that they’d tell you that a law degree wasn’t a necessary condition for their success either.
Of course, an appreciation for Constitutional Law and legal analysis has given Clinton, Romney and Giuliani an advantage in their political lives. Of course, a legal education made Romney a savvier investor at Bain Capital. Of course, Theo Epstein’s legal education has helped him negotiate toe to toe with Scott Boras…but that’s just it. A legal education may help you to be a better politician, businessman or general manager…but you won’t have these jobs immediately available to you right out of law school.Law school prepares lawyers. You should go to law school to learn how to practice law. There may be tangential benefits, such as critical thinking skills, which may help in other industries, but the primary purpose of law school is to prepare lawyers.
As a result, 95% of the opportunities that will be available to you upon graduation from law school will be legal jobs. Law firms will want you. Judges will want you. Governments will want you. Businesses, for the most part, will recruit at B-school for their employees. To the extent businesses do want to talk to you…it will be with respect to a legal position. So if you’re going to law school because you don’t know what you want to do with your life, going to law school is probably the worst choice you could make. Simply graduating from law school almost ensures that you’ll be a lawyer.Now, there is one exception to the rule. That exception is Management Consulting.
Consulting firms will recruit straight out of law school because they value the logical thinking that a legal education requires. However, if you want to become a management consultant, skip the cost/debt associated with law school and go to business school to save a year of tuition and costs. Better yet, skip grad school and become a consultant right out of college.The point is this. Law school will open legal doors, but it won’t miraculously open non-legal doors. If you want to be a politician, businessman or something else, there are more efficient, cheaper and less painful ways of getting to your goal than going to law school because, as a law school graduate, the vast majority of your suitors will be looking to you to be their lawyer… not something else.