The 5 Types of People Who Apply to Law School

The Northwest 3L Columns, Featured Lawyer, law school, Lawyer 3 Comments

Across the country, law students are entering their august institutions. We here at Bitter Lawyer are happy to guide these students through the perils of their epic quest for a J.D. by reposting helpful tidbits provided by those that came before them. Stand on the shoulders of bitter giants, students.

Originally posted: March 14, 2012

You can tell a lot about a law student by what he or she was doing before coming to law school. In fact, knowing how a person made it to law school can often tell you which type of student they will be. Forewarned, as they say, is forearmed.

The Straight-Through

The largest group. If not a majority, certainly a plurality. From the law school’s perspective, these students represent rising academic stars with fresh ideas, unencumbered by convention. From the perspective of the older students, the kids coming straight-through from undergraduate or graduate programs are a bit like puppies, “with a cold nose, bright eyes, glossy coat, and the brains of a stunned herring.”

Generally very good at creating ridiculous “exploding dog” hypotheticals that just never happen in reality, less good at devising situations that actually work. The majority of the school’s gunners will come from this group. Most common quote:  “I just love learning and being in school SO MUCH!”

The Former Waiter

These students had a job, but not a career, before law school. They’ve spent some time outside of academia (unlike the straight-through students) so they can at least devise reasonable real-world solutions. Unfortunately, their time outside of academia was mainly as a barista. Their motivation for coming to law school comes mainly from the sudden realization that their degree in Sanskrit isn’t exactly marketable. Most common quote: “I don’t know why those older students are complaining about the cost of law school, I’m living better on student loans than I was from my old job.”

The Second Career

These students have had an actual career before law school, but for one reason or another they decided that law would be more interesting. Along with the ex-military group these students are the least likely to care about grades beyond making sure that they aren’t failing. Mostly this group serves to annoy the hell out of everyone else by not being stressed out. Every other group except the ex-military people want to strangle these students just to make them admit that they’re lying about lacking stress. The fact that this group manages to pass their classes and still go home every night to non-law-school lives is insufferable. Most common quote: “Compared to my last job, law school feels like a vacation.”

The Late-Life Crisis

The “I’ve peaked and I’m kidding myself” category. Not only have these students had a career already, they’ve advanced quite far in it. And, quite often, they won’t let you forget it. What they generally don’t mention is that this prior career was in a field where, no matter how educated one might be (and often members of this group of students have useless advanced degrees in fields like “Classics,” “Comparative Literature,” or “Linguistics”), both the social status and pay were fairly low. Which is why they’re in law school now. The world hasn’t given them the respect that they imagine their masters in social work should demand and now they’re going to get a law degree to fix that little problem. In some cases these people are intelligent and highly motivated. In many, however, it’s not their choice of field that’s causing the problem. Any gunners not from group one will be from this group. Most common quote: “I just don’t see what the professor can teach me; he’s younger than I am and I have more experience.”

The Ex-Military

These guys have access to and proficiency with firearms. I’m not going to make fun of them.

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  • Allen Hammell

    What about the proverbial douche-nozzles? I think that type is in a class by themselves and transcends any other characterizations.

    You can have females, males, and any combinations thereof. The douche-nozzles know no limitations, and include skinny and fat, ugly and (semi) good looking, and also come in all nationalities and religions.

    All you douche-nozzles, stand up and be counted!!!

  • Phil

    Let me help you out with that last category. I’m a second-career, ex-military guy. I not only don’t care about my grades (which is probably why I’m in the top 10% of the class), I have a G.I. Bill and no student loans. Thanks, Uncle Sam!!

    Law school is so much fun when there is no stress. I can actually set my mind to learning instead of fretting. Yeah, I’m also the douche who not only read the case and understood it, I pursued a couple of law review articles on the topic before class, too.

    (Oh, and I don’t own a gun.)

    • Anthony

      For somebody who claims to not care about grades, I find it interesting that you insert a backhanded boast about your class rank and add in the fact that you not only read cases, you also read law review articles to prep. Why so much effort if you’re so-not stressed-out and don’t care about grades? Methinks you actually belong to the douche nozzle group that Allen mentioned.