I graduated top of my class from a public liberal arts college with a perfectly useless double major in Spanish and sociology. I then spent a year and a half as a customer service agent for a health insurance company, talking to 100 ignorant and angry callers a day while longing for the sweet icy embrace of death.
After realizing that the real world was no place for me, I decided to look into going back to school. I considered going to study creative writing or theater. Of course, since I wanted to live indoors and not eat from dumpsters, I figured an MFA wasn’t the best use of my time. So I found a masters program in mass communications at the top in-state university. I figured that a masters in public relations and advertising would have enough emphasis on writing and theatrical flair to keep me happy, all while still being a bit more practical than an MFA.
I announced my intentions to my father who immediately discovered that the mass communications program offered a dual degree with the university’s law school—the same law school that he, my mother, and my older brother all attended.
Let me be clear: I have never wanted to be a lawyer. I lived with lawyers my whole life. They don’t seem like happy people. Besides that, I am a “sensitive” and “artsy” type, which—as I understand it—are qualities not well appreciated in the legal world.
Dad said that he would pay if I were to get into both programs. But if I only did the mass communications program, I was on my own. He also had a list of very persuasive reasons why to study law (e.g. it opens so many doors, you can do so much with a law degree, it’s a fallback option, another tool for your tool belt, etc.).
So I figured I’d apply. And once I got in with a nice little merit scholarship, it seemed wasteful not to go.
In August, I was optimistic. By September, I was spending every evening curled up in the fetal position weeping. October was spent in a walking coma, as I realized life was nothing but a slow, meaningless slog to the grave. Now here we are in early December, and thanks to a hefty dose of anti-depressants, I am lucid again. I may even manage to pass my classes, if I get my ass in gear.
But I still don’t like law school, and I still don’t know if this is for me. I spend most of my time surfing the Internet and working on concepts for musical comedies or TV shows. I have no interest in joining any legal student organizations. I signed up for improv instead of moot court. I’ve started reading tarot cards, but not property. And come Wednesday night, belly dancing classes always seem more important than my civil procedure assignment. At this point, the only thing pushing me through the semester is the promise I made to my parents—and the possibility that legal/litigation public relations might be a good fit for me (though I am not certain you need a law degree for that).
My questions are thus:
- Do you know anything about legal/litigation PR, and what sort of degree would I need? (i.e. Is it worth getting a law degree for that?)
- How can you tell law school culture shock from a genuine dislike for the subject matter of law?
- Is first semester 1L year too soon to pick up and leave? Should I “give it a chance” in hopes that I might find some interest during 2L or 3L year? Would it be “shutting the doors” to quit now?
I’ll take it from the top:
- Going to law school to work in PR is idiotic. Just read what I told this guy. Sure, a law degree could help, but it’s hardly necessary—and not particularly helpful. In fact, it could hurt you. For example, a seasoned PR exec would never say something like, “My questions are thus.”
- It’s tough to separate culture shock from genuine dislike. If you hate the hours, the pressure and the intensity of law school, but you actually like learning about the law, it’s most likely culture shock. If you hate the hours, the pressure, the intensity, and you actually hate learning about the law, it’s most likely genuine dislike. I, for one, actually liked law school, but hated being a lawyer. So if you already hate law school, the odds of loving the practice of law are even more remote. If you ask me, you’re probably in the “genuine dislike” camp.
- You’re hardly the first person to feel this way, but everyone’s situation is different. Given your interests, it’s never too early to quit. In fact, it’s better to quit after one semester than two. But that’s up to you, sister. It’s a tough decision, no doubt. My general advice on this: If you KNOW you don’t want to be a lawyer, don’t go to law school.