Is it a good idea to go to law school if you don't want to be a lawyer?

The canonical answer: it depends. It depends upon your values, your other obligations and your tolerance for debt. Additionally, the answer depends upon the quality of the school that you choose to attend and the opportunities that that school makes available to its students. I am sure that there are more factors, but those are the ones that I find the most compelling. Read more: Is it a good idea to go to law school if you don't want to be a lawyer? Jonathan Tobin, Counsel for Creators, UCLA Law Grad. Answered June 27, 2012. www.quora.com/Is-it-a-good-idea-to-go-to-law-school-if-you-dont-want-to-be-a-lawyer.

Personally, I am extremely happy with my decision to go to law school. I will be happy with that decision whether or not I ever practice law because I feel like I have learned in minute and excruciating detail about the rules which structure society. This has created a depth and richness of experience that I could gain in no other way and every day is more interesting because of it. In fact, one of the main reasons that I went to law school is because I wanted to learn more about how the world works. I got that in spades.

When I say that your decision to attend law school depends upon your values, I mean that you will want to consider how much you value education for its own sake. I know that I value education as an end a great deal more than most people, so spending $100K to attend law school does not irk me in the slightest. Again, this holds true if I never work as a lawyer and if I end up making the same amount of money that I made before going to law school.

Your current obligations (and opportunities) will also color your decision. My situation was helped because I have a working spouse and a relatively low cost of living. On the flipside, my son was born during my first week of school - that made things difficult, but not impossible. If you want to do it, you will figure out a way.

Debt is the big concern. Unless you already have money, you will incur debt. Law school will typically cost more than $40K a year, not counting living expenses. Debt will be used to cover what your household income and/or savings will not. Again, your response to the debt question depends upon your own tolerance. I have no problem with debt: in some perverse way it actually makes me work harder.

Also, the decision depends upon what kind of school you get into. I would say - at the risk of being called out as an elitist (and I am, in more ways than one) - go to the best school that you can get into. Typically, better-ranked schools attract better professors and tend to provide better opportunities to their students. And if you do find that you want practice law, prestige matters (to a fault).

You will get the most out of law school if you follow your passion while in school and be open to opportunities that you would not consider otherwise. See it as a chance to try new things. There are many things that happened while I was in law school that could not have happened if I had not attend. Some of them were life-changing. I have had the opportunity to spend hours with people who are at the top of their fields (and in some cases get paid for doing so!) - I don't think I would have had access to many of them if it was not through school.

Law school changed my thinking in an amazing and fundamental way. I can size up and break down any complicated problem and quickly see deeply into a variety of situations that I could not penetrate before. I ask better questions. I did actually learn how many things in the world work, and I better understand peoples' motivations and incentives on a general level, if not on a detailed level.

I also feel more comfortable with my writing (thus my long-winded posts) - I don't know if the words are any more scintillating than they had been, but I feel more able to accurately capture, organize and express my ideas.

Law school can also help your future business endeavors. It has made me less intimidated to explore options and start projects that I would have thought far beyond my reach prior to going to law school. The people that I have met through the law school (students, attorneys, professors, etc.) are all remarkably connected and have put me in touch with people that I would not have been able to approach before. You can also extend your network while in law school by taking classes at your school's business school, if they have one. I met a good group of entrepreneurs that way. Finally, law school signals to others that you know how to work, even when it's a grind.

I know that this post is long, and mostly centered on my own experience. My point is to encourage you (the reader) to not believe the hype and to make your own decision based on your own conversations and your own life. Most of what I read about the value of law school is pretty misleading, on both sides.

Many (most?) of the people answering this question negatively have not actually been to law school. While that does not invalidate their opinions, it does dramatically increase the size of the grain of salt that you need to take. Conversely, many of the lawyers answering seem happy with their decisions to attend law school.

If you do decide to go to law school, make it your own. If you really don't feel it's for you, you can just quit after a semester or a year. No shame in that. Read more: Is it a good idea to go to law school if you don't want to be a lawyer? Jonathan Tobin, Counsel for Creators, UCLA Law Grad. Answered June 27, 2012. www.quora.com/Is-it-a-good-idea-to-go-to-law-school-if-you-dont-want-to-be-a-lawyer.

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