Correspondence

A Young Attorney’s Lament: Law School

Attorneys love to talk.  They are addicted to argument, storytelling, reminiscing.  The latter is especially true, both of weathered courtroom veterans, with their salt-and-pepper beards and passé suits, and of eager novices with their bright paisley ties and the slightest hint of gray around the temples.  Whether in pages of autobiographical books or over a glass of beer in a tiny Manhattan bar, lawyers always come back to one thing: what legal education and the practice of law is to them.  Most attorneys conjure up an image that is equal parts Paper Chase, To Kill a Mockingbird, and The Verdict.  To me, my legal education and my nascent career are a heady brew of Dante’s Inferno and Tom Wolfe’s Bonfire of the Vanities.

I entered law school in the late summer of 2009, when most people predicted that the Great Recession would soon be over (any day now!) and things would go back to the Clinton-Bush II “boom years.”  Back then, an acceptance letter from a law school (even a second- or third-tier one) was a ticket to upper-middle class prosperity, respectability, and prestige.

“Just gotta survive the first year, and then don’t worry ’bout a thing!  You’re set for life.”  That was the advice given by both lawyers and laymen, the latter laying on the optimism with a tinge of jealousy. ...

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