How to Interview for New Jobs After Quitting Law School

The TLDR: Be prepared to answer confidently about your law school experience, and don't be evasive. These two things will lead to better interview experiences.

So... how do you interview for new jobs after quitting law school?

There is absolutely no one right answer for this.

That sucks, but it's the truth.

Some interviewers will be so focused on other qualifications or parts of your resume that they won't even notice law school is mentioned. Others will tell you things like, "This is going to be a problem to some people in our enterprise." (Which means, it's a problem to them.)

I have personally had both experiences I mentioned above. I've actually had some interviewers simply be impressed that I tried law school. So there's a definite spectrum of reactions.

My life has changed a lot of late, and I am at a serious career crossroads. I have done a variety of interviews for various reasons. For instance, I interviewed to start a new school program... and they didn't even bat an eye regarding law school. I also have done a series of interviews for a position that could eventually turn into an entirely new career, and that's where I really saw the array of reactions to this situation. I have interviewed with four different people in this organization. Two of them were concerned, but I was able to appease them by saying (essentially), "It just wasn't for me, and some personal and family issues arose at that time." One of them pretty much just ignored the subject entirely after I explained that I have a very diverse career background. Then there was the fourth person. This person was concerned, and remained unappeased that it was part of my experience. This bothered me. Law is in no way a requisite factor for this job. So I was bothered that this interviewer would even care enough to say that my having quit law school had a negative impact on my hireability.

When I quit, I knew some people out there would have a beef with me quitting.  I'm here to tell all of you, that, in my limited experience with job interviews after dropping out of law school, one in five interviewers takes serious issue with my quittorney status.
It's important to note that it seems obvious that if I were interviewing for legal positions, the number of very troubled interviewers would be significantly higher. I realize that there is a reason it concerns even those whose positions for which they are hiring has nothing to do with law or experience gained from law school.

It's that I quit something.  It's that, from their perspective, I couldn't finish what I started. It's that I'm changeable or weak.  It's that they don't realize that quitting can be a virtue. It's that they don't realize that quitting is sometimes the best career decision.

I get that!

I do!  I mean... what was all of my hemming, hawing, and mental turmoil about if not, "If I quit this law school endeavor, my life will be irreparably damaged," running through my brain constantly?

We don't always understand the virtue that can be part of quitting. But I've come to know for a very substantial and significant list of reasons that quitting was the right decision for me. I made the best choice for me given my situation. Most who interview me for non-legal positions get that. I might give them some insight into what went into that decision, but many of them understand and even share experience of their own with quitting something major.

So, know that if you want to quit, or if you have already quit law school... there can be a lot of non-legal interviews that can involve you quickly appeasing the concerns of your interviewer or skipping past the subject easily.  But you should also know that you should always be prepared to fight for that appeasement, and be ready for it to not always work.  My strategy? Be confident within the interview that my year of law school is a value to my potential employer, and quitting isn't a ding against me, but a sign that I made the right decision given my circumstances... and I'm not afraid to talk about it!

I think the worst thing you can do is try to avoid the subject once the interviewer knows about it. That could immediately mean to them that you think it's an embarrassment, that it's a reason not to hire you, and that there's a problem they need to investigate. There may be a lot of wisdom in never mentioning law school was a part of your life at all, but I don't really operate that way and can't offer any evidence to its value or erroneousness.

If they do know you have quit, the best thing you can do is be ready to answer questions about it confidently as though it was any other part of your resume or previous experience. I think in a lot of circumstances, being honest and up front about things that could potentially be a negative for your hireability is something of value. Surely, there are always going to be interviewers that don't see things this way. You're probably going to have some hard times because you quit law school. I know it was emotionally tough to leave my most recent negative interview and avoid the thoughts like, "Maybe I should have just finished," or "Maybe I made a mistake in quitting." That, for me, has passed. I'm back to remembering that I made the right choice, that quitting was the right thing, and that I'm no worse a person for that experience.

Again, applying this to non-legal interviews, you could even say things like, "I left the law in favor of working in the industry that your enterprise works in." Tell them it's about what they do. The things they care about were really the things you cared about, more than the practice of law.

Career changes are not so uncommon a practice. Some people tout that people have "seven careers in their lifetime," but statistics supporting this seem nonexistent or dubious at best. However, according to one BLS study I recently read, people in their late twenties, thirties, and early forties average 2 to 3 different jobs within each respective time frame. My point is just that we all tend to change jobs. Owing to the fact that these kinds of BLS statistics exist, that you or I may have quit a schooling endeavor which was just meant to support one line of jobs shouldn't matter all that much in the grand scheme of things.

I've rambled a lot. I know that there are people who will read this and will doubt all of its value or veracity. But I also know that quitting law school hasn't irreversibly effed up every interview I have participated in.

Thanks for reading! (Unless you quit long before now... I'm NOT judging you for that!  ;) )

UPDATE: (Yes, this is an update I'm adding to a post I wrote about a year ago and NEVER published. I'm now publishing it... and updating it.)
I currently am working in an extremely rewarding job. I know the direction I'm heading with my career, and I'm actively heading that direction. I am now more than three years beyond my decision to quit law school... and I very rarely even think about it. The interviews I have done to get my current job (which involves working around the law and lots of attorneys) were really affirming of how my having some law school in my background was a neutral if not a positive impact on my qualifying for getting the job. Also, I had one interviewer since writing the above who had quit practicing law and was excited to talk about how early I got out of legal practice. (Before it really even began!) Anyway, I just thought that would be a bit more good information for those of you that freak out about the job hunt following the big quit.  :)

How To Deal With A Lose-Lose Feeling

It's kind of an odd position I put myself in with my blog, because I never know the WHOLE story, so obviously I can't tell people what's right or wrong for them. I CAN tell you about my experiences, and what worked and did not for me. 

(Aside: I've been writing this blog for long enough that I have changed immensely as a human. So, I look back at old posts and can feel quite differently about certain subjects, but I'm not going to change my past. It is what it is. As always, I just hope to help you all out, and I hope you remember that these are just my opinions.)

I recently received the following from a law school student who describes a sort of lose-lose situation that scares him. He seems to feel trapped between soldiering on through law school (which isn't his cup of tea) and facing the workless state of quitting law school:

"I have been contemplating quitting for a while now. I am beating myself up and losing sleep over it. I feel like I want to pull the trigger and quit school but I can't fully justify myself to do it. I want to be able to tough it out, or man up, or suck it up as my father would say. I know I can plaster on a smile and get through it all. I know I can. I just don't know if I want to. My grades after the first semester were average, definitely not happy about them but know I can improve. Truth is I'm scared. I'm scared that I'm already going to be 50k in debt if I quit, with no job, no income, hardly any relevant work experience and a major in criminal justice that is rather useless. I'm also scared that i'll stay in and just go through the motions and become a lifeless zombie. I don't know what to do with my life now. To think that I always heard the stories of how law school will break you down and make you depressed. I never thought it would happen to me until now. Thanks for letting me vent though. It feels good to get it off my chest. " 

To Shane,

I think one of the things that I and many other former/current law school students deal with is not cutting themselves some slack. Admittedly, I felt as you have described many times. My mother was the voice of the "just suck it up" mentality. In fact, one of her very favorite "pep" talks for me consisted briefly of, "Life sucks, then you die."  (Thanks, Mom!*) But with that and my own desire to never quit things in my head, I felt obligated to just keep going. Sometimes though, it's the amply better decision to make the choice to change paths. To cut yourself some slack and say, "This isn't my thing." Most people I've met that are driven to the legal field to one degree or another aren't really possessed of the ability to change their desired course too easily. They're often a quite determined people. 

*To be fair to my mother, she often was there to pick me up in a much more encouraging and loving way.

I'll tell you though, when I finally admitted that my best route to happiness lay without the law... it was a freeing experience.  

I'm going to tell you the same thing I've said to many others. You can find work. You were driven and talented enough to get into a law school (something that people tend to respect in and of itself), and to get "average" grades. While you probably hold yourself to a higher standard than "average," that still means you were adjudged better at that semester of law school than roughly half of your classmates. Believe me, there is work out there for you that can be fulfilling and, perhaps, even lucrative. 

With regard to your "major in criminal justice that is rather useless," any degree can be helpful these days. I've come to experience the strange phenomena in the real world that the majority of subject matters for college degrees don't really seem to matter when it comes to applying for jobs in a different industry. I have a history degree, and I am moving up the chain in a marketing company. Just having an undergraduate degree seems to be enough for many jobs. (Kind of in the same way that high school diplomas used to be all you needed.) My point--you can find work having established that you were capable enough to finish a four year degree... even if it's not in the exact subject matter that will apply to the company/work you're applying for. To be real, maybe the work you start with won't be ideal, but in my experience, you can work to turn it into or transition into an ideal job for you.

As for the lose-lose situation that is scaring you, I'd simply advise you to go to your network. I don't necessarily mean your network for finding new work, but I mean reach out to anyone you feel you can trust and talk to about these things. This may require that you talk to a school counselor, medical professional, professor, or friends. It can be tough to talk face-to-face about this situation, but in my experience it helps. (And you can always send me more emails to vent or talk through your feelings.)

In summary, this doesn't have to be a lose-lose for you. Perhaps the best thing for you will be to find what you love about the law and law school and power through. That might be your win. Or, alternatively, your win might be having the guts to quit and try something totally different. It can be a scary prospect either way, but I'm confident you can find happiness in one path or maybe either path.

For those that see yourselves in what feels like a lose-lose, I just hope that you'll see the big huge world that exists outside of law school. Life is full of SO many directions, paths, and opportunities. Don't lock yourself in a prison that is only in your mind.

Please talk it out with those around you, or feel free to contact me!

How To Take Charge Of Your Own Happiness (And Stick It To Facebook)

Why, hello there, any remaining readers I might have. This might be a long post. With it, I plan to respond to a reader's question, flesh out an idea I have for making my life ridiculously awesome, and write about a subject a loved one suggested: choosing the things that make us happy regardless of others' opinions.

The 2015 Plan

I haven't written in ages, and a lot of awesome stuff has happened in my life. As always, though, not everything in my life is perfect. I am currently an account manager for a marketing firm. I enjoy my work, but as someone who is a little bit interested in everything, I am always open to the idea of a wide variety of other types of pursuits. I think I could work in marketing for a long time to continue to learn from the diversity of work, grow from the relationships it fosters, and pay my bills. I do find, however, that I occasionally feel a desire to have a life full of things that are more fulfilling. As a new year is shortly upon us, I think I've got a plan that could lend itself to fizzling out within a week--or alternatively helping me to have a very incredible and fulfilling 2015.

 This one, I owe to Facebook. Yep, the ubiquitous social network is inspiring me. No doubt that if you use Facebook, you've recently seen compilations of friends' 2014 pictures and status updates. Their "Year." Facebook assembled a "year" for me--pulling random pictures of me from my account. It was abysmal. It appeared as though my year's most exciting moments consisted of assembling an IKEA dresser, complaining about daylight savings being a thing, and going to a concert.

Yeah, those were each parts of my existence this year, but I don't in any way think they deserve to be immortalized as my 2014. There are vastly more important things to me that make up what I will retain as my year. That said, my life is full of a lot of, "Hey look, I made salmon!" moments.
One time, I made salmon for dinner.
 This year, I want to do one awesome--completely fulfilling thing each month. That's it.  That's the plan. I don't think that I will actually make it a social network thing (I try* not to be one of those people), but I like to imagine my upcoming year having precisely 12 status updates--each of them awesome. I at least want to fill my life with enough greatness that if Facebook pulls this same "Here's Your Year!" shit next December, I'll be ready for them!

So here's to the 2015 Plan. May my "Look how long my (then-existent) hair used to be!" moments turn into "Look! I met Oprah today!" moments.  May my roller coaster rides turn into winning a contest to name a roller coaster.  Who knows!?  The point is, how hard is it to do one cool thing a month, and how much more fulfilling will my life be, if each year is full of 12 completely cool things. (12 times as fulfilling?)

*Probably unsuccessfully.

The Legal Job Market, What Law School Students Are Like, and Some Blathering About Careers

Despite not even looking at this blog too often, I continue to receive the occasional question from individuals that are struggling with law school and the turmoil that can accompany the idea and effectuation of dropping out.

About a week ago, I heard from Sam, a 1L, who wrote:
"I previously worked in finance at an excellent company and I graduated top 20% of my undergraduate class. The question is given the current state of the market I am incredibly nervous to continue in the legal field. 
Grades have not come out yet so I have no idea how I did, but the semester was definitely hard. I had a few breakdowns (panic attacks, depression..) and I honestly dislike the incredibly competitive environment - only a handful are humble people and the rest are so fake it drips through their pores.

I would really appreciate any advice on whether or not to drop out and go back to a decently well paying job with the opportunity for future career advancements."
Sam, I am far enough removed from law school, that I may not fully remember the types of feelings you're expressing.  It does not seem difficult, though, to imagine feeling pretty shaken up about continuing your legal education when you have some great work experiences in another field behind you, have had a rough time with the law school environment, and are unsure of your ability to find a legal job.

First, and most important to me, I really hope that if you're having panic attacks and depression, you seek appropriate medical help. In my experience, it can only improve your situation. If you're like me, you might not want to admit that anything is seriously wrong, (and maybe it isn't), but it won't hurt to just talk it over with a doctor or other healthcare professional. (If any of my readers (and many of you seem to) have similar symptoms, you might consider consulting this infographic.)

Second, you've led me to a big question a lot of law school students must have, what's out there for me when this is all over? I've been away from law school long enough now that all of my friends have graduated. Most seem to be happily employed, some seem to have hung out a shingle of their own, and maybe there are others that aren't super vocal about not finding a job. So... let's not use my Facebook friends as a reference.

The good news: so many people are reading my blog, that enrollment in law schools has dropped! Nope, but it IS dropping. reports, "First-year enrollment at U.S. law schools fell 11% from 2012 to 2013, according to the American Bar Association, bringing the total number of students enrolled down to 39,675 or where the figure sat in 1977, when there were far fewer ABA-accredicated schools. And two-thirds of ABA law schools reported declines in the size of their enrollment in 2013; 81 schools experienced a decline greater than 10%."

This at least means that there will likely be less competition for current 1Ls. However, when I started law school, there were apparently more than 52,000 law school students in the U.S.. (You're very welcome that I made that 51,999. (Math, my strong suit.)) This might mean you'll still have the remnants of previous graduating classes to deal with. Maybe those who started their own firms will still be competing for jobs and work. The recession really hammered the size of the legal market, it seems. Many firms cut back their hiring.

Admittedly, my research is not very encouraging for the current job market. Forbes, reporting on ABA data said, "Only 57% of 2013 grads had found... steady jobs. That’s a fraction better than the 56.2% of 2012 grads who had landed long-term employment in the previous year. But overall the unemployment rate for new lawyers ticked up to 11.2% from 10.6% the year before, according to the ABA, nearly twice the national unemployment rate of 5.9%."

Sam, back to you. At present, the market isn't looking too great, and I think it should be a factor in what you consider. Especially when you know you're pretty good at something else that can be lucrative.

Another, more important question for you to ask yourself: what do I want from my career? If something you can do with a JD is all you've ever wanted... that's probably worth fighting for. However, if you're looking for something where you can excel, that will pay your bills, and will surround you with people you like... it sounds like you might have other options.

I have talked about my classmates in law school a bit before, but I don't think I found the same things you seem to see in those around you. I really liked the people I went to law school with. Maybe you are surrounded by an abundance of completely fake people, or maybe you're looking at a group of students under such an incredible pressure to perform that they may not know how to handle it all with complete grace. To defend the people around you just a bit, in my experience at least, everyone changed quite a lot after the first semester was behind us. I changed quite a lot myself. That said, whatever you're seeing around you, is likely to be indicative of what you'll see around you in a law firm. Very competitive people angling to advance their careers. I would definitely consider that in your deliberations about your future.

All that said, you likely went to law school for some good reasons. Consider those, too. Maybe there are things you can do to curb the depression, to enjoy your surroundings, and fight for a legal career.

I'd recommend you ask for some help from people who are close to you, and maybe that will make your path a bit clearer.

I sincerely wish you all the best, and I hope you can find some happiness in your career endeavors.

And That Brings Us to the Subject of Happiness

I, like so many of us, have had a lifelong struggle with the frequent impulse to sacrifice some measure of my happiness to the altar of others' opinions. Sorry to wax irreligious, but like most other ritual sacrifices, this is virtually always done in vain. I just bring this up because even as an out-of-the-closet gay man, I still find myself constantly checking how freely and openly I express myself and live.

Certainly, there are times when holding back parts of us can be a good thing. We don't idly share our personal lives (unless we're the oh-so-enigmatic quittorney author of this peculiar blog) with everyone we meet. We might not share opinions on a whim that could deeply hurt others. We might behave differently around friends than we would around co-workers and superiors.

This is true.

However, too often we permit others to stifle our own happiness and freedom to achieve. It doesn't usually start in any conspicuous way.  Usually it's something along the lines of... oh let's say, a father tells his son, "I think you would make a great lawyer," without any provocation, and son (whose secret dream is to become the world's greatest gondolier) says nothing.  Ol' Dad has given his son a compliment of sorts, but what did his son hear? He may have heard, "You might disappoint me if you aren't a lawyer." The son might have ingested the thought, "I can't tell my father about my highly incongruous dream of gondoliering because he wants me to pursue a more conservative traditional respected occupation." This is obviously a dramatic representation of my point, but I think we can all relate in one way or another to this type of social or familial situation.

Personally, I was petrified about telling my family I was struggling with law school. And I have one of the least overbearing families I know of.

All I'm trying to say is that, as with law school, depression, or terrible twists of fate, the opinions of others can hold our happiness captive. These kinds of situations often require us to muster up the will to take charge of our own happiness.

How do you do that?

Well, I probably don't actually know the right way to answer that question, but I sure seem to think I do!

At the base of what I feel is the right answer, is self-respect and love. To be happy, you have to appreciate who you are, and what you want from life. Don't let all the other stuff cloud that vision of loving who you are, and don't let it stop you from living the way you desire to. This is easier to say than to live, but I think it's the truth.

I heard recently that we guage happiness by our expectations. If they're met or exceeded we're happy. That's likely a vast oversimplification of whatever scientific study of humanity was done to produce the article I read, but it struck me as truth. It also tempts me to say, "I'll just expect less." However, I don't think that leads to as much happiness. If you expect a lot, you'll likely have more drive to fulfill expectations a lot. If I expect to accomplish some great thing, and I never do because I felt obligated to just pay my bills and hold a steady job... I likely can't kick the need to be fulfilled that I tend to carry around with me.

Consider that weird progeny who desired to be a world-class gondolier. I think someone with a dream like that, holds that dream in their heart. His or her heart has the expectation of achieving that great accomplishment. If that son let his dad's expectations for his career dominate his thinking, he may never attain his expectations, and lose out on a lot of happiness. How should the story go? The son ignores Ol' Dad, and strives to attain his goal. If he succeeds, he has met (or maybe exceeded) his own expectations, and achieved a great happiness.  Dad can at least be happy that his son is so happy and so great at what he does. (Singin' in and navigating a boat!) And if he fails? Well, he's no worse off for having released his heart from the expectation, and there's always time to go to law school (or pursue any other dreams he might have). Either way, he can be proud that he took charge of his own happiness.

I definitely chose the most random example to use, but I just hate how often I see people dwell in a sub-par existence because of the hold others have on them with their mere opinions.

Readers, Sam, me... take charge of your happiness! Pursue the expectations of your heart! Kick Facebook's ass at their "Here's Your Year" game!

P.S.: I've been really goofy with this post, but I sincerely hope there's some value here. Please let me know what I can do better! I aim to actually help!

How To Be Happy In Your True Skin As A Law-School Quitter

I was going to school to become a lawyer; I had put a lot of effort, time, and money into a legal career, but I up and quit.  What's so special about that? Why would I spend so much of my time blogging--inviting and answering questions from dozens of confused, unhappy, and disappointed strangers? Why was quitting law school such a big deal to me?

Is it the amount of importance other people place on making a decision like going to law school in the first place?  Sometimes I tell people I went to law school, and that alone is impressive to them.  It really shouldn't be, but for some reason it impresses many folks without further explanation of any kind of effort to get into law school or the quality of the school, etc.  Just going is apparently a feather in my cap.  Is it the amount of importance we've placed on the kind of money you spend to go to law school? I have six figures of debt... that is no small sum.  That is a debt that sometimes feels like I'll carry it to my grave it seems so insurmountable. Is it the amount of expectation that a student puts on herself or himself when embarking on a legal education journey?  I thought I was going to change the world.  I remember my personal statement that I sent to my law school with my application... it was extremely flowery and full of language about my heroes like Hadizatou Mani and how I was going to fight for important causes like her. I was going be a champion of the downtrodden, and fight for human rights.  I didn't end up doing anything close to that.

Is it any of these things?

Nope.  Not for me.

The reason quitting law school was so damn important to me?  It helped me come out of the closet.

Ha! Imagine that!

Going to law school was a big step for me.  I was progressing down a road that had long been set in stone in my mind by my upbringing in the Mormon church.  I was going to just keep moving forward toward a job that would be able to support my wife and three kids.  I always figured that's what I was going to have.  I didn't have a huge love of the law, so I found a way to romanticize what I could do with the law and use my love of those who fight to secure their rights as a buttress to secure my path in moving forward with a very adult career that would be impressive to women and my family.

Then I got to law school.  It was hard.  A lot was demanded of me.  That was new for me.  I had never been asked to do as much.  I expected a lot from myself.  I was used to being able to accomplish pretty great things in my academic career without having to exert myself too much. So, now that law school was asking me to exert myself... I was struggling with it a bit.  I did fairly well my first semester.  But then something started happening in my personal life that really made exerting myself to the level law school demanded a serious difficulty.  I couldn't focus... I couldn't keep my energy up... I couldn't sleep.

What happened?

I had discovered that I was attracted to my same gender.

For many gay men, this revelation comes much earlier.  They may not accept it, or consider themselves gay at a younger age... but they usually realize it sometime during or just after puberty.  I on the other hand had always been a devout Mormon that followed my church's counsel on never allowing myself to have inappropriate sexual thoughts.  I assumed I was just really really good at not thinking about women in this way.  And having those kinds of thoughts about men?  Please... that would make me gay and that's an outright abomination.  I couldn't possibly have those thoughts.

As law school started opening my mind to questioning my surroundings, I started finally questioning my church and my upbringing.  I had always had doubts, but I didn't like thinking about them, so I usually just repressed them.  I started actually dealing with them though.  With this came my first real questions about my sexuality.  I had assumed I was straight, but that I just had a low sex drive.  As I started actually exploring the subject of sex, though, it became pretty clear that I was attracted to men, and not attracted to women sexually.

While I had doubts about my church at the time of this discovery... I still very much believed it was the one true church.  Realizing these feelings I had for my same gender... I felt a crushing guilt.  I was constantly hiding my severe depression from everyone around me as much as I could.  But I started becoming an insomniac, missing classes, and pulling away from friends.  My depression got bad enough that I started having to answer questions.  So I blamed law school.  I started telling concerned parties that I just had an inexplicable depression and it was making law school really hard.  And I didn't like law school.  (That much was true... it was stressful!)  I eventually decided to move home to my family to try and deal with the depression.  But deep down I knew I was never going to be free of the depression until I dealt with my discoveries about my sexuality.

Quitting law school was a very tough decision.  I am a competitive (read: prideful) person.  I had never stopped doing something that seemed so fundamental to my path to getting the happy family with a wife and three kids.  How would I explain this?  I would say I was conquering depression.  I left the conquest of the law to others so that I could vanquish depression!  I'm such a hero for tackling depression in that way, right?  Well... that's not really what happened.  I only continued to get more and more depressed as I realized just how gay I really am and as I continued to hide that truth.  Being gay felt like the antithesis to everything my future was supposed to be.  Just this last summer, even as I kept blogging about how happy I was here on this blog, I was actually sinking further and further into depression.  I finally hit rock bottom after two years of plummeting from the recent college graduate and 1L that thought he'd just become a lawyer, get his wife, have some kids, and settle into a nice happy suburban life... to a guy that was working for very little money, deeply in debt, feeling completely estranged from his religion, unsure who he was and how he could go on.  One night, I found a place where I could be alone.  I collapsed in a dark cloud of misery and tears. I thought I might end it.

I don't know what got me through that night... but somehow... I fought through.

I realized that all of this change in my life wasn't in vain.  It was helping me to accept who I am.  And with the help of some incredible other gay Mormons that took to the Internet, I started really gaining confidence that who I was wasn't an abomination.  I wasn't inherently a horrible person because I was attracted to men.  I started thinking that I might even be able to start telling the people closest to me.  I started by coming out to a few friends that were either gay themselves or who I knew were more than ok with gay people being in their lives.  Then, when that went so well, I finally decided to write an individualized letter for every member of my immediate family.  On October 1, 2013, I came out to my family.  To my family's credit, they were incredible.  While many of them expressed concern about the changes in my religious views, they all told me they still loved me.  Most of them told me they would continue to love me no matter what I decided to do with my life.  I felt so relieved.  One week later I came out to many of my closest friends and found similar strength and support.

This blog isn't important to me because I quit law school.  Yes, I am happy that I might have helped some people who were struggling with their decision to quit or not.  This blog is important because it is part of a life change that helped to save my life.  I was being destroyed by my depression at the discovery of my sexuality.  Law school was too much to handle on top of that.  My heart was never really in the law in the first place.  Quitting helped give me the strength to make the most important decision I've ever made.  Coming out of the closet saved my life, and has led me to becoming arguably the most happy I've ever been!

I know who I am.  I know that I'm a gay man.  I love myself!  Just a year ago I honestly hated who I was.  I hated that there was this void that I couldn't sort out.  Thanks law school for helping me have so much stress that I had to start dealing with my personal problems!

Some things I've learned have really helped me to become happy even though I'm such a different person than I ever thought I would be at this phase of my life.

1.  I don't need to follow some specific recipe to find happiness.  I don't need to just check off boxes like a to do list that reads:

  • Become Lawyer
  • Marry a woman
  • Have kids
  • Buy suburban house
to be happy.  I don't need a career that everyone automatically respects to be happy.  I don't need to follow someone else's prescribed path to be happy.  

2.  There is always more happiness ahead.  It might not come when or how you want it to, but there really is more happiness ahead in your life.  Hang in there!  Life is so worth living!

3.  The value of looking to your past comes from looking at it through the lens of appreciating the positive steps you've made, thereby solidifying any lessons you've learned along the way.  I'm genuinely more happy now than I've been in a very long time, and I have learning from some sucky things in my past to thank for that!

4.  Conquering life's most difficult problems is how you become the best you you can be.  Law school was hard, but I could have finished it and still not been the best me I could be.  Instead I stepped away and eventually faced up to the most difficult thing I've ever dealt with, and conquered.  Even though I don't have everything figured out... I honestly think I'm the best me I've ever been.

5.  Positive thinking is how you can conquer life's toughest crap. When faced with some things that suck about my life that I couldn't change... I just framed the situation in a more positive light and took control of the moment.  I learned that I can either wallow in sadness about whatever I can't change, or I can just make that situation the best I can and move on!

I don't know who will read this and find any inspiration.  I'm guessing that mostly this will just be how many people will find out that I'm gay.  That's fine, because that means they're getting to know who I really am.  But I genuinely hope there is something of worth in this or anything else I do for anyone that could use some advice or even just a smile.  

How To Figure Out What The Heck To Do Next After Quitting Law School

Hey there, faithful readers who've been dying to hear from me regarding quitting law school and ignoring my foray into low-quality blogging with a legal bent!

I received a couple questions a while back and thought, why not? I'll blog about them.

Some time ago Anon asked:

"I'm really considering quitting law school. I never dreamed of becoming a lawyer. Honestly it was never even on my radar during undergrad. It was only after I graduated and started going "now what?" that I thought about it. So I studied for the LSATs for roughly two months, did pretty well, applied to one school, and was accepted on a full ride. Honestly I don't hate it but I could really care less about law. I'm not bad at law school. I got the highest grade on our first writing assignment but I'm so much happier doing other things. My hearts not in it and I realize that I resent the huge drain it has on my time. I don't think I'd be a bad lawyer I just don't think I'd be a particularly good one. Honestly, I think my biggest question is if I go through with it and quit law school what in the heck do I do next? How do I go about finding a job and making a life and all that stuff? What did you do?"
Well, Anon... it kind of sounds like you might just be too scared of whatever may follow law school or quitting law school to make any decisions at this point.

My questions to you are first, what do you want from your career?  If you're looking for stable employment or decent wages, it sounds like finishing up law school probably wouldn't be the worst thing for you, especially if you aren't struggling with it.  If you're solely looking for something that fulfills you, then you should consider your options in quitting.

Here are many other questions I would consider good for you to ask yourself: What was on your radar when you were in undergrad?  What have you done to help give yourself the life experiences that will help you find out what your true passions and interests are?  If you're looking to follow your heart, you're going to need to know what your heart is saying.  For instance, are you driven by a desire to serve humanity?  Are you driven by a desire to provide for and protect your own?  Are you driven by social standing or acceptance?  Are you concerned about the expectations others have for you?  Do you have the time to step back and explore your options?  Do you have responsibilities to others that don't allow for that?  What things DO make you happy if the law does not?  What times in your life did you feel fulfilled and content with the direction you were heading?

As for your questions for me... I just went to my network and started looking for things that interested me.  But that was not until I had taken a break and explored one last time whether the law was for me (by interning for a judge.)  Now I work in marketing and I get to write and edit which is really where I think my passion lies.

Don't know how helpful all of that was, but hopefully I've at least offered something for you to think about.

I also received a question from Jessica that deals with some experiences of hers that I think many people can relate to:

Right now i'm in the middle of my second year. Law school for me has been a rollercoaster. I have great grades. I have become super involved with law societies, journals, and a teaching assistant position. On paper, law school is generally going "well." However, I could not get a legal job last summer. Throughout the countless interviews I got the same question: why don't you have any legal experience prior to going to law school? I have a Master's degree, and I worked two odd jobs to get through that degree financially. What I find frustrating is the implication that I have sat on my butt since college, and somehow this work that I am super proud of just isn't good enough. This is the point at which I started to consider dropping out. the inability to find a legal position over the summer completely consumed me, and I ended up completely depressed for months.
But it turned out just fine, and during my 1L summer I got an amazing job at a publishing company. I did amazing work there, and being back in a field that I loved helped me overcome my depression. I even learned a bit about copyright and intellectual property, so I thought I could use this interesting experience to find work in that area of law. However, I recently met with my career services adviser who told me - and I still get truly shaken up about this when I think about it - that I will never be a lawyer. She said that despite my grades and my activities, I don't have the "personality or demeanor." She also hinted that I could never be a lawyer because I am a woman. I feel like this is just the last straw for me. I have a job offer in the publishing field, and I have never had anyone in that field question my abilities to do great work even though I am "female" and "soft spoken." And now I'm right back in the depression. It's difficult to even get out of bed in the morning. However, it's so hard to pull the plug after putting in the time, money, and effort. I feel like I might always wonder if this degree would have helped me to get a job down the road. But I feel like I have to take back my life.

I feel like law school is such a specific set of circumstances. My boyfriend and my family are all super supportive of whatever decision I make. I guess I just wanted to reach out to someone who has been to law school.

For the lack of something better to say, I'm going to first say, some people suck.  Obviously you could be a lawyer if you wanted to be.  You're a talented person that has proven yourself in a professional atmosphere.  Maybe a "soft spoken" nature would keep you from working in legal settings that require extremely charged verbal debate, but there are SO many areas of the law, and SO many types of lawyers.  That woman is an idiot for flat out saying you would never be a lawyer.  That's your choice.

Moving on, I sincerely hope you've reached out for help with the depression.  I can only speak to my own experiences with it, but just be open and honest with SOMEONE you trust about EVERYTHING you need to get off your chest.  It did me a world of good to be open about it.

I really hope that you know that quitting law school, while super hard to do after all the time, money, and effort you've invested (as you said), can be completely worth it.  I still deal with the financial ramifications of my decision to quit, but I know that I'm a happy person. Being able to live with a positive attitude is worth losing on the stuff I invested into a legal career.  But that's just me!

Hope you've been able to sort some things out since writing!

Sorry to Jessica and Anon for taking my time in responding!  I actually started this blog post about a month or so ago!  I just realized that I didn't want to let this blog go by the wayside while I move on with my life.  It can still serve a good purpose in a few people's lives, and I mean to make it available to them!

Next time on How to Quit Law School: A very important update post about the author.  (That one might take a while before it shows up, but it should be fairly good.)

How To React To Being One Year Removed From Law School

It was exactly a year ago today (to the minute) that I sent off an email to an administrator at my law school stating that I was resigning from law school.  It was such a freeing moment.  I think the closest experience I have had that rivals the relief I felt in sending that email was when I was finished with my mission for my church.  I had spent two years, 24/7 almost exclusively thinking about sharing what I believed and helping those I met.  I felt a burden leave my shoulders when my mission was officially over.  There was a similar feeling when I finally committed to ending my law school journey.  It was the hardest and scariest decision of my life, but I've come out on top.

I've known for a few weeks that this anniversary was coming, and it kind of frightened me, to be honest.  I wondered if I'd be able to demonstrate through progress and growth over the past year to my readers and friends that quitting law school was totally worth it--that I was one of those people who quit, but went on to do great things.

But now that I'm reflecting on everything I've been through, I don't really care what my readers think about my decision.  (I do wonder though, about the opinions of my former classmates.  I wonder sometimes if they feel like I'm just that guy who quit because he was lazy, etc.  I wonder if I make them feel better about their ability to stick it out?  Alas, as Danie said, they'll talk, but then they'll just forget.)

The important thing about my decision?  I know I made the right one.  While I don't have a fantastically high-paying job that incurs as much respect as being a lawyer may, I am so much happier.  My life feels stable enough for me to just focus on progressing and getting better at it all.  Have all my problems gone away?  Nope.  Am I still pretty deep in debt?  Yep.  But I'm happy with my present state.  I have a job that lets me get the variety I crave.  I have the promise of being able to try various things that I've never done before.  I get to work from home (a.k.a. anywhere with Internet)!  I love my bosses.  I really like where I live and feel like it suits me pretty well.  I'm not happy that there are people who find themselves miserable in law school and find their way here, but I am very happy that through this blog I've been able to help people in various ways.  I think a lot of people probably come here wanting something more from me, but I'm just happy if a couple of you leave here satisfied that you got a bit of help.  Things are pretty darn good.

The other day, I had a friend who was facing a possible conflict with his work and he asked me to look over his contract.  It was fun realizing that, while I couldn't actually state anything with the authority of a true barrister, I could still help him to know what he should talk to lawyers and interested parties about.  I was reminded of some of the thrills I had in figuring the law out.  However, it also reminded me that I didn't have to write a boring, rigid brief about what he and I talked about.  I didn't have to deal with the politics of a firm.  I didn't have the pressure of needing to get it all correct to avoid losing.  I miss some things about learning the law, but I don't miss a lot of the other stuff that surrounded it.

Truly, I'm happy I quit.  I guess that's the best thing I could have hoped to be saying at my one year anniversary of my decision to drop out of law school.

How to Quit Law School: Interview-- Danie

I've known for a while now that I've wanted to get more voices involved with this blog.  I recently got in touch with a fellow law school dropout, and she made the very wise suggestion that I utilize an interview-style post to involve her experiences and opinions.  In reading through her responses to my questions, I think this has proven a great success as it allowed her to be very candid, where a guest post might be a bit more limited in its voice.  I'm very happy that Danie agreed to help me out with this, and I hope that some of you that might not relate as well to me can connect with her experiences.  Without further ado, Danie: 

What compelled you to go to law school in the first place?

When I was in college, I loved reading and writing. I was actually an English major.  One of my professors, upon hearing I wasn’t sure what would come for me after graduation, said I should look into law. I went to my university’s law school and met with the faculty, toured the classrooms, and talked to students. I fell in love with the idea of being a lawyer. I even shadowed a local attorney to see what it would be like. I thought, “Wow, these are hardworking, ambitious people like me… maybe this is where I belong.”

How far along were you when you quit?

I formally withdrew after completing my second semester, but I gave up before that, about March in my second semester as a 1L. I didn’t go to class or do anything, really. I remember finally catching up on Mad Men.

What did you like about law school?

I liked a lot of things. I liked the classes – everything was treated with such gravitas. I also liked the people I met. It was like hanging out with the smartest people I knew every day, and on an intellectual level it was intoxicating.

What did you not like about law school?

I didn’t like the competitiveness of it all. I didn’t like being pitted against people who I cared about and wanted to do well in law school. I also didn’t like the style of writing. This seems like such a small thing to complain about, but as someone who loves to be creative and values freedom of expression, it was stifling. I also just felt very lost, and I didn’t like that law school was giving me that feeling. I wanted to be a lawyer, but what did that mean?

What made you feel like quitting? 

I love it when people ask me this question, or some variant of it. The reason I enjoy it so much is that “quitting” or “dropping out” or my personal favorite, “giving up” used to bother me so much, and now I can smile when people say it. The thing is, those words carry such a negative connotation in the world around us. Quitting anything was almost unthinkable for me two years ago. My whole life, any time I felt like throwing in the towel or giving in to anger, my dad would say, “Have you ever quit anything in your life? Don’t start now.” But the reason why they carry that negativity is because it’s not the accepted path. It makes you unpredictable. People don’t like change, and thus, they make it unnecessarily spooky and dangerous-sounding. I embrace this interpretation in some ways – I like the idea of being different and finding my own way. In other ways, I wish it was more acceptable so there were better support systems in place for people.

I wanted to quit because I felt so suffocated. I was isolated from people I used to talk to regularly because of the pressure to study and dedicate myself fully to law school. I only interacted with a few people I had managed to befriend, because I didn’t know a soul when I arrived, and most of the students were from that area or state. That and the competition. The gunners were so ruthless, and people gossiped about each other like it was a high school. For someone who loathed high school, this was not enjoyable, to say the least.

I feel I should point out here that I am not some pure-as-the-driven-snow person. I’ve done a lot of terrible things in my life. I’ve lied, I’ve gossiped, I’ve hurt others. But here it was the intensity and unrelenting quality of the situation that made me draw away from all of it and look at myself in a clearer light. Am I a lawyer? Am I something else? Who am I? And the answer to that first question was a no. I knew then that I had to quit before I got a degree – and the debt – that I didn’t want.

What (if anything) have you replaced law school with in your life?  Have you found new work?  And if so, did you find that having quit law school made it difficult to find work in any way?  

I’ve found new work – my job in marketing. And [having quit law school] didn’t make anything difficult. I just left it off my resume.

What can you take from law school to your new career direction?

So I’m in my mid-twenties and I’ve heard it is among the most tumultuous times in a person’s life. I’ve also heard people change careers – not jobs, careers – several times in their lifetime. So my new career may not be my last. I just want to put it out there that it’s kind of crazy to ask students aged about 21 or 22 to borrow upwards of 200k for a career they may not even want in the next 10 years, but will likely be stuck with due to the debt they are saddled with upon graduation.

But to really answer the question, right now I’m in marketing. It’s intense, exciting, challenging, and fun. I feel great when I can put together a great business campaign and use my creativity. The law school experience just makes doing something I really enjoy sweeter. You might have to move and get out of your comfort zone to get a job, but if I found something, so can you. I had no marketing experience and months later, I just got a stellar performance review and I’m trusted by my clients. No one, not even an interviewer, has ever asked about or mentioned my time in law school.

Do you worry about people thinking you failed?

Oh man, at first this was a huge concern for me. I laugh about this now, but I actually changed my Facebook privacy settings so that I could change my Education in the About Me section. I was totally freaked out about the possibility that people who didn’t know about my decision to leave would talk about me.

No one actually cares. I mean, people will talk about it, especially at your law school. But that doesn’t last long, because people get bored with that news if it isn’t followed up by something even juicier. Your name might pop up in a conversation now and then, but it will be forgotten almost as quickly as it was revealed. If that’s what’s holding you back, don’t think twice about it.

After I told my law friends I was leaving, of course it got around. I was waiting with another 1L in my section outside a restaurant one night after the news had spread. She looked at me and said very quickly, “I wish I was you.” When I asked her why, she told me how her parents expected the world of her, and her siblings were very successful. It was a lot of pressure, and she hated law school. I told her that she could leave, too, if she wanted. But what I said felt empty. Because I knew even before the words left my mouth that she wouldn’t, at least not then. She wasn’t ready to face “failure.”

Do you ever feel regret about quitting law school?

No. I thought I would, too. But I don’t regret it. I don’t regret going for a year, either. I’m not sure if that’s dangerous for me to say, because I don’t want to encourage anyone who is on the fence to go to law school, I really don’t. But if I hadn’t gone, I wouldn’t know myself as well as I do today, and I don’t think I’d be as happy. It took failure, intense sadness and shame to make me realize all the things that I do have going for me, and all the things that I know I want to do and be.

What advice do you have about dealing with student loans after quitting?  Is there anything you wish you had done differently?  Are there any resources that have helped you out?

I was eligible for [Income Based Repayment], and I was lucky in that I only went for one year and I didn’t have a lot of loans. I recommend talking to a financial consultant who specializes in student loans if you have questions. I don’t really feel qualified to give any kind of advice on that.

 I wish I’d had more scholarships, but I had a lot and I am very fortunate. I wouldn’t go to law school at full price – and some law schools I wouldn’t go to even if they were free.

Who (if anyone) did you talk about quitting law school with before you made your decision?  Did you find them helpful?  Were they supportive?  Did anyone tell you not to quit?  Why?

I talked with my fiancé, my parents, and eventually even my law school friends. I also talked to a therapist. If your school offers wellness services, like mine did, I highly recommend taking advantage of them.

Everyone was supportive. Even my parents, who I expected to be very disappointed, were helpful and kind. I think they could tell how unhappy I was, and ultimately they wanted me to make a choice that would bring me happiness.

The only person who told me not to quit was a dean. I went to withdraw and she asked me lots of questions about my experience and why I was quitting. She said the way I was feeling was temporary. I contended that she just wanted my tuition. After that comment, she passed me to someone in the office who helped me fill out the paperwork, and that woman was very kind. I actually loved the majority of the staff at my school – but some of the deans seemed very aware that they were there to get and keep as many students (and their tuition dollars) as possible.

Who have you talked to (if anyone) that has given you good advice since quitting?  What has helped you move on?

As far as giving good advice, my fiancĂ© has been very helpful. He’s actually a 2L in law school, and loves it. Watching him succeed in law school and seeing how passionate he is about it lets me know I made the right decision. And he always encourages me – now we’re both confident that I will find lots of things I enjoy doing.

As for moving on, just having a new job and having left the city my law school was in has helped tremendously. And this opportunity to share my experience has been very cathartic as well.

Do you think there is a point at which people should just finish law school (save extreme circumstances)?

I don’t think I could make that judgment call for anyone. Everyone is different and what seems like a minor bother to you could be an unbearable burden for someone else.

What do you feel you gained from your time in law school?

For one, I gained some true friends. Even a year later, I still keep in touch with them. I also gained a lot of perspective about life. I saw that law school had been this escape for me from the problems I thought I would be facing if I moved home or got another crappy retail job or (insert terrifying scenario here). It allowed me to continue on perpetuating this collegiate lifestyle that was the only thing I knew since leaving my small town at 18. But as it turns out, once I got there, the veil of the “escape” was lifted – law school was real work, and it had real consequences if I didn’t do well. There were no do-overs and no safety nets. So what I really gained was this huge awakening about who I was and who I wanted to be. And it wasn’t a lawyer.

What other advice, reflections, or thoughts do you have to share with people who will read this post?

I want to share with them that everything is scary before the jump. And after… you’ll have to see for yourself.

 (The questions were initially asked in a different order, and I've made minor edits to some responses.)

I am very grateful that Danie offered her experiences.  I can definitely relate to much of what she explained (including how sharing the experience with others in this way is cathartic).  I also fully endorse her opinion that we need to consider that quitting isn't always such a horrible thing.  If any of you would like to share your experiences, let me know!

Next time on How to Quit Law School: TBD.

How to Approach Concerned Family or Friends About Dropping Out of Law School

Today, I'm responding to a question that has given me great pause.  Family can be such an important part of our lives, and it can be one of the most tricky parts of our lives as well.   As I've mentioned before, I feel blessed to have a family that accepted my choice to quit law school as easily as they accepted my decision to go to law school.  (They may have had their own doubts, but they only ever reassured me I was making a good choice for me.)  However, many people have families that like to be more involved, want to coach them in all their decisions, or even be downright controlling of their lives.  Many parents have great expectations for their kids and are not wont to seeing those expectations disappointed.  Not so surprisingly, parents often react negatively when their kids want to quit something.  But quitting can be the brave, the wise, and the right thing to do sometimes.  Some who quit law school know what they want, but are unsure how to approach troubled family or friends about that decision to drop out.  I received the following question (slightly edited) from Leah:
I'm almost done with my second semester of 1L and I am enrolled in a 4 year JD dual degree program at a poorly ranked law school. Unfortunately, I've spent most of the year hating every minute of every class and have realized that I don't think law is the right field for me. The idea of spending 4 more years in any law related program makes me sick. I have been waffling on whether or not to quit and am really leaning towards leaving. However, my family is not very supportive of this decision. They're also the main reason why I went to law school in the first place. There has always been the expectation I would go to law school or medical school. Whenever I call them or talk to them about it seriously they just respond, "Your first year is the worst, you'll change your mind," or "Quitting is a decision you'll regret for the rest of your life." How would you suggest approaching the topic of quitting law school with parents?

Leah, I'd be doing you a disservice if I told you there was a magic formula to disarming your parents' doubts about your choice to quit law school should you go that route. Perhaps your parents will fight you on it, and perhaps they won't get over their expectations. I can tell you, though, that it's your life, not theirs. If staying in law school will make you more miserable than quitting and possibly disappointing your parents, then that's your choice to make.  I know you haven't made up your mind entirely, but I hope you think about your best path to happiness in making this decision, and don't let others' paths interfere with yours.

Perhaps the fact that your parents tell you you'll regret it for the rest of your life means they're seriously doubting your commitment to quitting and making something else work. So I think that's where I would start. If I were you, I'd start formulating my response immediately for the question, "Well, what are you going to do instead?" I had the luxury of getting some leeway from family and friends on that. (To be honest, I still can't answer the afforementioned question succinctly.) But it sounds like you'd do well to alleviate their concern somewhat if you have a plan. The more you have to tell them about what's next, the less likely it seems that they'd continue doubting your decision.

That said, maybe your parents won't let go of their expectations that you finish law school (or replace it with med school?) And maybe they will come around. If you do decide to have this conversation with them, prepare yourself to face the possibility that they won't support you.  The fact that you mentioned both law and med school makes it sound as though your parents may want for you to have one of the classic status symbol occupations that many Americans have looked to with respect over the years. Perhaps if they're dead set on those, you'll be hard-pressed to please them without one of those types of careers. However, the world today is full of a great many very-well respected professionals whose names don't carry esquire or M.D. around with them. Perhaps you'll have to find one of those other careers that is respected and that actually helps make you happy first, and then your folks may change their minds.

Another way you could prepare is to think about what you've gained from law school and tell them about that. Explain to them, as you explained to me, how you learned that the law isn't a great fit for your desired career. Tell them about the experiences you've had that (if your first year was anything like mine) will change how you look at the world. Whatever you may have gained from this one year, perhaps it can help alleviate their concerns as well.

My final advice is to demonstrate to them as clearly as you can with examples how law school is wrong for you. Explain to them why it makes you unhappy. I know that it can be hard to articulate all of these things I'm telling you to explain, but if you're concerned about this conversation, just prepare as best you can. Explain to them that you're seeking your happiness in this decision, and not to disappoint them.
Leah, I really hope the best for you as you finish up this year. Whichever way you go, I hope it's the way that you feel will lead you to being happy. I know I probably haven't been much help here, but I really hope that if you do decide to quit that your parents understand. If they don't, you can always come vent to me. Either way, let me know if you have any further questions. Good luck!

To readers: in the upcoming posts for this blog, I'm hoping to share some other people's stories with you. I have a couple quittorneys who may potentially be explaining their views on these things, but if anyone reading this feels they'd like their voice to be heard on anything related to law school please drop me a line on the contact page. I'd love for people to hear from more of you whom they may connect with better than they connect with me and my story.

How To Quit Law School When You're Almost Done

Hello, again.  Long time no post, I know.  This is from a combination of holidays, travel, and work.  I thought I'd start this post with a quick update about how my life has gone now that it has been more than a year since I sat in a law school classroom.  In the past few months my job with my growing new company has felt better and better, and I've decided to stick with it for the time being.  I won't be going back to get a teaching certificate any time soon.  However, I may still pursue that path in the future.  (After all, I still have what my family has nicknamed the "poverty-seeking gene."  There are quite a few teachers in the family.)

Especially during this post-law-school period of my life, I've been much more willing to take some chances provided they feel right and good.  I'm also pretty much always willing to travel as I figure I'm only getting older and these opportunities may not present themselves as much in the future.  (Got a trip for me to join you on?  Let me know!)  Overall, this chance-taking has led to some great experiences, and I don't feel anything like I felt during law school.  Sometimes I felt good in law school, and, as I've mentioned, I had some great experiences there.  But now I feel so much more that I'm headed in a direction that I can be truly comfortable with, and that isn't just the natural career progression step following completion of a history degree.  I keep meaning to write about quitting law school regret, but it really just isn't on my mind that much.  Early on it hit me pretty hard a few times, but I think that was mostly just because my life had changed so dramatically so quickly.  I may not have it all figured out at this point, but I feel good--and that's definitely better than feeling crappy just to finish up a degree.

I also have a question I wanted to address (hence the title of this post) about quitting further down the law school road.  3L Barrett asked:   (edited)

I am in my third year of law school ..., but due to the school's shady manipulation of credits I will have to stay for another year and a half to graduate. While looking over the repayment schedule, I find myself wondering if getting a JD would be worth all the extra loans I would have to take out. What do you think?


First, that sounds pretty sucky.  I assume you have exhausted your resources to determine if there is a way to avoid that situation, which can be taxing in and of itself.  Either way, in moving forward you don't want to let a sucky circumstance cloud your judgment about your future.  If I were you, I'd probably want to try and get to a mental state where I'm not angry about it before I made any decisions.

Second, so you're almost done with three years of law school.  Obviously, that is a huge accomplishment, and probably should not be idly cast aside.  As much as I hear it's a tough life out there for some recent JDs in finding work, a law degree is a great boon for many a career or resume.

Third, I suppose it all comes down to your cost-benefit ratios.  I would be very hesitant about quitting as far along as you are.  If your sole reasons for quitting are based on the debt you would further accumulate, I guess the big question is what are you going to do with what you've already accumulated?  It's all a matter of your contingency plan at that point, it seems.  If you have a way to reduce the amount of time it will take to pay off your debt (which is what it sounds like is concerning you), then I think you can probably consider quitting among your options.  However, if you don't really see a way of reducing the amount of time you'll spend paying off your loans, perhaps you'll do best to finish up your degree and get the best law job you can get/would want.  If you do have a great plan B for a non-JD job, then great.  I guess this decision can be more easily made.  However, excepting that, I'd seriously think about finishing.  That said, you may have other factors making you consider dropping out of law school.

Fourth, I'm just me.  I'm a quittorney who really only knows his own story.  Talk to those you trust in your life who have your best interests in mind.  It sounds as though your confidence and trust in your law school officials may be a bit shot, but if you have any professors or counselors that you feel you could talk with, I really recommend doing so.  I'd especially recommend student loan counselors, as that sounds like your primary concern.

Fifth, to sum up, I quit when I had roughly a year and a half left, myself.  If you can handle the idea of having your present student loans for what will feel like forever, and that is better than the forever and a few years that adding three more semesters' worth of loans would add to that, then I would say you could probably consider quitting.  If you can get gainful employment now that wouldn't require a JD, then I would say you could probably consider quitting when you're as far as you are.  Otherwise, it sounds like you may need to seriously consider finishing it out.

Finally, I seriously wish you well.  I hope I helped at least a little.  And if you have any further questions, let me know.

To all, I wish you well.  Until next time, de-stress with one of my favorite stress-relievers:  ,, or  .  (I guess these represent awesome distracting entertainment, punching/hitting things, and travel/theme parks, respectively.)

Next time on How To Quit Law School:  We'll hear from another former law school student about her experiences and any advice she may have.

How To Know When To Quit Law School

Hi folks, hope this new post finds you well.  I decided to field this question I received from a 1L named Katherine:

"So I'm in the final legs of my first semester. I'm actually doing fine; I go to class, I do my reading, I'm making outlines. But I feel like my soul has died. Every time I think about what I'm actually doing I am miserable. I hate the law. I am bored. I'm exhausted. As long as I'm working I'm doing okay, but if I get even a moment of breathing room I go into teary why-am-I-here mode. I am a formerly creative, passionate person who feels like a dried out shell stuffed full of legalese. 

"My question is: is it worth it to take my finals if I'm pretty sure this is wrong? Will I look like less of a failure to future employers or grad programs if I got decent grades for the semester I was here? Or should I just jump now and spare myself the misery of finals?

"Thanks so much for this blog. It has been very helpful."

Dear Katherine,

First, thanks for your brief feedback.  I am just glad if this blog helps even one person when they feel trapped.  Writing this blog has been my pleasure.

Second, I'm sorry you have reason to ask a question of me.  However, I'm glad to hear you say that you're at least "doing fine" when it comes to class and coursework.  I think I can empathize with the feeling you describe so eloquently as feeling "like a dried out shell stuffed full of legalese."  (Great language for such a sucky thing!)  

Third, as for your question, consider the value of finishing vs. bailing right now.  What will it benefit you to not finish this semester?  I can't tell you exactly what future employers may think.  They may see some value in stopping immediately and moving on to where your passion really is, but I tend to think they'd think a little more highly of a completed semester.  Especially if that completed semester can be capped off with a decent showing of grades.  

Fourth, that said, if there is some significant financial, employment-related, or health-related reason for you to quit before taking your finals, then you may just do that and not concern yourself with whether or not you took some tests.

Fifth, I think my biggest concern would be all the questions you'll wish you had answers to later on.  "I wonder how I would have done?"  "What if I came out in the top so-and-so% of my class and I decided that I wanted to stay in law school?"  What I'm trying to say is that I think your curiosity about what might have been would tend to trump any benefits of quitting now vs. a month from now.  Finals aren't a blast or anything, but they're still just school tests.  

Finally, obviously I don't know everything that is weighing into your decision.  But it sounds to me like you may want to just try out the tests.  It could be that whatever brought you to law in the first place just hasn't had a chance to come out in your first semester classes.  Maybe there's some course that will allow that trapped creativity to come out.  I know that for having a blog about quitting I'm talking a lot about staying, but I am not necessarily advocating that you not quit.  We all have our own myriad of reasons for wanting to drop out of law school, but yours are your own. I just tend to think that when you're as close as you are, you might as well finish at least this one semester.  (With the aforementioned caveat that there may be some compelling benefit to quitting now, be it financial or employment-related.)  

I hope that I've been a help to you as you ponder this important decision.  Don't rush your choice, but don't trap yourself with indecision either.  I sincerely wish you all the best in whatever you decide!


Next time on How to Quit Law School:  The R-word.  Regret.