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.

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