Would you still become a lawyer?

April 13, 2010
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Reporter Michael W. Hoskins wrote this post.

Some within the Indiana legal community say they wouldn’t become an attorney if they could go back in time to change that decision.

An Indiana Lawyer survey shows that more people offered a NO than a YES when responding to the question of: “If you could go back in time, would you still go to law school and become a lawyer?”

Fifty-five out of 91 responses. That’s a little more than 60 percent. Meaning that only 36 people said they’d still go to law school and become an attorney. The survey has been available online for nearly two weeks.

Wow. What does this say about the profession if so many of those who’ve taken the bar exam and the attorney oath feel they wouldn’t do the same thing again? I wonder if that sentiment is tied to the economy, as so many lawyers and law firms are seeing tough times because of their clients’ struggles? Or is it more specific, tied to something like the billable hours game, where young attorneys must constantly sprint to garner more client time and manage their schedules? Does the rising cost of law school factor into this?

Those answering with a YES might offer reasons such as they enjoy making a difference, helping individual clients – whether that’s a person or business – being able to work out resolutions to disputes. Maybe it depends on experience or type of attorney, or even whether someone practices at a big firm or by himself or herself as a solo practitioner.

Maybe it comes down to a difference in perspectives: Either you’re always battling issues out in courts and conference rooms and it always seems like a fight from opposing sides, or you are working to get people to agree and resolve their differences, based on what the law of the land says.

Sometimes, people find themselves looking back and wondering if they’d do things differently if given the chance. If you had that chance to fire up a flux capacitor and time machine, would this be where you wanted to end up? Why or why not?

We want to hear from you on this, possibly for a larger story in the print edition of Indiana Lawyer. Let us know what you think. Put “lawyer survey” in the subject line and e-mail us at indlaw@ibj.com.
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  • As a follow-up question ask: if given the opportunity, would you skip law school but become a lawyer if you pass the bar exam?

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  1. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  2. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  3. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  4. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

  5. I am compelled to announce that I am not posting under any Smith monikers here. That said, the post below does have a certain ring to it that sounds familiar to me: http://www.catholicnewworld.com/cnwonline/2014/0907/cardinal.aspx

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