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. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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