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Is becoming a lawyer worth it?

I'm thinking about becoming an environmental lawyer, but I've heard law school is draining both financially and emotionally. Was it worth the effort put in? Are some types of law more fulfilling than others? Do you regret becoming a lawyer? Is there anything you would do differently?
#lawyer #lawyers #law-school #attorney #environmental-law #environment #law #july20


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Ro’s Answer

I'm a lawyer admitted in New York, and have practiced law or held legal positions in firms and companies earlier in my career, but later switched to the education field because I really enjoyed working in higher education. Having a law degree never hurts yo in your job search since law is involved in every company (contracts, partnerships, copyright, compliance with laws, etc.), however it's important to find your personal niche. Why do you want to be an environmental lawyer? Is it because you truly care about the environment and want to change/enforce laws and policy to benefit the environment? If yes, then go for it. Find out which law schools have great environmental law programs (ex: NYU has a great rep for that field) and consider what it takes to get accepted and pay for school. If you'll be applying for loans, GET A GOVERNMENT LOAN first before a personal loan (much lower interest!) Law school can be expensive, so research scholarships, work programs, and grants.

I can always go back into law, but I'm pretty content where I am now, and I don't regret law school at all. The most satisfying area of law will be the one that you enjoy the most - some people love working for non profits to advance social justice, whereas some people love paperwork and mergers. It really does depend on your interest. (By the way, environmental law can applies to many areas - so you have to find out which environmental sector you are interested in) Another good tip is that you don't have to major in traditional subjects like political science, it's actually to your advantage to have a major that is unique - ex: computer science major + law degree = can result in legal jobs at tech companies.

This was my 2 cents on this topic - and I hope it shed some light on your question. If possible, I would also seek the opinion and advice of other people that have practiced environmental law to get more focused answers and insight to that particular practice. Best of luck!

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Joseph’s Answer

Becoming a lawyer is great. The reason is that you come to understand all the legal issues in this legal world. There are facets of the law profession. You can be a civil lawyer, a prosecutor, an environmental lawyer, an immigration lawyer, a defense lawyer, and so on and so forth.an
Your choice as an environmental lawyer is promising in that there Is now a growing awareness of environmental degradation and people are suing for damages as people pollute neighborhoods.

In this light it is good you go for your dream and with many scholarships around you will succeed . Forget what the pessimists are saying as you switch to any kind of law if you find that kind not feasible.

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Grace’s Answer

I am a lawyer and even though it is a challenging field, I never regret the decision I made to attend law school. Law school is a significant investment, in terms of time, money, and energy. I took out loans to help pay for law school and will be paying them back for years to come. But I feel like I use the skills I learned in law school every day and had opportunities to work in amazing internships during school. If you attend law school in a city, you will be presented with fascinating internship and summer work experiences - even if you do not end up working in those fields of law after graduation, the experiences can be eye-opening and teach you so much. You can also use a legal degree to work in many jobs outside of being a traditional lawyer - it will always add value to your resume and to your analytical and writing skills, even if you decide the traditional legal path is not ultimately what interests you. That said, it is a significant investment to attend and the coursework is challenging, so make sure you are prepared for hard work if you decide to pursue a legal education. Good luck!

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Lauren’s Answer

You seemed to be focused on being an environmental lawyer, so I am assuming you are interested in environmental issues. My suggestion is to think about what you want to do in that area. Being an environmental attorney can be very rewarding but it is not the only way to work in that field. I am a recently retired attorney who had no idea what field she wanted to be in when she graduated law school - so you are ahead of the game! I have worked both in a firm and for various corporations and they were vastly different experiences. So I suggest first thinking about the environmental field and then, as an attorney, where you would provide your value.

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Jenna’s Answer

I did not enjoy law school and it was a tough, draining experience. I had to work hard to get my first job, but in the last 10 years, I can say that overall, I have enjoyed my career. I now am a solo practitioner and while I do probably work harder than I did previously, I find it to be more rewarding. There are days I am drained and wondering why I do it, but usually I am proud of using my training to help people that need it, creating connections, and having control over my clients and my practice. You might want to consider contacting environmental attorneys for an "informational interview" where you can ask them questions about their jobs and experiences. I did not end up practicing in the same area I wanted to at the beginning of law school, which was a great move for me. I would recommend focusing on your schooling and getting good grades, then focus on applying to law school, and then you can figure out what area of law is right for you. You could also consider volunteering at a free law clinic (contact the local state bar chapter in your area) or other organization where you have contact with lawyers, and see what it's like and if it's something that you would find interesting and energizing, or draining and a choice you would regret. Good luck!

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Aram’s Answer

Hi Amanda,
Having the edcuation and getting legal training won't hurt but only help you whether you stay in the industry or decide to venture out. In this complex day and age, having the legal knowledge, analytical skillset, and also a degree may help you whatever you do in your life. Having said that, I did not enjoy law school. Finding a job after graduation was also a challenge. (Perhaps the subprime mortgage crash had something to do with the job hunt? :) ) And even after a decade of practicing in the field, there are challenges that seem too daunting.

It is important to know what you like and want for yourself in life. I switched from Psychology to Law when I realized that I am a hands-on person who gets great reward by helping others (in small or more impactful way). While research is very important, I wanted to be on the ground helping people (and companies) and have an immediate impact. As a lawyer, I feel like I can do that both within and outside of my day job. If you know what makes you feel happy and rewarded, and you think the law will be able to provide you with that, I think it's worth the investment (time, money, also the pain). Good luck!

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Chantal’s Answer

Hi,
I think that becoming a lawyer is definitely worth it if you have the conviction of becoming one. Before going to law school, maybe you could some work in the area that you are interested (i.e. law firm) to see if it something you really enjoy.

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Lily’s Answer

It's impressive that you have pinpointed an area of law you are interested in. Honestly, many law students don't really know what area of law they want to pursue until they're close to graduation. Yes, going to law school is exhausting and is financially draining (conservative estimate of $150,000 for 3 years). However, if it is something you are passionate about, that is what will make it a fulfilling career for you.

I've been an attorney for 16 years and my initial 6 years were spent in large law firms in Silicon Valley. The work was tough but the training was invaluable. Generally, law firm life gives you the breadth of work that is hard to find anywhere else. You can work 16-18 hour days when you are staffed on a deal or case, which is draining. If I had to stay in a law firm for my whole career, I probably wouldn't be able to last. However, after 6 years in law firms, I moved in-house to a technology company. The next 8 years were spent learning how to be the in-house legal advisor for a technology company. I am a corporate attorney but I also learned how to be a product licensing attorney. I later became General Counsel of the company, managing the legal team. Now as General Counsel of a start-up, I find my work to be extremely rewarding. I am part of the executive team and advise my fellow executives on matters pertaining to product, law, employment, patents, trademarks and general corporate. The breadth of work is what keeps me on my toes and that's what I love about my job. As General Counsel, I'm not only a lawyer but also a business partner.

Before you confirm what area of law you would like to practice and decide whether you want to go to law school, I recommend the following:

Lily recommends the following next steps:

Talk to lawyers in different areas of law to understand what they do.
Talk to an environmental lawyer and understand their career path and see if that matches with your personal goals as well.

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