Recently I came across a very well written reflection on how law school is a waste of life and money. It made me consider my own experience when it comes to what law school did for me.
There are many facts I have to agreed with that are mentioned in the article. Law schools do have a tendency to paint a rosy picture of job prospects. There is an overabundance of law graduates looking for placement, driving the salary of entry level jobs down. And there are less employments prospects for students outside the top 20% of their graduating classes. All in all, it pairs a very bleak picture.
Five years out of law school I realize all of these assessments were true when I graduated and continue to be true today. And while I can’t dispute the bleak assertions that come forth in that thoughtful reflection, I would like to at least lend some hope to the situation. If you are good with people and to people, you can make that law degree work the money you spent.
I can’t help but think that each job I have had since college has been garnered through a pre-existing relationship or starting my own business, and not through a blind resume submission or school sponsored interviews. And my story is not unique. From development officers for universities to successful entrepreneurs (whether solo practitioners in law or in a non-legal field), there are plenty of well accomplished and financially successful law graduates. One of the things that separated them from those less successful, was their skill with people.
This is why I put such emphasis on knowing how to successfully network. You never know when spending that one hour at a happy hour, or taking someone to lunch who you met the week before will turn into a job opportunity, whether it is being introduced to a colleague, someone who knows a colleague looking to hire, or someone who is looking to personally hire you for your skills (solo practice anyone? It can be very lucrative).
So while the job placement prospects may look dire, one thing I hope to leave you with is the thought that your degree (whichever field), will only be as valuable as you make it. And you make it far more valuable the more you know and the more you care to connect with people. I sometimes wonder if law school was worth the time myself, and then I remember all this amazing connections (networking) I made and how those connection have led to unique opportunities. It may not be in a corner office on the 23rd floor, but wouldn’t that be too cliché anyhow?