alexisinslumberland-deactivated asked: Hi there! I've been taking advantage of the free Yale Environmental Law post you put up. Right now I'm a sophomore in college and I've been planning on going to law school to become an international environmental lawyer but a lot of folks tell me that unless I REALLY want to be a lawyer not to go. Also I'm constantly told there will be no jobs when I graduate. My mind is becoming hazy and I'm not sure what to do, I want to study something that will allow me to move forward as an environmental activist, and I thought law was a good idea but now I'm unsure. If it's not too much trouble, do you have any advice?
- Do not go unless you want to be a lawyer
- It’s $100k of debt, minimum
- It’s 3 years of grueling, horrible studying
- Clerkships or legal internships are very, very competitive
- Journal review is also very, very competitive
- >You need one or the other
- Yep. The lawyer job market has peaked (some students are suing lawschools for their money back!)
- Fellow students can be vicious, backstabbing, and competitive.
- Students study very hard, and they drink/smoke even harder.
- Some students are evil. They will go on to use law nefariously. Your gut will know who these people are. But beware their powerful spells!
- The bar exam is pure evil, studying for it is pure eviler. Each state has different requirements, all are expensive. I’ve seen students puke and have nervous breakdowns while studying for the bar.
- It’s more competitive to get in these days. So your LSAT score must be higher than the school’s published average.
- You will think like a lawyer, forever. You will argue with friends like never before, find fault with every social situation, and see lawsuits everywhere you look and with every step you take. The world unfolds into something it never was before - a world that either is, or is not. All questions become black or white, as if in rivalry. In other words, you will hurt a lot of people’s feelings, and not even know it.
- Studying law is like nothing you’ve ever done, it’s exhilarating, fascinating, confusing, and frustrating. In a word, thrilling. You will be intellectually challenged like you’ve never been before. The law sweeps you off your feet, and you don’t know where you’ll land.
- Memory improves.
- Opportunity to study under an expert. I studied under giants at Vermont Law School - Patrick Parenteau, Dwight Merriam, Marc Mihaly, Yvonne Scannell and other Supreme Court level litigators.
- If you’re going to go, go to a school with a core focus. VLS, Lewis and Clark, Pace, Columbia, Yale all have the best environmental law programs in the world. VLS is #1.
- Once you finish your second year, you feel a deep sense of incomparable accomplishment.
- Once you graduate, you become part of the planet’s elites. Most don’t realize how privileged it is to have a law degree. Less than .001% of all people on earth have a law or PhD degree. In other words, use it well, use it for good.
- Good lawyers get paid good money.
- You will become an expert writer.
Can you muster the courage to argue facts and case history crisply in front of a judge?
You want to do good. Fine. But for whom? Individuals with a drug habit? A rare frog, or wolf? A river? An entire forest? A corporation? Rich individuals? A county? A state? The Federal Government? International treaties?
Deciding to go to law school involves precision.
Finally, there are masters in environmental law, and environmental policy that may be more suitable, and functional. If you’re into working for NGOs, non-profits, think-tanks, then that’s the way to go. These degrees teach the elements and structures of law, but focus on policy and advocacy.
UPDATE: To be clear, that .001% I mentioned is even less for women.