Such a Useful Degree

When I decided to go to law school, I didn’t particularly want to practice law. I wanted to work on Capitol Hill, or at least a state legislature. Law, everyone said, gives you lots of options. If I didn’t like law, I could just use my JD in some other fascinating way. That was the implication, anyway.

Problem was, “everyone” forgot to tell me how insanely hard it would be to switch to one of those scintillating options, once you were up to your hairline in debt. Worse, they forgot to tell me how practicing law would pummel your sense of self-worth hourly, until you became convinced you were all but unemployable anywhere else except your current job.

I wish that my experiences were an aberration, that every other unhappy lawyer was only unhappy because their thrilling, exciting job as a lawyer took a few too many hours a week than they might prefer. If that is really and truly your only problem with practicing law, this blog won’t offer you much, except possibly some insight into the misery of 40 % of your colleagues.

If you are part of that 40%, this blog is for you. Here, you’ll find validation, comfort, and practical tips for figuring out your unique path out of a miserable professional life into one that fits you better and better every year.

Jennifer Alvey is a recovering lawyer who coaches unhappy attorneys on getting what they truly want out of work and life. She offers discounted sample sessions so you can try out coaching and experience its unique power. Email Jennifer at to schedule yours today.

3 thoughts on “Such a Useful Degree

  1. I’m so glad to have found your blog – I’m a law student who’s halfway through her law school career, and have committed myself to finishing because it’s “such a useful degree” to have. I’m almost positive I won’t end up practicing law, and although I don’t know what *else* I’ll do with my degree, it’s nice to know that I’m not the only one in this boat!

  2. Welcome to the madness!
    I’d say you are far from the only one in the boat. I think many in the boat didn’t really understand the horror of *having* to take law firm jobs that ate their soul to pay back their loans, until they were already into practice. If you’re footing the bill for law school, I have to ask: Have you done the math on paying back loans while earning $50,000 or less? Some time in the 1980s, I think law degrees stopped being useful enough to be worth the investment price, unless you are committed to staying in law practice. It’s amazing how fear of living in an iffy neighborhood and struggling to afford Target affects your willpower to leave law firm life.

  3. Wow! So true. So true. I would advise anyone who is in law school and hates it to quit. Don’t get the degree for any reason. I hated my first year of law school and quit. I started another graduate program because I couldn’t stand not having a “place to go” at 22 years of age. That program wasn’t a good fit, and I had just been running away from law. So, like a complete idiot, I went back to law school. Worst decision of my life. I hated the remainder of law school and hated practicing law for almost 6 years. I have worked at 4 law firms and tried at least 4 different practice areas. Finally, I figured out it wasn’t me. I am doing something completely different now, but I have years of therapy ahead of me to get over the damage that I did to my life. Law cost was harmful to my physical and emotional health. Although my family could see it as clear if I was a skinny, pock-marked heroin addict, they never said a word. My husband watched it and never said a word. I had to take medication to function with all the jerkoff male partners and completely nutso passive aggressive female ones. It is such an understatement all of the nutballs you deal with in law firms. I was one of the fortunate ones on the money end. I went to a top state law school and graduated with no debt. I ended up saving a ton of money and getting all of the perks of the life, but nothing, nothing was worth what it cost me. I will deal with that pain for the rest of my life. Sounds pretty dire I know, but it really is that true. It is horrible to hate what you do and be in such pain and no one understands or even moves to help you. “Being a lawyer is so prestigous though,” my mother would say. If I had it to do over, I’d say, “Then, mom, why don’t you go get a law degree.”

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