Should you go to law school?

I love practicing the law, defending clients, taking cases to trial, and negotiating excellent outcomes for my clients.

But law school did not prepare me for the practice of law. In fact, ask any lawyer: few will tell you that law school did much of anything to prepare them for the practice of law.

Still, each year, tens of thousands of students enroll in law school in the hopes of developing the skills that will make the marketable as lawyers. Mostly they’re imagining being a high priced lawyer out of a John Grisham novel.

The sad fact is, since 2007, the legal market has been terrible, and only getting worse. In fact, the NALP – the organization that helps coordinate recruiting on American law school campuses – reports that the 2011 experienced the worse job market in generations, and the 2012 class is expected to face the same. The best that the NALP can say is that the job market is not expected to get any worse.

Paul Campos, a professor at the University of Colorado College of Law, looks at the NALP’s numbers and concludes that two-thirds (66%) of all 2011 law school graduates did not get real legal jobs.

One of the problems in the field of criminal defense is that unqualified recent graduates are entering the field with so little practical knowledge – and are charging such little in terms of fees – that the results can be terrible for the unsuspecting clients.

If you’re considering going to law school, please consider what kind of career you expect to have. If you are going to take out $150,000 in loans, be sure you can pay them back. Student loans are not dischargeable in bankruptcy. And by all means, make sure when you do practice law, that you do not do so incompetently.

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Damon Chetson

Damon Chetson is a Board Certified Specialist in State and Federal Criminal Law. He represents people charged with serious and minor offenses in Raleigh, Wake County, and the Eastern District of North Carolina. Call (919) 352-9411.