I spent the second year of my social work internship working at a community center, which offered one of the top smoking cessation programs in the country.
One fine spring day I was sprawled, sunning myself, on a bench in the courtyard of the center when a fellow intern lit up a cigarette. I proposed she give the cessation program a try.
“No one likes a quitter,” she quipped, exhaling a cloud of toxins.
Uh…huh. Except there’s a proviso in that statement – a “carve-out” in the contract language – covering the quitting of something self-destructive. Like smoking.
Or a pointless march through law school.
I’d like to speak in defense of quitting, and quitters.
Quitting can be about more than stopping whatever you’re doing. It can be about waking up and asking yourself if what you’re doing makes sense and is worth continuing.
If you’re plugging away dutifully through the legal education process with no real idea why – it might be time to quit.
Does this mean I’m seriously advising young law students all over the country to give up and drop out – simply abandon their legal education mid-way through?
I am prescribing a mass exodus from law schools. A semi-mass exodus might do the trick.
Tune in. Turn on. Drop out.
If you don’t know why you’re there – and you’re not sure what you’re getting yourself into – if you’re not at a top school, or even if you are, and your grades are a little iffy, and likely to stay that way – then please, get out. Today. Before you spend another cent.
The legal education scam works because it follows two key rules of all successful Ponzi schemes:
First, it plays to your greed. You dig your own hole because you’re in it for the money.
Second, it keeps you distracted. You never realize you’re getting fleeced.
The process is like a cattle chute. From the LSAT to the bar exam, you never look up because you’re moving too fast, racing to compete against the others…right up to the bolt gun in the forehead. Even if you awakened midway and realized you weren’t having fun and wanted to flee, there’s no obvious route of escape. That’s how it’s designed.
Along the way, you sign documents to borrow the purchase price of a Rolls Royce Corniche with nothing to show for it but a piece of paper saying you’re theoretically prepared for a job you know nothing about.
You end up $200k in debt and either stuck in a field you never understood and don’t like – or unemployed (the unemployed part isn’t the problem since it turns out you really want to be a jazz drummer anyway, not a lawyer.)
But that $200k in debt is there to say – sorry, you work for us now. In fact, we own you – own your future. Just like that cow on the feedlot.
You don’t have to go out like that.