How many people are in something like this situation right now?
I'm in my second semester second year and need advice on what to do. I've realized that by the time I graduate, I'll be in the hole close to 130K. I've really come to the conclusion that as a 25 year old, my life is going to be thoroughly fu@ked for at least a decade as I try to pay off the loans.Of course it would be good to have many more details, and even better to actually know this person, before giving any definitive advice. Still, some general observations:
I'm from an Asian family and my parents want me to continue. But I've realized that whether I get the JD or not, I'll still be working in a non-legal low paying career. I'm most definitely not in the top 50%, haven't done any competitions or journals etc.
Should I drop? I would really appreciate any answers. I've been reading this blog for months and have begun to understand that non-law students and even many law students don't get the fact that getting a legal career is not easy.... Please advise as I can't seem to convince anyone else of the truth...
(1) This person is not, on one important level, really yet an adult. Adults don't decide to take on $130,000 in high-interest non-dischargeable debt because otherwise their parents will be disappointed if they drop out of school. From the standpoint of both an appropriately paternalistic ethic, and minimally rational social policy considerations in general, it's reckless and absurd to allow non-adults to make decisions of this sort. Note that given his or her age this person appears to be yet another K-JD, whose life experience probably consists of going to school, and who has therefore never held a real job, supported him or herself, etc.
(2) Law students who come to grips with the reality of their economic and social situation are, because of this realization, going to find it at least somewhat more difficult to improve on that situation as long as they stay in law school. The possibility of success for someone about to enter the legal profession at this particular moment is probably heightened by a certain amount of basically delusional self-belief, or if you prefer, adaptive stupidity.
In other words, although it's not true that you're a special snowflake and that statistical generalities therefore don't apply to you, believing that you are is probably good for your potential legal career at the margin. This follows from the fact that a realistic assessment of the situation is likely to produce some combination of depression and despair, which tend not to be career-enhancing states. It doesn't follow, of course, that on the whole delusional self-belief is preferable to a potentially despondent grounding in reality, since asserting that begs the question of whether it's better for someone like this commenter to stay in law school or drop out.
(3) An important practical question is whether this person has already paid for the second semester of his or her 2L year in a non-refundable fashion. At my law school, for instance, the commenter would have until next week (two weeks after the start of classes) to get his or her tuition refunded. By contrast, a particularly distasteful practice at some law schools is to make the deadline for refunding tuition earlier than the deadline for professors to turn in their grades for the previous semester.
(4) Here again we see the insidious effects of the enormous disconnect that still exists between the general cultural assumptions regarding what it means to have a law degree, and the economic and social reality which people now getting law degrees actually inhabit. What's even more insidious is the number of people who will be in something like the correspondent's mental state not two weeks into their second semester of their 2L years, but rather 18 months after they graduate from law school.
Update: After reading the comments in this thread, as well as getting back channel feedback, I think Point (1) above is poorly phrased. While it's true that the lack of life experience of K-JD students creates additional vulnerabilities for them in regard to the law school scam that ought to be taken into account, it's ultimately a mistake to put much weight on this factor in regard to the overall situation. The problem, in other words, is still at the most fundamental level that people of any age and life experience are borrowing very large sums of money on the basis of deeply misleading information. That's what makes the scam a scam, as opposed to a product of the desperate circumstances of college graduates with no good career prospects (although it's that too). Doing this work, it's sometimes easy to forget how distorted the readily available information for 0Ls remains, despite the improvements that have taken place over the last year in particular.
An especially salient factor in this regard is, as a commenter in the thread notes, that it seems reasonable ex ante for 0Ls and their families to rely on the signaling they're getting from the fact that the federal government is willing to lend such large sums of money to people to go to law school, with no (up front) strings attached.
I was 22 when I started law school and I remember being stressed out at the amount of money I was borrowing. I had never borrowed anything in my life until that point. I remember thinking to myself that neither the government nor the school would allow me to borrow this much if they thought I could not pay it back.This, I believe, is a particularly distorting aspect of the current structure of higher education in general, and legal education in particular.