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Don't Do It

I couldn’t agree with this more. I’ve had a fair amount of contact with law students at ASU through moot court judging, hiring clerks and research assistants, and just being an alumnus. I’ve met a lot of bright, articulate law students. I haven’t met a lot of impassioned law students who want to be advocates and truly believe in what they do. Most of the law students I meet, like most of my fellow law students when I was in law school, don’t know what they want to do. They just want a job, and any job will do.

Maybe that works if you want to write wills or review contracts, but in criminal defense, that won’t cut it. It’s a calling. It’s stressful, time-consuming, frustrating, depressing, and generally thankless. A lot of the time, it just flat-out sucks. However, the people who do it for the right reasons wouldn’t think of doing anything else. We eat, sleep, and breathe criminal defense. If you end up a criminal defense lawyer because it’s the job you happened to get, you are probably in it for the wrong reasons. It’s that simple. You should quit before you do a disservice to any more clients.

When people ask me if they should go to law school, my response is always “no.” They’re asking the wrong question. The people who should be lawyers, criminal defense lawyers at least, are the ones who want to know how they can do it, not if they should do it.

If it’s your calling, this very moment is the very best time imaginable for you to become a criminal defense lawyer. If it isn’t your calling, forget about it.

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2 Responses to "Don't Do It"

  1. Matt Brown says:

    That’s a real shame. Not only will it hurt dedicated people who would otherwise be the most desirable applicants, but I also think it’s going to hurt the non-profits in the long term. In the end, they will have spent time, effort, and money training people who have no future with the organization.

  2. Jared says:

    My experience at law school was similar: not many impassioned law students. The few that are, however, are currently having an even more difficult time finding the positions they really want. Many large law firms are offering one-year starting date deferments to their new hires who “volunteer” for a year at a non-profit legal organization. Basically, the firms are paying these new hires partial salary for the year to work elsewhere. Non-profit organizations, with limited resources, are justifiably filling all of their positions with accomplished law students who they do not have to pay. Leaving few, if any, positions open for those students that went to law school specifically to work in those fields.

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