My entire academic career, I earned top grades without having to put in much effort. But, when I began studying in law school, that all changed. I suddenly found myself having to work extremely hard for a ‘B’ instead of breezing through an assignment to an easy ‘A.’
There were a variety of reasons why this was the case. I don’t learn well in an environment using the Socratic method. I am not an auditory learner and therefore had difficulty keeping up with the subjects. I also found I really wasn’t terribly interested in the subjects. I wanted to learn about how to fight social injustices, how to advocate for animals, children, and the poor. I was not the least bit interested in learning the Rule Against Perpetuities.
Before heading home for Thanksgiving break, I considered dropping out of law school altogether. I wrestled with the decision secretly for weeks wondering if I really was meant to become a lawyer. After much thought, I realized I did want to practice law, and I decided to stay in law school.
If you, too, are considering leaving law school, here are some things to consider first:
Why Are You Thinking Of Leaving Law School?
The academic challenges were a significant reason why I was considering leaving law school. But, I also wasn’t sure that a career in law was ultimately right for me. I had other creative interests including writing and baking and wondered if I should pursue something more creative.
When I was traveling from Boston to Virginia for Christmas break at the end of my first semester of law school, my flight was delayed for several hours due to a snow storm. By the time my flight landed, I had hours and hours to think about my future in law school.
I realized that I needed to nurture my creative side, but that ultimately I wanted to help people. The best way I knew I could solve problems was to finish law school and become an attorney. For me, staying in law school was the right path. It wasn’t always the easy path. But, it was definitely the right one.
Why are you thinking of leaving law school?
If you are not feeling confident in your ability to complete the courses, consider reaching out to an academic advisor or a trusted professor. Reach out to a mentor or an alumnus. There are resources at most law schools to assist students with academics. You may find that with a little extra help academically, the material becomes more fun and more natural.
If you’re struggling with issues outside of school like relationships, friendships, homesickness, substance abuse, or other similar challenges, contact a counselor. Law school is hard enough without the difficulty of these types of issues. Talking to a counselor may help you get these matters under control so you can refocus on law school rather than dropping out.
Whatever the reason, when you can identify the root cause for why you are considering leaving law school, you can ensure you are making the right decision whether you choose to leave or stay.
What Are Your Career Goals?
If you are considering leaving law school because you’re not sure you want to actually practice law or how you will use your law degree, contact your career services office. There are typically professionals on staff who can help you assess your strengths, weaknesses, and long-term goals.
Understanding, truly and thoroughly, what your career goals are can help you determine whether law school still is the right choice for you. For me, I knew I was interested in writing and food, but neither of those careers would have helped me have the kind of impact on people that I wanted to have in my career.
I have since found ways to incorporate these other interests into my law practice by practicing food law and writing legal articles. Had I not gotten my law degree, I would have been more limited in my ability to combine all of my interests, which included law and policy on top of food and writing.
However, if you’re really not sure how you will use a law degree, if at all, then perhaps the hefty tuition price tag really isn’t worth it.
Only you can know whether your career goals will be best served by earning your law degree. Take the time to think about your goals in order to weigh how you can best achieve them.
What Is Your Plan B?
Even if you determine that leaving law school is definitely the right choice for you, you should still have an alternative academic or career goal in mind.
My first year of law school, a classmate of mine ended up leaving law school to go to culinary school instead. She became a successful chef and has loved her job ever since.
You don’t necessarily have to have your entire life mapped out after law school. But, you should absolutely consider where you will work or whether you’ll enroll in another academic program instead, and why. This way you ensure that even if law school wasn’t right for you, that the next step is.
You’re Not Alone
The fact is, you aren’t the first law student who ever considered leaving law school. And, you definitely won’t be the last. Everyone’s career paths are different, and only you can determine what is really right for you.
Take the time to think about why you’re considering leaving law school, what your career goals are, and what alternative path you might choose so that you can make the most informed and appropriate choice for you.
Looking for some help to do your best in law school? Find out about our law school tutoring options.