Disliking Law School But Enjoying Legal Practice

Credit: JType01 / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA 3.0, available at https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Albany_Law_School_-_Vista.jpg

Credit: JType01 / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA 3.0, available at https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Albany_Law_School_-_Vista.jpg

A Quora reader recently asked whether people can dislike law school but still enjoy practicing law.  The answer to this question is "sure."  In fact, this may be more common than originally thought.

Law school is heavily based on theory so that students can learn to “think like lawyers.”  Law students learn the foundational principles of legal practice by participating in the case method.  As part of this training, law students engage in deep, intellectual discussions while analyzing old case law (sometimes from the 19th century).  Some law students may be fascinated by these conversations, but others will be less interested.  By contrast, the practice of law is less focused on legal theory.  Instead, practicing attorneys are tasked with developing strong, pragmatic legal arguments for their clients.  The legal issues that practicing lawyers encounter are often very different than those they learned in law school.  As one example, my torts class spent several classes on the nuances of the res ipsa loquitur doctrine, yet I never encountered it in my professional career.

It’s also worth noting that some people just prefer working to studying.  I’m in the former camp. I found it more interesting to work on real life problems than spending weeks studying old case law for an exam.  It’s true that some exams are supposed to replicate discrete research and writing assignments that you may find in professional practice.  Yet I still found it more interesting to make a difference for my real world clients than receiving an “A” in a difficult course.