lukegilman.com : The Blawgraphy
Life of a Law Student, University of Houston Law Center

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Please note: I'm no longer updating this particular blog, but keep it around for archival purposes. Visit me at the current blog at www.lukegilman.com

What’s a law degree worth?

By far the best thing about the WSJ law blog is the comments section, which today featured a lively debate on what a law degree is worth. There are of course any number of ways to measure that. The most useful is to ask, what is a law degree worth to me? as in what do I really want to do and what will a JD mean in pursuing that goal? Of course, few law students know themselves or law practice well enough to make a truly informed decision on that count, but it’s a good thing to be thinking about.

One of the big reasons I am where I am, in the evening program of the University of Houston, is that I know what the legal environment can be like and what debt does to your choices. I’m working full-time and it doesn’t make for much of a social life, but getting out in four years with a JD I expect to be on the same if not better financial footing that I am now, before I get a job, and that’s going to make a significant difference in what I can do. If I want to chase partnership, it will be because I want to, not because I have to. If I want to take a public interest job, that will be my perogative.

Of course there are lots of reasons why it might be worth your $38,000 a year. The law is nothing if not class conscious, but make the means work for the ends, not the other way around.

What are you going to be when you grow up?

One of the unintended consequences of telling someone you’re going to law school is that they immediately ask you what kind of law you want to practice. This would be a perfectly reasonable follow up question were it not for the fact that I have no idea what kind of law I want to practice. Good law? Not-evil law? not miserable, soulless and divorced law? The principle consequence of an honest answer is that you have to endure the ‘nod’ which essentially says, yes, I understand that you’ve said something in English, but I have no idea how to respond to it.

I’ve come up with a couple of stock answers which in reality have relatively little to do with my actual plans, yet suffice to make interesting conversation with well-meaning people. To church-going republicans I am planning on being a prosecutor and then, God willing, a judge who takes a principled stand to combat the tide of judicial activism. To my left-leaning friends, I just want to help people, maybe save a hoot-owl or a swamp or something. To anyone who knows a little about the law I’m looking to get into media law, specifically copyright litigation, and later work my way into general counsel position at corporation with significant media concerns and intellectual property assets.

Every now and then it’s just a random person you’ll likely never see again, in which case it could be kind of fun to screw with them. In this spirit I propose the following conversation-enders which mean you’ll never again have to justify your actual career plans to a perfect stranger.

  1. Scream “I’m going to sue you!” in a high pitched voice and laugh maniacally.
  2. Reply “You wouldn’t believe how many ways there are to beat a murder rap” and chuckle maniacally.
  3. do just about anything maniacally
  4. Reply stoically, “Pancho Villa killed my father and stole our land. Some day I will return to claim it.”
  5. “I don’t know, but this place looks nice. Why don’t you go run around near that puddle in the doorway?”
  6. “Wait, did you hear an ambulance?”
  7. “Practice? I don’t want to practice, I just want to do it.”
  8. “I’m gonna sue poor people.”
  9. “Why, what have you heard?”
  10. “Mama says I’m gonna be Chief Judge of the Supremest Court of America”

People or things that should be sued: Norton Antivirus

Oh Norton, how do I hate thee, let me count the ways…

  1. for no apparent reason and entirely without justification, you prevent good hard-working computer-using people from performing perfectly routine tasks
  2. you use a ridiculous amount of memory and computing resources
  3. your constant, hyperbolic “warnings” cause gullible users to compute in a state of fear, believing they are under constant attack from hackers
  4. in reality it is just the network traffic of the users’ other programs that you are blocking and calling “attacks”; at times you prevent these other programs from working properly
  5. yet when a real virus comes knocking you are as useful as an aneurysm
  6. at other times you give the hapless user no notice of your nefarious activities; you are a hit and run computer program
  7. some people actually PAY for the priviledge of using you, which fills me with angst
  8. when I identify you as the culprit, this creates enmity and distrust between the user and his computer, depriving said user of the comfort, security and enjoyment of computing
  9. you are like the living dead, i kill you and kill you and yet there you are lurking in the processes

A little off-topic, but consider it a public-service announcment. Also, this applies equally to McAfee. AVG and ClamWin offer high quality, FREE alternatives.

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