Editor’s note: Business Insider’s recent article “I Consider Law School A Waste Of My Life And An Extraordinary Waste Of Money” has drawn an extraordinary response, both positive and negative. Niki Ford, a 30-year-old graduate ofUniversity of Akron School of Law, allowed us to publish the following response:
I was in a similar situation to this individual when I graduated law school. I graduated during the recession, when biglaw was not hiring, and ended up working for a small firm making approximately $US50,000 a year. Never once did I think to complain in the manner that this anonymous individual has complained.
I wasn’t in my situation because my law school had misled me. I was in my situation because, well, sometimes life ain’t fair and, like the great Mick Jagger told us all many years ago, you can’t always get what you want.
I wasn’t alone. I didn’t go to a “top 20” law school so many of my colleagues were struggling to find the jobs we had dreamed of when we started law school. Most of us managed to find a way, either by working in alternative fields like oil and gas, moving to different cities where the legal markets were stronger, or by supplementing our education through master’s degrees and LLMs.
I chose the latter route and am now living in New York City, making the $US160,000 salary that should have been “impossible” because I didn’t go to Harvard, Yale or Stanford, have an awesome summer associate position lined up my 2L year, or have a friend or family member “guarantee” my position.
I’m sure the individual who contributed to your article would write me off and assume that I was somehow handed my position. I wasn’t. I’m from a small town in the midwest and went to a small regional law school. My parents are schoolteachers and didn’t pay for my law school education because, well, some parents can only afford to put their kids through college and I’m beyond grateful that they could even do that.
There is one reason that I am where I am today, and that is hard work, plain and simple. Hard work caused me to graduate at the top of my law school class. Hard work caused me to take on multiple jobs, law review, moot court, and a joint degree program. Hard work caused me to obtain part-time employment during my LLM program, and this same hard work led to an offer of full-time employment after graduation. I am not an anomaly. Plenty of people have amazing jobs as attorneys because they worked hard for them.
It upsets me that my generation does not seem to understand that hard work is the only way to get anywhere in life. The individual whom you interviewed is a shining example of this. I had to respond to his whining, his blaming, and his woe is me approach to life. Perhaps he doesn’t have the job that he wants because he just wasn’t as smart and talented as his fellow students. That’s on him, but I think that most people in my generation can’t admit when failure is due to their own inadequacies. You know, I really wanted to play NCAA Division One soccer. My parents invested money and I invested time in training. I wasn’t talented enough to be recruited, and it wasn’t the NCAA’s fault.
The recent article supports the idea, so prevalent among my generation, that if one doesn’t achieve their dreams, it was somebody else’s fault. I just wanted to provide a rebuttal to this theory — that if you don’t achieve your dreams right away, either work harder or find a new dream, which may end up being better than the one you had originally envisioned.
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