There is a culture of depression in law school. You are institutionally compared to everyone else, living on a graded curve. And if, like me, you wanted to go to a place full of people who share your interests but will challenge you, you often find yourself unable to compete. Coming from the school where grades don't matter because we don't have them, and entering into a field of this profession where the rest of my resume will be as or more important than that little GPA doesn't help much with the intervening years. It's hard to remember the 2nd grade rule: keep your eyes on your own work. This is especially the case where folks do want to be challenged, to really make the most for themselves personally as well as professionally in these three years. That's a lot of pressure to add onto peers who spend all night in the library, study for 14 hours, and will always do better than you on your tests, because NO ONE gets ALL As. When you're competing with an entire group of people with different strengths and weaknesses, you cannot ever win.
Then there's the Lawyer media. Articles about addiction and a lack of bonuses and the various plagues that face the legal profession. The culture of depression doesn't stop after law school with 6 digits of debt, trying to get a job in a shrinking market, the already existing culture of addiction to alcohol and other substances, the competition from the other 49 schools ranked above mine nationally, and the fact that everyone else seems to be doing something cooler than me. Then there's this article on why law students are getting in the way of everyone else. No one wants to be told that in addition to being useless, we're also hurting other people by pursuing our dreams.
Is it really all that surprising that there are substance abuse networks dedicated to lawyers? I wonder what it is about the law that creates and attracts this kind of thing? I've met folks in government who are genuinely happy, and hope to be one of them. I'm doing this to achieve an idealistic goal, and know several other talented and reasonable folks who are doing so as well. There is no reason that any of this nonsense should bother any of us, but it does. We should be comrades in arms, not competition. No one wants to go from being the pretty one to one of the pretty. It's hard to remember that a lot of this is written by unhappy Eeyores and, while probably true, is more true if you buy into it than not.
Zomg the LAW!
- Lookin' down, lawschool