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formerfuturelawyer's avatar

Alternatives to law school for a humanities major?

Asked by formerfuturelawyer (22 points ) August 30th, 2011

Hello everyone. I’ve been working as a paralegal since college, for about 2 years now—I did it to “find out” if I wanted to apply to law school. And… I’ve realized I do not want to go. Why not? Just read the 1,000,000 articles on the internet from this year alone which say it’s a horrible investment and the legal field is crumbling more and more (although some say it’s “slowly picking up”). The thing is, I don’t know what else to do. I’ve thought about getting a CPA license and maybe getting into finance/operations, as my current paralegal job allows me some experience working with spreadsheets and numbers. I’ve thought about getting an MBA, but if you don’t get into a top-20 program, this also feels like a poor choice. I can pick things up quickly and am good with computers, but I just don’t know where to go from here. I’m thinking something math or computer science-related, but I already feel so behind people who studied this in college. Should I just stay a paralegal? Is there any hope? I’m tempted to learn JAVA and develop Android apps, but still, it seems like thmajorere is NO security in that field, even though it’s “hot.” ADDENDUM: yes, I am a lowly liberal arts major (but from a top-20 school). But I promise I am smart!

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8 Answers

Jeruba's avatar

My son graduated from law school two years ago. If he were on that path now, I would strongly urge him to take a different direction. He’s fortunate to have a job in his field, but I can’t say the same for many of his former classmates. You are wise to change course now rather than later.

I don’t know what to suggest for you. What are you good at? Can you do anything with languages, international relations, diplomacy, international marketing, anything along those lines?

prioritymail's avatar

Compromise is how this world works. Any career you end up with is going to have major drawbacks. Someone who really wants to be a lawyer, for example, will be willing to accept the instability of the field and/or competition in order to realize his/her dream. I’ve chatted with a lot of people from a lot of different fields in finding my path, and I think people generally enjoy venting about the negatives of their careers. I’ve lost count of how many people have told me “don’t go into A for x y and z reasons” yet they love their job, are still doing it after 30 years, and have beaten the odds and found a way to make it work for them. It’s good to be aware of the drawbacks so you can consciously accept them and not be surprised $100k of debt into your decision, but just like there is no perfect time to have a baby or get into the stock market, so too is there no perfect time to be starting any career. My point is – if you really wanted to be a lawyer, you would do it irregardless of job security because you love law and want to practice it.

If job security is super important to you, don’t pick a career that’s not secure. You need to figure out what is critical to you and what’s not and make sure the job you end up with matches your needs. Try putting aside fancy degrees, society’s love of doctors and lawyers, and money (unless these things are super important to you) and think about what meaningful work really means to you.

Kayak8's avatar

I love being in public health. There are doctors, attorneys, veterinarians, statisticians, nurses, paralegals, computer programmers and English majors like me. I got a masters in public health and now work for a state health department. Every day offers something different, I get to work with mostly smart people and I love it! There is such a diversity of disciplines that practice in public health that I learn something new just about every day. For epidemiologists, it is a lot like being a detective.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Welcome to Fluther!

Will you describe for us what you really like to do? Not necessarily what you are good at doing, but what makes you feel jazzed while doing it. It can be tasks at your job or even on your own time. The reason for asking is that if you are going to invest money in an education, it’s better to point towards a career where you will be happy at what you do. Too many people end up in a job where they are good at what they do, but go home feeling weakened and unhappy.

For example, you mentioned that you are good with computers (a talent). The last dept. I worked in was a training dept. for a large corporation. Half of us ran workshops, and the other half designed and developed the training materials. Of that group, 90% of their time was in front of a computer. While they were good at what they did, two of them eventually left because they wanted more interaction with others. Some were jazzed by the design process, others preferred testing and editing what already existed. One guy was very much into audio/visual outside of work, and he got the green light to bring it into the workplace to enhance our online training courses.

Tell us what you enjoy doing on a very task-related level, whether at work or at home, and that should help us provide guidance.

perspicacious's avatar

None of the people I became close to in law school are practicing law right now. They are bankers, stock brokers, insurance litigation specialists, evidence consultants, forensic scientists, and other things. My point is that law school is helpful for many careers. It’s just that it is a difficult course of study and in general, expensive. You are smart enough to figure out what you want to do; then figure out how to get there. I wish you luck.

formerfuturelawyer's avatar

@perspicacious – Thanks, but “you are smart enough to figure out what you want to do” does not really get me anywhere.

Jeruba's avatar

You’ve been asked both what you’re good at and what you enjoy. When you answer, we may have more helpful ideas.

There’s also this point to consider, as well as the whole thread that it’s part of.

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