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Law School: The Default Career Choice

08/05/2013 12:33 BST | Updated 07/07/2013 10:12 BST

Seven years ago I entered law school and five years later I left law school jobless. I also left law school without a day of practical experience; without an ounce of interview experience or even the faintest idea of what it was actually like to practice law.

I did have a fair bit of theory.

Not that that mattered for much; for employers wanted practical experience.

This was unsettling.

I had bought into the story that going to Law School was esteemed and a sure route to success.

I felt utterly duped and, as Steven J. Harper said, I felt law school was a 'sham'.

And there are a number of reasons why I felt duped and that law school was a sham.

Firstly, my university educators hadn't educated me in a way that aligned me to the job market.

Without practical experience I was wholly unemployable. There was a complete skills asymmetry between law school and the law market.

As the FT (£) rightly said, this leads 'to a period of "churn as this group retain and adjust themselves to the need of the labour market.'

Secondly, what unsettled me even more was the sheer weight of law graduates compared to the number of law jobs.

There was a complete information asymmetry between law school and the law market. Law schools in the UK and America were churning out law graduates even though the legal economy was losing jobs.

As it was said in the Atlantic:

'The legal economy is in shambles, and law schools have done virtually nothing to react.'

This is basic economics of supply and demand: when the demand for legal services is down, we should cut the supply of law graduates.

Why was I one person among thousands of very ambitious law graduates without a job?

Why hadn't my seniors, career advisors and policymakers made an issue of this?

Thirdly, what unsettled me the most was the fact that people had got it into their heads that law school is some sort of fabled career choice that leads to a place of unlimited riches.

People glamorise law, sex it up in their head and think that it's just the bee's knees of careers. As Stephen Harper said to Above the Law:

'People go to law school thinking they're going to grow up to be Atticus Finch or Alicia Florrick.'

It isn't - and unfortunately it took me around 5 years to work that out.

For my whole time at university I had simply held the faith that you go to a good high school; do well at GCSE, AS and A2; go to university and then everything will fall into place.

But I had made what seemed a sensible judgement in the face of received wisdom. But this just shows the weakness of the status quo and conventional thought.

As Tim Ferriss said in the Four Hour Work Week:

'The common sense rules of the real world are a fragile collection of socially reinforced illusions.'

But I wasn't the only one to have 'Law School Think' - if I can use that term.

Throughout history law has seemingly occupied the default career choice.

We can go right back to Edmund Burke. His father pushed him towards law and he actually went to London to study law. However he gave up to make a livelihood through writing.

Charles Dickens famously worked as a legal clerk in a law firm. His famous work Bleak House was inspired by his experience of legal practice.

Another famous writer, albeit lesser known, Honore de Balzac was an apprentice in a law office; but he turned his back on the study of law after wearying of its inhumanity and banal routine.

In his Ted Talk career analyst Dan Pink explained how in a moment of 'youthful indiscretion' he chose to go to law school.

In a biographical overview of Silicon Valley heavyweight Guy Kawasaki, ABC news explained Kawasaki's attempt at third level education:

'Rather than study medicine or engineering like a good Asian-American kid, Guy Kawaski earned a Stanford psychology degree and an MBA from UCLA. Hoping to please his folks, he enrolled in law school at U.C.-Davis, but hated it and dropped out.'

Comedienne Ruth Jones, well known for playing Nessa from Gavin and Stacey considered a career in law when at first acting wasn't working.

The world renowned children's book author and artist Oliver Jeffers highlighted the societal bias towards picking law as the default career choice. He explained when talking about his career:

'I was lucky that my mum and dad never pushed me to go down the road of getting a proper job, like being a lawyer or a doctor.'

Slate blogger, Matt Yglesias gave an overview in the video above and here of the very broad and altogether very vague career advice given to him. Which of course was to go to law school.

At the end of the day, we can't all be lawyers. So we need to do something about this damaging perception that regards law as some sort of pinnacle.

As we've seen, all this does is promote the inefficient allocation of human resources which in itself creates an unbalanced workforce, unbalanced economy and causes disillusionment among some of our greatest and brightest young people.

What we need is UnLawSchool; much like UnCollege - the brainchild of Dale J. Stephens which aims to break the myth that going to college is the only path to success - we need to break the myth that somehow going to law school is a guaranteed path to success.