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Want to Go to Law School Because of Trump? Think Twice

By Casey C. Sullivan, Esq. on March 30, 2017 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Lawyers have been riding a public relations high for the past few months, spurred almost exclusively by legal challenges to President Trump's initiatives. When Trump stunned liberals and won the elections, law professors promised us that the heretofore almost unknown Emoluments Clause was going to save us. When Kellyanne Conway coined the phrase "alternative facts" and hawked Ivanka Trump's clothing on air, lawyers sought to get her license suspended. And when Trump abruptly banned travel and immigration from seven majority-Muslim nations, lawyers swarmed the airports, where they were greeted by cheering crowds.

If you're an idealistic young progressive trying to figure out what to do with your future, the law probably looks pretty appealing right now. But if Trump is your reason for pursuing a JD, for the love of God, do not go to law school.

A Law School Trump Bump?

For many organizations, the Trump Bump is real. Struggling newspapers have seen an increase in subscriptions, as consumers worry about the president's attacks on the press. Public interest and civil rights groups are finding themselves awash in donations. Some even speculate that the recent increase in LSAT takers could be a result of college kids looking to earn a JD and dedicate their career to fighting Trump.

But going to law school because of Trump is about as smart as, well, going to Trump University or investing in one of the Donald's casinos. The man is president for eight years max -- and who knows if he'll even see out these first four.

Aux Barricades Barbri?

Shannon Achimalbe puts it simply on Above the Law: "activists should not go to law school because they don't have to be lawyers to make change." First, there goes three years of resistance, as your protest signs are replaced by hornbooks and case notes.

Second, law school is insanely expensive. If you're not funded by a Russian oligarch, you're likely to walk out of law school with six figures in debt. You can get a BigLaw job and pay it off quick, but do you really want to devote your life to defending giant corporations? Because that's what you'll be doing, and you won't have much time left for the public interest work that drove you toward the law in the first place.

Go to law school because you want to be a lawyer, not a revolutionary. There haven't been lawyers on the barricades since the French Revolution.

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