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All this and crippling student debt, too

By Laurie Landsittel
Dolan Media Newswires

You want the best job around so you go to law school to become a lawyer.

It is the best job around, right?  Not according to U.S. News and World Report.

Lawyer ranked 51st out of 100 on its recent survey of best jobs in America. It’s down from last year’s ranking of 35th.

Nail technician, massage therapist, and dental hygienist all ranked higher than lawyer.

Another survey by CareerBliss found that an associate attorney is the unhappiest job in America, and according to a Johns Hopkins University study, lawyers have the highest rate of depression of all occupations.

Why are lawyers so unhappy? Dave Cheng, writing for Business Insider, has some thoughts, but in an effort to cheer us all up, and maybe move the needle on next year’s survey, Sidebar presents the alternative view:

Crippling student debt — Columbia University’s law school costs over $250,000 for three years including room and board. Our take: Buy beach front property instead.

Law is depressing and lawyers are paid to be cynical — most disputes that require a lawyer are not happy ones. Our take: When is a dispute ever a happy occasion?

Law is boring — those cases that need detailed research can be extremely boring. Our take: Look on the bright side, you could still be in law school briefing cases.

Self-selection — many unhappy and unfulfilled people who do not know what they want to do go to law school. Our take: Many happy and fulfilled people also go to law school, where they become unhappy and unfulfilled.

Clients/service industry — much of the practice of law is serving your clients’ needs and those clients are not always the easiest people to work with. Our take: Unreasonably demanding is an understatement.

Billing — many lawyers must keep track of their time with precise detail and many are expected to report an unreasonable amount of “billable hours.” Our take: I wonder if lawyers bill for the time it takes to track and note their “billable hours.”

So what’s the best way to earn a living if you want to live a happy and fulfilled life: Hone your computer skills and become a software developer. It’s the best job in America.

Laurie Landsittel is a staff writer for North Carolina Lawyers Weekly, which, like Wisconsin Law Journal, is owned by The Dolan Co.

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