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Saturday, February 07, 2009

5 Reasons Why You Should Drop Out of Law School


1. Launch Your Political Career.
Would Lyndon Johnson, William McKinley, Franklin Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt, Harry Truman, and Woodrow Wilson ever have gotten to the White House if they hadn't dropped out of law school? Probably not. All these men had passions (e.g., Theodore-family life, Woodrow-women's voting rights, etc.), but not a passion for the law. In the fall of 1934, President Lyndon Johnson briefly attended Georgetown University Law School, but met soon-to-be-wife Claudia Alta Taylor on a trip home Texas; in two months, they were married in San Antonio, and about a year later, he was appointed to the head of Texas National Youth Administration, creating education and jobs for youth; two years later, Johnson ran for Congress.

In the early 1970s, Al Gore dropped out of Vanderbilt Law School to launch his political career by running for Congress in Tennessee; almost-President Gore, along with the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, won the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. U.S. Presidents who dropped out of law school (6) outnumbers those who graduated (5). But forget the White House, how about starting a nation? David Ben Gurion, a law school dropout, was one of the founding fathers of Israel and its first prime minister.

2. Write a Novel.

Harper Lee
completed To Kill a Mockingbird in the summer of 1959, about 9 years after she dropped out of University of Alabama law school. In 1960, To Kill a Mockingbird was a bestseller, winning the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1961 in literature. It's sold more than 30 million copies.

In 1996, Richard Ford won the Pulitzer Prize for Literature for
Independence Day. He attended law school, but quit to write fiction.

3. Become a Comedian.

Demetri Martin attended New York University School of Law on a full scholarship, but he dropped out a year before graduation to pursue a career in comedy.

"It’s weird to make a decision where everyone in your life disapproves, pretty vocally and directly. They said, 'You've got one year left. Just do it.' I had a full scholarship so I didn’t have to pay for it. They asked, 'Why don’t you just get the degree so you can have it?' And I said, 'You don’t understand. I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do and now I know. I have the answer and it’s dumb to waste any more time,'" Demetri Martin has stated regarding his decision.

4. Start a Revolutionary Philosophy.
At the age of 17, Karl Marx attended law school the University of Bonn, but later decided it wasn't for him, moving on to the University of Berlin, where he entered into journalism and became editor of a deeply criticized newspaper. Marx's works were viewed by several governments as dangerously revolutionary, which led to his banishment from Paris. Although largely ignored by his contemporary scholars during his lifetime, Marx's "big break" came after his death when workers' movements looked to his writings for guidance as with Marxist Bolsheviks in the Russian October Revolution. Marx is considered by some the father of communism.

5. Join a Rock Band.

Apparently, I'm not the only musician who has taken this option, although I am still working on number two. Ray Manzarek from the Doors, Paul Simon, Cole Porter, Cab Calloway, and Max Weinberg from Bruce Springsteen & E Street Band/Conan O'Brien are all law school dropouts. Manzarek once said, "I went to De Paul University, and got a bachelor's degree in economics at De Paul University, and graduated from there and went to UCLA to law-school at UCLA, where I stayed in law-school for about two weeks, and dropped out of law-school realizing that that was totally insane for me to be in law-school."

Like Ray, this fifth option was never really an option if I think about it; at some point or another, I would have gone insane with law and floated back to a music career; even when I was finishing my undergraduate degree, I played several nights a week. My whole life has been a battle of balancing my passions of music/writing against that which is logically and socially acceptable. But what is life if you cannot pursue what you love? Leaving law school was probably one of the hardest decision I ever had to make; sometimes I wonder if I made the right choice, but I always make my peace by reminding myself that I'm truly pursuing what I love.


David Ball said...

I know this might not mean too much, but I am glad you dropped out to pursue music. Your music means a lot to me, and in some ways, I think that music makes more of a difference than law. Many times music is the catalyst for changes in law!

Anonymous said...

That's what i'm going through right now actally, the Conflict of a "real" job V.s something Most likely Practical and i still have no idea what to choose except im in Art school and now law. i also agree with the David Guy

Angela said...

Very interesting. Did not know you left law school for MUTEMATH. I have a degree in political science myself, and would have gone into law school had motherhood not intervened. And quite frankly, I am really glad that it did!

Tash McGill said...

huh - i was just thinking about this the other day, and i remember you wrote in an email "i hope you're not disappointed" .. back when you quit the band to go back to school...

here's me thinking that actually life is the endless pursuit and one step leads to the next but often the one path leads through many places, sometimes even twice.. each time offering a fresh perspective to past, present, future.

i think no.2 will be great too. a product of the tension of passions so far.. although don't let the tension lead to too much anguish.. check out this great short talk on creativity and the angst of the creative soul...

Anonymous said...

This might sound really strange but I feel like your blog speaks to me! I was a classic performance piano student for a year but dropped it for law. I don't think it was the study of music that I disliked, it was the confinement of the classical musical world that I needed to break free from. I had the option to audition for jazz or just have a band and do other part-time work but I too, like those above me, was in deep contemplation to make this decision. Of course there was pressure to get a degree and I thought about other Arts subjects yet there continued to be that pressure to take up something more vocational. Always thought Law would be an interesting pursuit, lest a bit dry. I have only been studying law for a few weeks, and already I feel like it is stifling creativity. I don't want to come out the other end carved like a lawyer with no intuition or passion.
I agree with David as well...

Vintage cab used on MM debut (two 15" Jensen speakers).