By time Generation Z, which isn't stuck on academic degrees, dominates American culture no one will remember how we Baby Boomers had to attend law school.
It was a rite of passage as we tried on different careers. And, not only that. We were hell-bent on getting into an elite law school. I studied for the LSAT like a madwoman. I thought that paid off when I was admitted to Harvard Law School.
Of course it was predictable that it wasn't what I imagined and it wasn't for me. When a brandname professional contacted me during my first year at Harvard about a lucrative ghostwriting assignment, I jumped. Right out of law school.
However, that experience was a critical one, in many ways. And most members of Generation Z won't have it. Applications to law school, because of the dismal job market, keep dropping.
For example, it was just that - an experience. For me, it was right up there with living and working in Spain, getting sober in a 12-step program, writing speeches and articles for Lee Iacocca during the Chrysler turnaround, and hanging out a shingle at the end of the 1980s when Kraft gave me the boot.
Secondly, I know my way around the law and I have the motivation and confidence to research what I don't know. That has saved me thousands of dollars which would have gone to a professional lawyer. Also, it allows me to conduct business from a position of strength. All foot-draggers on paying me have to know is that I operate a syndicated legal blog. Brandname media such as Bloomberg and The Economist link to it. That prevents the need to take the next step, such as turning the account receivable over to a collection agency.
Third, understanding the fundamentals of our legal system allows me to navigate what I perceive as abusive relationships. I can impose an informal "cease and desist" by simply consulting with professional lawyers about my perception and getting their takes on filing a lawsuit against the alleged miscreants. The complaint could contend a public nuisance, conspiracy, and so on. I don't have to fear the dark side of human nature. Through social media, I alert the alleged mischief-makers that a lawsuit could be an option. In the latest situation, I still have 1.5 years to file a complaint.
And, fourth, law school introduced me to critical thinking. You bet, I leverage that skill in planning the strategy for white papers and e-books for clients. "No, we can't assume that. But here is a way we can make an assertion and here is the supporting material we can present." That's what I point out to clients. It's a key form of added value. Not even the doctoral program in linguistics and literature at the University of Michigan taught me that. Maybe, though, an elite prep school equips students with such a cognitive weapon.
No way do I regret disrupting my life and attending law school. Should tuition not be so high I would consider finishing up the JD here at the University of Arizona. That university just lowered that tuition but it's still too much for this Baby Boomer.