What to do with a law degree

Loyal readers will know that my daughter earned a law degree in 2009, passed the California bar and went to work as a pro bono family lawyer while waiting (at half pay) to start her job at a big law firm.  New plan. She’s moving to New York City at the end of the month to work as a literary agent’s assistant. She’ll earn 22 percent of what she could have made at the law firm. She explains the decision to friends in her blog, The New Manhattan Project.

3. So was that whole law school thing a waste, then?

Definitely not. Law school was probably the best three years of my life. I took amazing classes from amazing (and famous!) professors, learned a lot of interesting things with some of the smartest people I’ll ever know, and (perhaps most importantly) met some of my closest friends. I’ll never regret it.

4. If you had graduated with a ton of debt, would you regret it?


5. So should I go to law school?


When Allison was in elementary school, I told her I was going to Michigan for her fifth-grade year as a journalism fellow. She’d come for half the year and spend the other half with her father. I saw her suppress hear fear and uncertainty. She said, “Congratulations, Mom.” And she did her best to sound happy. I told her then that she had a lot of credit in the Good Egg Bank. It’s been earning interest.

When I decided to leave the San Jose Mercury News to write a book, it was a big risk. Allison told me it was the right decision and that she was proud of me.

I wanted Allison to take the law job, which is not far from home. It was the safe choice. It was a lot of money. But she persuaded me that it wouldn’t prepare her for the work she wants to do.

I think this is the right decision. It’s a big risk.  I’m proud of her.

About Joanne


  1. Stacy in NJ says:

    Best wishes to Allison on her new endeavor. I hope she attended law school on a scholarship?

  2. Michael E. Lopez says:

    This makes me happy. Tell her to keep her bar card current, even if it seems expensive.

    And, yes, law school really is fun.

  3. tim-10-ber says:

    I think this is great…I am encouraging my kids to follow their dreams and be prepared to take whatever odd jobs they need to in order to support themselves to see if they can be successful in their chosen field…If they try for several years and it doesn’t work at least they would have tried…then they can regroup and decide what is next. This will not be wasted time or a waste of college dollars…one never knows…

    My hat is off to Allison!! Best of luck!

  4. I remember reading from time to time about Allison in the Mercury.

    Congratulations and best wishes to her. She’s now joined the elite but expanding crew of recovering Californians. Like my family and me!

    She says she won’t stay in New York. We’ll see