I am pleased to present a new excerpt from my upcoming book,”The Addicted Lawyer”. The usual disclaimers. These excerpts are solely for content preview. These excerpts are not professionally edited. That occurs when I pay someone later. They also may not appear in this form in the published book. While your waiting for this book feel free to read my previous book, Shattered Image.
Going To Law School:The Good, Bad And The Stupid
Once upon at time I hosted a segment on show called “EyeOpener TV”. My segment was called “Cuban’s Legal Briefs”. The premise of the show was to provide short, provocative commentary on legal issues in the news. For instance, The question would be “Is burning the American flag protected by the First Amendment”. My trademark opening would b:
“Are You An Idiot, Of Course It Is!”
For those from the the East Coast who remember, “Crazy Eddie” electronics store commercials, I was kind of the “Crazy Eddy” of EyeOpener TV. Those videos of my ranting are still on the internet for those interested. Let’s play that game with law school.
“Are their good, bad and stupid reasons to go to law school?
“ARE YOU AN IDIOT OF COURSE THERE ARE!”
My reasons for taking the Law School Admission Test(LSAT) and then attending the University of Pittsburgh School of Law(Pitt Law) definitely fall into the last category. Stupid. I say that with the caveat that I now have a degree and went through a process (to the extent I participated) that certainly provided to a way of thinking that I will always take through life. That is a positive.
I also was able to make that choice in a different era for law schools and in the legal profession. In 1983, it did not cost an arm, leg and a first born to go to law school. Student loans for an in-state school like Pitt Law were manageable. Of course, that did not stop me from defaulting on mine when I was spending all my money on cocaine and booze instead of paying my outstanding debt obligations.(I remedied that)
In 2015, it is much softer legal market. Many students are running up incredible amounts of debt that they will have a difficult time paying off because the jobs just are not there either at all or on pay school in proportion to the debt. Especially those students like me, who came out with mediocre grades. Add in a possibly mediocre law school and well… Let’s just say, it’s a decision that needs to be thought out to a greater degree than when I went through the process.
In 1985, my third year at Pitt Law, the average, in-state tuition was $2006.00 per year. Today, the cost to attend Pitt Law is $29,660. Of course, we also have to adjust for inflation and the relative job market. The bottom line is that it was much easier in my day, to say:
“What the hell, I will go to law school”
Almost the reasons I went but in reality, mine was much a much more dysfunctional thought process.
As a junior in 1982 at The Pennsylvania State University, I was a criminal justice major. At Penn State at that time, it was called “Administration of Justice. I wanted to be a police officer. I was also traditionally bulimic. I was exercise bulimic. I was an alcoholic. I of course, left all of these “qualifications” off my law enforcement employment application. I felt completely alone with my disorders. I was however, comfortable with them. They were the things I had control over. I did not want to have to reveal myself to the other students. I did not want to have to reveal myself to the professional work place. That would be a loss of control. I did apply for some different police officer positions. Like when I would enter the Marines a few years later, looking back, I think that I felt being a police officer, with the training, the discipline,would fix my problems. I never scored quite well enough on the entrance exams to get on the short list for hiring. I was terrified of my future.
One day, I was in the placement office for my major, the place were they kept all of the law enforcement jobs. It was also the gathering place just to chat about what other students were up to. I was looking through the list of police officer openings when I head one of the other students talking about taking the “LSATS” . I had no idea what that meant. I asked. He said:
“The law school admission test” I am going to law school.
Before that moment, the thought of going to law school had never entered my mind. Law school was hard. I had a hard enough time functioning at Penn State. I asked:
“What schools are you considering”
“I really want to go to Pitt Law. I can get in-state tuition and it’s a good school.
My wheels started turning in the most dysfunctional way possible. I did not consider what it would mean to be a lawyer. I did not consider the hard work necessary to excel in law school. I did not want to be Clarence Darrow. I did not want to make a lot of money. I did not want to change the world.
I had the answer to my fears. I could maintain control. I could continue to binge and purge, exercise and drink by going to law school. I could hide from the world for three more years. That is what drove my decision to go to law school. There are the good, bad and stupid reasons. I was firmly entrenched in the stupid.
Let’s play that “Cuban’s Legal Briefs” game again.
“Did Brian Cuban Go To Law School For Stupid Reasons? ARE YOU AND IDIOT OF COURSE HE DID!
They however seemed perfectly logical to me at the time. As I tell students when I relate this story, whatever your reasons for considering law school are, good or bad, don’t go for the stupid. Don’t go for the reasons I did.