How has the landscape changed for law students nowadays compared to 10 or 15 years ago? How are the challenges similar or different from what you may have experienced when you were in law school? In this episode, I sit down with Samantha and Haylie, Co-Hosts of the Ladies Who Law School Podcast, and 3L Law Students in Oklahoma City.
We talk about:
- How the pandemic has affected law students
- Which beliefs are outdated in the legal industry compared to years before
- How the outlook on Big Law has changed for the next generation of lawyers
- Being a law student and studying the law amidst some of society’s most defining moments
Mentioned in This Episode
[00:00:00] Karin: This is council cast part of the legal talk network. And I’m your host carne Conroy. When you face a complex case outside your expertise, you bring in a co-counsel for next level results. When you want to engage, expand, and elevate your firm, you bring in a marketing co-counsel in this podcast. I bring in marketing experts who each answer one big question to help your firm achieve more.
[00:00:23] Here’s today’s guest.
[00:00:26] Hi, I’m Haley Davis from ladies who law school podcast. And I am a current law student, and I am hoping to do employment law in the future.
[00:00:39] Samantha: My name is Samantha. I am the co-host for ladies who law school podcast, and I am also a three L and I am interested in general civil litigate.
[00:00:52] Karin: Ladies. Thank you so much for being here.
[00:00:54] This is gonna be. Episode. I know we are going to cover stuff that, uh, we have not [00:01:00] talked about on the podcast before, because, um, not only are you three L’s, but you have really taken this idea of, um, creating a community, getting out there, talking to other. Students. And I feel like you really have your finger on the pulse of what’s happening right now with people who are kind of in a similar life position, whether they’re in law school and there w wherever they are in that path, it’s different.
[00:01:27] And it should be different, you know, life changes, um, than maybe five, 10, or however many years ago that people went to law school who might be listening to. Let’s get started with everyone’s the question on everyone’s mind, uh, which is what’s different about law school now today in today’s experience, what is different?
[00:01:49] So let’s start by talking about, um, what you have seen just in the course of your, uh, three years of law school. What has kind of changed. [00:02:00]
[00:02:01] Haylie: Yeah. I mean, obviously the first thing that comes to mind is COVID and the pandemic we were right there. We had gone through what you know of pre semester one full normal, I guess, law school semester.
[00:02:16] And in the spring of 2020, we were in our second semester of our first year. And. Everything’s shut down. We had to start doing school online and we just, you really didn’t know what was going to happen. And I think that. Law school has changed in the sense that people said, oh, you can’t get a law school degree online, or, oh, you can’t do school or do you court online?
[00:02:46] And that all had to change, right? Because we had no choice. So it changed for the better, in the sense that we, as a legal community became. Technologically updated and step [00:03:00] towards that and especially at school, but also as students, we learn to pivot, really, you learn to rely on yourself as a teacher because sometimes you’re just not going to get it.
[00:03:09] And sometimes it’s just not going to work the way that it’s set up. And you had to push past that.
[00:03:16] Karin: But that is such a great lesson. And I feel like, uh, so in 2020, the Cleo had the cloud conference and it was originally planned to be in person. And then it went online and they had this report about, um, just kind of technology trends and where things were at.
[00:03:32] And they said that at this point that we were only what, six, eight months into the pandemic. And, you know, it’s still, you know, still going. Um, and at the time they were saying. Their estimation of, um, technology is that it had been expedited three to five years, at least. So where they thought the legal industry would be in three to five years was all of a sudden today.
[00:03:57] And so, and I even remember [00:04:00] at the beginning of the pandemic thinking, ah, you know, we’re not wanting to get on zooms and not wanting to look at people. In person and it was just this weird kind of felt strange. And now it’s so normal. Like this is just how we do it. And so there’s all these hurdles that we’ve kind of just, I quickly had to get
[00:04:17] Haylie: over.
[00:04:18] Exactly. And I think a lot of us didn’t want to do it just cause we don’t like change. Yeah, exactly, exactly how this pushed a lot of us to have to change and get used to it and then realize you kind of enjoy it and it gives you a lot more freedom and flexibility.
[00:04:34] Karin: And the legal industry is traditionally very slow to change.
[00:04:38] So they kind of needed a pandemic to make these things happen. So what else? I mean, that’s, that’s significant and that’s not something, hopefully that’s going to be a regular experience for, um, you know, people going through law school, hopefully fingers crossed. So, uh, I feel like that’s going to be kind of unique for you guys.
[00:04:57] What else do you feel like [00:05:00] how else do you feel that changed just your, your experience in general, and then you have a huge audience. I know you’re talking to other law students all the time. How do you feel like overall you’re hearing from other people that that has impacted, um, not just their experience, but their thought about the legal industry and how they want to practice.
[00:05:20] Samantha: Well, I think now, especially with a remote working, a lot of people are excited to join it, the legal field and be able to remote work and kind of have your own schedule and build your own business around that. So I think that has been something that has been a focus for a lot of people. Um,
[00:05:40] Haylie: what do you think?
[00:05:41] Yeah, and I think like being able to be remote. And just kind of the shift around working, you know, you don’t have to be in the office, you don’t have to be next to someone literally to be collaborative as attorneys and work towards [00:06:00] legal research goals and things like that. Sure. So I think, yeah, it just kind of solidified that for all of us too.
[00:06:07] You know, certain clinics were on zoom even in the fall of 2020. So I know people had to do their oral. We had to do our oral arguments online. It just forced us to just be in uncomfortable, really weird positions and do certain things that you just never know when you might have to do again, because you might have to be online or for any reason, like.
[00:06:31] Samantha: I do think that the generation of lawyers who come from like the pandemic law school. Yeah. You know, crowd, I think that will be very well equipped for like changes and pivoting in our careers. And if something happens, like, I think we’ve been forced to do that at this point. And now it’s, it’s expected,
[00:06:54] Karin: you know, familiar.
[00:06:55] Yeah. It’s not as scary and you won’t be as resistant. I think [00:07:00] that’s, that’s kind of where you see a lot of the legal industry is just kind of resisting all of that change. So now it’s not, it’s not as hard. Yeah. So, um, so what. What feels outdated now, when you kind of look, um, now that you’re three hours and you’ve gone through this, you’ve gone through a massive pandemic.
[00:07:19] Um, and, and also just kind of from where you were in the beginning, not even thinking about the pandemic, but what feels outdated when you look at what you were thinking about that your life would look like at the end of law school versus now.
[00:07:35] Haylie: Easy, the idea that you have to go to a big law firm and that’s the only way you can be successful yet as a lawyer and the only way you can make money.
[00:07:44] And that’s the w the only jobs out there that’s so outdated. And so not true. And we’ve totally had to learn that for ourselves. I feel like schools still project that idea onto their students a lot. [00:08:00] And if you want jobs and you want to do other types of law or you, you know, maybe big law just isn’t the right fit, you have to go out there and look for that.
[00:08:08] And I think for so long, you know, so many people growing up, like it was, you know, Hang your own shingle for a long time and then it, or go to big law or, you know, and really there’s so much out there in that or category.
[00:08:26] Karin: Right. I love that. do you feel like that’s a feeling that, uh, that you guys hold kind of uniquely, or is that pretty universal that people are feeling like maybe big?
[00:08:37] Law’s not the answer. Is that a common, kind of feeling from people you talk to you or, or just you guys? I think
[00:08:44] Samantha: it’s increasingly more common. I think, the pandemic really, And besides, you know, self care and mental health and like all these important things that a lot of lawyers neglect, especially a big law firms at big law firms, [00:09:00] like the culture.
[00:09:00] Right. And I think. Now they’re like, okay, I don’t have to do that. Like I can have, I can have a family. I can do all the things I want to do and still have a successful career and,
[00:09:13] Haylie: and still be at the big firm and lived my life.
[00:09:16] Karin: Right. Yeah. And it seems like nobody really wants to go through that kind of miserable life experience.
[00:09:23] They think that it’s like you said, they have to. And so I’m just kind of realizing that there’s an alternate option. So what, what is it that people that you, you guys or your colleagues or your, your friends or whatever are looking at now? That’s kind of the goal. If it’s not, if it’s not that big lie,
[00:09:42] Haylie: Yeah.
[00:09:42] I mean, ultimately I think it’s employment. I mean, I know that sounds like crazy, just like a job. Right. But I think it’s figuring out where you fit in the legal fields, whether, and I mean, honestly, there are people out there who fit in big law. There, there are those jobs for a reason. There’s, [00:10:00] you know, a part of me aspires to work at a big law firm as well.
[00:10:04] Right? Like that’s, there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s just more of the idea that. The ultimate goal is to go to law school, learn a trade and become employed and be contributing to society. Right. So however that looks for you, I think it’s being intentional. You know, doing your own research, um, putting yourself in different positions and maybe that is going to a summer at a law firm and trying that out, but then maybe you’re like this isn’t for me.
[00:10:32] And that means, you know, pivoting and being open to that. I think so many people and students in the past, I’ve been pushed to like, oh, you’re fine. You’re fine. You’re lucky to have this position. Like you might not like it, but get over it. And in reality, like, no, you can go to the government job. You can go to the AGS office, you can go to a nonprofit.
[00:10:52] Karin: Right. And especially if that’s something where I’m like, that’s just feel, you feel like that’s your calling or you feel [00:11:00] kind of drawn to that in whatever way. And so that kind of leads to my next question, because it’s not just a pandemic that we’ve gone through in the last couple of years, we’ve had these major.
[00:11:10] World events and they, you know, they, they impact all parts of our lives, but very specifically I can imagine being in law school and seeing, um, just the legal implications of everything that’s, that’s going on. With all of these world events, George Floyd, all of these kinds of things. And having that change my thought about where I want to be as a lawyer.
[00:11:34] Did that change you guys at all, or anyone that you know, or how did, how did world events kind of change things, um, in kind of law school or, or what you heard about other people talking about in law school?
[00:11:47] Samantha: I think world events, um, like election years, right? Like that’s a great time to be in law school because you’re learning all the ins and outs of government and how everything works.
[00:11:59] So, [00:12:00] I mean, certain world events are good as a supplement, right? Like what you’re learning. And it’s like, oh, this is like the application of the law in real life. Um, but for example, I mean, as a law student, I think I’m just more aware of things, right. Maybe certain issues. Weren’t that important to me back then are now way more important to me now, just because I know the law and I know like the constitutional stuff behind it, like, for example, we’ve been talking a lot about like Roe V Wade and all of the abortion stuff.
[00:12:32] And like, we’ve just learned about that last year. So now, now that we’re fully aware of how the law works, right. It changes. How you interpret, you know, the news and knowing that legal background that most people
[00:12:47] Karin: don’t sure exactly. Yeah. The closest thing I have that relates to that is when I was back in design school.
[00:12:55] Um, and I took a whole class on fonts and typography and the [00:13:00] first, and it was this amazing teacher who had gone to art, uh, the art center in Pasadena. And she said, just so you know, on day one, Um, you’ll never look outside at the world in the same way. And I was like, seriously, this is about fonts, but I have never looked at signage or ads or magazines or anything in the same way, because now all of a sudden I noticed the fonts and it’s, it’s little things like, you know, fonts are not quite the same as understanding the constitution, but it is a different way of, of like seeing things in the world.
[00:13:31] Samantha: Absolutely. Yeah, I think, um, it definitely, yeah. Makes things clearer and you just get a deeper understanding of certain topics. Um, and then it can just, it’s nice also to be the one that in conversations, you can be the educated person and really explain that the law and how people have decided certain things and, you know, the laws, a
[00:13:55] Karin: law.
[00:13:56] So, yeah, exactly.
[00:13:57] Haylie: And for interpretation, precedent and [00:14:00] legal implications. You know, you mentioned George Floyd, and I think there’s been multiple, multiple, multiple trials that have come since that happened. And since his death. And I think we’ve been there for all of them. We’ve watched them, we’ve talked about them.
[00:14:17] We’ve digested them from a law student standpoint and from people who were just in criminal procedure, just in criminal law justice. Constitutional law. You know, we, we just took those classes. They’re fresh and we sit down and we think about it and yeah. You know, you’re exactly right. People do ask us about it and we can be the educated one, but sometimes that’s also a scary thing because so many people around you don’t understand certain parts of the law and the legal implications.
[00:14:46] And it can be hard to like, try to convey that to other people and tell them like, Hey, like I don’t mean this in a political way, or I don’t mean this. Bi-partisan way. I’m just trying to tell you the law, you know? Right. [00:15:00] So it’s definitely something that you learn about yourself in law school, in these times, uh, how to have those conversations and how to be diplomatic and, you know, keep your cool, I think that’s
[00:15:12] Karin: thing that, well, that is, that is such a important part of just life in general too.
[00:15:18] But especially once you kind of go out and become a. Part of the, the legal community and you’re part of these heated conversations, whatever it is, I’m trying to figure out how to have the conversations professionally and all that. So do you think that. Because this, it really does feel like a unique moment in history that you guys were in law school at this time combination of a pandemic and you know, all of these social justice movement.
[00:15:47] Do you feel like someone who went to law school maybe 10 or 15 years ago where, you know, it’s a different world, uh, that you had a different experience and things might might’ve been different for how you’re [00:16:00] ending up now versus someone 10 or 15 years?
[00:16:04] Samantha: Well, I think 10 or 15 years ago, uh, law school was way more inaccessible.
[00:16:11] I guess, if that’s the way you put it, you know, not as many people were going to law school, not as many women were going to law school, not as many minorities were going to law school. So I think that has definitely shifted. And you can see that, um, in law firms now, you know what, they’re focusing on diversity.
[00:16:29] The conversation. And you can see also with the law evolving, right. You see through the years how firms evolve and I don’t know the makeup of law classes, like you can see throughout the years how they evolved. And I
[00:16:42] Karin: don’t know,
[00:16:42] Haylie: it’s just, it’s simply like this 2008 was a crisis right in America. People who went to law school then came out of there and they were better for it probably.
[00:16:58] But as time went on, [00:17:00] I notice that different as time goes on and things get better, people are different, right. They maybe their priorities change. Maybe they’re not so focused on certain things or social justice, like you said, criminal justice system, these certain things. And as Americans, we have a tendency to look at the bright, shiny object and follow that instead of focusing on.
[00:17:21] Needs help. And I think it kind of ebbs and flows. And as you go down into a bad valley in the pandemic and all these things, you just really realize how much change in work there really still is to be done. And you have to keep pushing forward. And even when you go up, you can’t forget about those times.
[00:17:39] Karin: Yeah, that’s really great. I feel like it just refocuses, like you said, it refocuses those things that we’ve kind of lost track of because you know, everything gets in the way and if everything’s going well, which, you know, it’s, it’s hard to imagine a moment when, you know, things are calm and not having these, but then you’re just like, okay, well, um, [00:18:00] I’m just gonna kind of clicker along on my average Tuesday, but then when all of this stuff starts happening, you’re like, wait a second.
[00:18:07] Uh, What’s the point of this career. What’s the point? Why did I go to law school? And it does seem like without putting words in your mouth, that you guys are coming out with a very focused, clear idea of number one, how you can make change. React to change. And then, you know, the things that are going on in the world are pretty loud and in your face, like it’s not subtle.
[00:18:31] So, you know, kind of whatever it is that you choose to do, you know that there’s a need for it and kind of where, where you can go and, and be helpful and kind of focus your careers. Um, what else do you hear from other people about, have they changed their minds as they’ve kind of gone through law school about.
[00:18:51] Were they, what kind of practice area they want to focus? Did any of these events, either the pandemic or social justice thing changed people’s minds? [00:19:00]
[00:19:01] Haylie: You know, I’m not really sure. Like I think certain people go to law school and change their mind regardless on what they want to share. And I think that in the process of going to law school, you do your internships and you learn different things that you do with doing.
[00:19:18] But I would say that it drives people more. I think maybe not necessarily our class, but people younger than us. Because of the pandemic decided to go to law school, it changes their outlook. It, it, it, it is the reason that they went to law school. It is the reason that they continue to want to do criminal law or family law or immigration, whatever it may be.
[00:19:40] Right. Um, you know, I mean, there’s a part of me that I always wanted to do criminal law, and then I found myself in employment law. And I think, yeah, I mean, a part of that is because of a lot of issues I’ve seen in the conversations I’ve had and things like that. But. To say, you know, dependent to that exact reason.
[00:19:55] I don’t know if I could, but yeah, I think it definitely played an [00:20:00] implication and played a factor in it.
[00:20:02] Karin: Do you think there’s any fact it’s so it sounds like. Um, so when you would have started three years ago and then even back up another year or so before that, when you were thinking about it and applying and kind of going through that whole process, was that around the me too movement was, was that in any way impacting your, your thought process and kind of driving you towards a certain.
[00:20:23] Kind of work. Yeah. Well, I
[00:20:25] Samantha: think, um, to go to law school, to go to law school, like as a woman, you know, like I’ve always been one to want to support myself and like not have, you know, not have to rely on anyone and have my own career and be my own self. Right. Yeah. My own boss. So I think that is definitely what motivated us, you
[00:20:48] Haylie: know, and I would say that the me too movement.
[00:20:51] You know, something just different. Yeah.
[00:20:54] Samantha: And you get affects people in different ways. Right. But it makes you hungry. It makes you yeah. For us. [00:21:00] And like, I think, um, just in general, right? Like being in law school and knowing all these things, it just makes us more passionate about certain topics. And you know, it might not necessarily affect us directly, but we know now how to make change, like you said, and we know.
[00:21:15] We know that we’re, if we’re lawyers, we’re going to have the ability to make actual change. And
[00:21:23] Haylie: every time I work with the client, right. You know, you can’t change. And I think that’s important to remember that you are playing a part in these people’s lives and, you know, whatever, it may be, whatever type of all you are doing, you know, and, and be a main about it.
[00:21:39] I think so many times it’s like I have to win, you know? And in reality, like, Think about the situation, you know?
[00:21:45] Karin: Yes. Yeah, exactly. There’s different layers and levels of, of, you know, the definition of what success might be. Yep. Um, okay. So. Our big question is what’s different about law school now. And we’re going to come back to that full [00:22:00] circle in talking about what your book recommendation is.
[00:22:02] Cause I know that that it kind of comes back around to the questions. So, uh, as you know, our audience is full of tireless lawyers who don’t have time to read books that aren’t worth it. So what’s the book that you want to recommend that is worth spending a few minutes, kind of understand.
[00:22:18] Samantha: I would say, um, a book that we always recommend is law school confidential.
[00:22:25] It is definitely like the OJI law school guide. Um, that gives you the nitty gritty. Um, granted it is 20 years old. So,
[00:22:37] Karin: thanks. Okay. You know, but so is it like I’m picturing, this is not a book I’ve read, I’m picturing the book version of a legally blonde. So is it, is it, um, I’m guessing it might be a little more in depth than that.
[00:22:52] Tell me a little bit more about
[00:22:54] Haylie: basically just a collection of people’s stories, of what you know, that they wish they would’ve known [00:23:00] before they went to law school and. I’m sure your audience listening to, it might even relate back with some of those stories, right. Um, or reading it. We, uh, you can also listen to it on audio audible.
[00:23:12] So, but it’s one of those books that really shows you how to be productive and successful and how people learned, tried and failed. And I sometimes think that we are the new law school confidential, and the fact that we show you how we tried and failed and how other people have tried and failed. And, you know,
[00:23:34] Karin: and you’re doing it on a podcast instead of like an old static book, you know, in seven years was going to be kind of outdated.
[00:23:42] So are there anything, any bits of advice from that book that you can think of that are, that are out there?
[00:23:49] Haylie: Ooh. I mean, I think genuinely that’s where we both came into the idea that you had to follow these certain stepping stones to be successful after law school. You know, you make certain good [00:24:00] grades law, you go to on-campus interviews, you get that internship.
[00:24:04] You secure it, they like you so much. And then you get offered a job and then it’s just easy peasy.
[00:24:10] Karin: And then life is beautiful. After that, it’s like a fairytale, like nothing really happens after that. And then I live happily ever after I was like, wait a minute, who’s doing the laundry. That’s the
[00:24:19] Samantha: thing with a lot of, I think law school resources, maybe before we started the podcast, like every single reason.
[00:24:27] It’s trying to point you to go to big law. Yeah. Like every single, this is how you apply to law school. So you can work in big law. Like, you know, this is, this is the law school you
[00:24:38] Haylie: should go to so
[00:24:39] Samantha: you can work in big law.
[00:24:41] Karin: Yeah. So it’s like who’s writing those books probably
[00:24:45] Samantha: how to kill your cold calls.
[00:24:46] So you can get the summer associate position. Like that’s always how it’s, you know, we just wanted to change that narrative because the legal field is so huge. There are so many opportunities. Like, [00:25:00] even if you’re not an attorney, like after law school, like there’s so many opportunities in the legal field, but are just not talked about like, Through the podcast we’ve learned by interviewing.
[00:25:11] Attorneys like
[00:25:13] Karin: stuff that we didn’t even know existed. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. That’s awesome. And it just makes it feel to me from an outsider who didn’t go through law school, but, um, I got an MBA and the equivalent for MBAs is to be a consultant. So to go work for a big consulting firm and like, you know, that’s, that’s the goal is you go to these, you know, events, these at, at night where the consulting firms are there and then you try to get your resume in there.
[00:25:39] And it’s like, That sounds. And then you work like 120 hours a week. And what is the point of that? Like what, how does that even? So, um, it, it sounds like you guys, aside from kind of having a different understanding of that, it gives you some relief because you don’t feel like, like such a high pressure [00:26:00] situation that there’s only one path.
[00:26:03] Yeah, that’s awesome. Okay. So law school confidential, we’ll link that on the show notes and everything, but I love that idea that it’s got good stuff in there, but it’s also kind of somewhat outdated. So what people really need to do is kind of tune into podcasts that are always going to be like right up to date and kind of hear the latest and greatest of all of that.
[00:26:24] Awesome. Well, what’s any big one takeaway that you want listeners, you know, most of our listeners have already gone through law school and they’re kind of listening to you as sort of like the voice of the future. What’s a big takeaway that you might want them to get from this episode.
[00:26:40] Samantha: Ooh. If, okay. So if I’m talking to attorneys as a law student, I would say.
[00:26:48] Be really open to law students like reaching out to you and respond to their emails because they’re really scared to probably email you in the first place or add you on LinkedIn. There’s probably [00:27:00] a reason that they emailed you or added you on LinkedIn or whatever they did to contact you. I mean, I’m not saying like this happened to us.
[00:27:09] Right. But I know like there’s people who reach out to attorneys and they just don’t hear back and that’s kind of like, oh, we were in that situation once too,
[00:27:19] Karin: you know? Right. Yeah. Yeah, exactly. Pull people up from behind. Like you’ve kind of walked that path yourself, who better than to be a resource. It’s your job to kind of, you know, kind of get your own success.
[00:27:31] And then, um, All boats rise in a high titer. What does that phrase do you guys know all, you know, whatever it is, it sounds good.
[00:27:42] Help the people behind you pull them up from behind and help support the people that are coming up. And you never know how those networking connections might help you build your own firm and whatever. But I do think that there’s a lot to be said for recognizing the change in the legal industry. [00:28:00] And this last couple of years.
[00:28:01] Is just full of change. And so you guys are going to be such a source of, of that change and a representation of what what’s possible kind of in the future. So, you know, you’re just a great resource. So people need to be kind of paying attention to that and not sort of saying, uh, you know, yeah, definitely ignore.
[00:28:20] Samantha: We’ve been saying it, uh, like you said, the legal field is slow to change and a lot of times when they’re confronted with things that should be changed. They don’t really like to listen or like, to even be told that, you know, maybe you shouldn’t be hiring this way or that way,
[00:28:39] Karin: you know, or maybe you should be having meetings on zoom.
[00:28:42] I mean, just even little things where like, there’s better ways of doing things that we should have all been paying attention to five years ago. And it wouldn’t have been as, um, scary when the, when the pandemic first started. Yeah. Awesome. Okay. Samantha and Haley are the hosts [00:29:00] of the podcast. Ladies who law school.
[00:29:01] That is a huge success. If you haven’t heard it, you should check it out. They’re all over all the social media and they are also three L’s and they have built this awesome community that I highly recommend listening to. And thank you guys so much for being here. I really appreciate it. Of course. Thank you.
[00:29:16] Samantha: Yes. Thank you. So nice to chat again.