Being a law student is tough. If you’re looking to go into Biglaw, you don’t know whether you’ll get a job there. And then you know that most Biglaw attorneys are long gone from that job within 3-4 years. Then, who knows where you’ll go. If that’s your desired path, you basically have very little idea what exactly you’ll be doing in 10 years.
Contrast this with students in medical school. These students have a pretty good idea, depending on their planned specialty, where they’ll be in 10 years. They even have a decent idea how much they’ll be making based on generally known compensation data for each specialty.
For doctors or engineers, it’s a whole lot easier to plan than for lawyers. I think this uncertainty plays in, to a significant degree, towards a desire for the security of financial independence. When I was in law school, I knew people who had the explicit strategy of pulling in the high salaries at Biglaw for a few years, then dropping down to a less prestigious firm and doing the same for a few years, then dropping down to a small regional firm and then maybe solo practicioner. That journey down the ladder would, they thought, allow them to pay off all their loans and save close to $500,000. What would happen after that? Nobody thought that far ahead.
I sort of had this strategy as well, although a major issue when you’re in law school is that you can’t even really imagine what it’s like to be an actual lawyer. Even after being a summer associate you don’t really know because you don’t understand the work you’re doing and half the time you are doing social events anyway. But you have a sense, just from looking around, that it’s not going to be great.
Maybe it goes without saying but I think that these factors (uncertainty in career path plus sense that working environment isn’t great) are why many law students were attracted to FIRE even before FIRE was a thing.
What’s it like now? Anyone? Bueller?