Law School Won’t Help You, Law Student Says

by Naomi Nishihara on

scales

A Georgetown Law student is telling people to put their applications down. Law school won’t make your parents proud of you, and it isn’t the only thing you can do with your humanities degree, she says.

But Isvari Mohan isn’t the disillusioned student you might expect. The former child prodigy is entering her third year studying cyber and national security law, and in a conversation with TippingTheScales she’s quick to say she personally loves law school — she just thinks it won’t meet most people’s expectations.

“Law school helps. Everything helps,” Mohan says. “However, is it $300,000 worth of help? For most people, I don’t think so.”

She elaborates, saying she entered law school hoping, like most people, that it would teach her how to think, advocate, and write better. And while it did, she considers herself unusually lucky. She found an area of law that she loves, and she’s going to graduate debt-free. 

CHILD PRODIGY FROM CALIFORNIA  

Mohan, 19, is pretty impressive. The San Jose, California native graduated from UC-Berkeley at age 17. As a teenager, she studied physics and did research at places like CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, and the Lawrence Berkeley National Labs. In her last years at UC-Berkeley, Mohan switched her focus from physics to public policy, and since entering law school she’s interned at the U.S. State Department, the FCC, and the U.S. Department of Defense.

And she’s a writer. She’s written a book, The Eyes of Mikra, which is a war novel about a female spy in a male-dominated country. She’s also an avid columnist, first for the Washington Times, and lately for Boston Globe Media. 

In her LinkedIn bio, Mohan describes herself as “an author, columnist, singer, and Global Law Scholar at Georgetown. I’m an ex-physicist and a current nerd. I’ll probably run for office someday. I’ll definitely get more dogs.”

So — as someone who shares their interests and expertise — when she warns other would-be politicians, journalists, and entertainers to stay away from law school, she means it. In a Boston Globe column last month, Mohan writes “I’m going to bet that many of you have considered going to law school. Whether you’re a scientist, an engineer, a businesswoman, or a stereotypical liberal arts grad, you might have thought that law school would help you with something,” she writes. “Most of the time, it won’t. …

“Law school teaches you to be a lawyer and nothing but a lawyer.”

A SUMMARY OF HER ADVICE

In her Globe piece, Mohan identifies eight reasons why law school is a terrible idea. Some are expected — that it’s expensive, for example. She recommends investing in a house, instead.

She adds that law grads don’t make as much money as people think. “Even if you land one of the highest-paying corporate law jobs at $180,000 a year in starting salary, at the hours you’d be working, that’s about $50 an hour,” she writes. “There are tons of other careers that will pay you $50 an hour and not require three years of education, never seeing your friends, and $100,000 in debt.”

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