Neverender

People treating you differently since starting law?

186 posts in this topic

This is kind of a weird question, but has anyone noticed that people who aren't studying law have treated you differently (worse) since you started law school? This is beyond just playful joking about lawyers being dishonest or something. I've noticed that as soon as someone asks me what I'm studying and I answer with "law," their attitude towards me shifts drastically. I expected no one to care one way or the other. Instead people seem to be caught off guard and awkwardly say something like "oh... wow." Everyone congratulates me as if it's some huge accomplishment, but from that point on it's like there's a wall that goes up between us. I've had people get defensive seemingly out of nowhere about what they're doing/studying, as if that by saying I study law, what I'm really saying is "I think I'm better than you." In times where I've had a minor disagreement with someone, I've gotten passive-aggressive responses along the lines of "well you probably know better than I do, it's not like I'm in law school.

 

It doesn't help that I've always been a very quiet person. Before people would see that I wasn't talking much and would just think I was shy, which often made them like me more. Now if I'm quiet around people who know I'm in law school, it seems like they assume I'm arrogant and don't want to talk to them. I've had tons of other weird encounters where people seem to be put off by me studying law but it's too much to get into in detail here.

 

Has anyone else had experiences like this? Any advice for how to prevent people from making too many assumptions about you? I've found it helps somewhat to almost never talk about my classes. Even if someone asks about my classes, I've learned it's better to just give a brief answer and change the subject. I've also noticed that a lot of law students seem to hang out with almost exclusively other law students, and this worries me a bit because it's important for me maintain a lot of the relationships I've had from before. More and more however, it seems like a lot of those people just think we're too different now. It's like I'm between groups of friends and I don't really fit into either right now. Sorry for unleashing all the feels, but I'm not sure if this is just part of life or if there's something I should be doing about it, and it's kind of upsetting either way.  :cry:

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In times where I've had a minor disagreement with someone, I've gotten passive-aggressive responses along the lines of "well you probably know better than I do, it's not like I'm in law school.

 

From my experience, what's worse is when people suggest that law school has made you more argumentative and twisted your sense of reasonability. Especially with family, there's this dismissive attitude when your otherwise legitimate disagreements begin to be seen as being frivolous.

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I find that acknowledging that getting in law school is hard and that you are thankful for is important because the people you are talking to might have tried and failed or entertained the idea and given up thinking they couldn't do it and you remind them of their insecurities. Also good friends should support you not make you feel sad, that's a good way to recognize your friends. Take care :)

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I've had people give me the "that's impressive" face, or congratulate me, but I have never noticed any difference after that between me and the same people (ie they treat me the same as before they knew I graduated law school, and don't get defensive, make comments, or put up a wall).

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I haven't really noticed any problems, except that sometimes I talk about law things and people's eyes glaze over. But then again, I used to talk about grammar things instead, and that wasn't much better. I am pretty boring.

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I've noticed the opposite. People tend to be impressed and think you're smart if you're in law when they really really shouldn't be. Especially older people. They also like to crack a lame lawyer joke.

 

Hanging out only with other law students happens to many people because you're all gong through so much of the same shit together. Its more common if you move out of your undergrad town for law school and don't have an established social circle. 

 

As for my suggestion, don't change who you are. Don't act like a lawyer stereotype and be polite and kind but you have no obligation to change for people unless its important for your personal gain. 

Edited by DSman
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I've noticed the opposite. People tend to be impressed and think you're smart if you're in law when they really really shouldn't be.

 

This is my experience as well.

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I don't really talking about it tbh. My experiences are people either get way too impressed or try to show you how smart they are. It's cool man, I'm not that smart  we don't gotta talk about army camouflage patents just because you know I goto law school.

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Get used to it and learn how to normalize those awkward situations because you'll be dealing with them one way or another for the rest of your life when interacting with non-lawyers.

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You guys have strange friends. I never really met anyone who cared. Of course, when you live in Toronto, everyone and their mother has been to law school.

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You guys have strange friends. I never really met anyone who cared. Of course, when you live in Toronto, everyone and their mother has been to law school.

 

That's been my experience.  Off and on people will take it as an invitation to ask for legal advice or to abuse you as part of The System, but generally most people say something relatable about how they were thinking about taking the LSAT or their roommate's sister just got into law school in the States or their uncle is a sole practitioner in Barrie or their great-grandad was a judge of the Ontario Criminal Court.

 

Though I do get the sense I'm being dared to debate more often.  I don't know if my acquaintances are just getting older and more crotchety, or if, now that I'm a lawyer, they want to get some validation on theories of theirs by taking radical socio-political positions with me in the room.

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I actually remember that moment clearly. It was late December and I had just learned I got into law school. I was meeting a bunch of guys from my high school. I only stayed in touch with one of them. The rest, I was never close with, but you know, guys you might say 'hi' to at the mall. It was just a guy's night out to catch up over some beers. 5 year reunion type thing. Most of them had done some kind of undergrad. I remember prefacing it as some big news, 'cause I was relieved that all that time spent on the LSAT and my last year of undergrad was worth it.

 

I thought it was such a simple thing. "That's awesome man, congrats! [few questions, then move on to something more fun for the group]." Instead there was a long awkward pause, broken by the one friend I am still close with: "Cool! Free legal advice for life!" Followed by some nervous laughter. Seriously? I don't know why it's so hard to be normal.

 

It's still awkward sometimes when I see those guys. I don't really get it. I have the same reaction to this kind of news no matter what it is: "You just started nursing/carpentry/grad school/plumbing/accounting or [insert new job person is excited about] - Congrats! How's it going so far? etc." It's not like I'm some reminder of where they wanted to be. If I had to guess, I'd guess insecurity? I mean, I'd love to be an Canada Research Chair in something-or-other but that "sadness" is an afterthought to the human being in front of you. So, think about your insecurities after you spend 1 minute on them.

 

Some people are not your friends for good reasons. There are plenty of people out there that will be good to you though. Some great relationships you'll have to build over time and others will just fall in your lap. 

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I thought it was such a simple thing. "That's awesome man, congrats! [few questions, then move on to something more fun for the group]." Instead there was a long awkward pause, broken by the one friend I am still close with: "Cool! Free legal advice for life!" Followed by some nervous laughter. Seriously? I don't know why it's so hard to be normal.

 

My conversations have always followed the normal path. I get that other reaction when I tell people I live in Toronto and like it. 

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Telling people I have a PhD is normally the conversation stopper. No one particularly cares that Im a law student except to inquire about how science and law go together. For myself, being in law school is almost a shameful admission because all of my friends have already 'grown up' with their careers, families etc.

 

Ive been dubbed the the individual who is trapped in academia and can't get their sh*t together enough to acquire a 'real' job. Its an endless conversation about how long I've been in school and promising my wife that I will actually work when I'm finished the JD (a promise which might be difficult to keep given the current associate crisis).

 

Maybe I should reconsider the MD...

Edited by TheScientist101
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haven't experienced what the OP described, but I've ran into these annoying scenarios:

 

1) people automatically assume you know everything there is know about the law and start asking you ridiculous questions (e.g. "what are the rules concerning trees in small town X in New Zealand?").

2) people (non-lawyers) try to pretend that they know as much (or more) about the law as you because they don't want to be seen to have been "outdone" by you (I wouldn't mind if they really do know a few things, but usually 80% of what they say just makes one cringe).

3) people (usually friends of friends) working in sales start spamming you with ads because they assume you are rich (I wouldn't mind if they were selling something useful, but its usually garbage).

Edited by law4sho
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haven't experienced what the OP described, but I've ran into these annoying scenarios:

 

1) people automatically assume you know everything there is know about the law and start asking you ridiculous questions (e.g. "what are the rules concerning trees in small town X in New Zealand?").

2) people (non-lawyers) try to pretend that they know as much (or more) about the law as you because they don't want to be seen to have been "outdone" by you (I wouldn't mind if they really do know a few things, but usually 80% of what they say just makes one cringe).

3) people (usually friends of friends) working in sales start spamming you with ads because they assume you are rich (I wouldn't mind if they were selling something useful, but its usually garbage).

 

I haven't started school yet and this is what I have experienced as well.   For some reason people seem to think I know everything about the law without ever attending a single class yet. :roll:   Very annoying.

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I get that other reaction when I tell people I live in Toronto and like it. 

 

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