"I never would have been able to succeed in Alternative Career P without my JD and the vital critical thinking skills I learned in law school!"
We've all heard this at some point. Too bad the whole thinking like a lawyer thing didn't also include thinking like someone capable of basic algebra.
B = Baseline intellect before law school
JD = Intellectual value added during law school
X = Minimum intellectual capacity needed to succeed in Alternative Career P.
Looking back at our original premise, "I never would have been able to succeed in Alternative Career P without my JD and the vital critical thinking skills I learned in law school!" we are able to produce the following equation:
B + JD = X
Those of you who still remember 8th grade Algebra will quickly realize the above equation is the same as the following:
X - JD = B
See where this is going? If you needed your JD to be able to do Alt Career P, then your baseline intellect (B) is lower than the intellect of every other schmo hacking in Career P. And, the more valuable your JD was, the bigger the intellectual deficit you started with.
"Wait, wait, wait! I didn't literally mean I 'never would have been able'! I probably could have done Alt Career P without my JD, but it's helped a whole lot."
Okay, so now all we need to do is introduce a new level. You're not at X, which was the minimum capacity, but now Y, which is a higher level of performance than X. ...And you're left with the same problem.
B + JD = Y
Y - JD = B
Find someone else operating at level Y, and whatever you think the value of your JD is must also be your intellectual deficit. An example:
Law Grad (LG) opens up a restaurant. He has to deal with corporate formation issues, contract issues, employment law, etc. While he maybe could have spent some time on Google and a few bucks on a discount lawyer to get through all this stuff without a JD, the JD still did come in handy. Plus, he's extra-successful because of his heightened intellectual capacity earned in his 3 years of law school.
Next door to LG's restaurant is another restaurant, founded by Recent Immigrant (RI). RI doesn't have a JD, or even a college degree. Instead, RI has only taken a few business classes at the community college.
LG and RI's businesses see roughly the same amount of success. If LG's JD was helpful in getting him to his present level of success with his restaurant, we can produce this equation:
LG + JD = RI
RI - JD = LG
LG was at such an intellectual deficit that in order to compete with RI's 12 community college credits, he had to go through 3 years of legal training and get a JD.
Human beings tend to want to place a lot of value on their experience and their choices. We don't like feeling that we've made huge mistakes, and law school is no exception. Yet we get an interesting conundrum. The more you claim your legal education helped you out, the more you're saying you weren't smart enough to hack it to begin with.