I know what Gammill is thinking - newspapers are cutting back on jobs, reporters' salaries are getting cut and those who continue to work end up churning out superficial story after story with constant deadlines. So why not go to law school and get on a more profitable career track?
If Gammill thinks his salary and employment prospects are going to be better as an attorney he will almost certainly be disappointed. There are about 500 new attorneys entering the legal profession every year in Indiana. I tell people to go online and look at the job board for open legal positions. Usually there are five or six Indiana attorney jobs advertised. In the Indiana Lawyer, often there are no openings listed. Do the math. The odds are not good.
I know a 15 year attorney who was doing typing for another attorney to make ends meet. I know an attorney who worked loading packages on the back of a UPS truck because he couldn't get a job in the legal field. A few years ago, I ran into a law school classmate of mine, an attorney who was working the cash register at a computer store. I know a postal carrier and semi-truck driver who went to law school, passed the bar and then returned to their former professions because those jobs paid a lot better than the law.
The sad thing is that many of these new lawyers have amassed huge amounts of debt in law school, sometimes as much as six figures. They are promised by law schools they'll get comfortable salaries and instead find themselves working, if they can get a job, for $30,000 a year with no benefits.
I often get asked whether law is a good background for other fields. It's actually an excellent background. However, non-legal employers don't see it that way. If you have a legal background, they will pigeonhole you as an attorney and say you're overqualified." The lawyer won't be hired for a non-lawyer job because of the misplaced belief that the person would leave and get a six figure legal job, jobs which don't exist. So don't be thinking that law degree will open the door to other fields.
I don't know how much Gammill makes as a Star reporter. But if he thinks he's going to get out of law school and make more money as a lawyer than as a writer for the Star, he's almost certainly going to be disappointed. And paid benefits as a lawyer? Yeah, good luck with that one.
Gammill could turn out to be one of the lucky ones. I always tell new lawyers that if they're going to enter the profession, they have to develop a niche, an expertise that other lawyers can't bring to the table. If a general practitioner, that lawyer is little different than virtually everyone else in the field. Maybe Gammill could use his journalism background to go into some sort of journalism law that will make him stand out from the hundreds of other attorneys out there looking for a job. I'm not optimistic it will happen but it could. Best of luck to him.