January 13, 2015
I am asked this question a ton by those who are finishing up their undergraduate studies. Many lawyers have a blanket answer to this question, which consists of one word – “No!” My answer is slightly different, in that it consists of two words – “It depends…” In this post, I will set forth some considerations every person thinking about attending law school should “mull over” before making a final decision.
Why do I want to go to law school?
There are many great reasons to go to law school. Most law students want to practice law, go into politics, or obtain a law degree to further another aspect of their career. Personally, I went to law school because I have a fascination with the law, and knew I wanted to be a lawyer.
Sadly, there are many people who go to law school for the wrong reason(s). The following is a short list of reasons people go to law school and end up regretting their decision:
The trials and tribulations of law school are not something you want to go through just because you have no idea what to do after undergrad. Most people who go to law school for this reason end up quitting, or end up in a job they dislike. If you don’t know what you want to do after graduation, schedule an appointment with a career guidance counselor at your university or college.
I would be a very rich man if I had a dollar for every time I heard someone say “I like to argue. Maybe I should go to law school!” Unfortunately, there is a bit more to law school and being a lawyer than constantly arguing. Law school trains you to “think like a lawyer,” which does not involve constant arguing. Law schools train their students to become advocates through tons of reading, writing, and analysis of case law. One thing you learn quickly as a lawyer is to pick your battles. Arguing for the sake of arguing does nothing but make you “that attorney” with whom everyone hates to work.
Going to law school in order to become a lawyer and make large sums of money is often a fruitless venture in that respect. Most attorneys are by no means rich. This is especially true since the economy took a plunge. Law school graduates normally have an enormous amount of debt from law school, and your first job as a lawyer is not going to make you rich.
If you concluded “being a lawyer is for me” from watching Law and Order, Boston Legal, or any other television series/movie, then you need a reality check on what life as a lawyer is truly like. To see if a career in law is actually for you, get a job or volunteer in the legal field. I suggest getting a job as a runner at a law firm, volunteering at your local district attorney’s office/public defender’s office, or even ask a lawyer if you can shadow him or her for a day.
If your reason for wanting to go to law school is something other than those I mentioned above, then I encourage you to take the next step! Contact a law school in your area, and request to sit in on a first-year class that sounds interesting to you.I hope this post is helpful to those of you looking for some guidance in deciding whether to go to law school. As always, if you have further questions regarding this topic, please post your inquiry and I will do my best to answer it. If you have a suggestion for next week’s topic, let me know!