Is Law School a Good Fit For You?
What to consider when thinking about law school
Students should not make the decision to go to law school lightly. As far as law school is concerned, potential applicants should be aware that they commit to three years of extremely hard and often tedious work. So, when considering going to law school, you should be prepared to work long hours reading and analyzing in great details case studies.
- Law school is expensive
- Law school is hard
- Careers in the Law are not for everyone
From a general point of view, careers in the Law can offer great satisfaction by giving one the opportunity to use the uniquely human skills of thinking, writing, speaking, and caring on behalf of persons in need. It may be very tedious at times, but It also reflects what a good part of your work life will be as lawyer. Also, prestige and decent salaries are non-negligible positive aspects.
Here is what Steven Lawrence Jr., a Duke graduate who went to the Chicago School of Law, writes about his experience of law school (quoted from Duke University PreLaw Advising Booklet):
"The Law student must be ready and willing to meet one of the biggest challenge that he will ever face. Law school is full–time business. By full–time, I mean 10 hours a day, every day of the week. It is quite exhaustive, particularly during the first year. There is a new vocabulary to learn, and a way of thinking. As the faculty is fond of saying, law students also have to learn to read for the first time in their lives. In law, every word is of crucial importance; so you don’t read just to get the gist of the material. This point came across to me the first day of law school. I had spent four years in college contemplating such issues as truth, goodness, government, religion. In the first case we had to read in Contracts, the issue which Judge Henry Friendly, one of the most distinguished judges in the country, had to face is: “What is chicken?” The case turned on whether the parties to the contract meant “stewing chicken” or “fowl.” The movement from considering “what is truth” to “what is chicken” symbolizes perfectly for me the movement from college to law school. ”
That said, potential applicants should consider:
- The large number of lawyers in the United States (1 for every 350 persons),
- The large number of lawyers who are unhappy in their work (6 out of 10 lawyers would not recommend that you go to law school),
- The large amount of debt that many students incur during law school,
- The long work weeks that new lawyers are expected to work (60 to 100 hours in order to log the expected number of billable hours).
What kind of person can be happy as a lawyer?
People with great discipline, and tenacity, who are willing to pay attention to details and obey the rules. People who enjoy intellectual challenges and problem-solving People who are able to engage in tedious tasks for long-term results.
It is important that students do not go to law school just "because they did not know what else to do”. Careers in the Law demand a true commitment. PreLaw students may want to get information from alumni from the law school they consider going to. Employment or volunteering at a law firm is also a great way to learn what it is to work as a lawyer. Prelaw students should consider a law-related internship before they decide to apply to law school.
Prelaw students should also inform themselves about the challenges and rewards of a legal education and a career in the law. Taking the Prelaw Seminar is a great way to do so. A good source of information is the American Bar Association Careers in the Law webpage.
Additional Prelaw Resources
- American Bar Association
- Law School Admission Council
- Law School Transparency Reports
- Findlaw-- to learn about the law
- Pre Law Magazine
- The Internet Legal Research Group: prelaw resources
- Princeton Review on Law School
- University of Montana School of Law
- Independent and data-driven LSAT prep course reviews
- The LSAT prep guide from Affordable College
- Online resource for students considering a degree in criminal justice
- Reviews of Online Criminal Justice Programs