Any way you look at it, going to law school is a fantastic experience. You learn a ton, meet new people and get exposure to different ways of thinking.
When people ask me: “should I go to law school?”my answer is always “it depends”.
Key Questions to ask when Considering Law School
If I was doing this all over again I would do some serious soul searching and ask myself some key questions:
- Why do I want to go to law school? Is it because I really want to be a lawyer or am I going because I don’t know what else to do with myself?
- Is anyone pressuring me to go to law school? Should this pressure be influencing me?
- What does it mean to “practice law”?
- Am I ready to look at using my law degree in a different way as the profession changes?
- How are my grades?
- How is my LSAT score?
- Am I willing to travel across the country to go to law school?
- Am I ready to take on some (or perhaps a lot of) debt to get my JD?
I didn’t really think about these questions when I applied to law school almost 15 years ago (wow I’m old).
My undergraduate degree is in sociology so I felt I only had three options after graduating:
(1) getting a master’s degree in sociology;
(2) becoming an elementary or high school teacher; or
(3) going to law school.
I wasn’t ready to enter the full time workforce and I didn’t know what type of job I could do with my undergraduate degree.
My grades were strong (my LSAT score was not) so I figured I’d apply to law school. To me, it seemed like the most direct way to a good job and a reasonable income.
I was lucky, the cost of tuition wasn’t prohibitive for me at the time. I received a partial scholarship during my undergraduate studies, worked part time during the academic year and worked full-time every summer. These savings, along with some help from my family made it possible for me to make it through law school without too much debt. At the time, there was also a fair amount of certainty that I would land on my feet with a job at the end of the process. Times have changed. Law school is much more expensive now and the job market is much more uncertain.
To help you make this really important decision, I would suggest the following:
- Speak to a variety of law students and lawyers.
- Investigate the financial side of getting a law degree. Are there scholarships available? Will you qualify? What is the cost of living in the city/town of your school of choice?
- Consider the job market in your location and in your area of interest.
- Think about other responsibilities you might have. Can you keep up with these demands while in school? Would a part time JD program be a better fit than a full-time program?
- Consider what you hope to achieve in the future and whether or not a law degree is needed to reach those goals.
Law school is awesome – you will learn a new way to think and how many facets of our world work. You will also meet people who will be your friends for many years to come, drink too much coffee and learn more than you ever wanted to know about what happens when a woman finds a snail in her ginger beer.
On the other hand, law school is a huge investment of time, money and effort. As someone who did the law school and lawyer thing and then realized practice wasn’t for me, I think it’s vital to consider all of your options and all the possibilities.
The next post in this series will focus on reaching out to law students and lawyers to talk about what law school is like, what a lawyer really does all day and how to figure out which area of practice might be of interest to you.