I hosted a live chat on here recently, and a few people asked about law school. It's a pretty personal decision, but I'm glad I did it. Here are some reasons to go for it. And tomorrow, I'll give you some reasons to think twice.
1. You get to be a lawyer. If that's what you want, then it's the best reason to go to law school. But what you think it means to be a lawyer and what it actually means might not match up. Better to find out now. Talk to attorneys, especially those in areas of practice you might want to pursue. It's not as fun or lucrative as people tend to think. But it is rewarding if it's a good fit. Look into the types of jobs available, and what they mean in terms of day-to-day work. It might sound interesting to be a criminal appeals attorney, but that really means you'll be sitting at a desk researching and writing most of your time. There's nothing wrong with that, just make sure you know what you're getting into.
2. You can help people. If you like that sort of thing, law school is a great way to do it. There are a lot of systems in our country that are nearly impossible to navigate without an attorney. And people often seek out attorneys during some of the toughest events in their lives (divorce, death), so you can really make a difference. Again, make sure you know what you're getting into. Family law can be really draining, for example. It takes a certain type of person to deal with extremely emotional clients day in and day out.
3. It can help you advance in a non-legal career. Some people who go to law school never intend to practice law. They do it to enhance their current career. And many who do plan to practice law end up doing something else, and having the law degree can help them stand out from other job candidates. Just make sure you weigh the cost of law school against the potential benefit.
4. It gives you credibility. Don't laugh. I realize not everyone thinks lawyers are credible. And honestly, that's probably for the best, because having a law degree doesn't mean you're smart or that you know what you're doing. It just means that you made it through law school. But, right or wrong, it does get people's attention.
5. You learn some great stuff. It's not always practical knowledge. Some of it ends up being pretty useless (like memorizing "rule against perpetuities" word for word), but you do learn. If you take classes in a variety of areas, and get involved in things outside of class (clinics, competitions, internships), you can learn some of the practical stuff, too.
I'm all for law school, if it leads you to what you want to do. But a law degree is not some magical thing to possess. There certainly are reasons not to go. Stay tuned for that tomorrow.
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