Thinking about going to law school? That’s great. But first, ask yourself why. Do any of these reasons sound familiar?
Maybe you are having trouble working in your current field, or maybe you are anticipating the end of college and can’t even imagine finding a job. Everyone in their twenties seems to be an amateur economist nowadays, and every unprofessional economist has the same analysis: that the economy will recover in exactly the amount of time it takes for me to finish graduate school. What everyone seems to forget is that a bad economy will make it harder to get coveted public interest internships while in law school, which will affect your ability to get a great job once law school is over and “the job market opens up.”
People who have never been to law school love to talk about how you can do anything with a law degree. When you look at the list of successful JDs who are not practicing law directly, that is true. The problem is that those jobs—like TV executive, novelist, and President of the United States—do not actually require a law degree to do them. If there is something about an alternate career path that interests you, it is worth considering what that career path would be and whether there is a cheaper, shorter path to get there. To say that other successful people have law degrees that they don’t use doesn’t seem to be an air tight argument for you getting one.
This argument states that, “I don’t know what I want to do, but I know that I will become very passionate about some aspect of the law and will love practicing it forever.” Now, I am someone who said this before law school, and I happened to be right, but I think I am the exception that proves the rule. Going to law school without knowing what you want to practice is a lot like deciding to become a contestant on The Bachelor – stay with me – because you have decided that even though the world offers endless possibilities, you know that the one you haven’t met is going to be perfect for you.
Many people choose to go to law school because it seems like the most prestigious version of the thing they like to do academically, as in reading and writing. Just because it is the “best” does not mean it is the right one for you. Maybe you liked taking Literature classes because you loved discussing books with others; you can satisfy this passion by starting a reading circle, while working at a job that allows you to work with a group. Most people get so caught up in the distinction between humanities and math and science that they seem to neglect the aspect that matters, which is what you want to be doing on a day-to-day basis.
Look, I miss school, too. There is a freedom to your schedule that really cannot be matched in the real world, unless you are self-employed. The thing you may not realize is that law school is harder than college. All of the fun extra-curricular activities you did in college will be replaced by journal membership, moot court, and working as a research assistant for a professor. Your life will become law school, which is very different from the easy breezy experience you had in college — or at least the college experience you remember while sitting at a desk at your day job.
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