Don’t Put the Cart Before the Horse
Too many prospective law students spend their time learning about law school by watching The Paper Chase, preparing for the LSAT, writing personal statements, and picking where to apply, but many effectively neglect the question of whether or not they actually want to be a lawyer.
You owe it to yourself to learn much more about being a lawyer before you decide to go to law school and even before you take the LSAT. It’s so easy to go from interested to committed without doing the real, critical thinking. Take a deep breath, and give yourself the time to find out whether you want to be a lawyer or not.
What Does It Mean to Be a Lawyer?
Lawyers come in all different types… Lawyers are specialists, not generalists. Have you seen how many different specialties the American Bar Association (ABA) lists? If not, check out the section, forum group and committee drop down list. Seriously, I’ll wait right here. You can also see it by topic A-Z.
You should rely on law school alone to help you decide your path as a lawyer. It’s easy to get swayed toward traditional legal practice, specifically big firm litigation or transactional jobs, if you have no sense about what kind of law you want to practice. The money can be persuasive.
“I went to law school with a vague, idealized notion of using my law degree to save the world. Now I’m graduating $80,000 in debt, so I can’t afford to do the work I intended to do.” -Rachel, Should You Really Be a Lawyer?
“Although nearly half of incoming law students prefer to do public-interest work, only about 4% go into public interest law directly after graduation.” Should You Really Be a Lawyer?
Many lawyers have very satisfying careers in areas of the law they never expect to find, but if that’s not the path you want then it’s worth doing the due diligence on the front end to determine your own direction in the law.
There’s no way that any one opinion or point of view can adequately capture what it means to be a lawyer. I’ll do my best to lay out the facts and opinions from as many different perspectives as I can make available to you, but I’m mostly focused on getting you the information that typically doesn’t find it’s way those applying for law school.
Three and a half years of your life and up to $150,000 in student loans (not to mention enduring the bar exam) is a high price to pay to find out that you don’t want to be a lawyer! Take the time to make an informed decision about it. You have your entire career to be a lawyer.