12 things to Consider Prior to Entering Law SchoolTed Burgess
Becoming a lawyer is a huge commitment. It’s more than just a commitment of time; it’s a whole lifestyle change. And that’s only one of the considerations you need to make. There are some other things that you should consider quite seriously before making the choice to enter law school.
You may think that just because you get a law degree you’ll have your choice of jobs. This is far from the case. In fact, law firms have been limiting the number of training contracts they hand out. You may find yourself in an area of the country where there are hundreds of lawyers and there’s no need for more.
Return on Investment
The job that you may get isn’t a get-rich-quick position. You could feasibly get a job paying $45,000 a year while dealing with your $100,000-plus in student loans. You may have to look outside of the legal arena and take a job in an area that values a law degree, like government or private corporate policy jobs.
Seriously look at the region in which you want to practice law and choose a law school that has connections there. This will require a lot of research, including calling lawyers in the area and asking where they went to school. Networking will be one of your biggest assets as a practicing lawyer.
Lots of Reading
Be prepared to read. It’s not like graduate school; it’s like 10 graduate schools all at once. You’ll have to read and then read some more. Expect to pull all-nighters at the law library and to read so much that your brain might literally shut down on you.
You will need breaks to keep your spirits up and keep your mind in tip-top shape. The better you organize your time and plan ahead, the easier it will be for you to succeed in law school. Learn some shortcuts on the readings as well; for instance, having an idea of case facts and principles and keeping those noted in bold may serve you well.
All of a sudden, you will be the go-to person for all things legal. You’ll be saying no to a lot of friends and relatives, but you need to make sure they understand that you are still learning and that the intricacies of law require specialization, something you are not ready for as of yet.
School is Life
You won’t have time for a whole lot of social interaction. School will become the center and focus of every day of your life. You will be studying on the weekends, studying in the daytime, and studying at night. And when you aren’t studying, you’ll be doing tutoring sessions and seminars.
Law school can be cutthroat. Not everyone there can be trusted to help you achieve your goals. There are plenty of other students who would be happy to see you fail to move up a spot on the graduating roster.
Law School is Intense
In addition to the backstabbing and drama that you can get from other law school attendees and the constant need to study and learn, you may think it couldn’t get any more intense, but it can. If you do well in class, especially a class graded on a curve, you may elicit some unsportsmanlike moves by other students. It’s best to fly under the radar whenever you can.
Books Are Expensive
If you thought that books were expensive as an undergraduate or even a graduate student, law school books are going to give you a heart attack. These are specialty books and can cost upward of $300 each.
Grading is Tough
Law isn’t like regular learning. The readings are very specific and dense. You’ll feel stupid when reading some of the cases and explanations. It will happen. And you may struggle to get a 60 or higher at first. Don’t worry, it’s common.
Of course, you’ll also have to deal with the social stigma of selling your soul to the devil to make a buck or becoming the sounding board for all of your non-law friends. You’ll get all of the “cold-blooded” lawyer comments and more. It just comes with the territory.
If you still want to become a lawyer, it’s a great field. Just know what you’re getting into so you can prepare for the rigors of law school.
By Ted Burgess