Deciding whether or not to go to law school is a tall order, particularly if lawyering is in the family or if you have wanted to be an attorney all your life. However, if you are attracted to the courtroom drama of Law and Order and haven’t explored what law school is really like I suggest you take some time to think it over and decide if law school is really for you.
I offer this advice first and foremost because law school is an expensive proposition. With housing and books you could be looking at a bill each year for $60, 000 or more, depending on the school. This could add to already burdening undergraduate debt. While many have ideas of grandeur when they graduate law school, the reality is not all attorneys make large salaries when they exit law school. Given this, the question of whether or not to enter into legal education should be explored in depth.
First and foremost, do you like to read? Specifically, do you like to read Supreme Court cases? This is about all you will do your first year of law school, as you read past decisions of judges to discover legal principles. My recommendation would be to go to the Supreme Court of the United State’s website and try reading through a few cases. Or take out a reference book of seminal cases from your local library. Many are long, boring, and confusing. You should not be expected to grasp them right away. However, if you can’t stomach them at all it is going to be a long three years.
Next, do you have some sense what you would like to do with your law degree? No need to pick a specialized field just yet, as law school requires no major or concentration. However, you should have some general idea on what type of law you would like to practice. Too many students leave three years of law school without the slightest clue on what they would like to do with their new degree and come to the realization that grad school or a doctorial program may have been a better option. Don’t let that be you.
Lastly, do your best to get an internship or job in some legal related field prior to attending law school. At the very least, shadow an attorney for the day. This will give you some practical experience in the law and let you know if you can see yourself practicing for the rest of your life.
My final piece of advice would be if you don’t feel that you are ready just yet, take a year off. Some of the most successful law students are the ones who recognize that law school is not for them coming directly out of the undergraduate level. They then take time off, get real world experience, and then attend law school later in life. Nothing wrong with that approach as it may save you from a situation you are not quite ready for.