Is Law School the Right Path for Me?

Like any big investment you make in your life, one question you may ask yourself is “Am I ready to commit to this purchase?”. Take buying a car for example, how will you determine if this is an investment you’re ready to commit to? Here are some factors to consider:

Deciding whether to go to law school and having a career in law can be similar in thought process. Here are some ways you can find out more in each step:

Research

  1. Having career conversations with lawyers and current law students. Ask them questions about their experience, how they got to where they are now, and how they decided to go to law school and pursue a career in law. The best way to gain insight is to talk to folks who are currently in the field. 
  2. Check out the Explore section of the Pre-Law Website 
  3. It’s never too early to start researching law schools and learning more about what law school may look like and what programs they offer. 

Money, Budget, & Debt

  1. The reality is that the average law student has to borrow about $112,776 in order to finance his or her law degree. Ask yourself if you are willing to get into this amount of debt and how you will be able to pay it back. 
  2. Research the tuition of the law schools you are interested in. You can view a general list by U.S. News or look at law school’s website individually. Explore tools like MAX Pre-Law by AccessLex which was designed by a team of J.D.s, financial aid experts, law school admissions professionals and experienced pre-law advisors to answer student’s most pressing questions about law school. 
  3. Read article such as this one and research websites such as the National Association for Law Placement (NALP) to better inform yourself of the costs of law school, the debt students get into, and if a J.D. degree is worth it based on what type of law/attorney one practices. 
  4. Read this issue of Best Value Law Schools from the PreLaw by A National Jurist Publication where they rank Law Schools by having the best value. 

Reviews & Conversations

  1. Start talking to law school admission deans by attending law school panels
  2. Continue having career conversations with attorneys and law students (you can never have too many!)
  3. Consider not just a school’s ranking, but other factors that can play into your interest and overall well-being like geography, job prospects, student experience, internships/clinic opportunities, and etc…

Test Drive (Get some experience) 

  1. A great way to see if a career in law would be a good fit for you is to get some experience. This can come in many forms. Please look at this handout for some ideas!
  2. If you are planning on taking some gap years or have time in your schedule to get a job, some common jobs pre-law students pursue are legal assistant, legal clerk, or a paralegal. This is a great way to gain some insight into the actual environment of a law firm and observe the day-to-day interactions and work of lawyers and determine, through reflection, if this is ultimately a career path you see yourself in. 

 

By Dawn Cheung
Dawn Cheung Career Coach Dawn Cheung