Student Voices | Why law?
Good reasons to go to law school
If youre wondering if you should attend law school, here are some good reasons that can help you decide:
1. You want to help others
An attorney is in a position to be able to help others, no matter your field of law. Lawyers can represent an individual in a court case, create estate planning documents for clients who want to plan a future for their loved ones, secure a settlement for a personal injury case and help marginalized populations have access to legal assistance. Although there are plenty of jobs you can have that help others, if the other aspects of law appeal to you, then this is a fine reason to attend law school.
2. Law school gives you perspective
Law school teaches you to look at all sides of an issue, and to use data, established research and case studies to advocate for your client. Even if you want to use your law school degree for something other than being an attorney, this perspective that law school courses introduces you to can help you in your future career and in your interactions with others.
3. The field of law has high earning potential
4. You can build a vast network of contacts
Law school will give you exposure to many people, from fellow students to professors. In law school, youll have to work closely with your classmates to finish projects, study for exams and complete work-study programs. Law school graduates and your professors can be valuable contacts to have when you are looking for a job after college. Your classmates who go on to become attorneys can refer you to their clients and vice versa. You can also build your network with people you meet through internships.
5. You want to feel fulfilled
Law school requires that you solve problems, learn complex concepts and analyze situations. These things prepare you for a career as an attorney where you will need to use what you learned to find success in your career. Law school can be fulfilling for those who like to be intellectually stimulated and have an interest in the field.
6. You prefer a career that will challenge you
Many would describe being a lawyer as a challenging career, and law school is usually the same. Its a more challenging degree than many others, and if this is something you desire, you may find that you thrive in and enjoy law school.
7. The law becomes familiar to you
A major benefit of attending law school is that the law becomes familiar to you. If you or a loved one find themselves in a legal scenario or need to understand a contract or other legalese you come across, your knowledge will help you decipher the language.
8. You want to have a lot of career opportunities
You dont have to be an attorney just because you attended law school, although you can expose yourself to a lot of options as an attorney, depending on what your unique interests are. However, you also have the opportunity to get into a completely different career too, like a mediator, director of human resources and state bar administrator.
9. Youre able to specialize in a field of interest
If you have a specific field of interest, chances are you can graduate from law school and work in that field in some capacity. For example, if you are interested in real estate, you can work as a real estate agent or an attorney who specializes in reviewing real estate contracts and other documents. You may even work closely with a title company to complete real estate transactions.
10. Youll be able to influence your community
Some universities or professional associations give you the opportunity to provide free legal advice to those who would not normally be able to afford an attorney. This is usually done under the guidance of a law school professor and at a free legal advice clinic. This real-world experience is typically only reserved for law school students, so you can gain exposure to the actual issues that members of the community face.
When you graduate from law school, youll also be able to influence your community, but in a different and more impactful way. You can get involved in social justice, community reform and education and more.
Reasons to decide against attending law school
Here are some of the reasons why law school may not be for you:
1. Student loans
Law school can be expensive, and many students will graduate with a lot of debt. If you start your career like most attorneys do and dont make a lot of money, then you may not have a comfortable amount left after you make your student loan payment. You may want to reconsider law school if it isnt a passion of yours, or if you feel insecure about your ability to pay down the debt youll likely graduate with.
Also consider that you may need to work at a bigger law firm for a higher salary while you pay down your debts before you may feel comfortable going into an area of law youre more passionate about, like immigration law or something in the public sector.
2. Long working hours
Its common to work very long hours as an attorney, sometimes as much as 80 hours per week as a recent graduate which can affect your work-life balance. You must log the hours when you perform work for clients, but a lot of your time may also be spent researching case law, creating legal documents and writing. You should also prepare to experience long hours while youre in law school, too. Law students must study hard, prepare for class, write papers and complete projects.
3. Employment outlook
Although law may be a highly sought after career choice for some, this also means that you may find a lot of competition in the field. That competition is for all kinds of law and for positions paying a range of salaries. If youre deciding to go to law school just because you think youll have a positive employment outlook once you graduate, you may want to consider if there is a better career choice for you.
4. Job stressors
Being an attorney comes with a lot of stress, as you may have a number of responsibilities and be under pressure from senior associates at the law firm you end up working at. You may have to work a certain number of hours or take on the cases they dont want. The field of law usually requires long hours and lawyers may experience many client demands that can make their jobs stressful.
5. Lack of other options
Reconsider going to law school if youre only going because you feel you dont have any other options. To get into a career youll be happy in, explore what you need to do, whether thats go back to school for another degree or gain valuable experience in the field through freelance opportunities and volunteering.
6. You like to argue
While you may get a position as a prosecuting attorney or work in another capacity that will require you to appear in court and defend or otherwise represent a client, most attorneys do not argue as part of their job. Youre more likely to spend your day writing briefs, filing paperwork, meeting with clients and recording billable hours.
7. You feel inspired by an attorney on television
The actors who play attorneys on television do not necessarily represent what it will be like working as a lawyer once you graduate from law school. If youre considering law school because you felt inspired by a television or movie attorney, chances are that role does not showcase how law school or working as a professional with a law degree will be like in practice.
8. Starting salary
Its important to know that when you are a new law school graduate working as an attorney, youll likely work 60 to 80 hours per week and at a lower starting salary than you may expect. Working as an attorney, you have the potential to earn a high salary, but you may not be able to do so right away. Its common to earn the average salary for a lawyer after youve been in the field for three to five years.
9. You want to be high profile
The reality is that most attorneys dont reach high profile status right away, if ever. To be a high-profile lawyer, you usually need to work in a high stress area of law and do so for several years, plus build your network so you have access to the clientele who may need you to represent them. Even with these things in place, you may not reach high-profile status without a major case that gets media attention, which is rare.
10. Parental influence
You may want to make your parents happy if they had a certain career path in mind for you or want you to follow in their footsteps if they are attorneys themselves, but consider if law school is something you actually desire to do. Think of everything that comes with this field, like high student loan debt and long hours in school and as a graduate, to name just a couple. Law school is a tremendous commitment that you should think about only considering if youre serious about the field.
Why do I want to go into law?
Why did you want to become a lawyer?
What are the benefits of going to law school?
- Development of desirable skills. …
- Learn how to review contracts. …
- Provide you with a foundation for further education. …
- Social change opportunities. …
- Make you a competitive applicant. …
- Development of soft skills.