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The decision to become a lawyer is a highly personal one, based on a number of factors that you must weigh for yourself. It's not a step to be taken lightly.
Having a law degree no longer automatically means having to be a lawyer. There's a wealth of opportunities for people with law degrees. The truth of the matter is that, despite all the jokes, a law degree will always be an attractive commodity in the job market. Take a few minutes to jot down your personal reasons for wanting to go to law school. Rank them in order of importance so that you can maintain a sharper focus as you move along in the planning of your application itinerary.
Being able to articulate why you want to go to law school will not only help ensure your happiness as an attorney, but will also help you to gain admission. The top schools are looking for people who know why they want to go to law school and have focus and direction in their lives.
Law may be an option if you are not entirely sure of your career dream and feel more than half-certain that you'll change careers at some point in the future.
There are aspects of lawyering that can be a great deal of fun, such as preparing for a trial, defending a client, or putting together a business deal.
Many people pursue a law degree in order to be more effective or influential in their field.
The fundamental role that legal systems play in our increasingly global working world is striking. Your training and skills can allow you to stay employed and prepare you for a variety of situations.
Whatever your other reasons for wanting to obtain a law degree, don't lose sight of your personal investment in the process.
"I have nothing better to do with my history, English, or poli-sci degree."
There are better career moves than spending three very hard years in grad school, going heavily into debt, and then emerging with a degree in a field in which you have very little interest.
"I'm good at arguing."
Oral argument is a very small part of law school life and for the vast majority of lawyers, it's a fairly small part of their practice. Additionally, a legal oral argument is quite different from the average debate with your housemate over who gets to choose what channel to watch.
"I'll be making six figures before I hit 30."
Most attorneys do make six-figure incomes, but don't be deceived; they earn every cent. 70-80 hour weeks, mounting pressure to bill more hours, and a lot of research work are usually part of the deal. Even if you decide you're willing to do the hard work, the opportunities to make the big bucks are not always there.
"My family wants me to be a lawyer."
That's a long time to fulfill someone else's expectations. If your parents are adamant about the idea, maybe they should go to law school themselves. Age is no limitation to the feasibility of practicing law.
The Bottom Line
If you enjoy thinking, writing, solving problems, negotiating compromises, and advocating on behalf of people or causes, then law school will be a good fit for you. If you'd rather have someone else tell you how to solve a problem or how to think about a dilemma, then you might find that law is not your best option.
Think seriously about the "fit" - be honest with yourself as you contemplate your future career. Be certain that you have chosen the right destination before you begin planning your trip.
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