As if lawyers don’t already receive enough negative heat, the idea of even attending law school is now regarded by many as a super, super bad move given the economy. The main argument is that the financial investment into legal education is nowhere near guaranteed to yield any sort of beneficial return. Basically, dropping tons of dough to become a lawyer doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll actually get a job as one, probably leaving you in even more student debt.
However, the recurring advice is that you shouldn’t go to law school unless you, and only you, want to become a lawyer. Don’t invest a substantial amount of time and money into something that isn’t what you love. Don’t do it just because your parents want you to attend.
In my experience, this advice is subjective. If you’re like me and you don’t know what to do with your life but are pretty proficient at reading and writing, then law school may not be a bad idea. If you receive a hefty scholarship to attend, then it really isn’t a bad idea.
If you do have a deep-seated passion and desire to become an attorney, then don’t let anyone tell you what you should or shouldn’t do — no matter the odds. Just be prepared for the hard work and know what you’re getting yourself into so you can prepare accordingly.
Know the LSAC. The Law School Admissions Committee, or LSAC, is your faceless, objective guidance counselor in applying to law school. Their website, will be your main source for school and LSAT information, as well as the main database where you will receive your LSAT scores and also apply to law school. The application process is very DIY; you have to proactively decide what schools you want to attend, fill out all of the forms online yourself, and pay the application fees. Fortunately, LSAC makes this very easy for you by automating your forms so you don’t have to manually fill out every blank for each application.
Know the state in which you want to practice. This isn’t completely necessary, but it’s highly recommended that you go to a law school in the same state where you will eventually practice because it’s supposedly easier to find a job. Some professionals have told me this isn’t true, but they also come from a much older time period when the legal market wasn’t so saturated. I would strongly advise it if you do not attend a top-tier school.
Know that your LSAT score and essays are everything. Mainly your LSAT score, but I won’t discount personal essays because I believe that those really boosted my chances of getting accepted into law schools since neither my GPA nor my LSAT score were outstanding. Law schools look at your LSAT score first and foremost, and if you even want to think about getting into a top-tier (which you should because those will guarantee jobs), aim for higher than a 165. (You can go lower or higher depending on your GPA). Make sure your essays are personal, unique, and well-written. You’re going to be doing a ton of writing in both school and when you’re a lawyer, so they need to see you can do it. Take an LSAT prep class, preferably one offered at your school, but if you can’t then settle for an online course which are cheaper and more convenient. These get pricey but if you really would like to increase your chances, make the investment. Prep courses teach you how to take the test.
Know that students from top-tier schools get the few, scarce job openings. Top-tier meaning respected, mostly Ivy League schools. Check U.S. News for official rankings. If you doubt you can aim that high, look at other decent schools and check their percentages of employment upon graduation.
Know that scholarships are available. Search for them. A lot of schools are generous and will help you finance your education and even grant you a law school scholarship. There has actually been a significant percentage drop in the amount of law school applicants, so schools are more willing than ever to give money to get students to come to their school. Take advantage o f this tie period because it might not last that long.
Know that it’s nothing like media portrayal. It’s definitely not like Legally Blonde, where a first-year (1L) student would become co-attorneys for a large criminal case and many professors and attorneys will warn you that it’s not as glamorous as shows like Suits or Raising the Bar make it seem. If you get a job as an attorney, you will spend the majority of your time writing and drafting and researching. However, that’s no different from anything else media glamorizes, so don’t let it discourage you unless Harvey Specter really was the only reason you decided to apply to law school.
Know that it’s really not that bad. Law school is ideal if you have a great attention span, reading skills, decent logic, writing abilities, a love of coffee, and capacity to sit in a desk for twelve hours a day. Even if you don’t, it’s okay–you’re a Bauce and you can handle anything! (Or you shouldn’t even apply to law school.)
(Disclaimer: This is all subjective advice and I am not liable for any injuries, emotional or physical, you receive by, and/or as a result of, applying to law school. Great. Glad we got that settled.)