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Should I Go to Law School? Here’s How to Decide

August 25, 2021
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As with any major life decision, the choice of whether or not to go to law school should not be made on a whim. A legal education is an investment in time, money and effort, so you owe it to yourself to put in the time to discern whether this path is best for you and your personal and professional goals.

The questions below are designed to get you started with the decision making process of whether or not you should go to law school.

Why Do I Want to Go to Law School?

This is an obvious first question, but an important one. What are your reasons for considering law school?

Are you experiencing pressure from family members? Is money your main motivation and you see law school as your ticket to a lucrative career? Are you unsure of what you want to do with your undergraduate degree and law school seems like a clear path to follow? All of these reasons make online lists for “bad” reasons to go to law school.1 However, reasons that make the “bad” lists are not bad when taken into consideration with more meaningful reasons to apply.

Having a “good” reason to go to law school requires a deeper understanding of the ins and outs of law school and life after obtaining your degree. Knowing more about the profession will give you a better idea of what you can do with a law degree and help crystallize your ideas about what you want to do in your career. This leads into the next question for your consideration.

What Do I Know About the Legal Profession?

Lawyers come in all flavors, including trial lawyers, government lawyers, corporate lawyers—the list goes on. They also specialize in specific areas of law. Some professionals pursue legal degrees to enhance their current careers. For example, a working HR professional might choose to pursue a legal degree to enhance their understanding of the legal issues they deal with every day.

Before you decide to go to law school and choose which school will be best for you, giving due diligence to learning about the different types of law to find where your interest lies is key, especially if you have not yet given much thought to specifics you are looking for in a program.

In addition to reading up on the different avenues you can take with a law degree, real life experience is invaluable to making this important decision to attend law school. Can you work or intern in a law office over the summer or during the school year, if you are still in a position to do so? Do you know anyone in your network who is a lawyer, or knows someone who is? Informational interviews and shadowing experiences can be just as valuable as internships. Be sure to vary the types of lawyers you are talking to in order to get a better idea of the different areas of law. This due diligence in your decision making process will give you valuable insights before you dedicate years to legal studies.

Is the Lifestyle of a Lawyer Appealing to Me?

As you set out to learn about the work, take time to gain insights into the lifestyle of people working in legal professions. What sacrifices have they had to make in their personal lives? What does a typical day or week look like for them? What do they think it takes to be successful in the profession?

As a general rule, lucrative careers demand long hours. It can be easy to become burnt out if you do not find a work/life balance that works for you. Lawyers also need to have thick skin, be able to navigate office politics, take risks and continue to learn and grow.2 The cost and time of attending law school will be worth it if you can envision yourself living the life of a lawyer after graduation.

Which Degree is Right for Me?

When most people think about attending law school, they assume a Juris Doctor (JD) is the end goal, but there are other degree and certificate programs available that are beneficial to career growth and progression, including a Master of Jurisprudence (MJ).

Choosing the right degree depends heavily on the knowledge you’ve gained about the legal profession during your research, and an understanding of what you want to do when you graduate. Choosing the right degree to pursue will also help you narrow down the list of schools and programs you want to apply for to get the most out of your law school experience.

The decision on whether or not to attend law school will not be made overnight, but with research, introspection and a bit of hands-on experience, you will be able to make the best choice for you.

Read more: Law School Requirements: How to Get Into Law School