Why Do People Want to Go to Law School?
To some people, the answer to the question, “Why do people want to go to law school?” may seem obvious: To become a lawyer. But if you assume that everyone who goes to law school does so to become a lawyer, you may be surprised. Ask dozens of law school students and graduates why they went to law school, and you’ll get a lot of answers. You’ll learn that not everyone goes to law school to become a lawyer.
A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog directed at people who are thinking about law school. In it, I posed some questions for prospective students to consider before deciding to attend law school. But I didn’t discuss people’s motivations for attending law school. Unfortunately, a lot of people decide to attend law school for some very misguided reasons.
If you’re thinking about law school, pull out a pen and piece of paper (or your iPhone) right now. I want you to make a list. Why do you want to attend law school? What, aside from the degree itself, is motivating you? And how will a law degree help you achieve those goals?
Finished writing down your answers to those questions? Good. Now let’s see which of your reasons fall into the “good” category and which fall into the “bad” category.
Bad Reasons to Go to Law School
- To make a lot of money
- For the job security
- Because your parents are lawyers
- Because you can’t figure out what to do for a living
- Because lawyers seem to have really cool jobs when you see them on TV and in the movies
- Because you got a good score on the LSAT
- For the intellectual stimulation (if you’re taking out student loans or paying your own way)
- Because you’re going to save the world
- Because you think it would be fun to be a student again
Good Reasons to Go to Law School
- Because you like to help other people
- Because you’re interested in a job that involves a legally complex topic, such as intellectual property or tax
- Because you’ve gotten a full scholarship, will graduate with no debt and have nothing better to do for the next three years
- For the intellectual stimulation (if you have a full scholarship)
- Because you want to work in a job that requires a law degree
So how’d you do? If you found that most of your answers fell into the “bad” column, I’d suggest learning much more about the realities of the law before you start applying to law school. Spend some time asking yourself what you want to do after you graduate. Do you have a realistic picture of your job prospects? What is the likelihood you’ll be able to get your dream job? Once you get it, how long will it take you to pay off your student loans? And do you have an accurate understanding of what the job really entails?
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