Should I Attend Law School? Four Factors To Consider
Whether you’re just finishing college or thinking about a career change, the question lingers: Should you go to law school? Everyone seems to have an opinion. Your childhood friend remembers you always arguing with the teachers, so you should definitely be a lawyer. Your parents say you can’t possibly go wrong with a prestigious law degree, but there’s also that uncle who delights in telling jokes comparing attorneys to predatory sea creatures or swarms of vermin. In the end, the only person who can decide is you! This post will cover four important factors worth your consideration as you decide the true answer to that question: Should I attend law school?
Should I Attend Law School? Four Factors To Consider
1. The Cost
Law school is expensive, and tuition continues to rise. The average law school graduate owes $160,000 in debt. Unless you alread have a very large savings account, your student debt will likely be enough to follow you for decades.
Of course, there are ways to reduce the debt-load, most notably with a scholarship. If your credentials are good enough for an accredited law school to offer you a scholarship, that’s great! If not, consider studying to improve your LSAT score, or ask yourself whether all that debt is worth it to you (it just might be!). We previously posted about breaking down the cost of law school here!
2. The Workload
Law school takes a lot of time and energy to complete. Three years of your life will be spent gaining a solid foundation for your legal career. The academic workload in law school, particularly in the first year, is very heavy as you get used to law school courses. Most notably, the law school workload is different from your undergraduate studies. While you may have gotten away with skipping the reading for your college economics class, law school demands that you keep up and come prepared for every class. Once you fall behind in the course material, it is very difficult to catch up. You will be required to read and focus for long hours, take organized and thorough notes, and keep track of many details and concepts.
Additionally, most law school classes are graded on a curve, which means you are in direct competition with your classmates for the highest grades. Consider whether you are willing and able to thrive in this kind of rigorous, competitive environment. If the very thought of having to read all day makes you glaze over, you may struggle in law school. That being said, you can certainly acquire the skills you’ll need to succeed in law school. We include our advice to incoming 1L’s in this post.
3. Your Reasons For Choosing Law
Ask yourself why you are considering going to law school in the first place. Is it because someone else thinks you should? Is it because you’re not sure what else to do? While these may personally be compelling reasons, they may not be enough to carry you through all the time you’ll have to spend studying, taking exams, and pursuing the bar exam.
You should consider going to law school if it’s something you ultimately want to do (not something someone else thinks you should do!). If you’re considering law school, you should be able to articulate a clear reason why. That reason should be compelling to you, not to your mom, aunt, sister, brother, or second cousin twice removed. Maybe you want to use your law degree in tandem with a background you already have in something else. Perhaps you’re very passionate about politics or the criminal justice system, or you feel called to learn the skills necessary to solve problems for underserved populations. Maybe you want to prosecute crimes, negotiate contracts, or help people through a divorce. Whatever the reason, say it out loud. Make sure it motivates you!
4. Your Future Happiness
You may love watching Law & Order, but will the tense atmosphere of a real courtroom give you the same thrill? You may care a lot about social justice, but can you picture yourself working long hours seeking out just the right plaintiffs, doing research, and drafting court documents for a case you may never win? Would all the little details of a corporate contract stimulate you or does the very mention of it make your eyes glaze over? These are only a few examples of the things you may do as a practicing attorney.
Whatever the goal for your future legal career, you should make sure that you understand the day-to-day experience of actually being the kind of attorney you hope to be. Intern at a law office or observe court proceedings, and see how they hold your interest. Many jobs in the legal profession are demanding, whether it’s of your time, your mental energy, or your emotional reserves, so make sure you are committed to engaging in this lifestyle. Your well-being is important, and it’s important to know sooner rather than later if the day-to-day work of a lawyer will leave you feeling fulfilled or not.
These are just some things to think about, but only you have the answer. So … should you go to law school?
Looking to Pass the Uniform Bar Exam?
Free or discounted resources
- A five-star UBE course (for as low as $1099.99!) that provides you with the best instruction, outlines, and questions. Preview our course for free here!
- Our new Free Bar Exam Resource Center, which includes our most popular free guides, posts, webinars, and more!
- Free popular bar exam guides (on the MBE, MEE, how to pass the bar exam, and what to do if you failed the bar exam) written by bar exam experts!
- A free Early Bar Prep Course for law students
Our most POPULAR and highly rated bar exam resources are:
- Our On Demand and Premium Bar Exam Courses
- Bar Exam Private Tutoring by bar exam experts
- MBE One-Sheets and MEE One-Sheets—rated five stars! Our customers love these supplements!
- Real MBE questions—the best practice questions available!