Top Five Law School Myths…Debunked!
Maybe you’re thinking about going to law school and you’re doing research to see if it’s a good fit for you. Or maybe you’ve already been accepted to law school (congratulations!) and you want to know what to expect. Either way, remember that you can’t always believe everything you hear. A lot of information about law school is greatly exaggerated—or in some cases, completely inaccurate. In this post, we identify and debunk five of the top law school myths!
Top Five Law School Myths…Debunked!
Law School Myth #1: School rank is the most important factor to consider when deciding which law school to attend.
This is one of the biggest law school myths because law school ranking is just one of many factors you should consider when deciding which law school to attend—and it is not necessarily the most important. Choice of school is a completely subjective decision that depends on your educational, career, and life goals. For this reason, in addition to school rank, there are a myriad of other factors to consider to ensure that you choose a school that is a good fit for you, including:
- Cost – Consider what can you afford to pay for tuition, and research available scholarship and financial aid opportunities.
- Location – Whether or not you are sure where you want to work after graduation, check the school’s statistics to see if most students end up working in-state or if many students find opportunities elsewhere.
- Availability of Concentrations – Do you plan to pursue a career in criminal law, public interest, business litigation, or estate planning? See if the school offers a concentration or certificate program in your area of interest.
- Class Size – Do you learn better in classes with a smaller student-to-teacher ratio? Check the school’s statistics to ensure that it offers small class sections.
- Bar Passage Rates – Unless you choose to pursue a career that does not require admittance to the bar, this is key for every law student to check!
- Culture/Environment – Is having a supportive community important to you? Do you like when professors have “open door” policies? Visit the school and ask current students what the culture/environment is like!
These are just a few of the many factors you should consider. Check out our post on Law School Selection Factors You Should Consider!
The main takeaway is that school rank is not the only or most important factor for choosing which law school to attend. Choose the school that is the best fit for YOU!
Law School Myth #2: Incurring large amounts of student loan debt is no big deal because it will pay off in the long run.
As noted in Law School Myth #1 above, cost is an important factor to consider when deciding which law school you will attend and whether to incur student loan debt requires a cost-benefit analysis that will be individual to each person. As a general rule, you should avoid incurring a ton of debt if possible, but depending on your goals, it could pay off in the long run. Just remember that not all lawyers start out making the same salary. If you plan to pursue a public interest career, for example, you will almost certainly have a lower starting salary than a corporate lawyer. Keep this in mind when choosing whether you want to attend that top law school and pay full tuition instead of attending a lower-ranked school that you received a full scholarship to attend.
Law School Myth #3: The hardest part is getting in.
It is true that the law school application process can be difficult, so you want to be sure that you do not miss any important steps for applying! Law school applications are increasingly competitive, and even if you have top grades, a high LSAT score, and strong letters of recommendation, you should still be prepared to receive some rejection letters. If you need application assistance, learn more about JD Advising’s application assistance service here!
Once you make it through the application process though, you’re one step closer. Just keep in mind that the next step after that (actually attending law school!) is much more of a challenge. Check out this post about why law school is hard… but not impossible, and in fact, very manageable!
Law School Myth #4: If you answer questions wrong during class, it is a clear indicator that you will do badly on the final exam.
For most law schools, grades for 1L classes are based entirely on the final exam. This makes it particularly difficult to gauge how well you are understanding the material in comparison to your classmates. Avoid the temptation of comparing yourself to others based on how well you answer questions during class versus how well they do! You will not know the answer to every question that you are called on to answer during every class during law school, no matter how prepared you are for class (of course, if you’re prepared, your chances of getting an answer right are much, much higher!).
Just know that the person who got every answer wrong in class may be the same person who gets the high A on the exam. If you put in the work all semester and take time to understand the material, you can absolutely get an A on the final exam, even if you got every question wrong during class. If you are concerned about how well you’re understanding the material though, you should talk to your professor. Most professors are happy to discuss the class material with students and go over anything that you do not understand, or otherwise direct you to helpful resources!
Law School Myth #5: Your social life will be nonexistent until after graduation.
Don’t believe the law school myth that you will spend 12 hours a day, 7 days a week studying. Although law school is time-consuming, it will not take up ALL of your time! If you manage your time wisely, you will be able to balance school and your personal life with ease. Also, keep in mind that there is so much more to law school than just going to class and studying! You may take part in law review or moot court or any number of available clubs that match your interests. And you will almost certainly meet some of your closest friends during law school and choose to spend time with them outside of school! Despite the time commitment law school requires, you can (and should) still have a social life.