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Is a Career in Law Right For Me?

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A career in law can be challenging, interesting and exciting, but it’s not for everyone. Law school is a three year commitment that can cost over $100,000. Before applying, ask yourself these 4 questions to determine if a career in law is right for you.

Do I have the ability to get into and complete law school?

Not everyone gets into law school. To be a good candidate for acceptance, you’ll need high grades on your undergraduate coursework. You will need to show that you’ve been involved in your community by doing volunteer work. Professors must be willing to write letters of recommendation for your application.

You’ll take the LSAT (Law School Admission Test) during the year before you apply to law school. It’s important to score well on the test, so you should be prepared to put in many hours of study beforehand.

Once you make it into a law program, you should be prepared to spend your days studying. First year law students are discouraged from working outside jobs, so you’ll want to ensure that you have the money for living expenses.

Getting into and completing law school both require lots of hard work. It’s best to go into the process being aware of the rigors of a law education.

Do I have the right personality for law?

Lawyers’ daily lives are not like those you see on television—most of their time is not spent arguing passionately in courtrooms and changing lives. In reality, much of practicing law is unglamorous and mundane. To love a law profession, you should have many of these personality traits:

  • A thirst for knowledge and desire for continual learning.
  • Detail-oriented.
  • Able to work within a system of rules and laws.
  • Good at analyzing situations and determining approaches.
  • Competitive and willing to work long hours.
  • Patient.
  • Thick-skinned.
  • Pragmatic and dispassionate.

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Do I want the lifestyle of a lawyer?

The life of most lawyers is not glamorous. Depending on your specialty and how prestigious your firm is, your pay may not be any more than that of people in other fields that require only a bachelor’s degree.

Especially in the beginning of your career, you may be required to work 70 hours per week or more, with very little recognition and pay. Some lawyers continue to work long hours throughout their careers.

Practicing law can be stressful. A lawyer’s typical day will include lots of research, reading and writing in an indoor, sedentary setting. If you’re the kind of person who gets bored easily and needs to do physical work, law is not for you.

Can I afford law school?

Law school is expensive—full-time programs range anywhere from $60,000 to $180,000 just for tuition. In addition, you’ll have other expenses such as books, rent, food, etc. Students often graduate from law school with large student loans that must be repaid.

Think carefully about the financial expense of law school before you apply. For some, the burden will make law school a poor choice. For others, the expense is well worth the investment—they’ll be working in a career they love.

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