Law school is a big decision, and there are many things to consider before making the leap. Here are five things you should know before deciding if law school is right for you:
Take an LSAT Prep Course or Splurge on a Tutor
The LSAT is one of the most important things to consider early on when deciding whether to go the law school. I’m sure you are aware that your LSAT score is one of the most important factors law schools consider when making admissions decisions. In fact, it’s a major determinant of getting into law school because law school rankings, in part, are calculated by the LSAT scores of each school’s incoming class.
But did you know that your LSAT score will help to determine whether you receive a scholarship and how much you will receive? It makes sense when you consider that LSAT scores are part of the law school ranking system. So, while spending money on an LSAT prep course or private tutor seems like a lot of money, it’s a wise investment. It can save you a lot of money in the long run.
Apply Early to Law School
In the same vein, you shouldn’t wait until the last minute to apply to law school. Law schools typically award scholarships on a rolling basis, meaning that they don’t save their scholarship money until the end of the application cycle. Instead, they award it early when they start receiving applications.
Don’t go to Law School if the Only Reason is to Make Money
When asking yourself “should I go to law school,” you may want to reconsider if your sole motivation is to make money. Not all lawyers are rich. In fact, the vast majority are not. And if you are looking to make money, there are a lot easier ways to do so.
Law school and the practice of law are big investments that require a lot of sacrifices. Most attorneys who do make excellent money, work long hours—I’m talking 80 hours per week for years. So, unless your reasons go deeper than financial gain, you may want to reconsider law school.
After Law School, You’ll Need to Pass the Bar Examination if you want to Practice
In order to obtain your license to practice law in a jurisdiction within the United States, you must first take and pass the bar examination. Depending on the state in which you take it, the bar exam is a 2 to 3 day.
And saying it is a seriously difficult test is an understatement. You’ll study for the bar exam right after graduating law school. Most student sitting for the bar exam treat studying like a full-time job. During the roughly three months leading up to it, you shouldn’t work (if possible) because the bar is mentally and emotionally taxing and requires hours of study.
Practicing Law is Hard
Obviously, right? But how hard is it exactly? Well, most practicing lawyers—at least initially—work very long hours and deal with stressful situations. Law firm attorneys are generally required to bill hours, which means they track their time and bill their clients for each hour they spend working on their matters.
Most law firms have annual billable hour requirements, and not all work is billable. Depending on the market, many law firm attorneys will work 60 to 80 hours per week (or more) to meet their billable hour requirements and the demands of their clients.
So, Should I go to Law School?
This list isn’t meant to be all gloom and doom. The practice of law can be very rewarding, and you’ll make friends and memories in law school that can last a lifetime. Though the preparation and the actual work is rigorous, there is a lot of enjoyment that comes from being a lawyer.
My final advice is to start networking now. Talk to current law students and practicing attorneys. Find out as much as you can about their experiences and the ups and downs of their careers. Ask what they like best about what they do and what they would change if they could do it all over again.
Ultimately, the decision of whether or not to go to law school is a personal one. But by considering these factors, you can make an informed decision that’s right for you.