Going to law school is not for everyone. If entered into with a clear head and specific goals, it can be a hugely rewarding experience that opens up tons of new career options and opportunities. But before taking the step to apply, it’s important to really consider if going to law school is the right thing for you. Here are a few questions to keep in mind before applying.
What’s Your Motivation?
Different people can have many different motivators for going back to school. For aspiring lawyers, those motivating factors can range from increased salary to the need to help people to the desire to be like one of the heroic lawyers on a favorite TV show. Whatever your specific motivation is, it helps to be 100 percent clear on it. Defining motivation will help you set up realistic expectations for your law school experience, and help you decide what you actually want to get out of a career in law.
What’s Your Experience?
Prior experience with the law–be it volunteer work, interning, or other related work–is certainly not necessary for law school, but it does help set up realistic expectations. If you’ve already been working in the field, you’ll get a sense of how things go on a day-to-day basis, and you’ll have a better chance of honing on in a particular focus early on. There are many different branches of the law to choose from when pursuing a career: The more experience you’ve had, the better equipped you’ll be to make your decision.
How Much Are You Willing to Give?
Law school is a huge commitment. As such, it tends to be time-consuming and stressful, in the same way that a full-time career as a lawyer can leave little room for other pursuits. Even pursuing an online degree in law requires a lot of time and effort. Whether you decide to get an online llm from USC or physically attend classes at a school like Suffolk University, your pursuit of a degree is going to take time away from your life as you know it. A career in law is hardly less time-consuming, often requiring lawyers to keep erratic hours and spend late nights in the office. If you’re not ready to commit to this kind of work fully, law school may not be right for you.
Do You Have Realistic Expectations?
Law school comes with the promise of many things: A higher starting salary, access to exciting legal cases, and the kind of career that’s upwardly mobile. But before starting school, it’s important to get a clear sense of what the job is really like. Like many other jobs, work as a lawyer can be tedious and frustrating. Though the media makes the job look glamorous, the reality can be much harsher. That’s not to say that a job as a lawyer isn’t fulfilling, invigorating, and sustainable in its own way. It’s simply a matter of going into the work with a clear set of expectations.