Law school is one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences a student can have. The popularity and need on law schools has grown at a rapid speed. If you’ve ever seen the “Devil’s Advocate”, Al Pacino (during his emotional closing monologue) says that there are more people in law school than there are actual lawyers. I’ve done some research and I haven’t been able to verify whether or not this is true, but it wouldn’t be a total shock if it was valid. Television programs like “Law & Order”, “Boston Legal” and “Shark” have glamorized the practice of law making it more attractive to young adults. Furthermore, the possible big salary one can acquire by a law career makes it already more enticing. In fact, the average starting salary for an associate at a mid-sized law firm is $93,000. But keep in mind, a career in law is usually not centered around high-drama court situations and big paychecks. In reality, it requires discipline, a lot of research, and strong written/oral skills. Let me explain…
This may shock you, but most lawyers never step foot in a courtroom. This is due to the fact that less than 10% of all motions and situations truly make it to trial. So, if you dream about being the new Denny Crane (Boston Legal) or Samantha Cabbot (Law & Order) you have to specifically focus on trial law during your tenture at law school. On the subject of salary, yes, a lawyer can make a lot of money. But keep in mind that the big-salary jobs are predominantly in the private sector working with corporate clients. Furthermore, associates and partners at law firms work, on average, 60 hours a week. So, you’ll earn that phat paycheck as a lawyer.
Here are some basic facts and guidelines that you’ll need to know if you’re serious about attending law school:
(1.) In order to get accepted to a quality law school, you must have a high GPA and a high LSAT score. Most law schools have a formula as to how they determine who they accept. Yes, your essay and letters of recommendation are important, but the combination of a high GPA and LSAT score are basic if you want applicant reviewers to already consider you. To get into a top 25 law school, you’ll need at the minimum a 3.0 GPA (at the minimum a 3.5 for top-10 schools) and an LSAT score of at the minimum 152 out of 180, but much higher for a top-10, at the minimum 165 out of 180.
(2.) Law school is expensive. Most law schools charge $20,000+ a year just in tuition and fees. Private law schools charge already more. For example, Harvard Law School charges $53,000 a year for tution…just tuition! That’s not including books, a laptop, housing, and miscellaneous expenses. So, if you’re serious about law school, you’ll probably need to acquire a good student loan. Or, try your hardest to win a scholarship or grant. Here’s a helpful resource for loans, scholarships, and grants…
(3.) Law School is 3-years in length and you’ll be working non-stop during that period. Law School is a time consuming and difficult endeavor, especially in the first year. Some law school graduates and professors have already said that the first year is specifically designed to be extremely challenging so those not truly committed will be weeded out. So, understand that if you attend law school it will not be a cakewalk. You’ll have to read hundreds of situations, write lengthy papers, do copious amounts of legal research, and argue in front of a estimate in a mock trial. So if you don’t like to write or speak in public, law school is not for you.
(4.) already after you graduate law school, you’ll nevertheless not a lawyer! That’s right, already after 3 years of hard work, you’re nevertheless not technically a lawyer. You must pass the bar exam and acquire your license in order to legally be a lawyer (nice play on words, ey).
Summation: I don’t want this article to sound pessimistic about the law school experience. It can be one of the most fulfilling ventures of your life. You’ll be learning, and mastering, something that is involved in all aspects of our lives: the law. Once you graduate, people will look to you for advice and counsel on important matters. And the possibility of handling a high-profile case and/or making boatloads of cash is certainly possible. But just remember, you must have a genuine interest in law, or have the inherent skills to manager the workload in order to succeed in law school.