Law is a dynamic and popular profession with numerous possibilities for success. Contrary to popular belief, lawyers aren’t all litigators or highly-paid corporate consultants. Many work as public servants or for non-profit organizations, earning modest salaries. Others never set foot in a courtroom, working in office environments or legal aid clinics instead. With the wide range of options available to students interested in careers in law, researching educational and career opportunities becomes that much more important. We’ve come up with information below on things you should consider before pursuing a law degree, as it may not be an easy (or inexpensive) decision to make.
Before you apply, you’ll want to make sure that law school is the right choice for you. Begin by researching the branches of law that interest you. What will you need to do to be able to practice law where and how you want to? Consider asking academic advisors and people currently in the careers you hope to pursue to help you do this research and make a decision, because without experience in a particular kind of law, you may not have all the information you need.
Once you’ve decided that law school is something that can help you achieve your career goals, there are still other considerations to keep in mind. Because of the intense effort and high cost involved in law school, you’ll want to be honest with yourself about whether you can make the commitments successfully attending law school will require at this point in your life. If you’re unsure about what you want to do in life or not planning to practice law with your law degree, you may want to think carefully about your desire to attend law school.
The law school application process is similar to other graduate school applications: you will need to take a standardized test, complete applications, write a statement of purpose, solicit letters of recommendation, and provide supporting documents such as transcripts and writing samples. In addition to taking the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) and crafting an outstanding application packet, you will also have to carefully consider where you want to go to law school.
If there’s a specific region or field that interests you, look for schools with strong reputations in those areas. More so than in many other fields, career prospects for beginning lawyers are determined largely by the prestige of their law program and their degree of success within it. Getting into top-ranked law schools involves earning the grades and the test scores to be an attractive candidate. An outstanding score on the LSAT may make up for a slightly lackluster GPA, and vice versa. The rest of your application still counts a great deal, but many schools openly admit to looking first at the numbers. Because of this, mastering the LSAT is important for law school success.
Once you’ve gained admission to a law program of your choice, you’ll still be faced with the prospect of paying for it. Law students amass a great deal of debt—more than $80,000 on average. However, you do have options when it comes to paying for law school. Law scholarships are available at many universities to help students with some or most of the cost of attending law school. A number of scholarships for graduate students may also be applicable to law school, and law students tend to have above-average abilities in writing, research, and analysis, which are all characteristics valued in scholarship essay contests. In addition, many law schools offer loan forgiveness programs, especially to students planning to go into some form of public law.
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