Choosing to go to law school is an important decision with hefty investments in both time and cost. A career in law can be rewarding on many levels but are the rewards worth the challenges? It is a competitive industry with declining enrollment because of limited job prospects.
Law school can be an incredibly rewarding experience that can create abundant professional opportunities, but it is certainly not the best path for everyone.
Speaking with current law students, professors and practicing attorneys such as Jonathan Bunge will help provide you with insights from those with direct experience in the legal profession so that you can fully understand this important life decision.
Here are some tips to consider.
- Are you only interested in a big salary?
Many people enter into law because they are drawn to the promise of generous salaries. While the potential to earn high six-figure incomes is there, it should not be your only motivator. Financial rewards rarely replace lost time with family and friends, elevated levels of stress and anxiety.
In recent years enrollment numbers have been declining at law schools around the country as job prospects shrink and salaries get smaller. The career path pf a law student is long and challenging and expensive with average tuition and housing costs exceeding $75,000 a year and most students exiting school with over $250,000 in student debt.
TIP: A way to help determine your typical salary is to consider your GPA and LSAT scored and what school you would likely be accepted into, then research employment statistics and salaries of students coming out of those programs. Also, consider factoring in specialties and geographical location as they can vary pay greatly.
- Do you have experience with the law? Many students join law school because family or friends are in the legal profession. Getting hands-on experience is the best way to know if the daily practice of law is something that suits you. The day-to-day tasks of lawyers in different industries can be very diverse.
Tip: Check with your school’s alumni to see if there is someone who can talk to you about their careers.
- What are you willing to sacrifice? The hours of law school and as a lawyer are long and demanding. Typically the more successful lawyers work far more than the 40-hour work week. The path to partnership if that is your goal is usually one that requires going the extra mile and skipping weekend trips or late nights out with friends and family.
A law firm is a great place to work for those seeking a fast-paced professional atmosphere and for those who are willing to put in extra to achieve extraordinary results.
- Are you interested in a specialization? Is there an area that interests you more than others? Some lawyers think only of the good guys and the bad guys while others pursue a practice in different fields such as healthcare, entertainment, sports, immigration, public policy and more. Many law students may be well-suited to law school, and the legal profession as the complex work in these areas tends to be legal in nature.