October 28, 2016

Should You Go to Law School?

Should you go to law school? What to consider before applying to law school. | brazenandbrunette.com

Law school application season is upon us, so I wanted to take the time to give some perspective to anyone out there who is on the fence about law school. Law school is the hardest thing I've ever done, but that doesn't mean that I regret my decision one bit.

It's nothing like the LSAT

Or anything you've ever done before. So just because you got great grades your whole life doesn't mean it'll be easy. On the flip side, if you struggled with the LSAT or thought it wasn't real-world realistic, that's okay because law school is literally nothing like that at all. In one of my classes we're already doing practice Bar questions and thankfully there are no logic games involved. 

It is time consuming

Ok let me do a quick breakdown for you.
  24 hours in a day
- 8 hours sleeping
- 1.5 hours getting ready/getting to class
- 2 hours cooking/eating (breakfast, lunch, dinner)
- 4 hours of class
- 5 hours of studying
-1 hour working out
-1/2 hour doing chores around the house
2 hours of free time

Now I'm not saying that's how little free time you have every day, but it isn't uncommon for you to spend 5 hours reading or writing for a class. The one down side to law school is that during the busy parts you're really busy.

It isn't crazy competitive

And people aren't rude savages trying to get ahead of the curve. Everyone's suffering through this together so you kind of bond with your classmates because of this. That's why people study in groups because at least it's y'all together against everyone else. But after two schools, I've found that people are always friendly enough to offer old outlines or whatever to help you along. 

It's not like debate team or mock trial

Two things about this. 1. If debate or mock trial weren't your thing, or you didn't even like it, then you can still go to law school. Not every lawyer spends all day arguing in front of a jury. That's a litigation lawyer. There's also transactional lawyers who write wills or file companies for bankruptcy. 2. If you were super into debate or mock trial, that doesn't necessarily mean that you're ahead of the game.

Sure you have the opportunity to join a mock trial (or moot court) team and occasionally a professor will have you debate a side in class, but that's not what this is about. Mostly all you'll be doing that first year is sitting in class learning about how a contract is formed or what the term "delivery" means for property. Remember, it is law school.

It is expensive

Another breakdown, this time of my costs through my first semester as a 2L.

1,200 Kaplan LSAT prep
180 1st LSAT attempt registration
180 2nd LSAT attempt registration
50 1st school application fee
45 2nd school application fee
45 3rd school application fee (I got waivers for the 2 other schools)

20,500 government loan (FASFA)
900 interest on government loan from Aug. 2015 - Aug. 2016
1,300 interest on private loan from Aug. 2015 - Aug. 2016
200 Declaration of Intent fee
(these two loans covered my tuition, housing, books, and living expenses)

20,500 government loan
13,000 private student loan (because I transferred to a cheaper school)
$33,500 (so far without interest)

$85,875 approximately because I've been rounding

should you go to law school? | brazenandbrunette.com

The Law School Bubble has popped

You might hear stories from people about how law school isn't worth it. This is because from like 2005 - 2013, the law school market was flooded and the economy was bad. This means that a lot of lawyers were super in debt and were having a hard time finding jobs. Some people even argued it wasn't worth it unless you received a great scholarship to a Tier 1 school and graduated in the Top 10% (although I think this is a little extreme). 

But thanks to this bubble, right now there are not as many law graduates as there used to be and the economy is slowly getting better so our job prospects are more optimistic and it isn't as big of a financial risk to go into debt getting a law degree.

It isn't like what you see

As much as I love Legally Blonde and HTGAWM, those don't accurately portray what you'll be doing as a 1L. There are professors who still have a practice (called adjuncts) but I almost guarantee they're not going to pull people out of your class to help them with a case. Criminal Procedure and Evidence are 2L classes so you wouldn't even know how to help a professor. 

That's like teaching a 5th grader how to make a volcano out of baking soda and vinegar and then a scientist taking that kid along with him to Hawaii to collect lava samples from a volcano. If anyone is going to work with a professor it's going to be a 2L or a 3L and they'll probably be helping them research and publish a book.

You don't have to know what kind of law you want to practice

It's always weird to me when people ask me what kind of law I'm studying because truthfully, I'm studying all the types of law. What's weird about the bar exam is that it's not like a normal comprehensive test because you end up being tested over subjects that you haven't even taken classes for. So you have to take as many different subjects as possible to learn a little about a lot in only 3 years.

Because of this, you can end up figuring out what kind of law to practice. You might take a class and realize that you love it and want to do that for your career. Or by process of elimination you can find what you absolutely don't want to do. I'm a 2L and still don't know what kind of law I want to practice, so don't think you have to know either.

It is a challenge

That's about how your 1L year feels, especially during that first semester. There's really not much you can do to prepare for law school before you experience first hand. I mean, no book you read or class you take can prepare you for how helpless you feel when you aren't understanding a topic a few weeks before the final or stressed you feel reading for 4 classes every night. Eventually you learn to swim and then it starts to be more manageable. And after dedicating so much time and effort into law school, you have immense pride in yourself each time you pass a class.

There is a "law school game"

When you get here, you'll hear people refer to law school as a game. Think of this game as like Monopoly. As long as you don't break any rules, you can do whatever it takes to win. Just like Monopoly, a few people interpret this as sabotaging others to make so they can finish higher. But other people just are smart about it. You have to learn how to prioritize what's important, how to find and take advantage of help that's offered, how to strategize and plan to be successful.

Just one example is learning how to multitask really well. Sometimes the professors slide says one thing and he's talking about something else, but because I can multitask I can mindlessly copy what's on the slide into my notes while still listening to what the professor is going over and write down a summary of what he said when he pauses. Because I can do this, I don't miss out on as much information as someone else who either focuses purely on the slides or purely on the professor. 

Other ways to work the system is to visit office hours and get a sense of what the test is like, or to take advantage of a program that your school offers to help make you a more competitive applicant once it's time to fight for a job. The law school game is all about taking advantage of your strengths while either strengthening your weaknesses or at least not letting them slow you down. 

It is fun

Despite all of the "law school sucks" tweets and texts law students send to our friends, we actually love it here. To me, college was mostly just blow off classes or classes that I didn't really care about. Even the ones I liked, I still wasn't passionate about. But I am passionate about all of my law classes. Sure, I might've fought to stay awake through the Dormant Commerce Clause during Constitutional Law, but then I was wide awake when we began to talk about First Amendment rights. 

And even though you read a lot of cases, they're interesting! Torts is full of examples of people just being complete idiots and Criminal Law is like reading a real CSI case. Literally my favorite part about my Wills class is reading about people's dirty laundry, like the wife finding out her husband had a mistress when he left her half of his money. So, at least it's not completely terrible.

should you go to law school? | brazenandbrunette.com
Stole this from my friend Jordan


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