If you’re considering pursuing a graduate degree in law, there are likely many things you are mulling over. Where should you go to school, what type of lawyer do you want to be, how much will it cost, and how much are you likely to make during your career being just a few. All of these are important considerations to make.
While we aren’t trying to discourage you to follow your law school path, there are some questions we encourage you to consider before applying to law school.
Do I need a law degree to work in the legal field?
Believe it or not, you can work in the legal field without a law degree. If your passion is law and justice and you rather not go to school for seven more years (three if you already have an undergrad degree), then there are other paths.
For one, you can become a paralegal and work for lawyers without having to even get a four-year degree. According to U.S. News & World Report, the average paralegal salary is $53,180. However, the median lawyer salary is $118,160 (2016).
You don’t need to go to law school or become a lawyer to work in the legal field, although becoming a lawyer has an advantage when it comes to salary.
Can you fit law school into your already busy life?
Being a lawyer might sound like a dream come true, and it is in many ways for a lot of people, but if you can’t justify the time and effort of law school right now, then it might be a better option to wait. Law school typically takes three years to finish. If you think your life is busy and hectic now, it will be even more so when this highly prestigious degree becomes the most time-consuming and important part of your life.
If the answer is yes and you want to be a Super Woman Super Lawyer, then go for it! A prestigious degree and fulfilling field awaits.
How do you plan on paying for school and supporting yourself while attending?
Law school isn’t cheap.
According to the U.S. News and World Report, The average tuition and fees for attending a private law school during the 2016-2017 school year costs around $43,020 per year compared with $26,264 for state residents and $39,612 for out-of-state students at a public law school, according to data reported by 197 ranked schools to U.S. News in an annual survey.
It’s essential to have a plan for paying for law school and decide if it’s going to be a realistic and worthwhile option before entering a program. It’s a big decision.
Which school(s) will lead to what you want?
LSAT scores and GPA will play a big role in law school admissions, however there are other things to look at when exploring law schools and deciding where to go.
While the most important issue might be figuring out which school can lead to the best job prospects, it’s also important to pick a school that’s going to be a good culture fit. If you have a family, or like where you live, then an important factor might be picking a school that’s in close proximity to where you already are because it could lead to you getting a job in that area after you earn your law degree.
Why do you need to go to law school?
This is the most important question you have to answer and it’s best to be honest with yourself. You don’t need one sole reason for wanting to attend law school. You might want to be a lawyer to represent people who are unable to represent themselves. You might want to enter a profession that’s known for big salaries and good job prospects. You might want to enter politics and government. You might want a law degree for personal achievement and growth.
Figure out why you want to go to law school and then let that be your north star throughout your process.
Those are just some of the questions you should ask yourself before applying to law school. The important thing is to be honest with yourself and the people around you during this process. A career in the legal field can be very fulfilling and lucrative.