Nov 30, 2017 at 12:00am ET By Alyssa Walker

To go or not to go? If that’s the question you’re asking yourself, then you’re in good company. The decision to go to law school isn’t a small one—it takes time, money, and dedication.

How should you decide to go or not? Use these five strategies. Let’s take a closer look.

1.       Ask yourself some questions

·  Am I in it for the money?

If you’re drawn to law solely by the prospect of a high salary, you should probably reconsider.

Law school does not guarantee a high salary. While some lawyers do make significant amounts of money, it doesn’t always happen immediately---it also depends on the type of law that you study.

·  Do I have any experience?

Have you volunteered or interned with a law firm? If you have and you’ve enjoyed the work, then it could be a great fit. If you’ve interned and didn’t enjoy it, then probably not.

If you have no experience at all, then get some before you decide to apply. If you don’t have time to intern or volunteer, at a minimum you should schedule some informational interviews with willing law firms to see if you’re interested.

Need some help? Contact your university’s career services office to send you in the right direction.

·  How much do I want to work?

The legal profession is not known for its flexible working hours. Most successful lawyers work well over 40-hour work weeks in fast-paced, deadline-driven environments.

If you’re up for the challenge, go for it. If you’re not, reconsider the type of career you’d like to have.

·  Do I want to go or do my parents want me to go?

Parental or other outside pressure forcing your decision is not a reason to go to law school. Sure, they want you to be happy and successful, and they see law school as a viable option to bring you those things.

The problem? If you don’t see law school as a viable option to bring you happiness and success, then you will be neither happy nor successful.

Go for the right reasons—your reasons.

·  Do I like to read?

Law school requires that you read a minimum of three hours per day—and not fluff fiction, either. It’s difficult, dense, challenging reading. Every day. If you take a day off, you have to make up for it, just to keep up with your classes.

If you can’t tolerate a heavy reading load as a student, then you won’t be able to keep up as a practicing lawyer, either.

To be a lawyer, you need to love to read.

2.  Check your GPA and LSAT scores

Your GPA and LSAT scores will largely determine where you will go to law school. If your scores are not up to snuff, you will not be admitted to a more competitive school. Is it worth it?

If you want to attend law school, it’s worth making sure that your GPA and LSAT scores are top-notch. While you might not be able to do much to help your GPA, you can certainly re-take the LSAT for a desirable score.

3.  Use your imagination

Envision different scenarios of you, as a lawyer, in the future. You’re at a dinner party and someone asks what you do. You say, “I’m a lawyer.” How does that sound to you? How does it feel?

Imagine that you’re a lawyer and want the weekend off, but you’re working on a big case. Your boss calls you and you have to work all weekend. Do you? Or do you take the weekend off anyway? How do you feel about your career infringing on your personal life?

Does calling yourself a lawyer and having the responsibilities of one appeal to you? If so, go for it. If not? Reconsider.

4. If you’re not sure, take some time off

You don’t need to have the right answer right now. If you feel unsure, then give yourself the time you need to figure it out.

Taking time off between your undergraduate years and law school will give you a different perspective. If, in a year or two, you still feel the pull of law school, then get your materials together and go for it.

5.  Envision the reality of a law career

Remember Strategy #3? Don’t romanticize the life of a lawyer. While it’s a rewarding career, law demands a serious investment of time and energy. The profession requires significant amounts of reading and writing and is rarely as glamorous as what you may see in movies.

 

 

 

Alyssa Walker is a freelance writer, educator, and nonprofit consultant. She lives in the White Mountains of New Hampshire with her family.

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