Why consider a career in law? There are many reasons to pursue a career in law, especially since there are a variety of jobs that suit all kinds of people. Every person's dream job is different, but some common reasons to work in the legal field include:
- It is interesting
- It provides a service to society
- It is a financially profitable career
- Law can help those who need it and punish those who abuse it
- The branches of law are endless
- It provides continual growth of knowledge
There are more profound answers to why we may choose to practice law. If you reach beyond the surface, you must admit that law affects every person in the world in everything they do. You cannot live in America, go to school, drive a vehicle, have and raise a child, buy a house, work a job, or even die without addressing the laws involved in the action.
Laws dictate how and where we live. When someone does something to cause us pain or loss (intentionally or negligently), we have laws that allow us to put things right. If we want a career that deeply affects the clients we serve, there is nothing more rewarding than working in the field of law.
What does working in the legal field require of you?
There is no doubt that becoming a lawyer in any field of law requires hard work!
You are facing seven full years of education after high school. This includes 4-years of undergraduate school, 3-years of law school, and in most states a Juris Doctor degree from a law school accredited by the American Bar Association.
An attorney advises and represents their clients in matters of the law. Sometimes their work is essential to protect the rights of people in business, personal, and financial matters. Sometimes they are responsible for fighting for the rights of the people and other times they are charged with the duty of defending the accused. We live in a great country, where everyone has a legal right to be defended, and everyone has a legal right to be protected.
A person pursuing a career in law should be skilled and educated in reading and understanding written text, writing, and skilled in verbal presentations. They should be detail oriented, and tenacious. This is not a field where a person can take shortcuts. They should have compassion and strong core values in the field of law in which they choose to operate.
If you are considering going into law, your motto for the next several years will be, "read, write, research, and reference."
Tips for the aspiring law student
Improve your chances of getting into law school (while a Junior in college)
- Study hard for a high LSAT score - expect to study at least 3-months
- Form relationships with your professors, you will need their letters of recommendations
- Do not procrastinate - research schools and programs now to allow you a better chance of getting where you want to go
Get experience early
- Dive in and get real life experience. Work as an intern, paralegal, or any other capacity to get experience in the legal arena. There is no better way to determine if this is truly the career you want. There is no greater tragedy than to get the education you need and then discovering that the practice of law is not what you want to do with your life. Only by working in the field will you know if this is what you want to pursue. Spend your time where attorneys are, get your name and face known.
Paint with a broad stroke
- Many law schools want to push their students to target the school's area of "expertise." Push forward and take full advantage of the tools at your disposal, but do not force yourself into any particular mold. There are many aspects of the law, and you do not have to ignore all of them and focus on one. The time will come to choose, but until then keep an open mind.
Live as if your house is made of glass
- Law, politics, public service and many other careers grow with us. Not many 50-year olds are doing what they thought they would be doing when they were 20-year olds. Protect your reputation! Live your life as if you are planning to run for public office.
- Be mindful of the company you keep and be deliberately selective about what you post online. What may seem like a harmless prank, can come back to haunt you in the future.
- Be aware that most law schools will check your online reputation, so keep it clean and clear.
Shop for and negotiate your financial aid package
- Many people do not feel they have a right to reject or negotiate a financial aid offer. This is untrue. Often the financial aid offices have more programs, and clear communication with them will let them know what your needs are. If never hurts to ask for something more. The worst that can happen is rejection.
Keep your perspective
- Lectures are where your knowledge begins, not where it ends. Expect to feel lost at times. Expect to feel you totally missed the point of the lecture. Everyone feels that way sometimes. Hang in there.
Do the work
- Law school is the great equalizer. You may have been a star in your senior class and your sweet smile, and warm personality might make you popular, but you are in an entire school of bright students with sweet smiles and warm personalities. It kind of goes with the curriculum.
- Do the work
- Come prepared
- Join committees
- Give back to the process
The Sky's The Limit
Getting your law degree is challenging, and there will be times when you question your choice, but your law degree will make you an excellent candidate for opportunities that no other degree can offer you. The career choices are endless because the law is an ever-changing and growing entity. Whether you want to change the world, fight against injustice, or enjoy the detailed and profitable work of corporate law, your services are always needed.
If you have decided to take this step, then congratulations. You are just a few steps away from the career of your dreams.