Going to law school is a big decision. It’s a huge time and financial (of course) investment. LSAT test-takers recently fell to a 14 year low, which has spurred some to suggest that this is an optimal time to enroll, while others say that with the median starting salary for JDs dropping and tuition levels rising, it’s best to steer clear. Whichever way you lean before signing up for law school, it’s not a decision to be taken lightly.
So, what factors should you weigh when you’re deciding whether or not to make this commitment? Let’s take a look.
Are you entrepreneurial?
Big Law isn’t the be-all-and-end-all, but it’s a goal that’s becoming less attainable with each passing year due to changes in the legal industry. Solos and small firms are popping up faster than ever before, thanks to rapidly evolving legal technology, and lawyers who are comfortable with striking out on their own are often rewarded handsomely—not necessarily financially, but in terms of the freedom and flexibility.
How comfortable are you with clients?
Let’s face it: whether you like it or not, you’ll have to deal with clients. It doesn’t matter if you’re in Big Law or running your own firm, the practice of law encompasses a lot more than just legal knowledge. Be sure that you’re prepared to seek, negotiate with, and most importantly, collaborate with your future clients.
What are the employment stats like for the school? Not just the level of employment (full-time vs. part time), but what about the firm sizes and practice areas?
Law school is a stepping stone on your journey to your future career—so the obvious question is: what’s it going to do to get you there? What areas does its graduates practice in and how big are the firms that recruit from the school? A good law school doesn’t just have good teachers; it makes sure that its graduates are well prepared for both the legal and the business side of practicing. What level of accounting knowledge does a lawyer need, especially a solo?
What kinds of legal software and technology will help lawyers practice efficiently and focus their energy on law instead of mundane tasks? Clio’s Academic Access program facilitates legal technology education in over 120 schools and legal clinics nationwide to ensure students are getting the hands-on experience with the technology they need. Is your school producing true practice-ready graduates? Choose wisely.
What kind of law do you want to practice? Does that align with your school’s curriculum?
Are you passionate about animal law? Do you want to help families? Some law schools are particularly good at preparing its law grads for certain fields of law; they might have law school clinics and externships that will get you crucial experience in the field before you graduate. Do your research and make sure that your chosen school aligns with your own goals.