Don't go to law school if "just don't know what else to do"

I’d argue that prospective law students who are clear about their purpose are the most suited for law school. This may not be exactly what you expected to hear. Yet it’s often the case that incoming law students decide to go to law school since they “don’t know what else to do.” This can be a dangerous starting point. These students may struggle to maintain their motivation throughout school and may fall into a line of work (Big Law, for example) that they may not ultimately enjoy. This could lead to feelings of general dissatisfaction and frustration as they may have to service six figure debt. Read more: Who should go to law school? Adam Pascarella, Former Big Law Litigator; Founder of Deciding on Law School. Answered March 16, 2017. https://www.quora.com/Who-should-go-to-law-school.

I often recommend that prospective law students work in the legal field before applying to law school, so that they can understand attorneys’ day-to-day responsibilities. These individuals may find attorneys’ work interesting or may wonder who would willingly sign up for such a career. The ultimate point is that these individuals are able to get out of their head and get a better sense of what it means to be a lawyer. Speaking with current law students and attorneys is helpful, but they’ll likely get the clearest sense by observing attorneys in the field.

As for professional practice, attorneys have to be detailed oriented. In my experience, there have been many times where one or two words in a contract have altered the legal advice that I’ve delivered to a client. While we live in a society that values multitasking and productivity, clients hire attorneys to sweat the details. Attorneys will likely struggle if they aren’t patient and detail oriented.

Further, those attorneys who can concentrate on mundane subjects for long periods of time tend to be the most successful. The ability to zone in on dry material is an extremely valuable skill and one that seems to be underrated. Especially as a junior associate at a Big Law firm, there were moments where I had to focus on finding favorable case law in an area of law that I found uninteresting. Adding to the stress is that these research assignments often have tight deadlines. You build up this skill as a law student, but some attorneys are better at this than others.

Check out my website to learn more about law school. Read more: Who should go to law school? Adam Pascarella, Former Big Law Litigator; Founder of Deciding on Law School. Answered March 16, 2017. https://www.quora.com/Who-should-go-to-law-school.

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