By Aryeh Cohen-Wade
Do you enjoy argument for argument’s sake? Do images of Sam Waterston flit through your dreams? Do you want to put off the working life for a few more years? Law school may be for you…or you may just be lazy, belligerent, and obsessed with TNT. Figure out how to
draw the distinction below, then learn about applying and making the most of law school once you’re there.
To Sue Or Not To Sue
Law school’s not for everyone. As a preliminary litmus test, keep in mind that you’ll only be successful in law school if you truly want to be there. Here are some other factors to consider before dropping $30 on that LSAT book.
No major preempts you from getting into law school, but the most common undergraduate majors for applicants are political science, history, and English. That said, a major that departs from the norm can help set an applicant apart. Majoring in science or engineering can be a big plus since patent and intellectual property law often requires some basic scientific knowledge.
What’s it really like?
The consensus: not super fun. The workload in your first year is heavier and more homogenous than undergrad, the atmosphere is much more competitive, and there’s less community. And while it’s possible to float through college without any real goals and still not feel completely worthless, law school is more of a means to an end—messing around is not really a viable option. On the flipside, much of the material is incredibly interesting, and when compared to many jobs (i.e., i-banking) the workload is not too insane. But, in the end, if you’re looking to prolong the salad days of college, law school isn’t the answer.
How much does it cost?
Tuition varies widely, with the top private schools charging between $30,000 and $40,000 a year, and the top public schools around $20,000. Financial aid is generally available, but you will probably have to take out loans to cover the rest. The good news is that top New York firms offer starting salaries of $180,000 a year plus bonus. However, keep in mind that the median starting income for law school grads is “only” $59,000.
What if I don’t want to be a lawyer?
A law degree can be useful for someone who doesn’t want to be a practicing lawyer. Interested in going into politics? Of the 535 members of Congress, 198 have a law degree. Legal academia appeals to those wanting a professor’s lifestyle but not a professor’s crummy pay. A law degree can also be very helpful in various business positions, such as management consulting. In general, it can increase the salary potential of jobs that don’t tacitly require a JD.
After deciding to take the plunge, it’s time to apply. Here’s a quick checklist:
1) LSAT score
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