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Should You Really Be a Lawyer? The Guide to Smart Career Choices Before, During & After Law School
by Deborah Schneider, J.D., and Gary Belsky
239 pp. Niche Press. $21.95
By Patricia D' Ascoli
Fortunately, there is a comprehensive guide available to assist would-be attorneys, as well as practicing attorneys, in this decision-making process. Should You Really Be a Lawyer? The Guide to Smart Career Choices Before, During & After Law School, co-authored by Deborah Schneider and Gary Belsky and recently published by Decision Books, provides an in-depth look at all of the factors that should be taken into consideration by anyone who is contemplating a legal career.
Should You Really Be a Lawyer is actually three books in one. There are sections for prospective law school students, current law school students, and practicing attorneys. The purpose of this book, in the words of the authors, is to help these individuals ''make satisfying career choices using a simple, interesting and enjoyable method.'' And throughout the book, they make a convincing argument that it is a method well worth utilizing.
According to the authors, many individuals fall prey to one or several decision-making pitfalls and ultimately choose to pursue a career in the law for all the wrong reasons. These same individuals subsequently find themselves miserable down the road either while they are still attending law school or, worse yet, when they are already practicing attorneys.
The audience best served by Should You Really Be a Lawyer is the college graduate who is thinking about a future in the field of law, which is covered in Part II, ''Should You Really Go to Law School?'' For this reason, the book should be a mandatory read by any undergraduate who is thinking about applying to law school. Ms. Schneider and Mr. Belsky clearly set out in this section that the choice to attend law school should be a fully informed decision.
The authors take the reader through a series of decision assessments to help determine whether he or she has a solid basis for choosing law school. Making an informed decision to attend law school includes finding out what legal jobs actually involve and determining whether such jobs are good matches for the readers' personality, skills, interests, and priorities. Throughout each section of the book, the authors recommend getting actual work experience in both legal and non-legal settings as an important part of the decision-making process.
Ms. Schneider and Mr. Belsky cleverly term the four specific steps a prospective law student should take as the ''real L.S.A.T.'' Law school (what it's really like), Self-assessment (individual career priorities), Attorneys (what they really do), and Try it out (get work experience).
To this end, the authors suggest that the reader become acquainted with law school academics by reading about the law school experience, sitting in on a few classes, and by talking to law students. Similarly, they advise the prospective law student to gain an understanding of the work attorneys do by researching different practice settings and practice areas. Taking it one step further, the authors recommend working in a real legal setting before making a commitment to law school.
One of the real benefits of Should You Really Be a Lawyer as a helpful career guide is found in the chapters that focus on self-assessment, not only for prospective law students but also for current law students,as well as practicing attorneys. The authors ask the reader to concentrate on four key elements of the self-assessment process: enjoyable skills, interesting subjects, preferred work environment, and career priorities. After completing each category, the reader can then use the criteria as part of his or her search for suitable legal and non-legal jobs.
Another very useful portion of this guidebook is ''The Tool Kit,'' which contains helpful advice on conducting informational interviews, job shadowing, and career counseling. This section also includes a detailed listing of books and web sites that cover the law school experience, as well as legal and general career development.
Ultimately, Should You Really Be a Lawyer is a practical resource for anyone considering a legal career. It offers valuable insights into a very complex decision. And it provides a very useful mechanism for finding answers to one of the most difficult career questions.
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