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The new year is upon us, and that can mean only one question is at the forefront of most people's minds interested in the legal profession: do you really want to become a lawyer? With tuition rates on the rise and the American Bar Association telling people to think carefully before applying to law school, it would behoove you to give the question its fair due.
The career planning process will go on throughout your lifetime. Although you have chosen to pursue the study of law or are currently practic¬ing law, there are still a number of decisions that you will need to make. There are also a number of myths that you need to dispel as you make your career decisions. Probably the first and foremost myth to dispel is that career related decisions are a one time, irreversible process. Career counseling professionals will tell you that the average person will change careers (careers, not jobs) three to five times. The material that follows in this booklet has been assembled to assist you in making your next career decision. Other decisions and circum¬stances will occur later in your career that will cause you to continue to evaluate your career choices and may be the impetus for you to move into a totally different career area.
During your undergraduate degree there should be ample opportunities to research the law, whether for an essay, dissertation or other piece of assessed project work. Many students find that the freedom offered by the chance to carry out your own individually designed and structured research is the most rewarding of all opportunities available at university. If you find this to be the case then you may well be cut out for a career in academia. But what does a career in academia mean? For the discipline of law it usually means a mixture of teaching, research and the associated administration that inevitably accompanies these activities-especially teaching. Unlike some disciplines, such as science, there are very few university jobs that involve pure research, unless you confine yourself to a research post in which case you limit your career horizons and income. If you are committed to the academic life then I would recommend that you enroll in a postgraduate degree to develop your research skills. This is not necessarily the advice everyone would offer, as it is possible to become a member of law school staff without a postgraduate degree if you have an alternative professional qualification that substitutes practical experience for time-served research experience. However, if you do not undertake a postgraduate degree, then you will have to spend time gaining the professional qualification and if that is not immediately appealing to you, there is little point in using it as a route to academia.