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8 Ways to Decide If Law School Is Worth It
by Jim Vassallo
The decision to attend law school is a big one, both financially and time commitment-wise. When it comes to making such a decision you will want to have as much information to pull from as possible so you can best choose which law school fits your needs, budget, personality, and career goals. One other thing you have to take a serious look at is whether or not law school will be worth it to you. Here are eight ways to decide if law school will be a worthwhile investment.
The Reputation of the Law School
One factor you must seriously take into consideration is the reputation of the law school you choose to attend. At the end of the day, attending a law school at the bottom of the national rankings might not be worth the cost of tuition, which will wind up as debt you need to repay on top of your bill for undergraduate education.
Now, if you are admitted to a school in the Top 25 the conversation is a bit different. Law students who attend schools in the first tier of rankings are two times more likely to hold long-term, full-time jobs in the legal industry compared to students who attend low-tier schools.
Class rank is a factor that really only comes into play once you are enrolled in law school, but it is still helpful in determining if attending is worth it. A study conducted by the Journal of Empirical Legal Studies found that a determining factor in employment is where the law student ranks upon graduation from their school. Students who finish ahead of the bottom 25th percentile will have an easier go of finding a job upon graduation. This is something you can take a long look at prior to enrolling based on your grades from your undergraduate and graduate days. You need to take an honest look at your grades and determine if you can perform as good or better than your college years.
Read these articles for more information:
- Law School Grades and Your Career
- 10 Factors That Matter to Big Firms More Than Where You Went to Law School: Why the Law School You Went to Ultimately Does Not Matter as Much as You Think it Does to Major Law Firms
- Why Aren’t Legal Recruiters Interested in Recent Law School Graduates?
When deciding if law school is worth it, you will want to look into your legal specialization. As with all other industries, jobs tend to be cyclical and come in waves. If you are not interested in becoming a lawyer in a specialization that is popular right now, then law school might not be worth it. But, if you want to work in healthcare, business litigation, and commercial litigation, then you are headed in the right direction by beginning a search for the right law school.
Why Do You Want to Be a Lawyer?
This is a question you must ask yourself over and over again. Many people have the wrong impression of what life will be like after law school. They believe that a job offer will come almost immediately and that they will be set for life since they can set their own rate for billable hours. If your sole reason for attending law school is to make a substantial amount of money, then law school is not worth it for you. It wouldn’t have even been worth it prior to the recession. If you are still unsure why you want to be a lawyer, shadow an attorney to see what their typical day is like. Volunteer in an office or obtain a part-time job so you can see first-hand all the work that goes into the profession.
Are You Good at Connecting?
Networking was a word that likely came up in every other discussion you had with professors, advisors, and classmates while in college. Well, networking is even more important when it comes to law school and your future after graduation. One of the ways you can improve your marketability is by attending bar functions, joining groups and organizations, and meeting as many new people as possible within the profession. You need to diversify your legal experience as much as you can so you are more valuable than others looking for the same jobs.
Aside from determining how much you want to spend on your law school education, you also need to look into your financial implications after graduation. You will exit law school with a large amount of debt, close to $75,000, which means you will need to find a decent paying job in order to survive. Don’t forget about any debt you accrued during your undergraduate and graduate years too. Not every legal job after school will pay six figures. You need to look at the fact that you could be making only $42,000-$55,000 per year for quite a few years after law school.
What Are Your Goals?
What are your goals for law school and beyond? Do you truly want to help people? Do you want to work as a lawyer because you think you’ll enjoy studying and analyzing the law? All of these are great goals to have, but even if you aren’t in it for the money, you still need to take it into consideration because of the debt involved. If law school is all you want in life, consider attending part-time or going to a state school instead of a private one.
Are you considering taking time off after you earn your undergraduate or graduate degree prior to law school? This could be a good time for you to head out into the professional world, earn some money, and gain some perspective on the world. You might change your mind about law school. Or, you might realize that attending law school would be worth it for you. It’s always important to weigh all of your options before making a decision as financially impactful as attending law school.
If you are looking into the benefits of attending law school, you need to take everything mentioned in this post to heart. Before even looking at different schools you need to determine if attending law school is worth it for you.
See the following articles for more information:
- Top 10 Things You Should Consider When Selecting a Law School
- Should You Go to Law School? Here Are a Few Reasons Law School is Right for You
- How Law Schools Determine Who to Admit: Inside the Admissions Process of Law Schools
- How to Find the Right Law School for You
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