Why do you want to be a lawyer?
One of my good friends told me the other day that he is considering going to law school. That came out of nowhere. He never expressed any interest in becoming a lawyer. Ive known him for most of his life and hell even admit that he doesn’t really want to do this.
I tutor students taking the LSAT. Most are in college. We discuss other things besides the test. It is disturbing how few really know what lawyers do. And the answers I get when they tell me why they want to go to law school are embarrassing.
At my ten year high school reunion a few years ago, I was overwhelmingly surrounded by people who I had not thought about for at least ten years. Geez, the number of them who told me they were lawyers. You? You? and You? Lawyers?
There are plenty of lawyers, but why do a ton of them hate being lawyers? Because plenty, and most I encounter, make the decision to devote their career to the law at a time when they really do not have a basic understanding as to what lawyers actually do on a day to day basis. My LSAT classes prove the point. Is there a way to improve this situation, or is it just dismissable with the most annoying of lawyer cliches: “It is what it is.”?
I know the beauty of law school is that you never had to major in anything specific. I remember these answers from first day law school orientation to the popular ice breaker of “what did you major in?”: “Ummm, I majored in psychology because it’s interesting and I think it’s helpful to understand how people think.” Or “I majored in English because it’s important to be a good writer.” Or “I majored in political science,” which apparently is so cool that you don’t even have to provide a because. Or “I majored in biology but it was too hard to get into medical school.”
What’s my point? Many lawyers who hate being lawyers should not have become lawyers in the first place. I know that there are people in every profession who hate their profession, but with the law, I think the undergraduate sytem doesn’t help. That is my point.
Can you major in law and be required to take certain classes in order to attend law school? My personal experience is that I wasn’t offered a major of “law” at my college. Nor did my college offer any sort of pre-law track, or if it did, I was not aware of it, which is another problem. The most coursework I could take for $30,000 a year is one class called “Legal Studies 101″ where we tried to learn the difference between assault and battery.
I know that there are no course requirements for attending law school, but why not? Especially since I repeatedly find that college fails to sufficiently introduce students to the law. Compound that with law school’s failure to teach what it is like to be a lawyer (like what do we do everyday, especially as young lawyers) and it creates a messy and inefficient system. Majoring in law or requiring a set curriculum might also help performance in law school, especially for those who don’t have a family member who was a lawyer or have no outside resources for learning to beat the system and succeed. And it may weed out those of us who are lawyers but really never wanted to be, which probably would benefit those of us who actually enjoy doing this and have chosen to do it for not necessarily right, but definitely articulate reasons.