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Why do you want to be a lawyer?

April 13, 2007
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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. 

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. jocelyn g permalink
    April 16, 2007 3:02 pm

    Many students in college and law school are trying to find out what they want to be when they “grow up.” Heck, many lawyers I know are still trying to figure out what they want to be when they grow up.

    One of the great things about a law degree is that it opens so many doors that would otherwise remain closed. Those who study the law learn how to think analytically and how to solve problems. Indeed, a law degree is beneficial even if practicing law is not the goal. For some, a law degree is an end, for some, it is a means.

    I do think it would be helpful to offer college and high school students more opportunities to meet people in the fields they are interested in–from informational interviews, to shadowing people on the job, to internships. I really like Drexel’s requirement that students participate in internships as part of their curriculum. From what I have heard, Drexel will be incorporating this apprentice requirement into its law school curriculum as well.

    As for intoroducing more prerequisites for law school attendance, I think there enough already. We should encourage people to attend law school–not discourage it.

  2. Dave Koller permalink
    April 16, 2007 11:03 pm

    Thanks for your comment. I appreciate it, but mostly disagree. Of course we should encourage people to attend law school, but it should be those who know that they really want to attend, as opposed to those who do it blindly, not fully informed, because they scored high on the lsat, have nothing better to do, or otherwise. The problem I see is that the current system encourages too many people to attend law school. Prerequisites wouldnt, or shouldnt, discourage people from attending. If it does, so what? It would only increase the chances that the decision they are making to attend is an educated one and not spontaneous, which would be beneficial to the profession. Also, while a law degree might open many doors that otherwise would not be opened, it also might close many doors that otherwise would not have been closed.

  3. July 15, 2010 9:25 am

    I do think it would be helpful to offer college and high school students more opportunities to meet people in the fields they are interested in–from informational interviews, to shadowing people on the job, to internships. I really like Drexel’s requirement that students participate in internships as part of their curriculum. From what I have heard, Drexel will be incorporating this apprentice requirement into its law school curriculum as well.
    thanks
    killing games

  4. Md.Rakibul Islam permalink
    November 30, 2010 11:15 am

    While it is impossible to know for certain the answer to the question “Do I Want To Be A Lawyer?” before entering law school, there is some value in talking with practicing lawyers, attending criminal and civil trials, attending law school classes or even working as a messenger at a law firm. The value of these activities is in gaining some insight into what a lawyer does; however, it will be somewhat of a superficial view of the legal profession, highlighting the excitement and overlooking the real complexity, difficulty and demands of the job. Television shows dealing with lawyers have perfected this superficial view of the legal pr fession.

  5. December 11, 2010 8:21 pm

    you guys have encourageme.hope to have your email adresses so as to be guided more.thanks.

  6. meme permalink
    March 29, 2012 2:02 pm

    i think we shold encorage people to study law to be a lawyer. And let people that want be a lawyer become a lawyer.

  7. mike jones bitch permalink
    October 25, 2012 5:09 am

    If you are actually a LSAT tutor then you will understand that what you are teaching is the concept of logically thinking about situations and considering all possibilities. It is being able to consider different scenarios and taking in account of different arguments that make good lawyers. That is a special skill that cannot be always taught. As for your insistence on having a law background… Let me pose this question, does memorizing the law make you a good lawyer fuck no!! It is being able to logically manipulate the law that makes lawyers good, who cares what type of undergrad you have, if you are able to masterfully control the law and understand what possiblities there are for a given situation you will be far better off then someone taking a 101 law class.

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