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SYTYWL: So You Think You Want to Lawyer, Part 1

July 6, 2011

In a former life, I helped prospective graduate students (primarily in business and law, but also in medicine and other areas) with admissions–from tests to essays and beyond. I am now retired, but I still get asked for tips all the time by friends, friends of friends, and strangers alike. Personally, I dislike the extremely negative tone that many lawyers take in conversations with prospective law students. It can be a noble, even if somewhat beleaguered, vocation. But, I do also think that law school is not for everyone. In fact, I’d say it’s not for most people, including plenty of eminently capable people who could become successful attorneys but also could do as much or more for society in other fields, as Justice Scalia has opined.

So, I try to go beyond a flippant, dismissive “DON’T DO IT!” It’s cheap-laughs gallows humor for lawyers, but profoundly unhelpful and alienating to prospective law students. And there are some (though relatively rare) who are conscientious, serious and thoughtful, and really do have a calling in the law. (In fact, I personally encounter them not infrequently, especially through my work with Georgetown’s alumni admissions interview program.) So, I encourage anyone who seeks my input to articulate concrete career goals, and then consider whether those goals would be best served by heading to law school, particularly given the vast investment of time and money that it entails. This is crucial because, sadly, many people find law school an attractive option because they lack a sense of specific direction, a trope the Onion has gone to town on. But, that’s a dangerous platform to dive into law school from, particularly in light of the difficult legal jobs market, a topic much discussed here and virtually everywhere else. Tomorrow, I lay out my advice for those who convince me they’re really serious about law school.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. phillysfinest permalink
    July 6, 2011 4:53 pm

    The quality of commentary on this site has really improved. Keep up the good work!

    • jlharrisesq permalink
      July 6, 2011 5:06 pm

      Much appreciated! Always trying to raise the bar (unforgiveable pun intended). Please pass on or re-blog any posts you find interesting.

  2. Doug permalink
    July 6, 2011 8:09 pm

    Yes I agree, our comments are really raising the bar around here.

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