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Is Law School Right for You?

Some people claim that they have known they wanted to be a lawyer since they were quite young, but most have struggled with the decision to apply to law school. In fact, many law students and even recent graduates are still unsure of the answer to this question.

While it is not often possible to be certain of your answer before entering law school, there is value in talking with practicing lawyers, in attending criminal and civil trials, in attending law school classes, or in working at a law firm in some capacity. These activities can help you gain insight into what a lawyer does; however, they may give you a somewhat superficial view of the legal profession, highlighting the excitement but possibly overlooking the real complexity, difficulty, and demands of the job. Television shows dealing with lawyers have perfected this superficial view of the legal profession.

The decision-making process is also complicated by the difficulty in defining exactly what a lawyer does on a day-to-day basis. There is no "typical lawyer." Today, the legal profession has embraced specialization to a significant extent. Depending upon one's specialization, there are differences in workload, client contact, work environment, compensation, and overall quality of life. Specialties include criminal law, family law, personal injury or defective product litigation, trust and estate law, business transactions and litigation, tax law, employment or labor law, environmental law, patent and trademark law, and civil rights litigation. There are many "professions" within the profession of law, each embracing different personality types and interests.

One of the meaningful ways to determine whether you would be happy and successful as a lawyer is to look at the type of skills you would need to be a competent lawyer in any area of law. The essential skills required of lawyers are much the same across practice areas.

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