How to measure interest in law/law school

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penelope55
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How to measure interest in law/law school

Postby penelope55 » Wed Apr 18, 2012 1:44 pm

Hello all, I am a long-time lurker and first-time poster. I prepared a whole long post with a big back story, but I think I will just ask this: as a prospective applicant, how do you know what a sufficient interest in law is? Being a lawyer is not a life-long dream of mine (not that that would make one a good applicant or someone who should attend), but I am interested in legal issues. Maybe someone can point me to a thread that has discussed this. Otherwise, I would appreciate anyone who could share their perspective and how they assessed their desire to go to law school before applying. Thank you!

ETA: I am definitely open to responses that say "just don't do it!"

Renzo
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Re: How to measure interest in law/law school

Postby Renzo » Wed Apr 18, 2012 1:58 pm

Best way to measure your interest is to go get another job for a year or two, and see what you like and don't like in an occupation. Then you'll be in a good position to judge if law is a good career fit for you.

penelope55
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Re: How to measure interest in law/law school

Postby penelope55 » Thu Apr 19, 2012 8:36 am

[tl;dr: Should a hard-working but somewhat adrift potential splitter five years out of undergrad and with a moderate interest in legal issues consider law school if she/he could get into a t-14? What constitutes a sufficient level of interest in law?]

I think Renzo gives a very good answer, and right now I have a few years of work experience and am starting to think that law would be a very good fit for my personality. Here is the long post that I prepared a few days ago...

I understand from what I have read that most people should not go to law school, but I believe that I may be someone who could consider applying. I am looking for advice from the internet.

I have four years of work experience and currently work in a mid-level position in my company (want to remain anonymous and not give too many details (probably silly)). I like my job but I do not see a long-term career in this field. I enjoy working in an office and do not mind being bored sometimes. I was close to accepting a position in a phd program in a humanities field at the same school where I earned my master's, but backed out at the last minute because of a combination of factors - the brutal job market for academics in the humanities (which of course I was aware of before starting there), new desire to not be required to be absolutely geographically mobile, and family problems.

So now I am at a point where I am looking for a new path. I do not have a life-long dream to be a lawyer. I do always read about court decisions when they appear in the news (and in fact seek out these stories) and find myself ruminating on them and wanting to know more. My mom has worked with attorneys throughout her career, and though not one herself, she has told me I would be good at it. Obviously I love research and writing.

After being in a humanities field and getting pretty far down that path I think I have a skewed vision of what it means to be interested in something. I had already done a lot of work in my intended subfield before getting into a phd program. How do you know what a sufficient or appropriate level of interest in the law is? Does it have to be this life-long passion thing? For me, that passion is the field I have the master's in, but unfortunately it is not a good career choice.

I hate rushing into things and take a long time to make decisions. I guess my real question is whether I should just start studying for the lsat. I would only attend a top school. I have a lukewarm gpa.

I think I would like law as both a scholarly pursuit and as a career, but I admit that I have no idea what you learn in law school and am more attracted to the idea of law (again, coming from a humanities background, I am confused as to whether one goes into law school kind of already knowing a lot about the topics that will be covered there). I am from and would want to practice in NYC.

Am I stupid for thinking about law school or am I a potentially good candidate? I have stopped by B&N several times in the past few months to pick up an lsat book but always walk out without one, saying, "no, don't quit a job you like! In this economy??!" (Clearly I spend too much time focused on the big picture.)

Thank you!

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Samara
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Re: How to measure interest in law/law school

Postby Samara » Thu Apr 19, 2012 9:51 am

Okay, so to attempt to give you the tl;dr version of my story, I was in a similar situation to you this past summer. I didn't start seriously considering law school until a year or so ago. I've made a decent career over the past four years, but my humanities field also tops out at a decent, but nothing special salary. The benefits are sweet, job security is great and the work is easy (hence my post count), but I don't want to do this long-term. Underperforming my potential and lack of fulfillment and blahblahblah. I think law school is a good fit for me because I have enjoyed working the law in the limited capacity that I have, and I am detail-oriented, risk-aware, good at anticipating different arguments; the kinds of things that seem to be the core competency of a lawyer.

I'm going to be enrolling at NU for sticker. (Splitters in the house!) TBH, I'm still not sure what working a lawyer will be like, but I think I'll like it and I'm pretty certain I'm going to enjoy law school (as much as it can be enjoyed). It's a big jump and a big risk, but I think it's worth it.

So, you need to do two things to figure out if law school is right for you. One, make sure you understand the legal market and the risks of law school. The only reason I feel comfortable about going to NU at sticker is because I've absorbed a ton of information from TLS and other sources about my risks. Two, roughly figure out your numbers. Use the LSAC GPA calculator to see what your LSAC GPA would be and take the free sample LSAT to get a feel for how well you could do. Don't worry if you get a low score though. I improved 9 points over my diagnostic. With good studying, most people improve by that much or more. Feel free to PM me. Good luck!

atlas1886
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Re: How to measure interest in law/law school

Postby atlas1886 » Thu Apr 19, 2012 11:12 am

I go watch superior court cases often and it is motivating me a LOT.

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annet
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Re: How to measure interest in law/law school

Postby annet » Thu Apr 19, 2012 2:18 pm

Samara wrote:Okay, so to attempt to give you the tl;dr version of my story, I was in a similar situation to you this past summer. I didn't start seriously considering law school until a year or so ago. I've made a decent career over the past four years, but my humanities field also tops out at a decent, but nothing special salary. The benefits are sweet, job security is great and the work is easy (hence my post count), but I don't want to do this long-term. Underperforming my potential and lack of fulfillment and blahblahblah. I think law school is a good fit for me because I have enjoyed working the law in the limited capacity that I have, and I am detail-oriented, risk-aware, good at anticipating different arguments; the kinds of things that seem to be the core competency of a lawyer.

I'm going to be enrolling at NU for sticker. (Splitters in the house!) TBH, I'm still not sure what working a lawyer will be like, but I think I'll like it and I'm pretty certain I'm going to enjoy law school (as much as it can be enjoyed). It's a big jump and a big risk, but I think it's worth it.

So, you need to do two things to figure out if law school is right for you. One, make sure you understand the legal market and the risks of law school. The only reason I feel comfortable about going to NU at sticker is because I've absorbed a ton of information from TLS and other sources about my risks. Two, roughly figure out your numbers. Use the LSAC GPA calculator to see what your LSAC GPA would be and take the free sample LSAT to get a feel for how well you could do. Don't worry if you get a low score though. I improved 9 points over my diagnostic. With good studying, most people improve by that much or more. Feel free to PM me. Good luck!


I really appreciate you sharing your perspective. I am in a nearly identical situation at a thumb-twiddling cushy job but with no huge upward mobility. And what little movement I do have would put me into equally mind-numbing positions with more responsibility but not a lot more money.

OP, I took a few UG law classes that I loved and a real, honest to god law school class in graduate school (cross-listed but graded on the law school scale) that I did extremely well in and loved. Other than that, I've mostly been hanging out here and trying to absorb as much information as I can about what law school and legal work are like. I've been comparing that to what I like/don't like about my current job and what skills I know I have vs. don't have vs. need to improve. I also took a good, long break between a failed MA (ABT) and making a law school decision to recover from burnout and to make sure I wanted to be a lawyer rather than just keep doing school 'cause I was good at it (see Masters, failed).

I also don't think you need a passion for law to be a good lawyer and enjoy working in the field. I have a family full of lawyers and most just find it to be a perfectly fine job. Some have particular aspects of it that they really like to discuss and debate and they've been able to really specialize. Although from what I understand my uncle's enjoyment of tax law does make him a bit unique. I do have a family member with a real, serious passion for law and he took a very long and unconventional route but against (what I now know from TLS are gigantic) odds ended up teaching law.

Samara, that is awesome about NU! I'm in the midwest/want to stay and NU is the carrot I hold out while I study for the LSAT :)

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Samara
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Re: How to measure interest in law/law school

Postby Samara » Thu Apr 19, 2012 2:33 pm

annet wrote:I really appreciate you sharing your perspective. I am in a nearly identical situation at a thumb-twiddling cushy job but with no huge upward mobility. And what little movement I do have would put me into equally mind-numbing positions with more responsibility but not a lot more money.

Samara, that is awesome about NU! I'm in the midwest/want to stay and NU is the carrot I hold out while I study for the LSAT :)

Thanks! Happy to share. I'm looking forward to starting at NU this fall and quitting this boring job. Mind-numbing is right. And I'm sick of having to explain what I actually do, rather than what people think I do, and still have half the population hate me. I can't imagine biglaw will be much worse, but I'll actually get paid.

collegebum1989
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Re: How to measure interest in law/law school

Postby collegebum1989 » Fri Apr 20, 2012 11:22 am

This thread is almost everything I've been looking for since I'm in the process of applying as well. I've been going on and off about law school, while studying for the LSAT which is sort of counter-intuitive.

I'm actually an engineer, I was premed in undergrad and took all the classes and the mcat, and decided not to apply since I realized I was going that route just because of familial and social pressures (two parents are doctors, sisters in med school). Ironically, I felt began to not do medicine because in my family, it's actually the norm (crazy I know).

I wondered about getting a PhD in engineering for a while, but understanding the market pressure for those with research doctorates, I decided not to go that route because PhDs get filtered into research, in industry and academia, and research career is not one which I feel like I would enjoy.

Ironically, I chose the path to go to law school because I realized I liked taking steps which most dont. Engineers rarely have the writing and communication skills to become lawyers, and all throughout undergrad I felt like a humanities major trapped in a quantitative world lol. It also comes from having a geniune interest for intellectual property and having the technical savvy to draft patents and perhaps litigate them, which is what I really want to go to law school forum; the salary is just a added bonus.

I was bummed out initially for leaving the engineering/science realm because I know I'd be leaving the ability to conduct science to develop new product innovations. But I feel science and medicine in general are exaggerated in the media because there are very few non-technical people immersed in those fields to actually tell you how it is. There's a whole bunch of research and iterative work and laboratory testing bedtime before even the simplest product is mentioned in a news article in the NYTimes. For me, it was about choosing a role in the industry I wanted to be involved with in my career. And for me, patent law seems like the perfect intersection between science and the law.

And TLS has sort of been a devil's advocate, by showing me all the risks of this choice, which has ny helped me to develop a stronger vision of how law school is right for me.

CanadianWolf
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Re: How to measure interest in law/law school

Postby CanadianWolf » Fri Apr 20, 2012 11:26 am

If you're located in a city with law schools offering part-time enrollment, then that may be a way to gauge your interest in becoming a law student without quitting your job. USNews even lists & ranks the top 43 part-time law programs.

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Samara
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Re: How to measure interest in law/law school

Postby Samara » Fri Apr 20, 2012 11:27 am

Collegebum, sounds like you would be competitive for high-level IP positions, if you can get into a good school. I don't know much about them, but I hear they are about the only practice area that isn't flooded with new grads because of the hard science requirements. It also sounds like a good fit for your goals. Good luck on the LSAT and law school if you decide to go!

collegebum1989
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Re: How to measure interest in law/law school

Postby collegebum1989 » Fri Apr 20, 2012 2:37 pm

Thank you samara! That is the plan, hopefully it works out...good luck at NU!

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Mr. Somebody
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Re: How to measure interest in law/law school

Postby Mr. Somebody » Fri Apr 20, 2012 2:42 pm

Is it still a good idea to go if you think you'll hate law school but want to be a lawyer?

penelope55
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Re: How to measure interest in law/law school

Postby penelope55 » Mon Apr 23, 2012 3:07 pm

Thank you all for sharing, and hello/good luck to those in a situation similar to mine.

Canadianwolf gives an interesting idea and it is not one that I have thought about before. Can anyone give any other advice about doing a part-time program in the evening? In the meantime I will do some research about employment statistics for students coming from part-time programs and would welcome info anyone on here could share about that going that route.

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jas1503
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Re: How to measure interest in law/law school

Postby jas1503 » Mon Apr 23, 2012 3:17 pm

Mr. Somebody wrote:Is it still a good idea to go if you think you'll hate law school but want to be a lawyer?

Is it still a good idea to go if you think that you'll love Law school, but don't want to actually practice law??

Renzo
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Re: How to measure interest in law/law school

Postby Renzo » Mon Apr 23, 2012 4:46 pm

jas1503 wrote:
Mr. Somebody wrote:Is it still a good idea to go if you think you'll hate law school but want to be a lawyer?

Is it still a good idea to go if you think that you'll love Law school, but don't want to actually practice law??


Depends. Did you get into a top ten school, and do you want to be a law professor?

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realhero
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Re: How to measure interest in law/law school

Postby realhero » Sun Apr 29, 2012 8:51 pm

This has been such a helpful thread, as I'm in a very similar position as well. Thanks everyone.

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boredatwork
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Re: How to measure interest in law/law school

Postby boredatwork » Sun Apr 29, 2012 9:38 pm

I am still an 0L but I thought I would add my perspective as someone who has worked in a law office for quite a long time. The first thing I would caution against is getting the idea that the study of law and the practice of law are the same thing, they are not. I know there are probably plenty of people on this forum and in law school who have never been exposed to the realities of the practice of law and will fail at private practice post graduation (hell even those who have will fail, I could very well fail, you can never tell.) You have to be able to understand the law, but that is only part of the business, you also have to be able to manage people, create business, and deal with clients. Law is not something you can be lukewarm about, in order to be successful you have to devote much or most of your initial years to your career. That means billing at least 2100 a year, networking like crazy, writing journal articles, losing sleep. You also have to be ready for a steep learning curve, law school will not prepare you for the practice of law. You will make mistakes, will waste lots of time, and generally not be profitable for your firm for at least a couple of years. I watched my dad do all of the above for years in order to be a successful lawyer. If that doesn't sound like something you can be totally dedicated to, don't go to law school. It has never been, is not now, and will never be a typical 9-5 job.

SLim1124
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Re: How to measure interest in law/law school

Postby SLim1124 » Sun Apr 29, 2012 11:25 pm

collegebum1989 wrote:This thread is almost everything I've been looking for since I'm in the process of applying as well. I've been going on and off about law school, while studying for the LSAT which is sort of counter-intuitive.

I'm actually an engineer, I was premed in undergrad and took all the classes and the mcat, and decided not to apply since I realized I was going that route just because of familial and social pressures (two parents are doctors, sisters in med school). Ironically, I felt began to not do medicine because in my family, it's actually the norm (crazy I know).

I wondered about getting a PhD in engineering for a while, but understanding the market pressure for those with research doctorates, I decided not to go that route because PhDs get filtered into research, in industry and academia, and research career is not one which I feel like I would enjoy.

Ironically, I chose the path to go to law school because I realized I liked taking steps which most dont. Engineers rarely have the writing and communication skills to become lawyers, and all throughout undergrad I felt like a humanities major trapped in a quantitative world lol. It also comes from having a geniune interest for intellectual property and having the technical savvy to draft patents and perhaps litigate them, which is what I really want to go to law school forum; the salary is just a added bonus.

I was bummed out initially for leaving the engineering/science realm because I know I'd be leaving the ability to conduct science to develop new product innovations. But I feel science and medicine in general are exaggerated in the media because there are very few non-technical people immersed in those fields to actually tell you how it is. There's a whole bunch of research and iterative work and laboratory testing bedtime before even the simplest product is mentioned in a news article in the NYTimes. For me, it was about choosing a role in the industry I wanted to be involved with in my career. And for me, patent law seems like the perfect intersection between science and the law.

And TLS has sort of been a devil's advocate, by showing me all the risks of this choice, which has ny helped me to develop a stronger vision of how law school is right for me.



OMG (all capps) +1! I always wanted to be a lawyer - mom works in a legal capacity, dad went to NYU. I fell in love with Biology in HS but was always more interested in the legal and political mistranslation of scientific issues in the media, so I know what you mean when you say "I felt like a humanities major trapped in a quantitative world." I also didn't want to do a PHD - I felt that after a solid foundation and a bit of practical experience in biosci I knew how to be a scientist. The rest of my career would be running gels, prodding at cells, and writing grant proposals. Although there is so much we still don't know about nature, I found it more compelling a task to fill the gap in knowledge between lawyers/politicians and scientists. Scientists and lawyers speak very different languages than the general public. I want to eventually be able to speak both languages, translate to both sides, and set myself up for lifelong learning. Like collegebum1989, I like the fact that patent law pretty much requires a STEM education - it feels like a good fit for me and other interdiciplinarians like me.

All in all, I know I want to be a lawyer because of the skills and career I aim to cultivate. I believe that's sufficient reason to pursue a law degree.

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Gail
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Re: How to measure interest in law/law school

Postby Gail » Mon Apr 30, 2012 12:18 am

I started waivering about going to law school a little while ago. My position is that if you want to go, you don't have to ask yourself the question.


Take my lead. Drop this and come back to it later.

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jas1503
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Re: How to measure interest in law/law school

Postby jas1503 » Mon Apr 30, 2012 1:43 pm

Renzo wrote:
jas1503 wrote:
Mr. Somebody wrote:Is it still a good idea to go if you think you'll hate law school but want to be a lawyer?

Is it still a good idea to go if you think that you'll love Law school, but don't want to actually practice law??


Depends. Did you get into a top ten school, and do you want to be a law professor?

Ouch. I would love to teach in the future, but I doubt that I'll ever have any chance at a top 10 school in the future.

penelope55
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Re: How to measure interest in law/law school

Postby penelope55 » Mon Apr 30, 2012 3:53 pm

realhero wrote:This has been such a helpful thread, as I'm in a very similar position as well. Thanks everyone.


Cute avatar. And yes, seconded, everything posted has been extremely helpful.

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annet
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Re: How to measure interest in law/law school

Postby annet » Mon Apr 30, 2012 10:41 pm

Gail wrote:I started waivering about going to law school a little while ago. My position is that if you want to go, you don't have to ask yourself the question.


Take my lead. Drop this and come back to it later.


If you don't mind me asking, what made you change your mind? Not sure about the career or other factors like employment and/or debt?

LOLyer
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Re: How to measure interest in law/law school

Postby LOLyer » Mon Apr 30, 2012 11:22 pm

Level of masochistic self-loathing.

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Gail
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Re: How to measure interest in law/law school

Postby Gail » Tue May 01, 2012 12:48 am

annet wrote:If you don't mind me asking, what made you change your mind? Not sure about the career or other factors like employment and/or debt?


About 30% TLS fear mongering and the stalling economy that doesn't seem to be recovering anytime soon. 60% Freak-personal-happenings that have made me consider what is really important to me. 10% mild depression/emotional exhaustion.

The combination of this made me realize that I don't have the stomach for it right now. Not that I don't want to do it at all. Just not right now and not right there, you know? The time isn't right for us to be playing this game with our futures. I'm only 21. A lot of time to be a lawyer if I really want it. I'm young. I'm sick of worrying about the impending doom of law school's version of Russian roulette. I got sick of it. So I just pulled out.

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annet
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Re: How to measure interest in law/law school

Postby annet » Tue May 01, 2012 10:01 pm

Gail wrote:
annet wrote:If you don't mind me asking, what made you change your mind? Not sure about the career or other factors like employment and/or debt?


About 30% TLS fear mongering and the stalling economy that doesn't seem to be recovering anytime soon. 60% Freak-personal-happenings that have made me consider what is really important to me. 10% mild depression/emotional exhaustion.

The combination of this made me realize that I don't have the stomach for it right now. Not that I don't want to do it at all. Just not right now and not right there, you know? The time isn't right for us to be playing this game with our futures. I'm only 21. A lot of time to be a lawyer if I really want it. I'm young. I'm sick of worrying about the impending doom of law school's version of Russian roulette. I got sick of it. So I just pulled out.


You've made a very wise decision, especially because you're only 21. I tried to push through and do a masters straight out of undergrad and absolutely exhausted. Didn't finish. Hated life for 2 years.




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