This blog is brought to you by a special guest, Ann Levine.
Ann is the former Director of Admissions for two ABA-approved law schools and the author of the bestselling law school admission guide The Law School Admission Game: Play Like an Expert. Since starting Law School Expert in 2004, Ann has personally helped over 2,000 law school applicants, providing supportive and candid law school admission coaching.
One of the biggest questions that I help clients answer on a regular basis is one of the most basic: are they ready for law school? If you’re thinking about law school, here are three challenges to give yourself to help make this incredibly important decision.
1: Talk to 3 Lawyers
Law school isn’t an end goal in and of itself. Law school is the major step in the process of becoming a lawyer. So, first and foremost, take the initiative to step up and talk to at least three lawyers. Possible targets include corporate counsel at your workplace, friends of friends, family friends, or someone who hangs out at your local coffee shop.
There are two big reasons you should challenge yourself to do this. First, because actually talking to the individuals who have been to law school and who have lived a life and career as a lawyer will help you make good decisions about your future, and will help you determine whether it’s really the future you see for yourself. You can’t rely on TV shows and disgruntled bloggers when making such an important decision.
Second, if you are not willing to take the initiative to actually contact three lawyers, then it might be telling about how committed you really are to going to law school. You may want to re-think your decision. Applying to law school, attending law school, and practicing law all require taking initiative, even when you are not entirely comfortable doing so. Getting your first job during law school – and out of law school – will require networking. There’s no time like the present to get started. It takes practice!
2: Make Investment Decisions
Law school is an investment, plain and simple. It’s not cheap, quick, or easy. Law school can, however, be worth the investment, if you’re willing to do your best to make it work. You need to take a very close look at the financial and time investments that you are willing and able to make. Be realistic, especially if you’ve already been out of school for several years. Where will you be in three or four years? Wanting to buy a house, get married, have a family? Will your student loan debt allow for that? Will your starting salary as a lawyer? Don’t just assume everything will work out – but if you decide it’s the right path for you, commit to making the best decisions regarding getting into a law school that will allow you to reach your goals.
3: Be Willing To Study
Law school means long hours of studying. You, however, have a golden opportunity to make sure that you’re ready for this kind of studying. The first test? The LSAT. You need to be willing to make your LSAT prep efforts your major hobby. You need to be able to invest at least 3 months of 20+ hours per week purely in LSAT preparation. If you cannot do that, then you need to be able to invest 6 months of 10+ hours a week in prep. If you’re not naturally brilliant at standardized tests, you may need even more time to reach the score that best displays your aptitude and will open the doors to the law schools you most hope to attend.
LSAT prep is also your preparation for studying in law school, and then studying for the bar examination. The 3 month / 6 month preparation time for the LSAT will give you a taste of the dedication necessary. This could mean that you start studying for the LSAT and then decide that law school isn’t for you – and that’s OK. Better to figure it out before you invest a lot of time, money, and emotional energy in law school applications and law school itself.
4: Be 80% Sure
Life happens, and being 100% sure is not always possible. However, before you start putting time and money into law school applications, you should be at least 80% sure that law school is the next step you want to take in your life. You want to be able to give your best effort to your application process, and being sure is the prerequisite to putting in that effort.
This initial post originally appeared on the Law School Expert Blog.