8 Signs Law School Might Be Right For You

Deciding whether or not to attend grad school can be a tough decision. There’s so much to consider, like should you pursue a different area of study or should you specialize further? Are you financially prepared to go back to school and will the benefits pay off professionally in the future? Assuming you’ve already gotten past these questions and have decided you’re up for the challenge, you might be thinking of heading to law school. A good way to tell if this is really something you want to pursue is to take the LSAT, which is typically required for admission and is similar to business school’s GMAT requirement. If you enjoy studying for the LSAT, you will most likely enjoy law school. But just in case you need a little more to go on, here are a few signs that law school might be right for you.

1. You’re not intimidated by hundreds of pages worth of reading

Sure, Elle Woods made it look easy but the reality is that law school demands long hours in the library scouring enormous legal textbooks and limitless case files. Being a quick reader will be a strong asset no doubt, but being a smart reader will get you even further. This means you know how to take apart a reading: identify the key points, draw relevant conclusions and highlight the parts you know you’ll need to revisit later on. If nothing makes you happier than stacks of books filled with color-coded reading notes, this is the degree program for you!

2. You are incredibly organized; attention to detail is one of your strengths

Speaking of color-coding your notes, you’ll need to be a master organizer to get through this without too many Elle Woods-inspired, mascara-smudging meltdowns. Legal expert Victoria Shtainer says, “Law school forces you to think on your toes and, most of the time, out loud. It’s going to require you to handle multiple storylines and facts.” To keep track of everything you encounter on a daily basis—facts, dates, figures, definitions of legal jargon, case studies and their verdicts—you’ll need to have a study system that works for you. Organization, discipline and razor-sharp focus are just a few traits that every law-school hopeful should possess.

3. You have excellent time management skills

On average, attending law school full-time can take about three years; that’s three years of demanding course loads, often well into your prime, young adult years. While your friends are hanging out at the newest brunch spot, backpacking across Central America or even getting married and starting families, you’ll probably be glued to your work. Shtainer warns, “It's a grueling lifestyle and you're going to be spending most of your time studying, writing and interning,” so you’ll need to plan your days and nights accordingly.

Lawyer Setara Qassim says that she was completely unprepared for the time commitment that law school exams demanded. “Having been a procrastinator throughout undergrad at UCLA, literally waiting the night before any exam to actually begin studying or pulling last minute all-nighters to write term papers, while managing a social life going to every hot Hollywood club and having a boyfriend, my first year of law school was a complete shock.” Qassim graduated from UCLA with a 3.9 GPA, but she quickly learned that law school would be a bit more challenging. She recalls, “I was promptly given my first D,” after studying only the night before an exam. Fortunately, it gets easier. Once you get past your first year, Qassim says things are much more manageable because you get to narrow your interests. She chose to focus on criminal law.

4. You’re not afraid to stand up for what you believe in

This is a big one. A successful law student—and a successful attorney—is passionate about their beliefs. You got into this because you wanted to fight on behalf of those who can’t fight for themselves. Maybe you want to save the environment or maybe family law is your one true calling. Whatever it is, you’ll need to be ready to defend your position and convince others that they should too.  A good way to know if this is something you enjoy is to try out extracurricular or volunteer activities with an emphasis on advocacy. Legal career consultant and former practicing lawyer Cheryl Heisler notes that this is important for more than one reason. “Having a [specific] passion for some area of the law or subject matter will motivate you when the going gets tough,” she explains. Pursuing a career as a legal expert is no easy task; you’re going to need to keep some end goal in sight at every step of your journey.

5. You jump at any chance to analyze a problem from all viewpoints

Even though you’re a stickler for what you believe in, you’re still able to step back and offer an outsider’s perspective when needed. Your ability to dissect complicated situations and determine the best outcome for everyone involved will come in handy during and after law school. Associate attorney Lauren Bushman says, “[Even before attending law school] I usually saw both sides of a problem, especially when friends were having conflicts, and the ability to see the shades of grey instead of black and white really helped my analysis in law school.” In fact, she suggests this is useful even if you decide later on not to pursue a career in law. “Law school was so much more for me than learning how to be a lawyer. I would encourage anyone who wants to further develop their ability to analyze a situation from all sides to attend law school. Whether or not you become a lawyer, a law degree not only teaches you about the law, but also really teaches you how to think.”

6. You have excellent critical writing skills…but you don’t want to go into journalism

You love to write but you’re more interested in building a logical argument than in telling a human-interest story, or maybe you have major concerns about the future of digital journalism and want to veer on the more stable side of things. That’s what attorney editor Jennifer Kain Kilgore was thinking when she graduated in 2009 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. “This was right around when everything was going from print to digital. Reporters were expected not only to be writers, but also editors, photographers and designers. I decided that I didn't want to be a juggler,” she says. Kilgore credits her legal writing skills to her law professors, who helped her think more critically and present a more persuasive, written argument. Now, she says, “I use my writing and editing skills as an attorney editor, so I make sure that the information provided in the articles is legally sound. It is the perfect niche, and I am very happy.”

7. You are not only confident but also highly competitive

Confidence is a must in any line of work. You should always strive to be proud of who you are and what you represent. In law school, this is especially important when you need to stand your ground in an argument and when you feel like your enthusiasm for your program might be waning. You’ll need to cast any self-doubt away and remind yourself that you can do it! We all get down sometimes, but if you’re going to make it out of law school in one piece, you’ll need an extra dose of staying power. Being confident in your skills will also help you develop a tough skin when it comes to losses, which you are bound to face at some point in your career. According to Heisler, both “the will to win and the ability not to take it personally when you lose” are essential to your success. If you’re not one to shy away from conflict out of fear or insecurity, then law school will only help you become a stronger negotiator.

8. You interned at a law firm and loved it!

This is probably the best way to know if law school is right for you. You wouldn’t buy a car without test-driving it, so why commit to a three-year degree program that comes with its fair share of financial and mental demands without testing it out first? Attorney Alexis Moore says her biggest piece of advice for law-school hopefuls is to get real life experience before diving headfirst. “Work with attorneys, with lawyers and in the legal profession. See what the career holds before you get saddled down with the heavy financial burden of law school. Learn what life is like after law school…passing the bar is only part of it.” Moore says that her experiences working as a lay person in a law office, victims’ advocate and risk management consultant helped her prepare for a career in law. Because of this, she adds, “I knew [going in] that most attorneys are not millionaires so watching shows like Suits is fun but they’re not the reality.”

Related: What to Do If You Change Your Mind About Grad School

It’s important to remember that, although these are generally required traits for a profession in the legal field, there are many different types of lawyers. Personal injury lawyer, Tina Willis, says, “From those who draft wills in non-adversarial settings, to corporate merger negotiators, to the toughest trial lawyers, so many different personality types could be well-suited for practicing law.”

Still, law school is a major life commitment—financially, emotionally and even physically (if you have to move for your program)—but like any other degree program, it represents an opportunity to strengthen your professional portfolio and to grow as a more accomplished, more determined individual. It may not be the best decision for everyone, but if any of the above categories describes you perfectly, it might be something worth considering.

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About The Author

Sydnee is, above all, a pizza enthusiast who occasionally drinks green juice for online documentation (because pics or it didn’t happen). Her lifelong social ambitions include hanging around with Rachel, Ross, Monica, Chandler, Phoebe and Joey at Central Perk at 11:30 on a Wednesday. Lover of the East Coast and the world’s worst cook. Follow her on Instagram @lovesydneemarie.