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Published on Mar 06, 2012 by Edgar Snyder

So You Want To Be A Lawyer?

law students

In more than 40 years of practicing law, I've often been asked what it's like to be a lawyer and what it takes to be a good lawyer. There are many different answers to these questions, but if you're thinking about pursuing a career in the legal field, there are some basic things you should know.

Most law school admission officials agree that prospective students need more insight into the challenges of both law school and the post-graduation job market. Here are a few things they say to consider before you make your final decision on attending law school:

  • Law school is a time-consuming, sometimes stressful, and most of all, costly endeavor.
  • If you don't know what you want to do after you graduate, don't just immediately settle on law school. If you can't answer the question, "What do I plan on doing with my law degree when I'm finished?" you should probably take some time to search for a profession you're more passionate about.
  • If pursuing your law degree is strictly motivated by making big bucks, take a step back for a second. In practice, you are often entrusted with other people lives. If you're solely in it for the big money, it can lead to poor decisions that can hurt your clients.
  • Also, employment for law school graduates after nine months is actually its lowest level since 1996, according to National Association for Law Placement data.
  • You must have good judgment and be willing to develop a firm understanding of right and wrong because the law doesn't always offer clear-cut answers to questions.
  • You need to be able to analyze, think, and write clearly. Law students must be prepared to pick apart a situation and offer a range of unique solutions.
  • Law school is a very risky and increasingly expensive investment. In the long run, your earning potential will be higher. But sometimes it can take a considerable amount of time to reach your expected salary level, which can leave you struggling to repay your student loans.
  • It's also important to remember that the hard work isn't over once you graduate. You still have to pass the Bar Exam. This exam is a grueling consultation of your grasp on the law and how it's applied in the legal field. In Pennsylvania, roughly 75 percent of applicants successfully passed the Bar Exam in 2011. Nationally, the average is lower, with only 68 percent of test-takers receiving a passing grade.

Like the scales of justice, law school is a balancing act. It will only benefit the most passionate and the most dedicated individuals. If you think law school is right for you, take the time to do your research before you make your final decision.

From my experience, I can confirm that what all of these experts say is true. If you want to be successful in the legal field, just as in life, you must be passionate about what you do. I am extremely passionate about what I do today – giving a voice to victims of tragic accidents and to people who have serious disabilities.

So, if it's not just about the money and you're hard-working and driven, law school may be for you. If there's one thing I can say for sure about being a lawyer, it's that in the many years I've spent practicing law I've never had a boring day; I've had challenging days, but they were never boring.

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