4 Bad Reasons To Go To Law School

By Elana Goodwin on August 31, 2016

This article is brought to you by Kaplan, the leader in test prep for over 90 standardized tests, including the GRE, GMAT, LSAT, and MCAT.

Going to law school is a big deal and commitment — so if you’re planning to pursue a degree in law in the future, you want to make sure you’re going to law school for the right reasons.

Here are four bad reasons to go to law school — and if you’re guilty of at least one of them, you should reconsider whether law is the right career path for you.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

1. Because You Want To Get Rich. By going to law school, you’re more likely to end up poorer coming out of it than getting rich. Law school graduates typically come out of school at the very least $100,000 in debt — and contrary to belief, you probably won’t be making upwards of 100 grand as a lawyer fresh out of law school.

In 2014, the National Association for Law Placement reported that half of lawyers are actually starting at a salary of less than $62,000 a year, and that starting salaries have overall fallen 13 percent from 2008-2014.

In fact, as of 2015, about 20 percent of law graduates from 2010 are working at jobs that don’t require a law degree, and only 40 percent are working in law firms. Plus, law school grads, as employable as you think you might be with a law degree, aren’t guaranteed a job after graduation, so law may not carry the job security you think it will.

Unless you’re truly passionate about law and not just going for your law degree because you think it’ll help you get rich, you shouldn’t go to law school.

2. Because You Like To Argue. This is not a good reason to go to law school — even if you love debating and are good at it. There are other careers and outlets you can pursue if you like arguing, but don’t think that liking to argue and being a lawyer go hand in hand. Arguing can be thrilling as it’s challenging and can lead to intelligent debate — but being a lawyer actually has very little to do with arguing.

Much of being a lawyer revolves around doing research and sitting in an office or cubicle, not kicking back with colleagues debating various parts of the Constitution and other such topics. If you like to argue, consider writing some op-eds about whatever subject you’re most passionate about or starting a blog to express your opinions — however, think long and hard if liking to argue is the main reason you want to go to law school, because it’s a bad one.

3. Because You Think Being A Lawyer Is Like What You’ve Seen On TV. To put it simply — it’s not. You’re not going to end up reenacting part of an episode of “Law & Order” or the infamous courtroom scene from “A Few Good Men” or any other lawyerly movie or TV show you think you’ll be living. In fact, many lawyers never even see the inside of the courtroom, and even if they do, it’s extremely rare that you’ll find much in common with courtroom scenes from the big or little screen.

Entertainment may depict being a lawyer as something glamorous or entitling you to grand speeches but the truth is, being a lawyer in real life won’t be either of those things. So if you’re going to law school because you think you’re going to be living out your favorite law movies or TV shows, that’s a bad reason to go to law school since you’ll be sorely disappointed to realize you won’t be.

4. Because You Don’t Know What You Want To Do With Your Life. Law school is not three years that are meant to allow you to figure out what you want to do with your life — so if you didn’t decide on a life direction and career in undergrad, don’t plan to go to law school to give yourself more time to figure it out.

Besides being a pricey stall of reality, when you’re in law school, you need to already have an idea of where you want to work and what kind of law you want to practice chosen by the end of your first semester. That’s because your summer jobs and internships in law school (and before that, your undergraduate law internships) are very important as they’ll affect your offers and job prospects after you graduate.

So if you don’t know what you want to do with your law degree, you should put off enrolling in law school and take the time to figure out whether you really even want a law degree and what you want to do with it. Because going to law school since you don’t know what you want to do with your life is not a good reason to get a law degree.

If your reasoning for going to law school is not one of the four above-mentioned bad reasons, you’re probably going to law school for the right reasons. Just make sure a career in law is what you really want or that a law degree will help your employment options before you commit to law school and more college debt.

Learn more about Kaplan’s test prep options and start building the confidence you need for Test Day.

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