Movies and television often portray lawyers and law students as loud, pompous individuals with a natural talent for arguing. The reality of law school is based much more on work ethic than on natural talent. Before you apply to a law school and commit to a career in law, here are some things you should be aware of.
During the course of your law career, you will read countless documents. If your ambition is to become an attorney, you had better love to read. Or at least have excellent comprehension skills. Law students spend hours each day reading and writing. This is to prepare them for the hours they will spend reading and writing when they start their career. Any case, big or small, requires some kind of preparation. Analyzing different documents and making decisions will be daily work.
Law school professors are no joke. Most of them have sat where you are sitting and want to prepare you thoroughly for what you will deal with later in your career. Others may be bitter about where they are in their own careers and will try to make your life miserable. Either way, they are the ones doling out grades so aim to please.
Being able to take criticism and use it to improve yourself will be an advantage as you advance through law school. This will translate in the courtroom as well. Dealing with “good old boy” clubs and preconceived notions about your skill as a lawyer may be challenges that you face. If you turn into a sloppy mess whenever someone offers you a suggestion, you may need to toughen up and remember the skills that got you to where you are.
This is a big one. The life of a law student is busy, to say the least. Make sure that you are able to commit to the time and energy it takes to be successful. When you are looking for resources to help you to achieve your law ambitions, consider a paralegal degree. Paralegals are highly desired by excellent legal teams. A master’s degree program that is online may be a great fit for a busy lifestyle.
Although lawyers do spend plenty of time alone researching and reading through documents, they do need to have good listening skills in order to work with clients. Law students will find that working with their own peers will help them to strengthen and develop those “people skills”. This should translate to successful interactions later in their career.
A career in law can be an amazing and fulfilling journey. It is not always a picnic, but being prepared for what is to come is half the battle. The time and money spent is an investment with potentially great rewards to those willing to commit to tough classwork and even more challenging careers.
Article contributed by Anita Ginsburg, a freelance writer based in Denver, Colorado, USA.