The Benefits of Law School if You Don't Want to Practice Law

Operating under pressure

I recently came across a Quora question asking about the benefits of obtaining a law degree if you don't plan on practicing law after law school. I think this is an interesting question that deserves some further exploration.

First, I would offer a caveat. Many attorneys would tell you not to go to law school without actually practicing law. I would generally agree (I’ve previously offered my reasoning here).

That said, there are a few benefits from a law degree that you can leverage outside the law. Again, it’s almost always the case that you shouldn’t go to law school solely to obtain these benefits. But I found these skills useful as I’ve transitioned from lawyer to entrepreneur.

“Thinking like a lawyer”

Obviously, this benefit is most suited if you plan on becoming a practicing lawyer. But I do think it can be valuable in other disciplines. For example, it can serve you well if you become a professional investor. As investor and lawyer Charlie Munger says, “Invert, always invert.” In order to buy/short a stock, you have to buy it from a seller/buyer. So you must ask yourself: what does my counterparty know that I don’t know? What am I missing? Should I be taking the opposite position? This practice may be easier for law school grads compared to others since you’re generally using the same framework when analyzing case law in your classes.

Operating under pressure

There’s no doubt that law students get better at thinking on their feet and working under stress. From being grilled by a professor in front of 80 of your colleagues to completing a two to three hour exam that solely determines your grade, it becomes easier to handle pressure. I’m not saying you’ll be bulletproof, but you will get better at thinking clearly when under stress.

Attention to detail

Law students and lawyers are paid to sweat the small stuff. It’s inevitable that your professors will ask you about discrete details in your reading. While you can try to BS your way through it, this isn’t an effective long-term strategy. It’s critical to slow down and really understand the details of your cases, as attention to detail will be critical when you are completing exams. That said, you do get better at this skill, and it is undoubtedly useful in nearly any discipline outside the law. The world is getting faster and faster, but if you’re able to focus on details, you’ll be able to separate yourself from competitors, no matter the industry.