Liberal Arts Degrees and Law School

When analyzing reasons to attend law school, I often come across the question of whether certain individuals holding liberal arts degrees should go to law school.  These individuals enjoyed their social science or humanities courses, yet they are nervous that their degree will make it difficult to find a "real job" after graduation.

Prospective law students pursue law school for a variety of reasons, some of which may include the prestige of law school and legal practice, pressure from family or friends, and inspiration from pop culture and media.  There isn’t one distinct justification; rather, there is typically a combination of justifications that steers these individuals towards law school.  Add in the fact that prospective law students are smart, ambitious individuals, and law school appears to be an attractive option.

Having said this, there still seems to be this preconceived notion that college grads with social science or humanities degrees need to pursue graduate school and enter a professional track.  Law school is often the prime candidate since these grads often don’t enjoy math.  They think that even if they don’t think they’d like to practice law, they can obtain the degree, stick it out in legal practice for just a few years, and then transition into a different field that they actually enjoy.  This is the plan for some students, but it turns out to be more complicated than expected, due to these students’ law school debt and the surprising challenge of moving on from the legal field.

The fact remains, however, that college grads with liberal arts degrees aren’t trapped into pursuing law school or any other graduate school.  While they may have to hustle after graduation, they have more options than they think.  Mark Cuban has even said that “liberal arts is the future” and that these grads will play an increasingly important role in the automated workplace.  As a liberal arts grad myself, I wish I would have spent a little more time exploring other job opportunities after college and before law school.

The ultimate point is that grads with liberal arts degrees shouldn’t default to law school (or grad school generally) after graduation.  It’s important to recognize that law students’ financial futures and overall happiness may be severely impacted by this decision.  I think it’s better to explore your options and passions after college rather than pursue a professional track as quickly as possible.