How to Prepare for Law School While in College

A Quora reader recently asked for advice on how to prepare for law school while in college.  Graduate school—and particularly law school—seem like rational options for ambitious college students (particularly those holding liberal arts degrees).  Many college students begin preparing for the LSAT while in college and others may go so far as to select "easier" courses in order to maximize their GPA, thereby increasing their chances of being admitted to their dream school.

Having said this, one of the best things that a college student can do to prepare for law school is to actually determine whether law school is right for them.  So many prospective law students apply to law school without actually thinking about whether they will actually enjoy practicing law. This is a dangerous way to approach the decision. While these students may reference popular culture, childhood dreams, or the apparent prestige of law school as a reason for attending, they need to test their assumptions by understanding the realities of actual legal practice. Completing this exercise may save them hundreds of thousands of dollars.

By far, the best way to proceed is by finding a position at their dream office, no matter how “menial” the job is. They’ll get a real sense of the day-to-day life of practicing attorneys. By observing the attorneys' routine, they will ideally receive the unvarnished truth about the realities of the job, and will subsequently make a more informed decision about law school. Not many prospective law students do this, and many of them may feel anxious after realizing that the actual practice of law isn’t what they exactly envisioned.

It’s true that prospective law students can gain some insight by speaking with current law students and practicing lawyers working in their dream offices. But I believe that in this situation, observation is more helpful than mere conversations with certain individuals. The attorneys' actions, demeanor, and attitude will speak louder than advice delivered in a simple interview. So before starting to study for the LSAT or creating a shortlist of law schools, get some practical experience in the legal field. Many law students and attorneys wish they had done this before pursuing law school.