It’s difficult to say whether there is one overarching “customer persona” for law school. Candidates exhibiting one or more of the following attributes would seem to be better suited to take a chance and pursue law school. Still, there is no silver bullet or guarantee of success.
Prior Experience In The Legal Field
I was among the many prospective law students that did not have any relevant experience in the legal industry before attending law school. But having said this, I would highly recommend that prospective law students seek out work in the industry before submitting their law school applications. Sure, it’s great to speak with current attorneys (and law students) to get a sense of their day-to-day responsibilities and whether they’re actually happy. But there’s something to be said about actually working in the industry and observing practicing attorneys in their natural environment. Whether you find a college internship with a law firm or a full-time paralegal or legal assistant role after graduation, you’ll become fully immersed within the legal field and will have a much better sense of whether legal practice interests you. It’s a great hedge before you spend six figures to attend law school.
Even considering the horror stories about law school and the legal profession, there are still many prospective law students that think of law school as a “backup plan” and opt to attend because they “don’t know what else to do.” This is an especially dangerous starting point. It may lead you to a job that you don’t necessarily enjoy, but beyond this, you may be afraid to leave that job since you have to service your law school debt. Simply put, candidates should have an overarching vision and a willingness to take charge of their career. Even better, speak with current attorneys and law students to see how your vision stacks up with reality. It’s important to do this diligence before you attend law school.
An Understanding of Costs (Both Financial and Otherwise)
It’s much easier these days to find information about the true costs of attending law school. While you may find this information boring or even anxiety-inducing, you absolutely need to think about how you are going to pay for law school once you graduate. You will be paying off your loans into the foreseeable future, and even if you obtain a full-ride scholarship, it can be taken away if your GPA dips below a certain level. As a separate point, if law school is being paid for by family or friends, consider whether you want to spend their hard earned money on an opportunity that you may or may not be passionate about. You must also consider opportunity costs, which are real costs.
Bonus Points: An Already Established Network
I agree with some of the answers here that prior industry connections are helpful. It can be a huge advantage if you’re struggling to find a job. Still, I don’t think it’s a strict requirement, and this reason alone shouldn’t completely deter prospective law students. Just recognize that if you don’t have an already established network, there is more pressure to do well in your 1L courses and to build your network while you’re in law school. Critically, begin building your network before you need to leverage it to obtain a job.