It has almost been three years since I graduated from Penn Law School. While I am still a relatively new graduate, I've been taking some time to reflect on my decision to attend law school and whether it was "worth it" in the grand scheme of things.
I’m happy that I went to law school for several reasons. If I had to choose, I’d say that law school was worth it because of the skills I learned and the fact that I was able to start my professional career on solid footing.
Penn Law School
I began attending Penn Law in 2011. Simply put, the first year of law school was challenging. Between learning how to read case law, familiarizing myself with legal jargon, and adjusting to a new city, I had to adapt so that I could maximize my chances of doing well on exams. The first couple of months were difficult, but I learned a good number of transferrable skills that I use to this day.
The one skill that always comes to mind is attention to detail. I worked in the cable news business prior to law school, and admittedly, mistakes weren’t as fatal as those in law school or legal practice. Law school taught me how to slow down and truly focus on the work in front of me. There were many times on law school exams or in professional practice where one or two words would completely change my analysis. Without becoming more detail oriented, I would have delivered subpar advice in the classroom or at my law firm.
Law school also teaches you how to work under pressure, whether it’s when you’re being grilled by a professor or when you’re answering difficult exam questions. Clearly, this is a valuable skill that you can use even beyond legal practice. You obviously shouldn’t go to law school solely to obtain these soft skills, but nonetheless, these skills have been valuable in my career.
I’m also happy I attended law school because of the network. Law school is a stressful experience. However, by going through the experience with your classmates, you form extremely strong bonds that will last into the future. It’s also pretty cool to work with such hard working, intelligent classmates.
I feel that while law school didn’t exactly prepare me for the nuances of practicing law, Penn Law was great in helping students find jobs. It’s difficult to obtain Big Law positions after graduation, but Penn is known for directing its graduates into Big Law. As an aside, this is why it’s critical to do your research before selecting a law school. Sure, you aren’t forced into certain positions if your school is known for placing students in those types of jobs. Yet it may be slightly more difficult to resist this temptation if you’re swimming against the tide. If you don’t have a good idea of what you want to do after law school, you may be inadvertently swept into a path that may not necessarily be right for you.
Ultimately, Penn provided me with the resources to obtain a Big Law job after graduation. Many firms attended on-campus interviews and Penn did a good job preparing us for those interviews. Working in Big Law was a challenging experience, but the experience provided me with a good foundation for my career. It would have been much more difficult to enter Big Law if I hadn’t gone to Penn.
While I don’t have any regrets about my decision, it’s widely known that law school can be a losing game for many students. It’s critical to do your research and understand the financial consequences before attending.