Clearly, you need to do extensive research when you're making your final decision on law school. Having said that, there are some critical things that you should learn before you begin the actual steps of taking the LSAT, applying to schools, and contemplating your ultimate choice. Below is a list of things that immediately comes to mind.
Goals and Priorities
This may not be what you were expecting, but I’d argue that you must engage in some deep self-analysis before attending. Ask yourself why you actually want to attend law school. Are you attending to fulfill the expectations of others or because you think law school is a good backup plan? Or are you attending because you’ve had an internship or other work experience in the legal industry and have a vision of what you’d like to accomplish with a law degree? I’m not saying that you need to have every step planned. However, you should be extremely careful in attending law school if it’s a backup plan or if you don’t know what else to do. Sit down, self-reflect, and learn what it is about the legal profession that interests you.
The Realities of Practicing Law
Once you have a pretty clear vision of why you want to attend law school, you should confirm whether that vision aligns with reality. Legal practice isn’t what you see in movies or television. It is often dull and can be extremely stressful. The best way to learn the realities of practicing law is working in the legal industry before you attend law school, whether that’s an internship or a full-time position. If this isn’t possible, take some time to speak with current law students and practicing attorneys. Ask them to be truthful and to describe the pros and cons of their experience thus far.
Costs and Potential Debt
It’s more obvious in 2017, but it’s worth repeating: law school can be extremely expensive. The worst case scenario is if you take out six figures of debt to attend law school, yet you can’t find a full-time job in the legal industry. I hope this doesn’t happen to you, but it’s a possibility nonetheless. Law school is a serious investment, and you’ll have to think about how you are going to pay back potential law school debt. Understand that regardless of the job you ultimately obtain, you may be paying off your law school debt years into the future.
The Value of Hard Work
Law school and legal practice are not easy. They are full of long hours and late nights. Starting with your college courses and continuing with the LSAT, you’re going to have to devote the time to studying esoteric topics that may or may not interest you. You’ll just have to grind out the work and put in the hours in order to reach your goals. But if your goals and priorities are strong enough, it’ll be easier to overcome some of the challenges throughout law school and legal practice.