Should You Have A "Plan B" Before Attending Law School?

Plan A or Plan B

Many ambitious students, when considering law school, often consider other career options. They may even think about whether they should obtain their MBA or another graduate degree. One Quora reader recently asked whether they should create a "Plan B" if they aren't accepted to any law schools.

This is an interesting question and it segues into the larger point about reasons for wanting to attend law school.

I don’t think there’s a black and white answer to the question. Backup plans are all well and good. All of us need to at least consider next steps if our initial plans don’t work.

With that said, I hesitate with the fact that the questioner is imagining another graduate program as a backup plan. I don’t like making assumptions with incomplete information, but it seems pretty clear that the questioner wants to attend some type of graduate school in the near future. Notwithstanding this, it’s unclear how passionate they are about law school and legal practice.

Through my experiences, I’ve found that the most successful lawyers are essentially “all-in” and can’t imagine doing anything else. That’s not saying they absolutely didn’t have a Plan B, but they were dedicated (almost obsessed) to being the best lawyers that they could be.

It’s a dangerous proposition if someone is going to law school because they don’t know what else to do or because they think that a law degree provides “versatility” later in life. Law school is a six-figure investment and everyone has to evaluate three years of opportunity costs.

So for this questioner, I’d suggest taking some time to think about why they are attracted to law school or business school. And if they haven’t already, I’d recommend taking some time to work in the legal industry to observe the realities of legal practice. It may change their current perspective.

An entirely separate point is whether they should attend one of the schools where they are admitted. A law school's prestige will play a large part in the jobs that they can find after graduation. But I’d suggest crossing that bridge when (or if) they consider which school to attend.