I'm a second year law student (we say 2L) and I feel like although I mention it in posts, it isn't fully apparent on this blog as a whole. Being a lawyer was on my radar from the time I was asked "What do you want to be when you grow up?" It has always, relentlessly, been my goal, and making it happen has been the most fulfilling and arduous task of my life. But it is so worth it if you're all in. I want to include some law-related thoughts to show you a bit more about what takes up 90% of my time, and also to share some advice that I definitely could have used in years past.
First up: 10 Questions for Deciding on Law School.
I am only a second year law student at a T-14 school. I am not a lawyer or legal career counselor. These 10 questions are drawn completely from my experiences. I thought long and hard about what really mattered for me in choosing to go to law school, and what I would ask a friend before considering doing the same.
1. Do you like to argue with other people and/or yourself?
If you aren't even the slightest bit of an inquisitor about anything in this world, I implore you to figure this out before even studying for the LSAT. You don't have to be a litigation-lover (think the lawyers on popular television that argue in court) to be a lawyer, or to even like the law. In my opinion, you just have to want to question things and play devils advocate with a friend or yourself.
2. Are you relatively okay with giving up any traditional semblance of free time for the rest of your life?
I can't stress this enough. I'm including this as advice from what attorneys have stressed (pun intended) to me. Obviously, I have not put in nearly as much work as even a first-year associate at a law firm has, but from what I've done already throughout my year and three months at law school, I can only imagine...I call life as a law student (and I'm guessing as a lawyer) "A constant endeavor in being behind." You will never be caught up; there is always more to do. That means that free time technically doesn't exist.
3. Can you put in 6-8 hours of studying every day for one year? And then devote at least 3 hours every day for two more?
No one, well, mostly no one, studies straight for 8 hours. But I would suggest being comfortable with spending every weekday studying after you get home from class, and at least one day on the weekend as well. This will let up a touch your second year, but for the first year, this was the amount of time I found worked best for most people, including myself.
4. Do you have the personal time to devote or are people relying on you for their immediate well-being?
Every time my parents call me or I call them, I sound miserable. The truth is, my first year, I was. But I was also incredibly boring, which made things sound even worse on the other end of the phone. I had nothing to talk about with my non-law school friends, which really is indicative of how much we insulate ourselves to cope, and not my friends' intelligence (which some law students like to argue, stupidly). I had to close off for self-preservation. I can't even imagine working in a partner, child, or someone else dependent on my time. It is absolutely, 100% doable. I would just suggest including these people in your decision!
5. Can you handle being in a profession saturated with Type As?
Everyone is "smart." Everyone works hard. Everyone wants to be the best. You are graded on a curve, so if you think you are smart, you probably are, but you might be the dumbest of the smart kids and that's hard. Law school might be the first time you meet your match. Be humble. Realize that everyone is pretty much Type A, but we can all function in this environment. At the end of the day, we have different interests, skills, personalities and geographies to distinguish ourselves. Also, don't be offended by very aggressive arguers; in fact, use them as a chance to practice your advocate skills!
6. Are you willing to move and/or be flexible in choosing a law school and/or job?
Hello! How often do I talk about missing NY? I came down to the South because I knew it would give me a better education and employment prospects. Period. I would never leave home unless I really, truly wanted to ~fulfill my dream~ and being a lawyer just happens to be that! You have to be willing to relocate if you truly want to give yourself the best opportunities. This is not to say you don't have a fabulous option in your hometown! It's just saying that if you really want it, moving should not stop you.
7. Is networking something you could see yourself learning and devoting time to?
Networking is the doldrums of law school. It's tiring to schmooze for hours upon hours, just hoping that you'll strike up a genuine conversation with an employer that makes you feel like, Wow, this is the person I want to work with! Networking is a real buzzword, but this is what I mean: as a law student looking for employment in a tougher market, you have to sell yourself and be comfortable with it. You have to learn to put on the cheesy smile and make everyone think you only want to work for them. It might be at an event every month, or it might be at an on-campus interview week, where you have 21 20-minute interviews in four days. But here's the best part of networking: when you find the right employer and they find you, you don't have to sell yourself, but be yourself. And that's the best feeling. That's the goal of all of this.
And now for the shorties...
8. Do you like to talk, read, and/or write?
One of these will suffice, all three are great.
9. Would being a lawyer make you proud?
Forget about your parents, grandparents, or whoever thinks this is a great idea for you. Will you be proud accepting your JD diploma after three arduous years? That is what really matters. Short and sweet.
10. Do you like Law?
Is there anything about law that you really enjoy learning about? If you can't think of a single legal concept you'd have fun explaining to another person...