Monday, February 20, 2006

Thinking of law school?

A brief post, as I've been swamped of late and have been neglected my blogging duties.

Are you thinking of going to law school, and that's how you stumbled upon my blog? If you are considering law school (and this is something I tell my students every year in undergrad political science), take some time to work with a lawyer. Or better yet, do two separate internships. If you spend a semester helping at a corporate law megafirm, take at least a month and spend some time at the local legal aid. Or the reverse, depending on your preferences.

In my experience, every firm or office has its own culture and procedures. You may have loved your semester chasing debtors and finding hidden assets at Dewey, Cheatem & Howe, PC, but that's one small area of legal practice and one office. What happens after law school when the firm can't offer you something and you end up at Unnamed City Legal Services, working on completely unrelated issues, for the "other side"?

As a second point, it's also good to meet more lawyers before going to law school. The field isn't anything like it's pictured on television, for 98% of lawyers. I didn't know any practicing lawyers before I went to law school, and really had no clue what to expect from the people or the profession. I'm not going to say it's "hard" in the sense of coal mining or working construction outdoors in 15 degree weather...but I've never met a lawyer who doesn't work very hard. I don't just mean in the work-ethic sense, although the law does tend to attract a certain driven type. It's not a job where you can clock in, spend eight hours putzing on various tasks (or checking email) and then clock out. (Not that there isn't the odd day like that, of course). By and large, you need to produce--either in number of clients served, numbers of hours billed, $$ brought in, etc.

More regular and topical posts to resume once I wrap a Family Court trial this week....


Anonymous Jen said...

I would love to do an internship in a law firm, just to learn more about it. I also would love to make a direct impact in people's lives and hopefully help them. However I have no plans of going to law school. :) Good advice though.

11:41 AM  
Blogger TMT said...

The law could always use more people that want to help others instead of those that see it as a way to a fat check.

1:28 PM  
Blogger bbloo said...

Being a lawyer is hard work, huh? Count me out!

8:28 PM  

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