Studying Law: Is the Pain Worth the Effort?
You’ve probably seen at least one movie or TV series that glamorizes law school or legal professions. Maybe, you’re a fan of Suits, How to Get Away with Murder, Better Call Saul, or… Well, you get the idea: there are plenty of them.
But not every law student gets to have Viola Davis as a professor. Nor does everyone pass with flying colors with little or no effort at all, like in Legally Blonde. The reality is more complicated – and, in fact, tedious – than that.
If you’re unsure whether a career in law is going to be your cup of tea, here are three pros and three cons you’ll need to take into account.
On the One Hand: 3 Struggles You’ll Have to Live Through
So, let’s kick things off with a deep dive into the three things law schools don’t ever put front and center. But before you get all depressed or scared off, spoiler alert: it’s not all doom and gloom.
1. Getting Through Law School Is Tough
First of all, the competition between applicants is on the rise. According to the LSAC, the number of applications increased by 27% in 2021, compared to the year before. So, getting that oh-so-desired acceptance letter won’t be a piece of cake.
Your student life won’t be all fun and games, either. Prepare to get buried in homework, assignments, and laws you need to memorize. What’s more, most students have to find part-time or summer jobs or take up freelance gigs in order to finance their studies.
Law students try to make it more bearable by reducing their academic workload. Some take fewer classes. Others outsource their homework to paper writing services (if you ever do, make sure to read No Cramming paper writer reviews first to avoid scams). Plus, there’s always that leisure time you can (and will have to) sacrifice if you opt for a law degree.
2. It Can Get Prohibitively Expensive
According to the U.S. News, you should prepare to pay $26,074 on average per year, under the best of circumstances. Here’s the whole picture:
- $51,268 for private institutions (on average);
- $42,143 for public establishments, out-of-state (on average);
- $29,074 for public establishments, in-state (on average).
You’ll have to multiply these figures by three or four, depending on how long the program lasts.
Needless to say, this isn’t an affordable price tag for most. So, most applicants should brace themselves to take up a huge student loan and find a job or freelance while studying.
3. The Job May Not Be Exactly What You Thought It’d Be
Here are just a few not-so-glamorous examples of how different expectations can be from reality:
- Public defendants are severely underfunded. So, if you dream of protecting those who can’t afford an attorney, prepare for being asked to do 20 hours of work in only two.
- Want to be a defense lawyer? Keep in mind: sometimes, you’ll have to defend the guilty ones, too. And sometimes, they won’t even be honest with you!
- Whichever field of practice you choose, it won’t be an 8-to-5 job. You’ll be working long hours, your schedule will be inconsistent, and you’ll have to deal with a lot of stress.
So, get the lay of the land before taking the LSAT. Talk to someone who’s already working in your desired field of practice. Ask them what they love and hate about their occupation. Shadow them for a couple of days – that’s the best way to see what this or that job is really like.
On the Other Hand: 3 Ways It Can Be Rewarding
Of course, it’s not all cons with zero pros. So, as promised, here are three advantages of getting a law degree.
1. Law Degree Has a Good ROI
According to the U.S. News, lawyers are paid quite handsomely. Their median salary amounted to $122,960 in 2019. For comparison, clinical social workers could boast a median salary of just $56,750 – even though the level of education required is approximately the same.
What’s more, the unemployment rate among lawyers is just 0.6%. So, once you gain enough experience, you won’t have to worry about finding a job. Plus, lawyer jobs aren’t at the risk of getting automated.
2. It Opens Up an Array of Job Opportunities
First of all, legal professions are plentiful. That means you can be flexible enough in your career choices to find a job that suits you the best. You can choose from a diverse list of occupations with a Juris Doctor, such as:
- Adjunct law professor;
- Political affairs officer;
- Corporate counsel;
- Patent attorney.
What’s more, this degree is valuable in the job market even if you don’t apply for a position directly related to law. That’s because you’ll gain plenty of skills employers in other fields will find beneficial:
- Understanding the law and how it’s applied in practice;
- Critical thinking and logical reasoning;
- Argumentation and debating.
As for the careers themselves, you can choose to become a tax consultant, a compliance officer, or a politician; the list goes on. That’s not even to mention that starting and running your own business will be a lot easier if you have a background in law.
3. You’ll Get to Make an Impact
If you want to get into this field because you want to uphold justice, there’ll be plenty of people telling you to stop being “naïve.” But don’t listen to them: this is a legitimate reason to consider getting in the game.
And it’s achievable as a goal, too. For example, you can specialize in human rights cases or choose to work pro bono for the cases that you find important.
A law career is one of the few ones where you can make a long-lasting impact, and it wouldn’t be an understatement. You can change someone’s life – or win a case that’ll become a precedent for the society at large.
So, Is It Really Worth It?
It’s up to you to decide if the answer is “yes” or “no.” And that’ll depend on what motivated you to even consider law school in the first place.
To make up your mind, ask yourself these two questions: “Do the pros outweigh the cons for me personally? Am I up for the challenges, all because the rewards are so alluring to me?” And there you have it: your answer.