The following is an excerpt from the “Law School for Suckers” eBook, to help you decide whether law school is truly the path for you. Seriously, take a moment and think about it first…
(1) It’s terribly time-consuming
Between preparing for and writing the LSAT (sometimes multiple times), and preparing and submitting applications (often to multiple schools), not to mention waiting for what seems like an eternity for the admission results, it can take well over a year just to apply. Then law school itself takes at least three years (it can be longer if you go on exchange or do a combined program such as JD/MBA). On top of that, you can expect to spend at least one year articling (and more than that if you participate in a clerkship). So altogether, you’re looking at least 5 years of your life…are you ready to invest this much time into a potential career?
(2) It’s extremely expensive
Although attending a top law school is considerably cheaper in Canada than in the USA, tuition still ranges from around $10,000 at some universities to over $25,000 at the high end. Textbooks and supplies (such as a reliable laptop or tablet) are additional expenses. And don’t forget about rent/mortgage, groceries, alcohol, tropical trips (you’ll need them), and general living costs. Not to mention that students just can’t expect to make enough income during law school to cover all their costs, even if they work part-time during the year and full-time over the summers.
(3) It totally takes over your life
You will go to law classes. You will study at the lawbrary before and/or during and/or after school. You will hang out with your law friends, even on weekends, and will debate case law or work on school projects or watch law-related media. Your non-law social circle will see less of you, and when you do get together, you will not be speaking the same language (for instance, a “tort” will sound like a delicious cake to one ear and a delicious case to another). You will spend your summers putting in long days at a law job, or stressing out about how you don’t have one yet. You will likely gain weight from lack of exercise (unless you play for a law school recreational sports team or three), and get sick more often than usual from lack of sleep and poor nutrition (unless you’re lucky and managed to find a spouse to take care of you before you became too busy, stuck-up, and irritable to date). You will use more long words and Latin phrases than ever before, even if you were a language major. You will be a law student.
(4) It gives no guarantees
No matter how much you want to become a lawyer, or how hard you work in undergrad and law school, there are no (genuine) promises at the end of the day of prestige, success, job stability, or most importantly, personal satisfaction.
One year after completing law school you might be working at the firm of your choice, practicing in an area of law that you love. Or you might decline to stay with your firm post-articling, even though you could have been kept on as an associate for the foreseeable future, and elect to go in a different career direction. Or you might still be looking for articles, even as competition gets tougher with the influx of new graduates.
So just remember this: there’s absolutely no money-back guarantee.
(5) It can depress the hell out of you
Researchers have actually found that law school itself is a depressogenic environment, in that it can increase the occurrence of depression in students. According to Lawyers With Depression:
“One study of law students found they suffered from depression at the same rate as the general population before entering law school. Just two months into the school year, however, their negative symptom levels had increased dramatically. By the spring of their first year, 32% of the same law students were depressed. By the spring of their third year, the number had risen to 40%. Two years after graduation, 17% of the students – about twice the rate of depression experienced by the general population – were still depressed. Such elevated levels of depression have been corroborated by later studies.”
Even if law school doesn’t directly cause depression, I would say that the uber-competitive environment, constantly hectic schedule, and emphasize on the negatives (i.e. finding problems in fact patterns, finding flaws in arguments, finding weaknesses in your colleagues’ credentials) can be tough to deal with on a regular basis.
Know what you’re getting yourself into. Law school is just one possible option in your life path. So choose carefully, and keep in mind that annoying saying making its way around the web: YOU ONLY LIVE ONCE!