Tuesday, February 1, 2011

A dean's advice to those thinking about going to law school

The most recent issue of National Jurist Magazine includes an article by Wayne State Dean Robert Ackerman in which he explains to readers how to decide whether law school is worth attending. Dean Ackerman recommends that anyone thinking about law school consider the following points:

  • Do not apply to law school if money is your primary motivation. There are easier ways to make money. The law is a profession requiring hard work, intellectual ability and the desire to serve others. Apply to law school if you are intellectually curious about the law, if you have a passion for justice, and if you want to help people.
  • Apply to a range of law schools. One benign consequence of the rankings scramble is that lower-ranked law schools offer substantial scholarships to candidates who will improve the schools’ LSAT and GPA medians. So a good student who is not in thrall to the rankings is likely to find a law school that will allow her to obtain a good legal education without incurring crippling debt.
  • When in law school, maintain control over your expenditures. A student who tries to live the lifestyle of a lawyer while in law school may find herself living the lifestyle of a student after graduation.  Avoid extravagant travel; maintain a healthy but inexpensive diet; stay in shape by running instead of skiing. Enjoy the simple pleasures, and save the big-ticket items for later.
  • While a Big Law firm paying six-figure starting salaries may be your cup of tea, don’t obligate yourself to obtain this type of employment if you were motivated to study law for other reasons. Many lawyers find fulfillment working in smaller law firms, in government or for public interest organizations. Some find their degrees useful in business or education. The advantage of a professional degree is that it makes you the master of your own fate, and expands your career options. The idea is to make a living, not a killing, and to make a contribution along the way.

You can read the rest of Dean Ackerman's column here.




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