Monday, May 7, 2018
Advice from practicing lawyers to students thinking about law school and what skills they need to develop
Legal consulting and staffing firm Robert Half commissioned a survey of 350 practicing lawyers in the U.S. and Canada to ask them what advice they would give someone contemplating law school. The survey also asked attorneys what skills they think students need to develop because they are essential to the practice of law. Not surprisingly, survey respondents emphasized the need to develop good critical thinking and writing skills. Further, as one attorney put it, "don't get involved if you don't like reading." Amen, brother.
Here's what else the survey participants said:
1. "Take time and interview people in the profession before making a decision."
2. "Shadow an attorney first."
3. "Take a year off between college and law school to work at a law firm before embarking on school."
4. "Have a clear idea of what you intend to do with the degree."
5. "Map out the first 10 years of the career. Work back 10 years out from law school and figure out what value law school provides in terms of access to roles, skills and return on investment."
6. "Go to law school in a geographic area you would like to practice in."
7. "Be open to different applications of the degree."
8. "Don't do it for the money."
9. "Consider how long it will take to pay back your student loans."
Lawyers also emphasized the importance of developing key skills and experience during law school to prepare for a legal career:
10. "Learn to think critically."
11. "Try to concentrate on courses that relate to business, because part of the challenge in the practice of law is how to run a business."
12. "Don't get involved if you don't enjoy reading."
13. "Get a more scientific, technical background as opposed to a general arts background."
14. "Keep your options wide open, don't focus on one area of law."
15. "Be prepared for a marathon and take advantage of internships."
16. "Focus on a writing course so you stand out more when you become a lawyer."
17. "Get involved in the community, help people and network."
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Lawyers offered the following guidance to help students maximize their educational experience and prepare for a future legal career:
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Continue reading the remainder of the Robert Half survey responses here.