As a prospective law student, it is important that you begin to think about what law school is and what you hope to gain from law school. Understanding these principles can help you decide whether to attend law school, which law school to attend, what “success” in law school should mean to you and how you can use law school to your career and life advantage.
Very early in my law school career – perhaps sometime during the first semester of my first year – I began to formulate a theory that law school is entirely unnecessary to develop the legal skills needed to become an excellent attorney. Years later, after completing law school and practicing as an attorney in a variety of settings over the course of almost a decade, I am only more firmly convinced that the legal education you will acquire in law school will do little to prepare you to practice law.
Indeed, it was not so very long ago that many attorneys earned their legal education by acting as an apprentice for a practicing attorney in lieu of attending a law school. Many famous attorneys started their careers in this manner. In fact, some states – most notably California – still provide a mechanism whereby an attorney who has skipped law school may still practice law. If, after reading the balance of this section, you feel that law school does not offer you anything, you may wish to consider such an option.
So, am I advocating some kind of revolutionary movement to do away with law schools? Far from it! Instead, I think law school serves a number of useful purposes. Those purposes are the subject of this article.
What I do have a problem with is the fact that law schools do very little to provide the practical training young lawyers need to actually get through a day of work at their first job, and that many of them try to pretend to the contrary.
Although there is much to say about what law schools can do to improve, that is not what this article is about. Instead, I’m going to focus on the four significant benefits that I believe law school offers to students, society in general and the legal profession:
- First, the requirement that new lawyers graduate from law school serves a valuable purpose as a significant barrier to entry to the already saturated legal profession;
- Second, law school serves to initiate you into the legal community – especially in the region where the law school is located. You will be blessed with three years and multiple opportunities to develop important relationships with your classmates, professors, judges and attorneys;
- Third, a law degree from a recognized institution can be a valuable credential that will serve you throughout your life, whatever you do;
- Finally, law school gives you time to think.
[This article is will be continued in Law School Musings, Part 2 (Law School as a Barrier to Entry)]
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H. Jefferson, Jr. is an expert on on law school admission [http://www.coverttactics.com], having applied to and been admitted by 11 of the top law schools in the United States. To learn more about the the techniques and strategies you can use to get into the law school of your choice, visit [http://www.coverttactics.com]
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