Becoming an attorney is an exciting and noble goal. Depending on what area of law you decide to practice, the profession generally pays well and you get to put that cool "esquire" after your name as well. Beyond that, you'll know at the end of every day's work that you've helped someone, often profoundly.
But do you have what it takes? Here are a few things to consider before you start down the road toward achieving this career.
Are You Prepared to Assume the Financial Burden of Law School?
A typical lawyer's student loan debt averaged more than $140,000 in 2016, and becoming a lawyer is no longer a surefire path to a life of social and economic privilege. Many lawyers earn a comfortable living and a J.D. certainly has value in today’s marketplace, but you must weigh the cost of law school and three years of lost earnings against the potential returns of a law degree. Some areas of practice pay much more than others. If you take a job in a legal clinic helping low-income residents, you'll earn much less than if you take a position with a large law firm.
Are You Prepared to Dedicate Three or More Years to Continuing Your Education?
Law school is a three-year program if you attend full time, and you can only qualify for law school after you've received your bachelor’s degree. Law school is a full-time proposition with class work, externships and other school-related activities that pretty much make outside employment impossible during this time.
Do You Perform Well Under Pressure?
Specifically, do you do well on tests under pressure? In addition to the LSAT and the bar exam, law students must take numerous tests throughout law school. Sometimes your grade is determined by only one test given at the end of a year-long course, so performing well is a measure of one’s test-taking ability, at least in part.
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