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Exploring the Law Profession
A legal education can lead to a wide range of career possibilities within the law profession. It can also open doors to careers in business, government, education, and communication as well as many other fields. The law can be an exciting, intellectually challenging, and rewarding profession. Legal practice demands the exercise of reason and judgment. The ethics of the profession require attorneys to promote justice, fairness and morality. Thus, legal employment can bring particular satisfaction to those who wish to be problem solvers, and to those who seek to work, within the law, to address issues of social injustice.
So how will you know if law school and the legal profession are for you? The well-informed law school candidate will make the decision to pursue law school after meaningful exploration of the profession and honest self-reflection. Ask yourself, why do I want to go to law school? How is this decision similar to or different from other decisions I have made? Identify how your interest in law has developed over time. Consider your short and long term goals, and ask yourself whether obtaining a legal education is the best way to pursue your goals. It may be that another graduate or professional program is more appropriate, or it may be that a combined degree would be advantageous.
Most importantly, keep in mind that law school is an investment in your future, and the decision to pursue law school is not one to be made lightly. Law school requires a substantial investment of time, energy, and finances. It is not a place for a student who is unsure about the decision. A student who enters law school understanding the realities of the profession is more likely to enjoy law school and their career after law school than a student who entered with unrealistic expectations. That is not to say that all prospective law school students must know the specific career path they intend to follow. In fact, even those who believe they do are likely to change their mind while in law school. However, it is important to understand the differences in career choices that lawyers make, from public interest law and government law, to private practice in a firm. Salaries vary widely, hours can be very long, and legal work can require spending considerable time on tedious, painstaking research.
Take an early and active role in your career planning and you will be in a better position to decide whether law school is for you! There are many ways for you to gather information about legal education and the law profession, as well as many hands on ways for you to explore the profession. A multitude of books and websites provide helpful information. Conduct research on legal careers using the resources available in the Pre-Professional Advising Office library as well as the suggestions listed in the resources section of our website. Meet regularly with a pre-law advisor to discuss your interests and preparation. We can provide advice and guidance throughout your journey and help you connect with other university resources and opportunities that match your goals. Networking, job shadowing, and informational interviews can provide excellent opportunities to get to know people who share your interests and who do the work that you aspire to pursue. Internships with law firms or law-related organizations allow you to experience the work environment and develop a greater awareness of the field. Beyond the undergraduate experience, many law school candidates take additional time to pursue law-related employment before finalizing plans to pursue law school. Working for a period of time after college may help you to identify potential areas of practice well-suited to your personality, interests, strengths, and values.