Why Do People Go to Law School?

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

a book entitled "law school"

Why Do People Go to Law School?

Are you pondering the question, “Why do people go to law school?” If so, you’re not alone. Many are captivated by the allure of a legal career, enticed by its intellectual challenges and the potential for social impact.

But the journey to law school is not just about the destination; it’s also about the transformative educational experience that equips you with invaluable skills applicable in various professional settings.

From the moment you choose your college major to the extracurricular activities you engage in, every decision you make can set the stage for a fulfilling legal career. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the multi-faceted reasons people are drawn to law school, the skill sets you’ll acquire, and how your choices in college can significantly impact your future in law.

As a college admissions consultant, we aim to provide you with the insights you need to make this significant life decision. Let’s dive in.

The Allure of a Legal Career

One significant reason people are drawn to law school is the captivating nature of a legal career. Hollywood’s high-stakes courtroom dramas and the reality of shaping policy, defending rights, or providing legal counsel offer a range of deeply engaging opportunities.

Diverse Specializations in Law

Law is not a monolithic field; it’s a vast landscape with various specializations. You could choose criminal law and serve as either a prosecutor or defense attorney. If technology and innovation interest you, intellectual property law might be your calling.

For those passionate about the environment, environmental law is a booming sector where you can make a real difference. These specializations offer unique challenges and rewards, helping you find a niche that aligns with your interests and career goals.

Multinational group of cheerful students taking an active part in a lesson while sitting in a lecture hall.

Work Environment Choices

Your specialization choice also influences your work environment. Corporate lawyers often find themselves in the fast-paced worlds of business and finance. Family lawyers, on the other hand, deal with emotionally charged issues like divorce and custody battles.

This flexibility adds another layer to the allure of a legal career, allowing for a more customized professional journey.

Intellectual Challenge

A career in law is intellectually stimulating. It’s not just about knowing statutes and case laws; it’s about skillfully applying this knowledge to real-world scenarios. Law appeals to those who enjoy analytical reasoning, problem-solving, and meticulous research.

Every legal case presents new challenges that demand attention to detail and forward-thinking. Whether crafting a legal strategy, negotiating a contract, or interpreting legislation, you’re constantly pushed to think critically and innovate.

You’ll delve into the nuances of human behavior, societal norms, and even philosophy as you build compelling arguments and solve complex problems.

Social Impact and Advocacy

Law serves as a powerful tool for social change, and for people who are mission-driven, law school offers various avenues for making a difference. Public interest lawyers focus on areas that directly impact social justice issues, such as housing, civil rights, and access to education.

Environmental lawyers work to protect natural resources and advocate for climate-friendly policies. Human rights lawyers combat global injustices, often in challenging settings.

Beyond these paths, you have numerous opportunities to serve the community. Many firms encourage pro bono work, allowing you to offer free legal services to those who can’t afford them.

And it’s not just about litigation; you can make a difference through lobbying, community outreach, and public education.

Financial Stability and Earning Potential

While not everyone’s primary motivator, there’s no denying the financial rewards of a legal career. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, lawyers had a median annual wage of $126,930 in 2020.

However, it’s essential to consider the financial burdens of pursuing a law degree. Law school can be expensive, and many students graduate with significant debt. You must weigh the cost of education against future earnings.

On the upside, the skills you acquire in law school and the career opportunities a law degree provides can offer long-term financial stability. A Juris Doctor (JD) degree can also open doors to careers in business, academia, and public policy, offering a certain level of job security in a changing economic landscape.

In conclusion, each of these factors contributes to the unique appeal of law, attracting individuals from diverse backgrounds and interests. For many, it’s often a combination of these factors that propels them into this challenging yet rewarding field.

By understanding these aspects, you can make an informed decision about whether law school is the right choice for you. As a college admissions consultant, we aim to provide you with the insights you need to navigate this significant life decision.

The Skill Sets You’ll Acquire in Law School

While the allure of a legal career often draws people to law school, the question “Why do people go to law school?” can also be answered by another compelling reason: the transformative educational experience that equips you with a wide range of invaluable skills.

Often called “transferable skills,” these abilities are applicable in various professional settings, not just law. Let’s explore this often-overlooked benefit of a legal education.

Critical Thinking and Analytical Skills

Law school is more than a place for memorizing statutes or legal precedents; it’s a training ground for your mind. Your education will challenge you to think critically and scrutinize issues from multiple angles.

Whether you’re breaking down a complex case or interpreting intricate contracts, law school trains you to absorb and analyze complex information thoroughly. Any profession requiring problem-solving or decision-making under uncertainty highly values this skill.

Female teacher working with college students in library

Research Proficiency

Another compelling reason to consider law school is the emphasis on research skills. Your legal education will focus on your ability to sift through large volumes of information to extract what’s relevant. This could include case law, statutes, academic journals, or other primary and secondary sources.

Strong research skills are essential in this era of data and information overload. Whether you choose a career in law, academia, journalism, or policy analysis, your research proficiency will be a significant asset.

Exceptional Writing and Communication Skills

Clear and persuasive articulation is perhaps one of the most vital skills people will develop in law school. From drafting legal memos to constructing compelling arguments, writing is at the core of their education.

However, their communication skills will extend beyond just writing. Oral communication is equally important, whether they’re arguing in court or negotiating a deal. These skills are crucial in boardrooms, public forums, and virtually any professional setting where clear and effective communication is key.

Negotiation and Conflict Resolution

Many attend law school to become skilled at negotiation and conflict resolution. These skills aren’t just for lawyers working on contracts or settlements; they’re universally applicable in both personal and professional lives.

The principles of effective negotiation and mediation you’ll learn can help you navigate complex relationships, broker deals, and resolve disputes in various settings. You might find yourself using these skills in corporate board meetings, diplomatic discussions, or even within your family dynamics.

Public Speaking and Advocacy

Learning the art of persuasion is central to legal practice, and law school curricula often include courses in public speaking and advocacy. Knowing how to make persuasive arguments in front of an audience prepares you for numerous professional situations.

Whether you’re pitching a business idea to stakeholders or advocating for social issues that matter to you, public speaking is a sought-after skill in many sectors. Law school provides an excellent platform to hone this ability.

Interdisciplinary Applications

The combination of these skills—critical thinking, research, writing, negotiation, and public speaking—makes you a remarkably versatile professional. This versatility is another key reason people choose law school; it opens doors to a wide range of career options beyond traditional legal roles.

You’ll find law school alumni working in various capacities in business, politics, journalism, nonprofit management, and even in the entertainment and technology sectors. Your law background will serve as a strong foundation, enabling you to excel in roles that require analytical rigor and a nuanced understanding of complex issues.

While the prospect of becoming a lawyer is a strong attraction, the enriching educational experience and the transferable skills you’ll acquire often serve as equally compelling reasons for attending law school.

These skills not only prepare you for a rewarding career in law but also offer you the flexibility to pivot into numerous other fields. So, if you’re contemplating law school, remember that the skill sets you’ll acquire will serve you well, regardless of the career path you eventually choose.

Dos and Don’ts in Applying to Law School

The decision to attend law school is a significant one, influenced by various factors such as a passion for justice, the allure of a prestigious career, or the intellectual challenges of the legal field.

Regardless of your motivation, the application process is filled with decisions that can greatly affect your future. Understanding the dos and don’ts of applying to law school is crucial for a successful journey.

A teacher teaches his students

Dos in Applying to Law School

Research Thoroughly

Before starting the application process, research the types of law programs available. Different schools offer various specializations, faculty expertise, and extracurricular opportunities. Knowing what each school provides helps you align your career goals with the right program. This research also clarifies your interests in law, giving you a sense of direction.

Craft a Stellar Personal Statement

Your personal statement is more than just an essay; it’s your chance to stand out. Whether a life-changing event steered you toward the law or you have a long-standing commitment to social justice, your personal statement should reflect your unique motivations.

Obtain Strong Letters of Recommendation

Secure letters of recommendation from faculty members or professionals in the legal field who can vouch for your abilities. A strong recommendation can tip the scales in your favor, especially when competing against equally qualified candidates.

Prep for the LSAT

Your LSAT score is a critical component of your application. A high score not only boosts your chances of admission but also opens doors to scholarships and financial aid. Utilize prep courses, practice exams, and study groups to maximize your performance.

Apply Early

Law schools often operate on a rolling admissions basis. The earlier you apply, the better your chances of acceptance. Early application also gives you more time to prepare for interviews, secure financial aid, and make informed decisions.

Be Genuine

Authenticity is key in the application process. Whether in your essays or interviews, being yourself will always resonate more than a rehearsed narrative. Authenticity shows that your desire to attend law school is genuine, not a manufactured goal.

Don’ts in Applying to Law School

Don’t Neglect the Finances

Law school is a significant financial commitment. Understanding tuition costs, available scholarships, and financial aid options is crucial. Failing to do so can lead to financial strain and may even force you to drop out.

Don’t Overlook the Importance of Fit

While a school’s prestige can be appealing, it’s not everything. The best school for you is one where you’ll be both happy and successful. A prestigious name won’t matter if you’re miserable for three years.

Don’t Underestimate Soft Skills

Law isn’t just about statutes; it’s also about how you interact with people. Interpersonal skills, leadership qualities, and a strong work ethic are critical for success in law school and beyond.

Don’t Ignore Red Flags

If something feels off during your campus visits or interactions with alumni and faculty, trust your instincts. Ignoring red flags can lead to a less-than-ideal law school experience, affecting your career.

Don’t Apply in a Rush

Rushing through the application process can lead to mistakes that might cost you an admission offer. Take your time to ensure that every component, from your resume to your personal statement, is polished and error-free.

The reasons for attending law school are varied and often involve a mix of personal ambition, societal impact, and intellectual curiosity. The journey to law school is a significant commitment that requires careful planning, self-awareness, and strategic decision-making.

By following these dos and don’ts, you can navigate the complexities of the application process more effectively, bringing you one step closer to fulfilling your legal aspirations.

How to Maximize Your Law School Experience

Whether you’re motivated by a passion for justice, the prospect of a lucrative career, or the desire to make meaningful change, you’re committing substantial time, money, and effort. Given the investment, it’s crucial to make the most of your law school experience. Here’s a comprehensive guide on how to do just that.

Dreamy attractive female student thinking about coursework strategy

Engage Fully in Your Classes

Active class participation is about more than just answering questions correctly. It’s an opportunity to deepen your understanding of complex legal theories and principles. When you engage fully, you’re not just impressing your professors; you’re also building a strong foundation for your future legal career.

Law is a dynamic field, and a deep understanding of its intricacies will enable you to adapt to new legal landscapes effectively.

Build Meaningful Connections Through Networking

In the legal world, networking is not just a good-to-have; it’s a must-have. The community is closely knit, and a recommendation from a respected individual can open doors for you. But remember, networking is more than just collecting business cards.

It’s about forming genuine relationships with professors for academic guidance, alumni for career insights, and professionals for a real-world perspective on practicing law. These connections can lead to internships, clerkships, and job opportunities that align with your career goals.

Get Involved in Student Organizations

Your law school experience should extend beyond textbooks and lectures. Student organizations like law journals, moot courts, and legal aid clinics offer you a platform to apply theoretical knowledge to real-world scenarios. These experiences not only enhance your resume but also help you develop essential soft skills like teamwork, leadership, and public speaking.

Gain Practical Experience Through Internships

Internships and externships are not just resume fillers; they’re your gateway to the practical world of law. These experiences provide a glimpse into the daily life of a legal professional, helping you understand both the challenges and rewards of the field. Moreover, internships often lead to job offers, making them a critical step in your professional journey.

Prioritize Your Well-Being

Law school can be a high-pressure environment, filled with long study hours and intense competition. In such a setting, it’s easy to neglect self-care, but you shouldn’t. Physical health, mental well-being, and emotional stability are crucial for sustainable success. Regular exercise, balanced nutrition, and mindfulness techniques are not optional; they’re essential for peak performance.

Consider Specialized Dual-Degree Programs

In today’s competitive job market, having a specialized skill set can give you an edge. Dual-degree programs like JD/MBA or JD/Ph.D. offer an interdisciplinary approach that can make you more marketable.

For example, a JD/MBA can lead to opportunities in corporate law or managerial roles, while a JD/Ph.D. can pave the way for academic or research careers. The motivations for attending law school may vary, but the ultimate goal is often the same: to build a successful, rewarding career in a challenging field.

By actively engaging in your education, networking effectively, gaining practical experience, prioritizing self-care, and exploring specialized education options, you’re not just answering the question of why you chose this path; you’re also setting yourself up for long-term success. With these strategies in hand, you can navigate the complexities of law school and lay a strong foundation for your future.

Words DUAL DEGREE composed of wooden dices. Black graduate hat and books in the background.

How Your College Choices Impact Your Future in Law

If you’re considering a legal career, it’s crucial to understand how your college experience can set the stage for success in law school and beyond. From your choice of major to extracurricular activities, every decision you make in college can influence your future in the legal field and answer that pivotal question through your own unique path.

Here’s how to make the most of it.

The Right Major Matters

Your college major can serve as a strong foundation for your legal studies. While law schools don’t mandate a specific major, some disciplines offer a more advantageous background. For instance:

  • Political Science: This major allows you to delve into government structures, political behavior, and the practical aspects of politics. You’ll gain a head start in understanding the legal frameworks within which law operates.
  • Philosophy: If you’re drawn to the theoretical aspects of law, a philosophy major can be invaluable. It will sharpen your critical thinking and logical reasoning skills, both essential for law school and your future legal practice.
  • English: The law relies heavily on language and effective communication. An English major will refine your reading comprehension and writing skills, which are crucial for both the LSAT and law school coursework.

Keep an Eye on Your GPA

Your undergraduate GPA is a key factor that law schools consider during the admissions process. A high GPA not only improves your chances of getting into top programs but also demonstrates your ability to handle rigorous intellectual challenges. It’s a testament to your strong work ethic, crucial in a demanding field like law.


Extracurricular activities can also make your law school application stand out. Whether it’s participating in debate clubs, student government, or community service, these experiences develop valuable soft skills.

Leadership, public speaking, and teamwork are just a few of the skills you’ll gain, and they’ll serve you well in any legal career. Moreover, these activities can showcase your commitment to social justice or community involvement, further strengthening your law school application.

Pre-law Courses and Societies

While not a requirement for law school, some colleges offer pre-law courses and societies that can give you a sneak peek into the legal world.

These opportunities can help you understand various law disciplines and career options, allowing you to make a more informed decision about pursuing a legal career. They can also offer networking opportunities with professionals in the field.

Balance Passion and Practicality

College is not just a stepping stone to law school; it’s also a time for self-discovery. As you navigate your academic and extracurricular choices, take time to understand your motivations for wanting a legal career.

Whether driven by a passion for social justice, the intellectual challenges of the law, or the potential for financial stability, knowing your ‘why’ can guide your college decisions more effectively.

degree programs in the field of law

Utilize Career Services

Don’t overlook your school’s career services. They offer a range of resources tailored to aspiring legal professionals, from resume reviews and mock interviews to job placement assistance. These services can give you a competitive edge in both law school admissions and the job market.

Your college years offer more than just academic preparation for law school; they provide the building blocks for a fulfilling legal career. By making informed choices—from selecting the right major to engaging in meaningful extracurricular activities—you’re not just preparing for law school.

You’re laying the groundwork for long-term success in a challenging yet rewarding profession. Understanding how your college choices can influence your legal career is a crucial step in aligning your aspirations with the realities of the legal world.

Conclusion: The Multi-faceted Attraction of Law School

Deciding to go to law school is seldom a decision made lightly. Whether it’s the allure of a dynamic legal career, the intellectual rigor of the profession, the potential for making a significant social impact, or the financial rewards that can come with it, law school attracts a myriad of people for compelling reasons.

Yet, beyond these factors, the skills you acquire in law school can be equally invaluable, opening doors to diverse career opportunities and preparing you for various professional challenges.

Equally important is laying a strong foundation during your college years. From choosing the right major and participating in extracurricular activities to obtaining a high GPA and strong LSAT score, the actions you take in college play a critical role in shaping your law school experience and, ultimately, your legal career.

With the right preparation, strategy, and mindset, law school can be a transformative journey that equips you with the skills and knowledge to make a meaningful impact, no matter which career path you choose.

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