Is law school for you?
If you are interested in becoming a lawyer, you need to know that your career path is neither easy nor inexpensive. But this should not discourage you. There are several things you can do while you are in college to help you decide whether a career in law is right for you and is worth the $135,000+ tuition that private New York City law schools charge for a three-year degree program. If you factor in living expenses, this means that it will cost approximately $200,000 to spend three years at a private law school in New York City, although living with your parents or other relatives can help you save significantly. You can also save significantly if you are willing to attend a public law school.
The first thing you should do if you are considering law school is to talk to people who are lawyers, or who work in the legal profession, and find out what they like and don’t like about their jobs. You should know that many lawyers don’t practice in law firms, and many have never appeared in a courtroom. There are lawyers in almost any field you can imagine, including government, corporations, religious organizations, financial institutions, newspapers, video production companies, and countless other businesses. Chances are your parents or relatives know lawyers, or they may be neighbors or community acquaintances. This will help you find out if the legal lifestyle is for you.
If you are interested in understanding what it’s really like in a courtroom, first consider visiting a court to observe some trials or arguments. There are several in downtown Brooklyn and Manhattan, and students at the Lander College for Men are within walking distance of the Queens County Criminal Court. Most proceedings are open to the public, and you can usually enter and leave as you please. Television programs that purport to portray legal proceedings do not give you an accurate picture of how law is practiced.
Secondly, read some books on law school and the legal profession. One popular book is Law School Confidential by Robert H. Miller, which provides guidance about the application process as well as how law students should approach required and elective courses throughout their three years. Richard Fischl’s book Getting to Maybe is one of the most popular books on how to do well on law school exams, and Steven Sedberry’s book Law School Labyrinth is also a good guide to success in law school. It is worth learning about the details of law school, from the inside, to see if this will be a productive way to spend three years of your life.
Finally, the Internet is an excellent source if you want to read about current legal issues. Scotusblog.com is a very good source for the cases the Supreme Court is currently deciding. Other major legal blogs include abovethelaw.com and the Volokh Conspiracy.