By David Peel
As an injury lawyer who has had my own firm since 2000, I am asked to speak to groups and I get asked, “Do you think I should go to law school?”
There is a huge controversy about the current value of a law degree. You may have heard that legal jobs are more scarce now. It seems that we have quite a few lawyers, especially in annoying commercials on TV.
But, what does it take to get a law degree and a job?
First, you have to have the grades in your undergraduate studies in college to qualify. It is not pivotal what you major in. I went to law school with students who majored in psychology, journalism and business as well as in the “pre-law” types majors, including English, history and political science.
Then, you must score sufficiently high on the LSAT test. This is the law school aptitude test, but don’t worry, as there are no questions about law. It is limited to questions about logical thinking, reasoning, comprehension and a correct understanding of language such as similes and metaphors.
Then you must survive the cutthroat world of applying to the school. Many times there are 1800 applications for, say, 168 spots. While some of the folks are applying for more than one school, it is still highly competitive.
Once you are in the law school, the competition continues. People jockey for class ranking and honor recognitions like law review and moot court board. Clerkships and internships are now rarer.
The studies that are required in law school are indeed cerebral and challenging. No longer are you one of the bright kids in school. Everyone in law school are the bright kids.
Many times you must digest hundreds of pages with dozens of cases and be ready to stand up in front of a group of 150 people and participate in a question-answer with the professor on the cases.
So, three years of your life, when you could’ve been doing something else–like making money or learning to scuba dive in Bermuda, have been spent reading, studying and fretting endlessly.
In nationwide reports, there are now two aspiring lawyers with passing bar-exam scores for every one open job. This seems different from what has been advertised by admissions counselors that some young lawyers have tried out their legal skills by suing the law schools for fraud.
So far, however, the class actions have been dismissed by the courts. In the widely reported case of one school, the judge held that there was no fraud because no reasonable student could have relied on the school’s post-graduation employment statistics. That law school reported that 76% of its graduates were “employed,” true enough, but there is always a but. Just 43% had law degreed jobs!
Thus, the competition continues. I’ve actually had law school graduates offer to work for me for free simply to get experience. It is amazing what they’ve been through to be in that point of humility.
So, it’s not a get-rich-quick scheme. Tom Cruise characters from the John Grisham novels are not really walking around Memphis recruiting new graduates for $85,000 a year.
That said, if it’s a calling and not a job, you’ll never be truly fulfilled doing anything else.
Peel seeks justice for those injured in car accidents, work place incidents, medical malpractice, and nursing homes. He often addresses churches, clubs and groups without charge. Peel may be reached through PeelLawFirm.com wherein other articles may be accessed.
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