I hate sounding like I’m ancient, but when I was applying for law school there were so many unknowns. Seriously, how did the world even work before internet? Books? #cray.
Anyway, when I started applying, there were a few online communities and older students that I knew that helped guide me. But the online communities, especially, were just hyper-masculine arenas. The commentators seemed so thrilled to tell people how they’d never make it to law school and how much of a waste of time it was to apply because they’d never get into a T-14 school, etc etc. And this was before the Recession, so hubris was at an all-time high.
When I would read these things, I’d just roll my eyes and keep moving forward because I can sense fragile egos from a mile away and I wasn’t going to let a bunch of ghouls detract me from my goals. But I do understand that there’s often a huge sense of confusion when you’re starting the application process. There are so many negatives that people hype up and “must-dos” that aren’t true. It’s hard to determine what’s worth listening to and what you should ignore.
For those that are in the pre-law journey, I want to bust a few myths to make your application a little bit easier:
- You have to major in XYZ. There’s an assumption that you must major in a specific topic before going to law school. That may be because so many of us major in the same thing, but it’s not actually a requirement. I always encourage people to study your passion because that will keep your interest and (hopefully) your GPA high.
- Only your numbers matter. Yes, GPA and LSATs are important, but law school admissions is a totality of circumstances test. They look at the entire applicant, if they didn’t then 1) I wouldn’t have gotten into law school and 2) they’d only admit 180s/4.0s and that’s just not the case. Soft factors are a part of your application.
- You’ll never get rich as an attorney. I’ve covered this before and it’s likely that for those students that grew up in a comfortable middle/upper class home, the debt to earning potential ratio is not worth it. But, for those of us that grew up poor, an advanced degree is still a tool to help us improve our socio-economic status. I may still have a ton of debt, but trust that I am worlds away from my childhood. And my future kids will get to experience a life I could only dream of because of this degree.
- You have to be a mean to be an attorney. Lawyers are often mean, sardonic, quick to anger, and unrelenting—as a whole, we’re not nice people. I have to temper my worst qualities all the time and have slowly learned to take a deep breath instead of going scorched earth as my default reaction because being angry all the time is not a great way to live. There’s a myth that an angry, mean lawyer is the most successful and there are some attorneys that seem to abide by the idea that the loudest in the room is right. But there is a real power to owning your quietness and even-temper. There’s room for all types of personalities and adversarial approaches and Lordt knows we need more good people in this profession. Join us!