Deciding to go to law school is difficult. There are so many factors everyone considers–is the cost worth it? will I be happy? should I move out of state or stay close to home? The overwhelming question many would-be applicants ask is “should I go to law school?” and more often than not, money is the factor. Can you manage the debt and will you earn a living that makes the debt worth it?
But…for many of us, even before we get to “should I?” we experience a ton of self-doubt that asks not should you, but can you? Can you even go to law school and become an attorney? Or is that dream just so far-fetched to even consider? I mean, for many of us, lofty career goals, like joining one of the most exclusive professions, can seem overly ambitious. It means you’ll have to navigate a completely unknown process, alone, because likely you won’t have any mentors or attorneys guiding you. And when it comes down to it, you may ask if you even have the skills and talents to be an attorney.
I remember asking myself all these things even when I knew deep down, I wanted to be an attorney more than anything. The self-doubt that said that my goals were not achievable and the frustration that came with figuring out every step…
So, can you go to law school? Are you the type that can really become a lawyer?
Bebes, you already know the answer is yes.
It is a resounding YES. And despite the doubt, if you need that extra nudge that tells you to keep going, keep working towards this goal that maybe no one else understands, this is that nudge. Yes, you can get to law school and become the attorney you want to be. The barriers you face to get to your goal are not insurmountable by any means. Of course, they make things difficult, but that shouldn’t be the reason you don’t try.
First, aiming for a career that requires time, discipline, resources, isn’t being overly ambitious or unrealistic. Don’t listen to folks that try to guide you to other paths because they are well-intentioned or don’t think you have the abilities. Simply, if you can get through a four year program to get a degree then you have the foundation to figure out how to get yourself to law school. Please don’t limit your life aspirations. And if you ever doubt that you can’t get yourself to the next level, take the time to read Sonia Sotomayor‘s biography. Read her history, background and realize that her drive and determination isn’t unique to her. We can follow her lead and push ourselves to get to where we need to be.
I know another barrier is just how much you don’t know. You may not know a lawyer in real life, you may not know how to apply, or what the LSAT is about, or how you will afford it. Not knowing is ok. We all started from a place of unknown. I remember being a senior in college, applying to law school, and completely unaware of how I could afford living in a new city because I had no clue how financial aid for grad school worked. But there is a wealth of knowledge available out there (beyond this site even 🙂 ). You just have to be proactive, ask for help, and leverage the resources available to you. For example, I went to financial aid office and asked a counselor to help me review the financial aid packages schools had offered me so that I understood it. It wasn’t a genius move but I did it because I didn’t have any other way to understand the offers. You can conquer the unknown by researching and asking. Not knowing the process cannot be what deters you.
Finally, there may be a gnawing concern that maybe you can’t really be a good lawyer. You question whether you have the mindset or ability–what if you’re not assertive or you hate public speaking or aren’t good at arguing (hello, Team I Cry Whenever I’m Angry)…what then? The good thing is that most stereotypes of lawyers, while maybe a little true, are not the real skills that create good lawyers. When we enter law school, we don’t know how to write legal documents correctly, we don’t know how present our case, or how to use the law to our benefit. That’s what school teaches us (and why we’re paying so much money for it). So, don’t worry if you aren’t good at arguing or hate public speaking–rather ask yourself, are you inquisitive? Do you have a strong sense of justice or react strongly about things you feel are right/wrong? Do you enjoy reading, writing, research (or at least have vast amounts of patience for it)? Those are the skills that create attorneys worth their license.
Ultimately, going to law school is a big deal and you should consider all factors before making a commitment but those factors should never be you doubting your ability or potential. You are capable of being an attorney and going to law school. You just have to believe in yourself and then put in the work to get you where you need to be.