Going into law school means starting the journey with eyes open. It means coming to terms with debt, finding ways to finance it, and really understanding whether you want to commit three years of your life to this. Three years isn’t a long time, but it’s long enough to do damage to your self-esteem, your bank account, your relationships, and you end up questioning your intelligence, talents, etc etc. It’s a mind-F.
So you naturally are asking yourself, is law school for me?
Honestly? No. Law school isn’t really for anybody–unless you’re one of those rare birds that really enjoys law school (no judgement, but I kind of am lol). Law school is tough. I remember how I failed almost every goal I set for myself during school. I couldn’t make the teams; I didn’t understand the processes for getting a prestigious internship; most of the administration seemed to dismiss students of color and our concerns; I barely could piecemeal together my rent through loans and random work-study–everything was complicated and then it all came to a boiling point when the recession hit and I graduated during a time where no one had a job. Law school was not for me.
So going into it with eyes open, you’ll know that the next three years will be tough and you may dislike a lot of it.
But the question isn’t, is law school for me. Rather, ask yourself: is being a lawyer for you?
Trust me that you can overcome the isolation, racism, confusion that is a three-year J.D. program. And what will be your outcome? A J.D. and a license.
You’ll be able to work in a field that has direct impact in our communities. Through litigation, policy work, advocacy, and climbing the ranks to become a decision-maker, you can make changes that can positively impact you, your family, and countless others for years to come.
And this part is worth emphasizing: we only make up a little over 1% of the profession–we have a long way before representation is full and equal. But for those of us that have made the transition, that have our license, we can participate in arenas that are really only open to those with law degrees. Becoming judges or climbing to executive positions, grants us a power to make changes and address issues that disparately impact us. We also bring a viewpoint and perspective that is missing, in general, when decisions are being made. Consider how you may become an attorney for a school district and help them address their dress code. Maybe as an attorney of color, you’ll be better prepped to point out discriminatory practices better than others. That’s one small example of how a diverse voice can make a long-lasting difference. There are countless more, but we can’t make that change if we’re not occupying the seats that make decisions.
So, rather than asking if law school is for you, ask is change for me? Is progress for me? Do I have a hunger to make a real impact in people’s lives, to right wrongs I see, and to improve how my community is treated?
If the answer is yes, then yes, being a lawyer is for you and you’ll handle law school just fine.