Jeremy's Weblog

I recently graduated from Harvard Law School. This is my weblog. It tries to be funny. E-mail me if you like it. For an index of what's lurking in the archives, sorted by category, click here.

Thursday, November 13, 2003

I guess this is law school application season. I should be sleeping, but instead I'm going to see what I can come up with if I promise five pieces of advice for applicants to consider when deciding whether law school is the right choice.

1. Know why you're going. This is the biggest one. There's lots of reasons -- burning desire to practice law, want a stable career that will enable a good living, are interested in the education, think it'll be good training for business or political careers, mom and dad said they'll pay and so why not. I don't want to judge the reasons, and I think even that last one is legitimate if it's really your situation. My advice is just to know what that reason is, to be able to articulate it, and to use that decision as the foundation of your school choice. Make sure the reason and the school you pick match up well. If you're there to get a job, go to the best school you can find, and if it's not a top school, make sure it's in the city you want to eventually work in, or you won't find a job that easily. If you're there to play softball, don't go to a school in Boston. If you're there to do environmental law, don't go to a school without any environmental law professors. You know what I mean.

2. Know how you're going to pay for it. Loans are great. But have your eyes open going in. If you're going to need to take out a gazillion dollars in loans, you may find yourself stuck in a position of needing to take a law firm to pay them back. If that's what you want, then great. But go in realizing that if you want to do public interest law, you may need to find a school with a loan forgiveness program, or some other way to keep the pressure down to have to go take a job you don't want to take, and then regret going to law school to begin with.

3. Know that you're ready. Everyone's different, but, personally, I'm glad I took some time in between college and law school. Having a job for a little bit provides some perspective, I think, and makes you not take school so seriously, and makes you feel lucky to be in school and have a student schedule. Unless you have a compelling reason not to, it may not be a bad idea to defer and go do something for a year, get a sense of the real world, so your first job is not the law firm job, and you'll have something to compare it to. But everyone's different, and maybe some people are mature enough to not need the time between, or already have the perspective I thought my time gave me. I don't know.

4. Know where you want to be. For a top school, maybe it's worth uprooting yourself to someplace new. You'll make friends, there's lots of people at every school who aren't from there and don't have an already-established life. But if going somewhere in particular has the potential to make you miserable -- far away from things you want to be near -- think about whether it's worth it. It's hard to like school when you're not liking life. Obviously it's a trade off and can balance in either direction. But it's just something to think about, I think.

5. Know how to read. There's a bunch of reading in law school. If you don't like to read stuff -- or at least if you have trouble reading dense stuff -- you may not like it at law school. The work overall isn't really that bad, I don't think -- there's less writing than in college, fewer tests, possibly less work overall although some people disagree. But there is a lot of reading. If you are illiterate, law school may not be the place for you. Although you may find my weblog more entertaining than it deserves. :)