Do You Have What It Takes To Be A Lawyer?

Are considering law school? This career path is not for everyone, as many who face the academic challenges graduate with a lot of debt. But if you are a hard worker with better than average college grades, then law school could be your path to a fulfilling, dynamic career.

Why Law?

Let’s start with the obvious question: why do you want to be an attorney? If it is for the money and fame, as is so often portrayed by Hollywood lawyers, you might want to think again. In 2013, the median salary was $114,300. The lowest-paid in the profession made less than $55,170. These numbers vary depending on where you live in. Even if the lowest salary seems like a lot to you, remember that you might have to start your professional career with a lot of debt. At the end of the three-year commitment, the average private school student graduates with $91,000 in debt. A typical public school student borrows $71,400. If money is your only incentive, you are clearly in it for the wrong reason. Only those who care passionately about their clients will become great lawyers. On top of the price tag, school is also extremely challenging. The hours are long and the competition is fierce. So if you do not possess a profound love for the field, those three years will feel like an eternity.

Working hard or hardly working?

How good are your college grades? How about your LSAT score? Your undergraduate GPA is interpreted as a summary of your college career, including your long-term determination and motivation. Admissions committees use the LSAT score to evaluate your potential academic performance. The test evaluates logical reasoning, analytical, and reading skills. These are just two examples of the qualifications you need to get into school. Once you have your JD, future employers will closely examine your performance on the LSAT, your school’s prestige, and your overall GPA. In addition to academic prowess, you will then have to pass the bar exam for the state in which you would like to practice, which is no walk in the park either.

Which path to choose?

Which leads us to the following question: what area of the law are you considering? There are many fields to choose from, with their own ranges of salaries, levels of competition, work-life balance, geographical obligations, and other constraints. Although it is not required to know which area you will eventually want to pursue, it can be helpful to gain an understanding of the work associated with each of them.

These areas include:

- Civil Rights: when individual liberties and government institutions collide
- Corporate and Securities: also known as Big Law, dealing with mergers and acquisitions and other large-scale corporate reorganizations
- Criminal: defending clients accused of a crime
- Education: disputes involving school districts and equal access to education
- Employment and Labor: relationship between the employee and the employer
- Environment and Natural Resources: protection of ecosystems, natural resources, and air/water/soil quality levels
- Family and Juvenile: relationship between individuals within the context of their family
- Health: healthcare, health insurance, and public policy
- Immigration: rights of individuals going through the process of naturalization or refugees seeking asylum
- International Property: trademarks, copyrights, and patents
- International: transactions between multinational corporations, business contracts, international regulations, customs issues, and trade barriers
- Military: legal matters pertaining to the armed forces
- Personal Injury: physical and/or psychological injuries arising from defective products, workplace accidents, or medical malpractice
- Real Estate: land ownership, construction, new developments, and landlord-tenant disputes
- Sports & Entertainment: amateur and professional sports, actors-studios contract negotiations, and royalty disputes
- Tax: local, state, and federal levels

It is now up to you to do your homework and to determine which field you are both passionate about and best suited for. If you are unafraid of hard work and steep competition, you just might be cut out for the daily challenges faced by lawyers.