In anticipation of our upcoming book release, Outliers in Law, we contacted a local attorney who gave us the 411 on law school, what you need to know before you go and how to thrive once you are there. We decided to split his advice into two different posts. His first set of tips and #realtalk are things you need to consider before even entering law school. The next set of tips will focus on things you need to know before you graduate law school, and enter a career as an attorney. Here’s:
10 Things to Know Before Law School
1) Going to a great school really does matter – If you go to a great school, and are mediocre, that is better than going to a mediocre school, and doing well. So try to get into the best school. Get excellent grades in undergrad, pay the extra money to take a good LSAT class and get the highest LSAT score you can.
2) Your first year grades really do matter – This will govern your entire career as a law student, and as an attorney. Do whatever you can to get good grades, and understand the material. Your first year classes will also prove to be the foundation of your entire career (especially Civil Procedure).
3) Make connections – Make friends with as many upper classmen as possible, as they will already have access to, and will have created, great outlines. I would suggest buying last year’s Barbri study materials, as that will be a good foundation to study from when putting the puzzle pieces together in law school. Also, make friends in law school, because they WILL help get you a job if they get a good job.
4) You better LOVE reading and studying – Enough said, because you are going to be doing it every waking hour of your day… for the rest of your life.
5) Writing well is important. If you aren’t organized and good at writing, learn that BEFORE attending law school, not during. See lesson #2.
6) Avoid loans as much as you can – Paying them for the next 20 years is not fun, and actually puts you at a disadvantage to those who come out debt free, or who went straight into their career after undergrad. The less you have, the better, because then you won’t have to take the first job you get an offer from.
7) Is this what you really want to do? – Law school is good for the intellectual stimulation. However, there are a lot of good career paths that are intellectually stimulating, that are more financially lucrative than law, and that require less work than attorneys. You should at least have a guess at which specialization you want to pursue. If you flourish under the following circumstances, then you may be a good fit for this career:
- Arguing every day of your life, and having people argue with you every minute, of every day, trying to prove that you are wrong or stupid;
- Having the ability to foresee every possible scenario that could ever happen in a particular situation;
- Being able to argue and see BOTH sides of an argument (not just arguing based upon a position, ethical belief, political belief; and
- Listening to people’s problems, day in and day out, and never getting tired of hearing about them.
8) Your reputation is important. The first year of law school, you MUST try to build a good reputation, and try to help others when they need help. In part because of this, and in part because you need positive influencers in your corner: hang out with the students who are going to do well in law school, not the necessarily the “cool kids”.
9) You will feel stupid, welcome that. You are going to feel like the dumbest person in law school. If you don’t, you probably are going to flunk out, because you think you know more than you do…
10) Explore your opportunities. Explore all career opportunities and take time to find yourself BEFORE law school. Once you go to law school, because of all of the debt you accumulate, and because you lose key years in your career due to law school, make sure it really is the place you want to be. If you want to get your MBA, do that first. If you want to become a photographer, do that first. If you want to go to Europe, do that first. Once you graduate from law school, your freedom to do what you want is significantly limited if you want to have a successful career.
Do you think a career in law is for you? Then you must check out his follow-up post “13 Things to Know Before you Graduate from Law School.” It will provide the same candid dish on some things you might not know about a career in law, from a seasoned lawyer.
Also coming up is the release of our new book Outliers in Law. It too will provide real questions and answers from seasoned attorneys from various spectrums of the field, to give you perspective on multiple areas of law, and also some real life lessons you will want to learn without having to make the same mistakes yourself. Not to mention the many career hacks and tips that will get you ahead as an attorney. Stay tuned for a release date!