Articulate Your Interest in the Legal Profession

Students considering law school must not only investigate the legal field, but must also investigate the core reasons that attract them to law. An introspective analysis of why you want to pursue a career in law will prove informative.

Identify Why You Want to Attend Law School

Why do you want to attend law school? It appears to be a straightforward and simple question—and it is. However, why then are many law school hopefuls left speechless? The reason: Many interested in the legal profession believe that they know what the profession is all about and what the work is like. However, many possess an unrealistic view of the profession resulting from the profession’s pervasive image in the media.

Additionally, when some law school hopefuls do articulate reasons for attending law school, these reasons may contain erroneous assumptions about the profession or they may not contain sufficient reasoning to attend law school.

Some often-cited justifications for choosing law school as self-evidently problematic:

  • I didn’t know what else to do with my life.
  • I figured other people would think I was trained to do or be anything.
  • I thought accounting would be boring.
  • I thought a J.D. would be more versatile than an M.B.A.
  • I thought the education would assure me a good job upon graduation.
  • I wanted a profession with prestige, respect and status.
  • I wanted intellectual challenge in my work.
  • I wanted to change the world.
  • I wanted to earn a lot of money.
  • I wanted to help others.
  • I wanted to learn how to think.
  • I wanted to postpone decision-making about my future.
  • I wanted to right societal wrongs.
  • It seemed like something I could do.

Identify Personality Characteristics of Satisfied Lawyers

The following characteristics have been found to be shared by satisfied lawyers:

  • Display a love of learning
  • Pay attention to details
  • Respect the rules
  • Possess strong analytical abilities
  • Achievement oriented
  • Competitive
  • Steady and stable
  • Patient and persistent
  • More realistic than idealistic
  • More conventional than innovative
  • More dispassionate than emotional
  • Thick-skinned

As you look at the characteristics above, ask yourself the following questions: Do you share the same characteristics as satisfied attorneys? To what degree? Are they your strengths? Use this information to help you determine your potential satisfaction with the profession before you apply to law school.

Take the Personality Preference Quiz

Having specific personality traits will make a professional either more or less satisfied in the legal profession. Deborah Arron, Esq., an authority on and example of legal profession burnout, developed a Personality Preference Quiz to further test if an individual’s personality traits will conflict with traditional legal work. Possessing these characteristics will not necessarily hamper success in the legal profession; however, possessing these characteristics can hamper an individual’s satisfaction with the legal profession.

Personality Preference Quiz:

Do you like to get emotionally involved with your work?

Do you dislike or attempt to avoid conflict?

In resolving conflict, do you prefer deciding what’s fair based on the circumstances of each situation?

Do you like to create or start projects and let others finish or maintain them?

Do you dislike paying attention to details?

Do you prefer short-term projects?

Do you value efficiency?

Do you like to do things your own way, on your own schedule, and in order of your own priorities?

Do you get more satisfaction being part of a team than being a solo act?

Do you want to change the world?

Arron advises that “a yes answer to any of these questions ought to raise serious questions about the wisdom of using a law degree to practice law, and should push you toward a more thorough self-assessment and consideration of alternative career paths.”