- To make positive changes in society
- To become an advocate for and to represent marginalized individuals
- To be intellectually challenged
- To gain prestige, respect, and financial reward
Exploring Law School
Law schools prepare students to effectively understand and work within our legal systems through various core skills. The American Bar Association cites the following skills as ones that will be taught in law school, so start thinking about how you can develop these skills during your time at Villanova:
- Problem Solving
- Critical Reading
- Writing and Editing
- Oral Communication and Listening
- Organization and Management
- Public Service and Promotion of Justice
- Relationship-building and Collaboration
- Background Knowledge
- Exposure to the Law
Everyone arrives at the decision to pursue law school for different reasons and at different times in their lives, so although there is not one “ideal” reason to attend law school, you should first reflect upon your reasons for wanting to attend law school and what truly interests you about the legal profession. It is also recommended you discuss your reasons with the Pre-Law advisor.
- Everyone in your family is a lawyer
- Others have said you would be a good lawyer
- You worry about finding a job after graduation
- You don’t know what else to do
- You want a versatile degree
- You grew up watching Law & Order, Suits, Legally Blonde, etc.
- You want to make a lot of money
- Everyone else is getting an advanced degree
Law School Basics
- Juris Doctor (JD) degree typically takes three years to complete, but some law schools offer part-time programs that may take longer to complete. Many law schools also offer dual degree programs like JD/MBA or JD/MPA, which may take additional time as well. In most cases, these dual-degrees take less time to complete then if you were to get those degrees separately.
- There are also post-JD degrees, like the LLM (Latin Legum Magister), available for international students and JD holders who are interested in law school faculty careers.
- You must take the LSAT (Law School Admissions Test) to get into law school. The LSAT is the only test accepted for admission purposes by all ABA-accredited law schools and Canadian common-law law schools. Some law schools will accept tests other than the LSAT for admission. However, students who want to maximize their chances for admission are advised to take the LSAT. An LSAT score will range between 120 and 180, and this score is one factor in determining the likelihood of what law schools you could gain admission to. It is 3.5 hours in length and has the following sections: logical reasoning, analytical reasoning, reading comprehension and a writing sample.
- Your first year in law school (referred to as 1L) is the most challenging year of law school. You will be taught to “think like a lawyer” rather than memorize specific laws.
- Some of your classes will be taught using the Socratic Method in which you may be called upon in class by the professor to answer a series of questions about the assigned briefs (which are summaries of judicial opinions). The goal of this technique is to simulate the dialogue between a judge (the professor) and an attorney (you), and to help get you used to “thinking like a lawyer.”
- Grades are distributed differently and less frequently in law school classes. You may not see any graded assignments until the end of the semester, you may be graded only on one final exam and some law schools only distribute grades once a year.
- You must take the Bar Exam after you graduate law school to practice law. Passing the Bar allows you to practice law in a specific state and you can get licensed to practice in more than one. As an example, here is Pennsylvania’s Board of Law Examiners website where you can learn more about taking the PA Bar Exam to practice law in PA. Most law schools will assist you in preparing for the Bar Exam by offering prep courses and study sessions.
Is Law School Right For You?
Only you can truly answer this question, but only after much reflection and consulting with resources and individuals who are knowledgeable about law school. Here are some steps you can take and things to think about to help you decide if law school if right for you:
- Think about what you already know and don’t know about law school
- Evaluate your motivations for wanting to attend law school.
- Think about what you might want to do with a law degree.
- Understand the level of commitment that law school entails and evaluate whether you need a break from school or if you are just trying to delay entering the working world.
- Remember, not all lawyers make the same amount of money so do your research to set realistic expectations
- Think about whether your personality traits, characteristics, and skill sets would be a good fit for the legal field, such as debating, delivering difficult news to people, remaining objective, staying calm under pressure, having strong attention to detail and writing skills, etc.
- Talk to current law students and people who practice law and ask them how they decided to attend law school. LinkedIn and Nova Network are good places to start, and law schools are usually happy to connect you with a current student if you reach out to them.
- Sit in on a law class by reaching out to the law school's admissions office and tour a law school.
- Try to shadow or land an internship in a legal setting or related field (government, non-profits, politics, etc.).