WHAT’S THE BEST WAY TO BECOME A LAWYER?
Regular readers of this blog will know how much I can’t help but love the irreverent humour of Tucker Max, a blogger / author / comic / almost-a-lawyer sort of guy. Erm, to be quite honest, Tucker Max is the type who defies easy categorisation.
So, when he wrote this hilarious piece for the HuffPost recently entitled ‘Why you should not go to Law School’ I was at once intrigued and thankful (more about why in a moment). In a nutshell, Tucker Max (whose original professional training was actually as a lawyer) argues that the levels of debt new lawyers find themselves taking on is a crushing burden that forces them to work insanely long hours at a job that slowly but surely grinds the life out of them.
The glaring weakness in his (otherwise compelling) arguement is that his experience of lawyers is restricted to huge, monolithic firms. No-one will be exactly knocked-off-their-chair surprised to hear that such corporate behemoths as the ones Tucker worked at don’t always make for the happiest nurturing environment for newly qualified lawyers with debts to service.
If the corporate jungle is for you, seek out the 800lb gorillas: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_100_largest_law_firms. If not, consider specialist regional law firms like Crowe & Mulvey where the chances of finding a more supportive, collegiate atmosphere are likely to be considerably greater.
HOW TO BECOME A LAWYER IN THE US
The path to becoming a lawyer in the US is well known and well established.
First, make sure you study hard from an early age. Develop habits of organization and excellent communication skills, both written and verbal.
Take part in your high school debate teams to hone and refine your public speaking skills.
Maintain an very good GPA. You’ll need at least a 3.0 GPA for just about every major law school in America. Also make sure you are on great terms with one or two of the professors. You will be needing their letter of recommendation when you…
APPLY TO GRADUATE SCHOOL
The first stage of applying to Graduate School is taking the Law School Admission Test (normally known as the LSAT). After getting as close as possible to the perfect score of 180 on this exam, apply to your preferred American Bar Association accredited law school. Apply to a good mix of “aspirational” choices (the ones you probably don’t quite have the academic credentials to secure an offer from) and realistic options.
AT LAW SCHOOL
Once you reach a law school, save money like crazy and prepare to eat a lot of noodles! Fees are high and the course is demanding enough to mean you likely won’t have time to hold down a part time job that helps with the bills. What little time you do have free is probably best invested in low-paying internships at law firms or perhaps in the state judiciary.
- Don’t be fooled by schools which waive the application fee. They normally do this to ensure the ratio of offers the make vs. applications received look as competitive as possible. This is done purely to make them look more selective than they necessarily are, so as to drive up their cachet.
- Live at home if you can. Not only does this save on living expenses but it also avoids out-of-state costs of tuition.
- Do you research when applying: Check websites which show the average grades and LSAT scores of students who got accepted by particular law schools. Doing this will make sure you apply to schools where you have a strong chance of acceptance..