Monday, October 10, 2022

How to be an Attorney: Step 2: How to Decide When to go to Law School, When to Apply and How to Pick a Law School

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Welcome to part 2 of my How to be an Attorney series. Click HERE to read Step 1: What to do in College. Today I am discussing how to decide when to go to law school and how to pick where you want to go.


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How to decide when to go to law school:

I talked to my closest attorney relative about law school, my sister-in-law, when I was going into my junior year of college. She went straight from undergrad into law school. She said that it worked for her because she didn’t think she would’ve wanted to go back to school after years off from it.

I followed her lead and went straight into law school after undergrad.

When I got to law school, I had lots of classmates that were fresh out of college like me, but others who had children, previous careers or took a couple of years off after undergrad. Some always knew they wanted to go to law school like me, others only figured it out after working for several years.

There are many reasons people don’t go straight from undergrad into law school (for example: they don’t know that they want to go to law school, they have other careers, they have families, they want to save up money, they want work experience, they want a break from homework, etc.). And there are many reasons people go from one school to the next (for example: you want to get it over with as soon as possible, you think it’s easier being in the school mindset, etc.).

Only you will know when the timing is good for you.


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When to apply to law school:

The law school application process is similar to applying to undergrad. 

You have to take a standardized exam, the LSAT, you have to write a personal statement and fill out applications. I will dive more into the physical application process and all of these things in my next post in this series, but it is important to think about when you want to go to law school which will determine when you have to take the LSAT and apply. 

Law school applications run on a similar time frame to undergraduate applications. You can apply the year of to get into school.

I applied the spring of my senior year of college, got accepted and started school in the summer of the same year.

I had other friends that applied in the fall of our senior year and then went to law school in the summer. 

You can also apply, and then defer your acceptance for a year (at most law schools).


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How to pick a law school:

Picking a law school is like picking an undergrad school. There are pros and cons to each, and there is a school for everyone. You can decide where you want to go based on location, based on how much money in scholarships you can get, based on what the schools are known for, based on their acceptance rates, based on where you want to practice, etc. You decide what the criteria is.

I had four years of undergrad in North Carolina, and I loved it. But I missed my family in New York. I knew I wanted to practice in New York one day. I also knew I would be paying for law school on my own. Ultimately, I decided to only apply to law schools in New York.

Going to school close to home was a good choice for me. I didn’t really care where I went to law school, I just wanted to get in and become an attorney. It turns out my school is pretty well recognized in New York State anyway, so it worked out. 

Going to law school on Long Island means I am able to live at home for free, have the support of my family and friends and have home cooked meals every night. Law school is expensive and emotionally and mentally taxing and I’m really glad I was able to be at home for these three years of torture. These are things to consider when choosing where you want to apply to school.

It also didn’t hurt to go to law school in New York when applying for internships and jobs. This is another thing to keep in mind. Networking in the legal field is huge. 

Another thing to consider is that most states (around 30) test via the Universal Bar Exam or (UBE) so you could go to school in one state and take the bar exam and practice in another state. 

So, in one sense, it doesn’t really matter where you go, because if your school teaches for the UBE and you want to take the test in another state, you should be fine. However, there are state specific laws, like property and wills/trusts/estates, and law schools do teach the law of the state that the students are in, so just keep that in mind.

At the end of the day, I truly believe you have to work hard in law school, graduate, pass the bar and you will be an attorney, one way or another.

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Stay tuned for Step 3: How to Apply to Law School!

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