Sunday, January 22, 2006

Admissions: Why Law School?

Every law student or lawyer to whom I have posed the question, “What made you decide on law school?” has provided a different answer. There are literally thousands of reasons for embarking on this new career. I have heard of people who wrote the LSAT on a dare, who have done it because they love lawyer movies and TV shows, or who found inspiration in a court case that they read about in the newspaper. I have heard people say that they felt that they had no choice – that nothing else looked good. I often hear people say (some sheepishly and some aggressively) that the money attracted them. Others have indicated that they like the idea of power, prestige and wearing a pinstripe suit on Bay Street. I have heard many times that the reason was that they wanted to help others. There is no right reason or wrong reason. However, there must be a compelling personal reason.

For me, law was a real career change. Before applying to law school, I was Vice President of Operations for an electronic publishing house that specialized in travel and outdoor activity guidebooks for your Personal Digital Assistant or PDA (i.e. Palm, Pocket PC). The idea was that you could bring along all of your cumbersome guidebooks in your pocket-sized PDA while backpacking or cycling or traveling. It was a fantastic job, always putting me on the cutting edge of Internet and computer technology. However, I was ready for new challenges, and the Internet and technology fields had already dropped from their incredible peak in popularity and economic skyrocketing. My body was suffering from being in front of a computer for hours at a time – I had repetitive strain in my wrists, back and legs. So after raising tons of money and making huge progress, our company looked like it was about to fizzle out. It was the perfect time to jump on an opportunity that I had been considering for some time. I read an article that suggested that the best time to embark on further education was during a downtime in the economy. I did not need much more incentive. I signed up for the LSAT exam, and found myself suffering along with a couple of hundred other students in a large auditorium. My desire to succeed was evidenced by my terror – a feeling that lasted until I was finally accepted into law school.

Here are some reasons for going to law school given by various collegues around the country:

"For me, going to law school was more accident than plan. As I was finishing my first degree, I was not sure what I wanted to do, but I knew I wanted a change. Studying law seemed like it would be both an intellectual challenge and something with a direct practical application, so I decided to try it."
--Robin

"I thought that no matter what I chose to do in the future, a law degree would provide a great foundation. One can do so many things with a legal background — e.g. teach, open up a business, work as in-house counsel for a company, etc."
--Kim

"I was always interested in law. I really enjoyed writing and argumentation. I thought law would be a good degree to have regardless of what I ended up doing."
--Mike

"Law school has always been a lifelong dream. I was inspired by the thought of advocating for others in addition to participating in large business transactions."
--Rob

"I wanted to go to law school for a number of years before starting my post-secondary education…I chose to apply to law school mainly because I felt unsatisfied with my current education and couldn’t see myself working in the field that I was studying."
--Jaime

"I had always wanted to go to law school. It was probably in grade 9 that I decided I wanted to go to law school, because of my interest in social studies and politics. In fact, in grade nine I had to write a paper about my career goals and to describe some goals and steps to get there. So at that point, I researched and learned a lot about how to apply and what I needed to go to law school. After my first degree in Arts, I decided to work for a while in Edmonton (where I am from). After working for about eight months (and after applying to law schools in western Canada), I was offered an opportunity of a lifetime - to work on Parliament Hill in Ottawa (a dream job for a Poli Sci grad). I then moved to Ottawa and after a year and a bit of working there and an issue of job security, I decided to look back to my original goal of attending law school and so reapplied to some schools and considered some deferrals I had at other schools."
--Lorne

"I had completed a three-year contract job. I wanted to embark upon a career. Truthfully, I somewhat romanticized the profession of law and did not know nearly as much as I should have about what lawyers do before applying to law school."
--Shawn

What is or was your reason to go to law school? It's really worth thinking about.
From the book "So, You Want to be a Lawyer, Eh? "

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