Benefits of Law School
Before I submitted my application to attend law school, the big debate about law school was its necessity:
“I want to be a public servant.”
“I want to be a legislator.”
“I want to be an entrepreneur.”
“I’m a good writer.”
“Should I go to law school?”
Responses ranged from:“Absolutely! It’s such a prestigious line of work.”
To: “Law School is overrated. Just get a Master’s in public policy or government.”
OR: “You go in with these lofty ideas of changing the world, but then that debt becomes real and you become a slave to your corporate law firm job.”
I believe the answer to such a question is entirely dependent on your purpose, and although I talk to God daily about myself, my career, and his plans for me, I haven’t the slightest clue what he wants for you. However, my experiences have afforded me the perspective to be able to share its benefits. If you are considering attending law school, here are five practical benefits of obtaining a Juris Doctor (or a Master of Laws, “LLM”):
1) Lawyers are viewed as credible.
Yes, it is unfair. Perhaps it’s elitist. And you can absolutely gain knowledge from lived experiences as opposed to formal education. But the reality is that when you place that “Juris Doctor,” “J.D.” “LLM,” or even better, “Esquire,” behind your name, it gives you an edge in business, politics, and even in some social justice circles. As much as classism bothers me, I must admit that I’ve noticed ears perk up and interactions shift whenever the hearers find out I am an attorney.
2) Law school comes with a built-in network.
People from so many varied backgrounds go to law school – Bankers. Public servants. Those interest in working on Wall Street. Government workers. Those from the entertainment and sports fields. Social justice advocates. Those who want to stay in academia and teach. In fact, my Facebook friends list is filled with lawyers doing a myriad of things, and with the click of a button I can message a public defender, a corporate litigator, an environmental lawyer, a social justice organizer, and even a soon-to-be law professor. This network of lawyers, who, might I add, are also part of their own networks within their field/industry, were once my fellow law school peers.
3) Law school may help produce business savvy.
Notice that I said “may.” I qualified this sentence because it is dependent on the courses you choose to take in law school and your chosen career path. Specifically, in law school I took advantage of clinics (i.e. classes where you have clients and do actual legal work). As a student attorney, I developed time-management skills, client-intake skills, client-relationship building skills, and case/file organization knowledge, among other skills. I transferred so many skills from my days as a (student/pseudo) criminal defense attorney in Harvard’s Criminal Justice Institute to my current role as an entrepreneur and businesswoman.
4) A law degree has multifaceted uses that can open many doors.
It is well known that some people choose law school because they don’t know what else to do. (Especially us liberal arts majors! Lol.) However, I don’t think that is necessarily something to be ashamed about. Why? Because there are so many things you can do with a law degree, especially once you pass the bar and become a licensed attorney: Banking. Real estate. Litigation. Teaching. Lobbying. Consulting (which in and of itself encompasses a lot of fields – education. business. government.). For instance, in states like Florida and Massachusetts, licensed attorneys who want to start working in real estate are given certain “fast track” benefits when it comes to acquiring/maintaining a real estate license.
5) You will learn what the law is not.
Many who come to law school with goals of using the law as a form of social justice leave jaded, disenchanted, and disappointed by the law and legal systems. However, my take on the situation is how would you know just how unjust, corrupt, stagnant, flawed, etc. the <criminal justice, environmental justice, food policy, input your passion here> system was if you did not do an in-depth study of its inner-workings and learn all the legal maneuverings, jargon, and loopholes? I think of it as taking time to learn the enemy (which, in some cases, is the law/legal system itself). Even if you leave law school disgusted with the legal system and ultimately opt not to be a lawyer, knowing the legal underpinnings of the system – and being able to articulate its flaws as one who has studied the law – is still an effective tool in your quest for justice.
I say some of the same things from above (and a bit more), on the H&H YouTube channel. Check it out and subscribe when you get a chance!
I wish you all the best in your education!
-Angel Everett, Esq.
Founder/CEO, Harvard and Hardship LLC