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Working Before Law School: The Pros and Cons

As the school year approaches, and recent graduates contemplate their future career paths, many have the question of, “When is the best time to apply for law school?”

Some students go immediately after receiving their bachelor’s degree. Others attend law school years after graduating. The most challenging part is deciding to gain work experience for a year or more, or going right into the academic lifestyle that is law school. If you are stuck in the middle of making this decision, here are some pros and cons to contemplate, and hopefully help you make a choice:

The Pros

You can gain a better perspective of law. This can be an excellent time to begin to understand the different areas of law better outside the classroom. This is especially true if you find a job doing work for a law firm. Once you get to law school, you will be able to read and interpret cases with more ease.

In addition, taking time away from academia can help you build your passion and interest in law. Jumping from undergrad to law school can make some people dislike their choice to go to law school. There isn’t much of a break between studying and the theoretical part of law, so people start to develop a dislike for it because it can be boring. By taking time away from the book part of law and working in a law environment can motivate you more to hit the books and go to law school.

Another plus is you may have an advantage when it comes to hiring for full time positions. Since you gained work experience prior to law school, your resume may look more appealing when it comes to postgraduate positions at a law firm.

The Cons

A con is that your legal career will be delayed. Some people do not want to be older when they start law school. They might have started a family by then or be distracted with other life occurrences that may come up. Also, your first few years as a lawyer will be tough, and you may bounce back easier at a younger age.

Furthermore, taking time away from school can make you lose some of your study and academic habits. However, you can always learn these skills again and adopt newer, better study skills.

Another con is that most positions without a JD may not be as intellectually stimulating as you may want. Most post-undergraduate positions in a law firm or law setting deals with a lot of paper work rather than in depth legal issues. Because of this, you may become bored and end up reconsidering going to law school because of a negative experience.

According to statistics, most law schools accept 50% of students right from undergraduate school, and the other 50% from a young, working professional pool, so don’t expect your application to be overlooked simply because you didn’t apply immediately after getting an undergrad degree. Evaluating these pros and cons along with other factors in your life can help you become more educated and able to make an informed decision about your career path because, ultimately, you are the only one who can make the best decision for yourself.

When do you plan on applying to law school? Can you think of any other pros and cons of working before going to law school?  

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