Career Changer’s Guide To Becoming A Lawyer
Ever hear the words “attorney” and “career change” in the same sentence? Chances are, you assumed the law claimed another casualty.
Let’s face it: Lawyers have single-handedly built the career coaching profession. And are you really surprised? Who wants to look after entitled and irrational clients hell-bent on scorched earth? Who – in their right mind – plows through 80-hour weeks, knowing their sacrifices don’t actually make the world any better? Billables…gamesmanship…win-at-all-cost – who does all that really help in the end?
Despite the burn out and disillusionment, many lawyers just can’t turn back. They too have debts to pay. They’ve already invested so much in the law. And how would leaving look to family, friends, and (especially) colleagues? Deep inside, they know that saying goodbye makes them appear weak, another idealist failure ill-equipped to play in the big leagues. Even if they make the leap, what else could they do anyway?
Ironically, another group views the law as their salvation. Whether they started in sales, teaching, or social work, they too have reached a tipping point. Like lawyers, they wonder, “There has to be something more.” And that ‘something more’ is the law. Despite their life experience cautioning them otherwise, some imagine themselves making a difference, righting wrongs and alleviating suffering…if only for a moment. Others picture the prestige, if not the dollars, that comes with having “Esquire” after their names. And all of them are as hungry as those younger 1Ls out to make names for themselves.
So which vision is more accurate? That depends on who you believe. According to a Michigan Law survey stretching nearly a half century, 62 percent of grads felt “quite positive” about their careers. Then again, a 2013 CareerBliss survey found that “associate attorney” was the unhappiest profession. Bottom line: The law, like every calling, has its tradeoffs, disappointments, and ambiguities. Despite the rising cost of a law education, a surplus of available attorneys, stagnating starting wages, and a crushing workload courtesy of cutbacks, it is a mix of grit, pluck, and faith that determines whether lawyers overcome the usual doubts.
According to the Law School Admission Council (LSAC), nearly 55 percent of LSAT test-takers were 25 years or older. In other words, plenty of professionals are testing the career waters before entering law school. Once they commit, the question becomes, how to prepare for law school?
In an infographic below that was prepared by Kaplan Test Prep’s Christine Schrader, you’ll find a step-by-step guide for navigating your way through a law program. At the same time, be sure to check out Kaplan’s LSAT blog, for excellent LSAT and law career advice.
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