Pros and Cons of Pursuing a Law Degree if You Don’t Plan to Practice
Being a lawyer isn’t for everyone …even if you’ve earned a law degree.
Fact is, not everyone wants to handle cases or head to court, let alone draft documents or engage in discovery. But studying law provides a number of benefits, says Shawn O’Connor, CEO of Stratus Prep,
an admissions and test prep consulting firm. It teaches students how to analyze, persuade, research, interpret, write, and develop strategy. With a law degree, they can become a regulator, journalist, politician, marketer, teacher, consultant, or business owner … just to name a few options.
And that brings up two questions for any aspiring lawyer who doesn’t want to practice:
1) Do you need a law degree to land your dream job?
2) Is your dream job worth giving up three years and $150,000?
These days, lost liberal arts majors shouldn’t matriculate in law school while they figure out what they want to do. As O’Connor notes, that just takes them back to where they were before they enrolled, “with student debt and no job to pay it off.” But if students are determined to enter law school without intending to practice, there are benefits to earning a law degree in O’Connor’s experience. First, it offers greater versatility, with the rigorous coursework, “[setting] you apart from other candidates when it comes to hiring decisions.” Second, students gain high-level critical thinking skills that are a value-add in any career.
But if students choose that route, there are downsides. For starters, a law degree may rouse suspicion among recruiters that graduates lack a clear career path. What’s more, O’Connor warns that a law degree comes with a “steep price tag,” even with scholarships and financial aid.
O’Connor’advice? Students who aren’t interested in practicing should “spend six months or a year pursuing [their] dream career without the law degree and then examine the responses [they] get.” If anything, says O’Connor, “these students can always go to law school after working for a few years.”
Source: U.S. News and World Report