I want to do law but..

posted 2 years ago in Career
Post # 2
Member
1311 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: March 2015

If you can afford it, I’d do a prep course like Testmasters. They provide TONS of LSATs from prior months/years that you can take over and over. Regardless of what book you buy, that’s what I recommend for studying, you get to practice the forms of logic and how you should think and approach the questions so that you know how to choose the right answers on the actual test. There are many resources out there where you can get copies of old tests. Good luck!

P.S. – It doesn’t matter what your major was in college. In fact, there are plenty of lawyers who have science or engineering degrees.

  • This reply was modified 2 years, 3 months ago by  .
Post # 3
Member
2661 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: May 2014

I can’t even remember what book I used.  I have been a lawyer for 15 years now.

I will give you some unsolicited advice though.  Don’t go into a lot of debt to be a lawyer.  It is not worth it.  There are too many law schools spitting out too many lawyers and the job market, while better than it was at the height of the recession, is tight.  Lawyers don’t come out of law school earning doctor money (unless you go to Yale or Harvard and work in New York or some other large city) and many come out 6 figures in debt.  I don’t know where you live, but you need a pretty big salary to service that kind of debt.  My recommendation, assuming you aren’t in the top 1% (or whatever it is) of LSAT takes that get into a top 5 law school, go to a state school and incur as absolute little debt as possible.  Also check with the placement office and see how many new grads have jobs when they graduate, and make sure that statistics are law jobs only.  Some schools have very low placement rates.  I won’t say I regret my decision to go to law school, because I have lucked into a good federal job, but it is a tight market out there.

Jeweliee, I think a science degree is one the best you can have.  You can sit for the patenet bar and those lawyers can always find good jobs…..

Post # 4
Member
2130 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: June 2015

charismacharm:  The LSAT is a bitch. My FI is in law school at a great school after taking the LSAT FOUR times (yes, he’s committed). Honestly, the best prep he did was solo. He took one of those Kaplan courses and didn’t feel like it helped much at all. For him, timing was the issue (he’s a slow-ish reader), so working on timing was really his main goal after he took it the first time. Also, don’t stress! He got major test anxiety during the first test and basically had a panic attack during the test. 

Basically, the LSAT is awful if you’re not a natural, but if you really want to go to law school, don’t let it stand in your way. If my FI is any indication, you can do well if you put in enough effort. Now, he’s finished up his 1L year, was in the top 10% of his class, is on law review and is currently at a callback interview for the best big law firm in our city (and has about 15 other callbacks, too). So don’t worry too much – the LSAT doesn’t determine how well you will or won’t do in law school.

But, like others have said, don’t go to a law school that isn’t pretty highly ranked (the job market sucks) and don’t go into a lot of debt. My FI got more than a 50% scholarship and he has an MS in Computer Science, so he can practice patent/IP law (which he wants to do). If he didn’t have that degree, his job search would still probably be going well, because he got good grades, but the science degree makes him so much more valuable than he would be otherwise.

Post # 5
Member
717 posts
Busy bee

charismacharm:  You probably already know this but I’m just going to throw it out there:  If you’re in the US, the job market is terrible for lawyers and you may not be able to get a job for many months after you graduate unless you graduate in the top 10% of your class (very, very difficult to do, I graduated just above median for law school and I had almost a 4.0 in both my majors in college and was above the 75th percentile for my school’s LSAT medians) or have strong family connections.  70% of my graduating class (2014) is still unemployed and it’s the best law school in our state.  We had a public defender come and speak to us and told us he had validictorians and people coming off two year judicial clerkships applying for entry level positions that paid 35k…and they were rejected for lawyers with 5+ years of experience.  This is not scare tactics, these are consequences I’ve seen first hand.  My SO is number 4 in his class (out of about 220) and he got only one offer from OCI (on campus interview where most people get their summer jobs).  He was lucky to get that.  Many, many firms interviewed tons of his classmates but hired no one.  

That said, if you will absolutely die if you don’t become a lawyer and you wouldn’t be happy doing anything else (which was the case for me), by all means go to law school.  Just know there will be a big financial and emotional toll on you and your SO not only during school (which is a horrible, grueling experience in itself) but after in the very very likely event it takes you a long time to find a job after graduation.  

Now about the LSAT:  I didn’t take a prep course, but I had a free program at my college that tutored the LSAT that I went to twice a week for six months before I took the test in addition to self study.  I mostly studied the 8 Real Practice LSATs books or whatever they’re called, the books that have actual LSAT problems.  I have no idea how many tests I did but it was a lot.  The most important thing to focus on is time.  The LSAT is a logic and reading comprehension test which means just about anyone could make a perfect score if they stared at the problems long enough, but you have a very limited amount of time to work.  Time yourself, first with indvidual sections, review both your right and wrong answers then start taking full tests to train yourself to handle the test fatigue of working half a day without long breaks.  

If you do not get a 160 or above, retake the test until you do.  I scored well enough to get a scholarship to the best state school (in my state) but not well enough to get into the top schools in the country.  I knew that going to a non topped ranked school would mean I would most likely be stuck with the regional pull my school has and I was fine with that because I want to stay here.  If you’re not fine going with a state school and want to move out of state, you need to go to a school with a much higher rank with a more national repuation, which means you’ll need a higher LSAT score (165 at least).   BUT (big caveat) if you’re URM (under represented minority, particularly black), you will get a big boost in admissions, equal to about 5 LSAT points.  No one flag me for being racist, it’s a fact, look it up.  So if you’re URM, you could be okay with a 155 for a good in state school or a 160 for a very good school with national pool.  Otherwise, aim for at least a 160.  

Good luck.

Post # 6
Member
4817 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: September 2013

charismacharm:  I don’t think there even is such a thing as a law major in college. Your university may have resources for studying for the LSAT. 

Post # 7
Member
1441 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: September 2014

Do practice tests.  I got books out of the library with sample practice tests in them – it helped to identify which parts of the test I did and didn’t need to worry about – the parts where I got questions wrong, I focused on practicing. 

<br />And I 100% agree about the debt.  The job market is awful, and has been for a while, so do not end up with debt that you won’t be able to pay back.  If you can get into a top-5 school, it’s worth taking on some debt because you will be able to find a job in any part of the country (or internationally).  Otherwise, go to the cheapest good school you can and do well.

Post # 8
Member
2661 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: May 2014

I will also add, that I don’t think private school is worth it for anything but a top 5-10 law school.

I also went to the best law school in my state.  You are limiting yourself regionally by doing that.  I aggree with PP, but it is really the only option that makes sense if you are not Yale material.   I am lucky that I got my jobs and experience before the market tanked.  I also finsihed in the top 10% of my class, which has helped get me in the door a couple places.

It is a tough, tough market.

Post # 9
Member
4410 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: September 2010

I took the LSAT and scored well but ultimately decided not to apply to law school (long story). The point is, I was very happy with my score and will tell you waht I did to prep. In addition to buying some test prep materials and studying them carefully (everything on the market is fine — I used Barron’s, I think) — I think it is very helpful to read as much as you can in your free time. Reading long novels with complex plots is,in my opinion, the best way to exercise your brain and boost your reading comprehension and reasoning, which is the bulk of what the LSAT tests. Good luck! It’s a fun test — lots of games and reading sections.

Post # 10
Member
717 posts
Busy bee

Mrs.Sawyertobe:  Same, I wouldn’t have gone at all if I’d had to go into debt or I wasn’t okay staying here forever, even though I know there’s nothing I want to do other than be a lawyer (did tons of research before applying to make sure it was what I wanted, did mock trial and youth court, volunteered at PD and Solicitors offices during school to get a look at what it’s really like).  My grades were very meh so I’m not too surprised I’m having trouble, but SO and his friends have incredible grades and very high ranks and they all had trouble finding paying summer work.  The vast majority of their class had to volunteer for free and take out more loans to fund their living expenses.  It’s ridiculous.

Post # 11
Member
2661 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: May 2014

 

Dizbee:  I am so, so lucky I went a long time ago!  The job market was just fine when I went.  90+% of my class had a job.  It’s terrible now, though.  My heart aches for all the young lawyers who can’t find work!

Post # 12
Member
717 posts
Busy bee

Mrs.Sawyertobe:  I still don’t regret it!  I know it’s what I want to do forever and I’ve loved every day of work in the summers and during the school year and my clinics, I just hated the school part.  I really wouldn’t ever be fulfilled doing anything else.  That’s why I never tell people not to go, because I know those people will go no matter what, I just make sure they know fully what they’re getting into.  

That said, I’d probably be seriously regretting it if I was in debt and didn’t have a business to fund my living expenses both then and while I wait for bar results.  

Post # 13
Member
3 posts
Wannabee

I took a TestMasters prep course and I’ll be honest with you, it was a waste of time. My diagnostic score was a 160 and I gained only 3-4 points by the end of the class. I decided not to take the exam because I wasn’t satisfied with that and, yes, I did ALL of the homework.

I got a tutor after that and it was amazing – I ended up scoring a 171 on the test my first time around. If you can afford it, I think one-on-one training with the RIGHT person for the test is the way to go and here’s why:

1. The prep courses cater towards the average person and they don’t really care if you’re particularly great at games but weak at reading comp and so forth. Across the board, the prep material will be the same. I think it’s really important to have a personalized lesson plan. Also, the teachers can only give you so much attention – there’s usually upwards of 20 people per class, which means that you’ll be scrambling for in-depth answers.

2. Your tutor will be able to identify your areas of weakness and really drive home how to fix them. Moreover, your tutor will be able to (hopefully) explain things in a variety of different ways until it finally makes sense. You won’t have to compete with anyone.

I’d also suggest only using former exams released by LSAC. The ones that private companies use aren’t QUITE the same and I think that it’s beneficial to take a real test under real testing conditions as many times as possible. And then, definitely go over each test and analyze what you did wrong until you understand why the right answer is what it is.

I’ll be honest with you, having a tutor made me realize that the LSAT is a fairly straightforward test as long as you know the different question types. There’s really nothing on it that can trick you and with enough practice, I personally think that the answers stand out as being either right or wrong.

Post # 14
Member
43 posts
Newbee
  • Wedding: November 2004

 

Dizbee:  Well said. I graduated (at the top of my class) from a top law school in the country, right at the heart of the recession. It was tough, I was a young mother, with a husband who was always moving. And I followed. I voluntered at Legal Aid clinics representing poor communities. I was unpaid – and I did this for two years. When openings came up, I had to compete with older attorneys who had a ton of experience (and had friends in higher places) and had been laid off from top law firms. I was very young and always treated as inexperienced (even though I did a great job and had the same case-load as older, paid attorneys) and that often worked against me, so I quit.

I got a ‘foot-in-the door’ entry-level career at a top financial company and I rose up the corporate ladder very quickly. I worked very hard and often got promoted. I consider myself fortunate, although I make less than my friends who ended up in top law firms. But I am grateful to have a 9-5 with excellent benefits and a great office. I can get time off easily to take care of my son, and no one bothers me when I leave work at 5. (My peers in law firms work 60 hours or more a week)

And did I mention that I am in debt? Thankfully, I can afford to make payments and still live a good life. So law school is a gamble. You can be lucky and end up with a great job, but it can also be very disappointing.

 

  • This reply was modified 2 years, 3 months ago by  shakazulu.
  • This reply was modified 2 years, 3 months ago by  shakazulu.
Post # 15
Member
6499 posts
Bee Keeper

Agree with what’s been said here. I went to a Top 5 law school (graduated recently) and even at my school, there were a handful of students that didn’t get jobs until the very last minute (and took underpaying jobs that they weren’t even very interested in). And with the exception of a few trust fund babies, we are all dealing with an exceptional amount of debt. 

Would I do it again? I don’t even know. Maybe my debt is making me a negative Nancy.

If you have a burning desire to practice law and it wouldn’t be a financial burden, by all means, go for it. Otherwise, definitely weigh the pros and cons carefully before making your decision.

As for the LSAT, I took a Kaplan course and thought it was great. Self-study has never worked well for me, so I knew I needed a class to force me to study. If you’re good with self-studying, there are various books on Amazon that will help (as some PPs have noted). If you need more of a kick in the butt like I did, I strongly recommend investing in a class.

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