Post # 1
I’m basically planning on going into law at some point. I also plan on moving over to the USA. At the moment I am a second year doing a degree in Philosophy and Psychology in London, and I have one more year of my degree left. I’m a member of a committee on a Pro Bono Legal Society and also part of the Debating Club.
I’m considering either doing a Master’s in Social and Organisational Psychology from LSE, or going into a grad scheme in marketing or something similar for 1-2 years before I move over.
Once I move over, I don’t want to apply for a JD until I have my green card/become a citizen (so three years down the line from me moving over).
What would you say would be the best path? I have a bunch of questions for anyone willing to answer, this question of my future is plaguing me majorly. I need to work between the period of when I move over and when I apply for a JD, so would working in a business environment be seen as acceptable or would they rather I just did a whole string of internships?
What school did you apply to?
Did you apply straight out of undergraduate or did you work for some time before applying?
And how are you funding it if you don’t mind me asking? It’s so expensive, that is my main primary concern.
And what about a family? Would it be possible to have a family whilst studying for the JD?
And what about work experience and extracurriculars?
And the LNAT, how did you study for it?
My main issue is I could very easily get a legal internship here, but in the long run it will be null and void in America because of the differences in the legal systems. I could also do a law conversion course here, which would enable me to practise law in the UK, but I’m not sure how to go about things. I’m sorry that this is so long but I would really be grateful for any advice!
Post # 4
I went to law school right after undergrad. In the States, the JD is the degree that you get upon completion of law school (3 years if you go full time, 4 years if you go part time). You still have to take the bar examination, which is state specific. You aren’t licensed to practice law until you take and pass the bar exam.
It is possible to have a family while studying, but not advisable. I actually wouldn’t advise anyone to go into law at all who wants to start a family soon, or if that is a high priority. I would encourage you to think long and hard about whether you want to go to law school unless the economy really picks up. Legal jobs are very hard to come by now. Unless you work for a big firm, you probably won’t get paid much, and loans are very, very expensive.
When I was in law school the government loaned 18,500 per year at 6-8% interest. This is like a mortgage payment. A lot of people had to take out private loans on top of this. On top of all this, if you go full time, you are not permitted to work more than 20 hours per week.
A lot of law schools do look for experience. This may give you an edge in admissions.
LNAT- I think you mean LSAT. Yes, you study for that, it is very important and you want to get a high score. If you get a low score, it will limit you.
Sorry this is so jumbled. I don’t mean to be negative, if studying law is your passion, by all means, go for it. I just wish I knew what I knew now when I was 21 and applying to schools. Please feel free to PM me with any questions.
Post # 5
@EleanorRigby: Thanks for the advice, and for being realistic. I don’t know whether to take a more academic route or go into business and then get a JD later on in life after I am more settled down and whatnot… It’s honestly stressing me out. It’s expensive there and I don’t know which path to take because I do want to get a JD one day. I’ve seen a name pop up on Google where a man had a Psychology PhD and a JD as well, and I’m thinking that might be the route I want to take..
Ah yes, I meant LSAT. My mistake, here it is called the LNAT. I’d like to go into it straight after my undergrad but I don’t think that will really be possible…
Post # 6
I just graduated from law school in May (went straight from undergrad, but I know tons of people that took time off before going). I think you can do anything you want before applying to law school. The most important part of your application will be your LSAT score, so definitely focus getting on as high of a score as you can. I took a Kaplan prep class to help prepare.
I applied to about 15 schools, got into 12, and in the end, chose the least expensive school because it is soooo expensive. I got into some better ranked schools than where I ended up, but in this economy, I wanted to keep my education as cheap as possible because I also have loans from undergrad. I took out student loans to finance it. It’s really hard to work, and you can only work 20 hours/week during school, so you can’t really fund your studies that way.
I know a few people that started families during their second or third year of law school, so I guess it’s doable, but I can only imagine how hard it was. I want to be settled in my career before starting a family, so I plan on working at least 5 years. But people make it work, so this is such a personal decision.
Work experience is law school is hugely important, especially if you can get a summer associate job at a big firm. In this economy, that means you need to go to a really good school and be top 10% of your class. There are some exceptions to that, but I would say that’s a good rule of thumb. Extracurriculars worth doing in law school are journals, especially law review, and moot court and/or mock trial. I wouldn’t waste time joining clubs or anything.
Honestly, I would advise against going to law school. There are so many lawyers who are unemployed because every legal market is oversaturated. And people think that being a lawyer = making a lot of money, but that’s so not true. I can’t tell you how many of my friends had to take jobs with the state attorney, public defender, or local government agencies making $42k. It’s better than nothing obviously, but with the amount of student loans people have, they’re barely making ends meet. (And some actually did want those jobs, but most that I’m friends with took them because it was their only option.)
Post # 7
I’m not a lawyer or a law student, so I asked my SO.
Absolutely do not go into law unless you are positive it’s what you want to do. There are a ton more people with JDs then there are law jobs, so it’s an uphill battle right now to get a job, let alone one that pays well.
The LSAT is the most important part of admissions, which I think is silly, but it is what it is, so you have to do well on it. Do not go to a tier 3 school unless you want to focus on something like family law in a very specific area and, even then, it’s probably a bad idea unless you have connections.
Law school is almost criminally expensive, in my opinion, and most people take out tons of loans to pay for it. If you aren’t wealthy, I would try to save up as much money as possible before applying.
Unless what you really want to do requires a PhD and a JD, I would do one or the other. I have a friend with a PhD related to the kind of law he wants to practice, and law firms still question if he is dedicated to law just because he has a PhD.
I can imagine it is very hard to have kids while in law school. I don’t know anyone who has successfully done it, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. I think you’d have to have a SO who could take on the majority of child care. Most law jobs are also not conducive to having children. I think you are pretty much guaranteed not to make partner if you take time off for kids, but you may not want that so it may not be an issue.
Post # 8
Thank you all so much for the realistic facts… This has actually helped me become a bit clearer in my thinking. I’d love to do law, but as you said, a job is not guaranteed and it’s expensive. It’ll be hard enough moving over and starting a family, with visa costs, marriage costs, then work etc…
So I’m thinking possibly getting a Master’s and then working straight after that, or getting into a grad scheme for 1-2 years after I graduate, to start saving money for moving over. I’d like to do Marketing or something similar. I don’t know very much to do with law or business, my family are mainly entirely scientific and medical (comprised of doctors). High standards I know lol… I’d also like to do Clinical Psychology, but bringing up a family on an assistantship is very very difficult I’ve heard.
I guess business is the path! And people I think have done JD’s at later points in their lives, so it’s not the be all or end all I guess…
Post # 9
You can definitely do a JD later in life. This wasn’t the case for me, but it was for many in my class. I don’t know where in the US you’d be looking to move, but I got my JD through Temple’s part-time evening program (Philadelphia). There were many second-career JD candidates in my class, and also a lot who were parents. We even had a couple of babies born to students while we were there – THAT I don’t know how they managed. i would have to say it must have been the non-law student parent who was bearing most of the childcare responsibilities. I can’t imagine studying for the bar while chasing a toddler.
What type of JD program works for you and when really depends on your own personal situation. Also, Temple offers a couple of joint-degree programs where you can earn your JD and something else together and some of the credit requirements cross. I know they have a JD/MBA, and I believe there are some PhD programs, but I am not really familiar with those. I am sure there must be other schools that have programs like this as well.
My undergrad degree is in business and I worked while in law school (benefit of the evening programs!) in corporate operations. So a business track into law is not unfeasible-it depends on where your interests lie, and what type of law you’d be interested in practicing. For me, my interests are in corporate law/regulation/contracts, so everything kind of built on everything else.
Feel free to PM me if you have any questions!
Post # 10
What school did you apply to? I applied to the school here in town because Fiance and I were ready to buy I house and move in together and we knew we wanted to live here.
Did you apply straight out of undergraduate or did you work for some time before applying? I worked for 6 years before going to law school, in a lot of ways I think it helped me.
And how are you funding it if you don’t mind me asking? I have a scholarship that cover a little over half my tuition and I’m taking out loans for the rest. I’m going to owe about $55,000 when I’m done.
And what about a family? There have been several students that have had babies while in law school. It can be done but is difficult. As far far Fiance goes, having him around can be a big help. It’s nice to have someone to talk to at the end of a long day. Also during finals time he can help cook, clean, whatever.
And what about work experience and extracurriculars? I think any work experience is benefiicial, I did marketing stuff and the fact that I had some kind of career before law school has helped me. Honestly though, as far as getting into school goes the LSAT score and GPA is what they look for. Also you might have an advantage being from another country, they like to promote diversity too.
And the LNAT, how did you study for it? I only had about 5 weeks to study and just did the old tests. If you do well on the LSAT you are much more likely to get scholarships which helps a lot. I did well and was offered a full ride at another school.
Post # 11
Yes, you can always go back to law school later in life. I went back after 9 years of being a flight attendant. I would echo all of the PPs though. Do not go to law school unless you are certain that you want to practice law and that it is your passion. I graduated 10 years ago and I still have a lot of student loan debt. I also started law school when my daughter was 2 years old. One of my greatest regrets is missing such a big portion of her toddler years because I was commited to law school. I also became a law school cliche/statistic in that my first husband and I divorced half-way through my 3 years of law school. Too much pressure on the family. It is a VERY serious commitment both financially and time-wise. And I love school.
I also concur with PPs remarks about the awful job market for lawyers now. It is completely different than even 10 years ago. I feel very fortunate to have a great job as in-house counsel for a corporate so I can have some quality of life. Prior to coming here, I was an associate for a large law firm and worked 60-80 hours a week. It truly sucked the life out of me and made me really question my decision to change careers and go back to school.
Hope all of this helps with your decision. Good luck!
Post # 12
My advice? Don’t go to law school. Seriously. Me and almost all of my friends are planning our exit strategies from our jobs and we’ve only been lawyers for 3-4 years.
Post # 13
As sad as it sounds, I totally agree with keeping law school in the back of your mind for a while. You can always go later, but I’d wait it out a bit. It’s hard to find jobs, ESPECIALLY one that you’d love to do. The job market is much broader when you’re not in the legal market, and you’re more likely to find something that is satisfying and pays nearly as well, if not more. I loved school, I hope I love the jobs I find, but I wouldn’t recommend law school unless it’s something you are 110% positive you can do without regret.
Post # 14
I’ve been a lawyer for two years now, and I agree with many of the other posters: take some time to think about it, because it is a huge investment of your time, money, and energy.
I applied to many schools but in the end choose the highest ranked state school (the University of Texas at Austin–my parents were residents in this state, so I only had to pay in state tuition–which was still extremely expensive).
I took out a lot of student loans to pay for school. Luckily, I didn’t have much in the way of loans from undergraduate school, so the cost was offset a bit by that.
I took off a year after undergrad to work. Work and life experience DO count.
The LSAT is unfortunately extremely important. I encourage you to study for it if you are serious about law school. I can’t make any reccomendations for this however, because I was pretty careless with this aspect and didn’t spend much time studying at all. I was extremely lucky and did pretty well anyway.
You can have a family in law school, but it is extremely difficult.
If you have any questions, please feel free to ask!! Best of luck.
Post # 15
Thank you all very much… I’ve decided on going down a Neuroscience route (getting a Masters and PhD) and possibly doing a JD afterwards. It’d be interesting to work in forensics or get into legal counselling with a neuropsychology background, which is why I’m very very keen on combining the two factors when possible.
I understand it’s a long and arduous path (why is it everything I want to do involves a long and arduous path?!) but honestly, it hit me whilst I was in a neuroscience lecture, that I can see myself constantly learning about this for the rest of my life, studying it, and combining it with other elements. I know some psychologists have gone on to get JDs and work in a very legal setting, alongside offering counselling services, so I’m hoping to get into that kind of field if possible. But if I have more questions, I will definitely ask them, thank you all so much for offering me a realistic overview of what law school is like and what being in law is like. Looking on the pages of the law school websites is quite disillusioning, considering most of them are selling it and not really very realistic about the job prospects. So I really appreciate the truthfullness from you Bees 🙂
Post # 16
JD here, feel free to PM me if you still need some answers…