Here are some things to consider from a lawyer who is retiring (after three short years of practice) to become a teacher.
Before you commit to law school, be very certain that it is something you want to do. The first thing you should consider is the cost. Law school, especially private law schools, costs a lot of money to attend. On top of that, unfortunately today’s economic climate is not terribly hospitable to lawyers. Most of the lawyers graduating where I live do not have jobs. The court system, AG’s office, DA’s offices, judges are all taking on lawyers to do volunteer work because there simply aren’t very many people hiring. Unless you can pay for school without taking out a lot of loans, you might want to hold off.
I don’t know what kind of work/life balance you are looking for, but many private sector legal jobs require working many many hours per week to keep up with billable hour requirements. This is especially true in bigger cities, but still the case in larger firms elsewhere. Public sector jobs, on the other hand, can be great. They are generally 9-5 jobs and I loved working at mine. The downside is, of course, that they don’t pay as well. They can also be harder to come by. The best legal job, in my opinion, is clerking for a court or judge. I really enjoyed clerking. The hours were great and the work was generally very interesting. I just got tired of sitting behind a desk all day.
Then there is law school. I really did love law school. I loved learning about the law. The first year of law school is insane. Essentially, the first year of law school is the most important. Most law schools give letter grades and then rank all of the students in the class. At the very beginning of your second year of law school, you will begin interviewing for jobs for the summer after your second year. This is where your grades come in–you are generally selected for interviews and given offers (at least in part) on your first year grades. From then, you might be given an offer from the second summer employer for after graduation, or you can use that job to help you get other offers. It’s crazy, I know, but it’s the way it is. (At least in my experience).
All that said, I would not change my decision to go to law school. I just don’t really enjoy actually practicing law. I’m hoping that I might come back to it someday, but right now, it just isn’t for me. My fiance,on the other hand, loves his job. He is a public defender and he is in the courtroom every single day. I’m very happy for him! Sadly, most of the lawyers I know do not love their jobs. Most lawyers don’t get to do the kind of exciting work that is in movies, tv, books, etc. It’s too bad really!
Just really think about it and be sure that law school is something you really really want to do. There will be times, especially in law school, when that is all you have to hold on to. Because it’s hard and can make you crazy. I hope I didn’t scare you too much! Honestly, if someone had told me all of this before I went, I still would have gone. Good luck!