Law School Article
The Long Road….To Law School
By Samantha Spicer
With graduation not far off, for some students I bet something on their mind is, "What now?" Well, one option is graduate school, but there are almost as many options for graduate school as there are for undergraduate. I decided to explore these options a little bit more and this time I’ve focused on one specific type of graduate school, and one I personally intend to pursue: law school.
The road to law school will be anything but easy; preparation starts as early as your second year of undergrad. While you don’t necessarily have to be a pre-law major or political science major to be successful in law school, it is recommended by Dr. Laurie Walsh that students get familiar reading hard material, such as the hard sciences like biology or chemistry.
Dr. Walsh also recommends that students start working on their writing skills as early as possible by taking as many writing-intensive courses, in a variety of disciplines, as they can. Communication/writing skills are extremely important for a career as a lawyer. Dr. Walsh also recommends finding somewhere to intern or volunteer as early and as often as possible. The experience of an internship in a legal environment is invaluable.
Once you get a little further along in your pre-law studies, it becomes time to take the LSAT, which is the exam required by all students applying to law school anywhere. Different schools have different requirements in terms of scores, but the LSAT and your GPA are two critical factors in determining your acceptance into law school.
The LSAT is not like any test students have typically taken before, as it does not test content. The LSAT is determined to test certain skills that will be required in law school, such a logical reasoning. Different prep courses, like Kaplan or Princeton Review, are available to help study for the LSAT. It can also be just as helpful to get a book of questions and study by doing the practice questions.
Students planning to attend law school should have a fair understanding of what comes after law school. Life as a lawyer is nothing short of demanding. Lawyers work very long hours, whether it’s writing motions or trial prep. Lawyers must be detail oriented, because not everything in law is written in neon lights.
Lawyers must be able to sit at a desk for long hours at a time, as discovery can be a very long process. They must be good time managers; in any given day an attorney could have several cases to work on, as well as time that must be spent in court. Lawyers should develop good listening skills as a lawyer’s case is determined by facts and what a client says, so a lawyer must be able to listen and read people to pick up what the client is saying as well as what they are not.
In addition, attorneys should also be able to deal with people in tough situations. People often don’t seek out a lawyer because they are in a good situation. The reasons people typically need a lawyer involve filing bankruptcy, being sued by somebody or finding themselves in some kind of a criminal situation. These are sensitive situations and lawyers must know how to address these people accordingly.
Students interested in law school should generally like to learn, because being a lawyer will require that to some degree you continue your education throughout your career. Law is an ever-changing field and lawyers must be kept up to date on what the current policies are.
As well, students should not pursue law just for money. Money is not going to get you through law school and when you get out you will be very disappointed. You will also be very disappointed if you expect a career in law to be like an episode of Law and Order -- it won’t be. Law is not the easiest choice for a career, but it can certainly be a fulfilling one.
Any questions about law school or related topics should be directed to Prof. Laurie Walsh or Dr. Lisa Parshall, Daemen College’s pre-law advisors. Their offices are located at DS 237 in the history and government suite.
See next issue for a closer look at the road to medical school.