Lawyers are expected to have impeccable mental fortitude because the legal profession is not an easy one. Having the license to practice law means people’s freedom, rights, and even lives will rest upon how well you can draft pleadings or how commanding you are in court.
It’s a harsh profession, albeit an incredibly noble and prestigious one, which is why law students are trained to survive in terrible conditions. However, the challenges do not begin when you are knee-deep in cases and provisions you have to memorize, or when it’s your time to suit up for your very first mock trial.
Actually, the challenge begins before you even walk into your law school of choice. There’s no use sugarcoating it: law school admissions season is the most nerve-racking time in an aspiring law student’s life. Before you look forward to sitting in your first-ever law class, be prepared to hurdle the following challenges.
Check out the Challenges
1. Getting a ‘good enough’ GPA
Contrary to popular misconceptions, there are no designated ‘pre-law courses.’ All you have to do is get a GPA that’s good enough for your law school of choice, no matter what your degree might be.
An average above 3.90 will surely put you in a good position to get admitted into one of the nation’s top law schools, but getting anything below 3.50 means you might have to adjust your expectations and bat somewhere outside the T14 schools. In effect, preparing for law school admissions actually begins on your first day of undergrad.
2. Passing the LSAT
Aside from your grades in college, the other metric law schools use to gauge your capability to survive the rigors of law school is a standardized test called the LSAT. It is an infamously difficult exam that you want to ace if you are planning to enter a top law school.
If you didn’t have stellar grades in undergrad, the LSAT is also one way to prove to admission officers that you can do better than you did back then. There are courses that can help you feel more comfortable taking the LSAT, especially if you really need something to ‘split’ low college marks.
3. Coming up with an impressive personal essay
All good law schools will require you to write a personal essay to get to know you better. This part is extremely tricky, since there is no way to know what admissions officers are looking for.
Some schools will require you to answer a specific question like ‘Why do you want to attend X law school?” Others will let you write about your passions or something you feel strongly about, while there are some schools that will let you write about anything you want, freestyle.
Harvard Law School provides a handy guide on how to write a compelling personal statement to improve your chances of getting noticed. Keep in mind that thousands of hopefuls vie for limited law school spots every year, so give your essay your best shot.
4. Overcoming self-doubt
So far, we’ve talked about the formal requirements required for law school admission. However, there is one commonly-overlooked challenge every aspiring law student must face, and that’s the mental preparation that law school demands.
A lot of law school students drop out within the first year, because their determination to finish law school was not unshakeable. So whether it’s doubting your abilities or second-guessing your career options if it turns out lawyering is not for you, you have to resolve it all before you even think about entering law school. Otherwise, it’s just money down the drain.
5. Gathering funds for law school
Speaking of money down the drain, law school is not exactly cheap. One of the biggest challenges every law school aspirant will face is saving enough for a law degree.
In between matriculation and the cost of law books, those fees can get pretty hefty especially if you are not able to score a free ride. Luckily, most law schools offer evening classes for those who wish to earn by keeping a day job. This means a lot of sleepless nights and basically zero social life, but if you are serious about being a lawyer, might as well get accustomed to the lifestyle, right?
With that, I bid you good luck, future lawyer!