A week and a half ago I was approached by a Pre-Law Student with some questions about whether to go to law school or grad school and related issues.
I thought I’d post my answers that I gave her.
- Why did you pursue law school?
I wanted to pursue law school since I was a kid, but I was probably jaded by the “arguments” and “big bucks” as per my grade 7 yearbook.
Truthfully, it was during undergraduate when I started volunteering with Access Justice (now Access Pro Bono), and realized how much the law impacted individuals day-to-day lives. I also started getting heavily involved in community advocacy efforts in my history and international relation studies. I realized that one of my major challenges was that it was difficult to speak up as just an “undergraduate student.”
I guess I wanted people to take me a little more seriously.
- Should I work for a few years before pursuing law school or go straight into it?
It depends. Do you have something specific you want to go into? I think if you have a legitimate position that you can go into (either a high-level government job/internship or one with a great company) you should jump in. You could possibly make some money and help pay for law school. You may also put yourself in a good position to come out of law school and combine your experience. For you in particular, if you found a very good gig in marketing and became a marketing professional for a couple years, arguably you could go to law school and be very good at areas around legal marketing. I’ve seen a few people very successful at this particular in the entertainment industry where they became entertainment lawyers.
- Should I take an LSAT prep course or self study?
It depends on how fast you are getting it. I would start by getting some books or materials off a colleague and reading them. If you feel like its intuitive you can start doing practice exams on your own.
I took two courses, both very expensive, and only the second one was very helpful. For me, the battle was more mental and the second course (and the instructor) was really helpful. He doesn’t teach anymore. Needless to say I didn’t do so well on the LSAT, writing three times (cancelling twice) and only obtaining 66th percentile.
- What do you think about an international law degree obtained abroad?
I would obtain one in Canada if you foresee your future here (that is unless you go to a top Ivey league U.S. J.D program). I think that due to the lack of legal jobs in Canada, more pressure is being placed on the system to provide less opportunity to foreign-trained lawyers and more to domestic students. However, if you foresee yourself living and working in another city abroad, go do law school there (near there) for sure.
Finally, I think all law schools in Canada are good. Don’t feel pressured to think only the top schools are the best. Also, for someone more holistic and well-rounded like yourself you may do better at a school that focuses more on well-rounded areas and recruits those type of students.