Despite how much I joke about law students being exhausting, I actually love my school, my future profession, and even some of my fellow students. I wouldn’t trade the experience for the world (or even for more sleep). Here are some of my favorite things about law school.
1. You don’t have to fit a certain mold
Most people have an idea of the stereotypical lawyer/law student: type-A, fancy suit, argumentative, confident, able to smell blood in the water. And some law students do have that that harsher edge. But most don’t, at least not when it comes to the pursuit of their own personal goals. Most of my friends are (ethically) ruthless in support of noble causes, but never for their own gain.
I used to worry that I wouldn’t make a good lawyer because I didn’t have the right personality type for it: I’m not bold, my confidence wavers, and I can’t command a room in the same way others can. But great lawyers come in a variety of personalities. Being naturally soft-spoken, introverted, or deferential doesn’t necessarily interfere with being a good advocate. You don’t have to be anyone but yourself to be a good law student or attorney. And sometimes, subverting people’s expectations feels really fucking good.
2. You meet some really amazing people
Although my school isn’t as diverse as we’d like it to be, it’s no longer filled with privileged rich students either. In my classes, I’ve met people from all across the country (and world), with a variety of cultural backgrounds and perspectives. As a result, I’ve gotten a lot better talking to and working with people of different backgrounds and with different perspectives.
I’ve also met some of the strongest people I know through law school. There are a ton of professions with a lot of heart, but if you want to meet people driven by pure passion, one of the best places to look is the public interest office of your nearest law school.
3. Cases are often wild
The law is my day-to-day, but your average person usually only encounters it at strange or difficult periods of their lives. When you work on real cases during law school, you’ll find yourself amidst dramatic stories or, at least, very weird ones (sometimes both at once). I’m not allowed to talk about my cases, but suffice to say I’ve been perplexed by a lot of what I’ve encountered (and other things have kept me up at night). But I’ve never been bored.
Even when not doing direct service work, most of law school is reading cases. Those cases sometimes have bizarre backgrounds. Even though some of the law can be pure drudgery, other times you’ll find yourself debating with your classmates what a chicken is — because that same question was taken up by a federal court in New York.
4. You understand the news in a different way
Most of the flashing news headlines have at least a drop of law behind them. A lot of times, they have decades of statutes/case law/rigorous academic debate behind them. My first-year Constitutional Law class went on lengthly tangents discussing the current Presidential administration. The research and reasoning skills you learn in school make it easier to dive really deeply into modern issues. You have the time and space to try to really understand big, important debates. And, depending on the classes you take, you’ll be writing papers on them. That’ll give you a leg up in those casual bar debates.
And even if you don’t know much about the topic on hand, you’ll become really proficient at learning more. You also get a decent, and not entirely deserved, credibility boost when you’re a law student talking about current events. Whether or not you admit that it’s not in your field is entirely up to you.
5. You feel comfortable using Legally Blonde jargon in everyday life
Okay, you don’t need to be a law student to watch Legally Blonde, and I already reference this movie a lot in past blog posts. But law school does cast this incredible movie, as well as many other legal movies/tv shows, in a whole new light.
Sure, it’s usually a light that’s full of errors. Yes, maybe your professor will use Legally Blonde and My Cousin Vinny as examples of how not to do a cross-examination. But it adds to, rather than diminishes, your enjoyment. (And as long as you’re conservative with how many mistakes you point out, it can be fun for the people around you too.)
6. You can learn how to really shape the world for the better
This is cheesy but it’s true and it’s why I chose law school. Laws are how we structure our society, and learning those structures and how to move them is one way to create change. Some lawyers focus on improving individual lives; others focus on slowly chipping away at changing the whole system.
You don’t have to be a lawyer to make the world a better place, but it’s one really cool, sometimes frustrating, always interesting way to get there.
I love what I do. Someone link me this the next time I’m complaining about it.
This was the first post for Career Day, a new, fun series where women in their twenties will be sharing their six (or seven, or fifteen) favorite things about their jobs/education. If you’re interested in writing a post about your cool, fun job (or at least, the fun aspects of your sometimes grueling job) contact us through our website, shoot us an Instagram DM, or send us a smoke signal.
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image courtesy of bonnie