Given the long term financial ramifications, it is imperative that you ask yourself this question. There is no universal answer — only you can decide whether, given a number of factors, law school represents a good investment for you. Among the factors to consider are the following: why do you want to go to law school? Are you certain that you want to practice law or if not, that you need a law degree to do what you want to do? Do you feel you have a good idea of what lawyers do? Do you have a realistic idea of how much lawyers earn (1) in the field in which you want to practice, (2) in the geographic area in which you want to live, and (3) with a degree from the law school you are likely to attend? Are you willing to work upwards of 60-80 hours a week during your first few years of practice in order to pay off your loans?
One of the leading causes of dissatisfaction among practicing lawyers is the feeling that they are “stuck” in their jobs due to their enormous debt. Absent other professional training or experience, law school does not adequately prepare you for other types of well-paying jobs. If you find that you do not like the practice of law once you have completed law school, you will still need to pay back your loans, and being a lawyer will probably be your best-paying option. (And, in case you were beginning to contemplate other ways out of the debt, you should know that educational loans are generally NOT dischargeable in bankruptcy.)
If you are like most students considering law school, this is the first major financial decision — with consequences lasting a decade or more — that you will make. Do not jump into law school lightly, or on a whim, or because your parents want you to do it, or because “there’s nothing better to do.” You alone (as well as your future spouse and children) will bear the burden of your decision. Especially since taking time off before law school will not harm your chances of getting admitted, you should be very certain that law school is the right investment for you.
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