An Undergrad Ponders Law School

Adam Goodman is a rising senior at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he is majoring in History and Political Science. Adam is a guest blogger for Law School Podcaster, documenting his decision to go to law school and his progress through the law school admissions process. When Adam is not studying or writing, he can be found charming co-eds, playing intramural sports, and participating in various philanthropic events.

I’m ok  with the fact that my time as an undergrad is coming to an end and that graduation is looming next year. The big question, now, is what to do in the future?

I was abroad all spring semester in the great city of London England. Even before my term in London, I considered the prospects of law school and how that fits with my goals for life after college.  In short, I’ve had my share of the anxiety about choosing the “right path” for myself, though I haven’t succumbed to a full-on panic attack.

Recently, I have come to the definitive conclusion that law school is right for me This decision is a risk savvy one in my opinion, weighing both the time commitment and the cost of law school with the value of the education to help me meet my future goals.  Rest assured, my decision has not been made hastily. To be sure, it’s real nice to have an actual answer to the often-posed question, ‘so, what are your plans when you graduate,?’ My decision to attend law school, however, goes far beyond that.

I’ve given a lot of thought to  the whole “do what you love” cliché. Though we’ve all heard it before, I really believe that you have to ‘do what you want to do.’ To start, I think I will be more prosperous in a career that I am motivated to succeed in. But let’s face it, you first have to consider the gigantic bill that many of us applying to law school will accrue if we pull the trigger on enrolling.  With some law schools costing in excess of $50,000 a year, the decision to apply, and to attend, it’s no small decision. Quite clearly, when you factor in possible student loans from undergraduate studies, the debt after law school is simply crushing. Law school, especially in the current weak job market, must be a careful decision with full measure given to the price of admission along with close scrutiny of the job data from the schools you’re considering.  Is it worth the return on your investment with current market conditions?  This is a tough one these days.

Anyone contemplating law school needs to consider the value proposition of law school. Here are some of the questions I asked myself as I weighed the value of a legal education.  What’s the price of the law schools I’m interested in? What are the “employed at graduation numbers” (the employment stats for law grads 9 months after graduation)? What is the school I’m considering known for? What type of legal career do I want to have? Am I considering working in government or not-for-profit work? Do I want to work at a large national law firm? What type of monetary contribution can I expect from my family, if any? All these factors are part of my analysis.

In weighing all these things, I’ve decided that law school is for me. With my parents, I’ve carefully considered the finances, and laid out what we can afford.  Aside from making sense in the financial terms laid out above, I reallywant to study law.  And I want a career in law.  The application of law in today’s current events, and the intricacies of contracts interests me greatly. While I know law school is a means to an end in terms of a career, I feel that a law degree could also help my future career in business or politics. While a law school diploma makes for a great framing over one’s desk, for me, it’s a lot more than that. I can’t wait to take law school classes.  From litigation to the legal intricacies of the Constitution, the subject matter of law interests me and that’s why I’m deciding to go..

So, I am now in full preparation mode. Right now I am tweaking my resume, building up my professional connections, and preparing for the LSAT. I will be taking an LSAT prep course to help me troubleshoot the horrors that are the “logic games” section of the test. While abroad, I began to research law schools that I would like to apply to. As a very happy undergrad at University of Wisconsin (GO BADGERS!!),  I would not mind staying here at Wisconsin-Madison for law school, but I am also looking closer to home (I am from Maryland), including schools like George Washington, Georgetown, and the University of Maryland.

I plan to work really hard to prepare for the LSAT so I have the best options at the best law schools.  As I prepare for the LSAT and look for work over the summer I will keep you all posted on my progress.

For more information on this topic, check out the Law School Podcaster segment, Choosing the Right Law School: Understand the Factors that Will Affect Where You Want to Go To School

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