Post Written by: Jill M. Caughie ’04 Crime, Law and Justice, and Psychology

So you want to go to law school, or don’t you? Answering this question may be more difficult than you first think. Make no mistake, as an attorney, I believe a law degree offers remarkable opportunities to impact nearly every aspect of our lives. You will find lawyers at every level of government, in high ranking positions at Fortune 500 companies, founding start-ups, running non-profit organizations, or even writing novels or scripts. You will often hear that you can do anything with a law degree. That may be true. But it does not come at a low cost.

Becoming a lawyer requires diligence from the outset, and really, never subsides thereafter. Law school students invest a lot of money, with post-law school debt easily reaching six figures for the average borrower. Law school students expend tremendous effort, devoting hours comparable to a full-time job to excel in the classroom and engage in extracurricular activities that provide transferable skills and help build your resume. Attorneys are customer service providers. Especially given today’s technology, you are “on” no matter where you are or what time of day it is (and whether you’re answering emails from supervising attorneys or clients, or questions from family members and friends). Whether the investment is worthwhile is an extremely personal decision.

I’ve included a few hints to consider as you decide what’s best for you:

  • I strongly believe that there is no specific major or classwork that will position you best for law school. Being engaged in your classes, thinking critically about the issues that you confront in each subject, and learning to take and support a position are skills that transcend any one particular degree and will serve you well if you advance to law school.
  • Take on leadership roles within organizations in which you are involved. I gained invaluable experience and skills outside of the classroom that contributed to my success in law school and in my legal career.
  • Consider internship opportunities or first jobs post-college that will give you exposure to attorneys and the legal profession. This way, you can observe firsthand what attorneys do and form mentor relationships that may benefit you for years to come.
  • Even if you don’t choose a position in a legal field out of college, working for a few years in any discipline after receiving your liberal arts degree gives you time to reflect on whether you want to pursue law, what practices interest you, and to develop a plan for how you will pay for it. You will begin to discover your strengths and weaknesses as a professional, which will help guide you toward a particular practice.

As a final note of advice, even the most well thought out plans require the flexibility to grow and change as you advance your career. I didn’t even know that legal recruiting positions existed before law school! I’ve followed a winding path to law school, throughout law school, and post-law school – – more so than I ever could have predicted. I am proud to be an attorney and of the contributions attorneys make to the community. Best of luck with your decision!

Useful Resources:    

  • www.nalp.org/prelaw_portal
  • www.abovethelaw.com/careers/pre-law
  • https://www.americanbar.org/groups/legal_education/resources/pre_law.html
  • https://www.usnews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-law-schools
  • www.chambers-associate.com
  • https://www.lsac.org/jd

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Jill M. Caughie ’04 Crime, Law and Justice, and Psychology
J.D. Temple University—James E.  Beasley School of Law
Associate Director of Legal Recruiting, Cozen O’Connor
Philadelphia, PA
https://www.cozen.com

Cozen O’Connor is ranked among the top 100 law firms in the country. The firm has more than 650 attorneys in 24 cities across the United States, London, and Toronto. Jill is responsible for the recruiting, hiring, and integration of the firm’s non-partner level attorneys. She manages the firm’s summer associates program and works closely with the Hiring Committee and Diversity Committee to design and implement the firm’s attorney recruiting and retention strategies.

 

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