Thinking about law school

Why are you thinking about law school?  The most common reasons I hear are some variation of the following:

  • I like to argue.
  • I took Constitutional Law/Legal 250/Civil Liberties/etc. and it was mind-blowing.
  • Law is so fascinating.
  • I want a reliable, interesting job.
  • I want to make a lot of money.
  • I want to help people.
  • I don’t know, it’s just what I always thought I’d do.

While many of these are great starting points for your exploration into legal careers, none of them should suffice as your primary reason for going to law school. Think of them instead as directions for further questions:

  • Do lawyers really argue for a living?
  • Is the practice of Constitutional Law anything like the study of Constitutional Law? What are the job opportunities in this field?
  • Is practicing law as fascinating as reading about the law?
  • Are law jobs easy to find? Does lawyering bring steady income and employment? Is it interesting work?
  • How much money do lawyers make? Does it vary by field, practice setting, firm size, location?
  • How do lawyers help people? How does it compare to other helping professions, like social work or teaching?
  • What kinds of work are meaningful to me? What kind of career would match my skills and interests, and maybe bring me satisfaction and joy and a good living?

These pages are designed to help you begin to explore these questions and more, and better understand your options so that you can make an informed decision about whether law school is right for you – in other words, to help you join the group of those likely to find satisfaction in a legal career.

What legal careers are available?

Presumably, you’re thinking about law school because some aspect of the law interests you. But there are so many different types of law – different fields (or “practice areas”), different types of law office (“practice settings”) – that it’s sometimes hard to get a handle on what your options might... read more »
Also in this section: Legal fields and practice areas...Transactional practice vs. litigation...Private practice vs. public service/public interest...Firm size: From solo to BigLaw...Regional vs. national firms...Politics...Academia...Legal careers not requiring a law degree...

How can I find out more about particular fields/practice settings?

These pages outline only the very barest of information about legal careers.  There are three basic ways to find out more, listed here in declining order of helpfulness:work in one or more law offices, talk to practicing attorneys, and read more detailed descriptions of legal careers. Remember, this... read more »
Also in this section: Internships...Resources for researching legal careers...

Is law school a good investment?

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... read more »

How do I prepare for law school?

There is no prescribed major or set of undergraduate courses for admission to law school. The best guide is to follow your own personal and academic interests so that you will be motivated to excel—in other words, study what you love. In selecting students, law school admissions committees look... read more »
Also in this section: Choosing a Major...Choosing Courses...Developing strong writing skills...Grades...Computer Literacy...Extracurricular activities and work...Taking time off before law school...

How can the pre-law office help?

The UMass Pre-Law Advising Office can help you explore legal careers, apply to law school, and even help you manage the stress of doing so.  If you’re a UMass Amherst student or alum and you haven’t found the answers you need on these pages, please email the... read more »