Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Law Degree is Not Just for Legal Practice

I disagree with those who say "Don't go to law school unless you're sure you want to practice law." A legal education, earning a J.D., passing a bar exam - these achievements have intrinsic value even for those of us who do not practice law.

Here's a blog post from last year that has a funny David Kelly quote about the decline in law school applications. But some of the comments argue that people unsure of their reasons for attending law school should not apply. I disagree.

Here are some of my reasons for disagreeing:

1. I do not practice law. However, my experiences as a law applicant, law student, and law school graduate led me to my career in law school administration. In turn, (although I did practice law for 3 years before doing this) I was able to open my own business as a law school admission consultant. Without my law degree, no law school would've hired me - at the age of 26 - to head up their entire recruiting and admissions effort. With my law degree, I was better paid -and happier- than most of my peers who were practicing law 1 year after earning a J.D.

2. My legal education changed the way I think and approach problems. It made me smarter. It made me realize what is relevant, in business and in life. I think better. That is worth every penny I'm paying back in law school loans.

3. My law background allows me to make a difference in my community. For five years, I've participated as a member of the Santa Barbara Chapter of the Anti-Defamation League Civil Rights Committee. I now serve as Chair of this committee and am a member of the local Board of Directors. My law degree allows me to contribute to my community, whether or not I practice law.

When I applied to law school in 1995, I wrote in my personal statement that I wasn't sure I wanted to practice law. In 1999, as the student speaker at my law school graduation, I repeated the sentiment but added that I knew the kind of life I wanted to lead and that my law degree would allow me to live that life. I stand by that statement.

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