Law school, really?
A lot has already been covered, but: – Think about the states where you might conceivably want to practice, and try to learn a little bit about what the bar requirements are. It’ll probably help to look at the range of schools in your favored area, even if you’re planning on attending a school with a national reputation. – I ended up taking three state bar exams, though two (NY and NJ) were taken during the same week. Certain states with one-day written exams will accept a concurrent score on the Multistate exam, so you can take State 1’s written portion on Tuesday, the Multistate on Wednesday, travel to State 2 on Wednesday night, and take the State 2 exam on Thursday. However, once you’ve passed one bar exam, it should be easier to prepare for other ones, since many of the same rules apply; all I did to prepare for New York was study some notes from eBay on local law and refresh myself on general principles, and I didn’t do any independent studying for the New Jersey exam. Still, you
A caveat to what others have said about bar admission: Washington, DC has a policy of admitting people who have been admitted to any state (that’s just my rough understanding, so check on the details). Here is my advice for taking the LSAT, and you might find that AskMe thread useful in general. Not only is a biology degree not a hindrance, but it may be an unexpected asset. Someone with a technical background may very well look more impressive (not just in admissions) than someone with a run-of-the-mill law student major like poli sci or history. (This is based only on observation of others, not first-hand experience.) Since I’ve graduated from law school but don’t have much work experience yet, the rest of my advice will be mostly about surviving law school (especially the first year, since that’s the hardest and generally the most consequential). Believe everyone who tells you that it’s essential to hav
1. Doesn’t matter what your BA is – mine was psych and I got into a high top-tier school. Your BA has no impact on the law school curriculum, law schools expect you to have no prior legal education. “Pre-law” undergrad preparations are no longer preferred, except that in order to be accepted you’ll generally need to show analytical and critical thinking capabilities (in your own field). 2. There are locally focused and nationally focused law schools, with the top tier and more elite generally being national. Great grades at a local school can bring you to a great income/position in a law firm in that locality, or a national law firm’s office in that locality, with your career progress determining your advancement therefrom. A national school is only really necessary if you want to go into elite appellate work, etc. Short story: it can be important depending on your career goals, but isn’t essential, and personal achievement is far more critical. 3. Different states have different rules
Re Biology degree: It’s fine, you don’t need to take any pre-requisites to get into law school. In fact, where I went (Boalt), biology was an extremely common undergrad major because many people wanted to go into IP. Re importance of school: It is quite important, especially for the first few years out of law school. If you want to go to a big firm (where the six-figure salaries are), a clerkship, or an academic position, you really need to go to a good school. Not impossible to get these positions at lesser schools, but it’s certainly a lot harder. That said, once you’ve been out of school for a few years, if you demonstrate yourself to be an excellent lawyer, you can still have a strong career in the long run. If you’ve pass the bar in one state, you can practice law in other states only on a case-by-case basis, where you get admitted pro hac vice by the court in each case. Otherwise, you need to take the bar again. Re your employment prospects, that depends heavily on where you go a
Oh, a couple more things: What do wish you had known before going into law school? — How law practice is not anything like law school; i.e., if you hate law school you might actually like law practice, and if you love law school you may still crash and burn in law practice. — In law school, you are trained to try cases and use incisive legal reasoning, and you’re not really prepared for the rote, routine nature of much legal work; i.e., you’re not really told that most lawyers feel like cogs in a system where there’s very little drama in their daily practice. I.e., the job of very successful lawyers is a lot of very routine stuff that often does not call for or reward really incisive reasoning (although, of course, there are times when this is rewarded). They do the same stuff every day — getting judgments against people who default on their credit cards, taking depositions of plaintiffs in bogus tort cases, negotiating plea deals for petty criminals. A lot of lawyers are really ju