By Madison Rutherford
Senior, Journalism, San Francisco State University
Suits and Legally Blonde convinced you that you want to be a lawyer. Will you get to argue a high profile case during your three years? Probably not. But law school offers rewarding experiences you won't find anywhere else. Here are 22 perks of law school that will help you decide if a legal career is your calling.
1. Know Your Rights
Ever heard someone say, "Is that even legal?" Come to the rescue with an educated answer. Knowing your rights as a citizen, employee or tenant will come in handy before you make an assumption and accidentally cross the line.
2. Contest a Ticket Like a Boss
After law school, you'll finally know how to dispute that pesky parking ticket. Most people just give in and pay fines because they don't feel like reading the fine print or going through the trouble of writing a convincing explanation. However, learning the ins and outs of the law -- and how to use it to your advantage -- is just one valuable thing you'll gain from a law degree. You'll no longer have to groan when you see that white slip neatly tucked under your windshield wiper or panic when you see flashing lights in your rear view mirror. Even though going to law school doesn't mean you're above the law, it will teach you how to stand up for injustice.
3. Make Any Agreement Iron Clad
Did your friend agree to build you a professional website in exchange for LSAT tutoring? A law degree provides you the legal writing skills to make any contract binding, even a friendly agreement between pals. Avoid those conflicting interpretations like when your friend swears he only agreed to a couple lines of code.
4. Become an Interview Snob
Andrew Metzar, a 2009 law school graduate, said that law school was extremely helpful in helping him through the job interview process. "You have to teach yourself or learn how to be a good interview, sitting across from someone and presenting yourself in the best and most favorable way possible, which I guess is an extension of what you're trying to do as a lawyer as well," he said.
5. Convince Others
Do you and your girlfriend disagree on whether or not robots are taking over the world? Do you and your best friend fight over which posters best represent the vibe of your apartment? Does your boss think you're slacking when you think you're overworked? Law school will teach you how to approach conflicts with different types of people, how to understand their mindset and how to deliver your points of view. This will position you to win any argument. A law degree won't ensure that you're always right, but it will teach you how to convince others that you are.
6. Get Real World Experience
Law schools offer externships or legal clinic programs to give students an experiential education. Kristin Moore, a third year law student, already works directly with clients, which gives her a sense of real cases she'll experience in the future. For Moore, it's her favorite part of law school.
7. Negotiate a Raise
You will, without a doubt, graduate from law school knowing how to handle any argument like a pro. It will also teach you that nearly everything is negotiable -- including that starting salary. Studying law will help you see both sides of a situation in order to craft a top-notch counterargument.
8. Be Purposeful
Studying law trains students to speak with conviction, act with poise and write with purpose, which filters in to all aspects of their lives. "You're just a lot more intentional in your actions and your thinking," said Moore. "You're thinking about strategy and about outcomes a lot more than I think I did before I went to law school."
9. Expand Your Views on Diversity
Law school exposes you to varying viewpoints, some you agree with and some you don't. "I grew up in Kansas so it's not a very diverse place," Moore said. "Going to a school that's known for its diversity was a really intentional move for me because I wanted to learn about the law from a lot of different perspectives."
10. Know How to Act When Disaster Strikes
Being a law student prepares you to plant both feet firmly on the ground while the walls are caving in around you. The high-pressure environment and multi-faceted curriculum of law school force you to think fast and deal with problems rationally and in a timely manner. "(Law school) teaches you to anticipate potential disasters to sort of appease them or mitigate them before they occur," Metzar said. Keep calm and get a law degree.
11. Speak Klingon... aka Legalese
Going to law school is like learning a new language. You will learn not only concepts and theories that are completely foreign to you, but begin using jargon you've never used before. "My legal dictionary was my best friend," Moore quipped. Similar to learning a different language, it starts to flow naturally the more you practice. Expect to graduate fluent in the language of law.
Go to CollegeMagazine.com to get the full list.