What #LawSchoolProblems Look Like

As my junior year comes to a close, my parents have become increasingly annoying about what I am going to do next. At my 21st birthday brunch on Saturday, the topic changed from what drink I wanted to “What are you going to do after graduation?” Many of us are starting to hear that question more. Too bad my answer means three more years of school and thousands of dollars of debt. Unlike my roommate, a communications major, with some internships and jobs already lined up, I want to go to law school. Why do I want to go to law school? Being a princess was already taken.

When we were younger and our parents asked us what we wanted to be, the answer could literally be anything. For the longest time I told my parents I was going to be a princess or a lawyer. Then I got older and Prince William married whats-her-name, and only the spare was left. So with Harry as my only option, law school started looking more appealing.The only problem with wanting to go to law school is that everyone and their mamas wants to be a lawyer these days! Right now there are more lawyers than there are jobs; in 1980 there were 400,000 lawyers in the U.S. By 2011, the American Bar Association states that number jumped to 1.2 million.

The writing is on the wall, all you have to do is Google “getting into law school,” and at least 10 articles from every media outlet proclaims that going to law school is a really stupid decision. I like to think that “Legally Blonde” made law school popular, especially since my 10-year-old self thought Elle Woods was just the coolest girl ever. In actuality, its because people were told that lawyers, doctors, and accountants were recession proof. We have recently learned that nothing is recession proof, except for college tuition, which seems to rise exponentially higher every year. Despite this, I am not the only one just crazy enough to still want to go to law school. The LSAC found that even though there was a significant drop in applications, 30,000 people still applied to law school last year. So if you are one of the 30,000 idiots, who still wants to go to law school, here are some more fun facts:

  • Of the 30,000 applicants to law school, the average applicant will score a 150 on the LSAT, but applicants should aim for a 160 or higher, in order to get into most law schools.
  • You have to pay the LSAC $160 to take the test, although this also covers sending your test results to the schools of your choosing.
  • The average private law school costs about $34,300, and anyone wanting to go to Harvard (my dumb ass) can look forward to paying $53,000 a year!
  • If you want to go to Harvard, you need at least a 171 on your LSAT and if you want a scholarship, it’s just better to look at non-Ivy League schools.
  • Ivy Leagues do not have to give out as many scholarships, because part of what students pay for is the name.
  • The NALP found that the median entry level salary for public interest attorneys is approximately $42,000 and about $60,000 for private sector.

So here I sit, preparing to be one of the 30,000 idiots applying to go to law school. I have taken a practice LSAT, and grading that test was a practice in not breaking down. The panic attack occurred when I realized I was close enough to get into a decent school, but nowhere near being competitive for a scholarship. I wish there was something else I wanted to do with my life, but reading hundred page cases in my American trials class is what I geek out to. I truly want to go to law school; not because I want to make six figures at a big firm, but because I want to help people who are at a disadvantage in our legal system. I know that there are lawyers who would love to be an affordable defense attorney or do some pro-bono work. The current system means that they cannot afford to be a public defender because the average new attorney leaves law school with at least $100,000 of debt. To pay off that much debt, you have to sell yourself to the highest bidder. So I will spend my summer studying for a three hour test that determines where I can go to school and how much I will have to pay for it.

Elle Woods forgot to mention that there is a cost to doing what we want; instead of doing what makes the most money. I really wish the solution was as simple as doing the “bend and snap.”

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Photo by Nico Nordstrom 

Angela
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