Why Go to Law School?

Photo credit: Jacob SlatonYou’ve heard the reports – there are too many lawyers, the legal job market is flat, legal education is too expensive.

So, why should you go to law school?

Because while law school definitely prepares you to practice law, the law school experience can prepare you for much more.

“Law schools are the setting for a transformative experience in which students engage with a challenging intellectual tradition that teaches them to question their assumptions and learn how to be creative problem-solvers. Students learn to become agents of change because [law school] teaches students about the legal system of the United States, a system that has the seeds of change built into its structure.”

Through their studies, “students learn about the rule of law by learning about the history of the law and about the United States Constitution and the body of law it has created. This body of law continues to produce the fundamental principles on which all other law in the United States is based. It also produces the structure of our legal system and the conditions under which this system flourishes.

Every important issue that our society, and all societies, are facing at this time in history has important legal aspects to it, whether it is global conflict, food safety and security, civil unrest, human rights, public health, the role of technology and the internet, environmental issues, corporate governance, government accountability, or the migration of populations. Regardless of the root of the problems or the variety of possible solutions, the law, and lawyers, will have a crucial role to play.

Sometimes lawyers need to use the law in order to ensure protection of an otherwise powerless person or group; sometimes they seek to change the law to improve our society and increase prosperity. Every day lawyers use their problem-solving skills to help individuals and organizations resolve conflicts, plan their affairs, and reach their goals.

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This broad-based knowledge of the law, its role in our society, and these critical thinking and problem-solving skills give the holders of this knowledge both an understanding of public and private legal structures and the skills to address individual problems in an analytical and rational way. Legal education also trains students in a variety of problem-solving skills that can be utilized in situations within and outside of the practice of law. No other professional training imparts this combination of knowledge and skills and empowers its holders to use them in myriad ways, from defending the rights of the marginalized and downtrodden, to running a multinational corporation; from working for law reform and policy, to continually striving to understand the meaning and application of the Constitution.”

(Statement on the Value of a Legal Education, developed by the Deans Steering Committee of the Association of American Law Schools. September 10, 2014.)