I have been thinking a lot about what this post would be about but after some time realized that I should write about what I have been preoccupying myself with for the past couple of months, but more than that the last couple of years.
In 5th grade, I read a book about lawyers and became fascinated with the idea of becoming one. It was a silly book that got me excited about the possibilities of law. I always told my counselors I wanted to become one. They laughed and thought my dreams would fade and this was “just a phase.” Unfortunately, they were right. The dream did fade.
I decided not to pursue law for a long time, from high school up until college I was never sure what I wanted to do. To be honest, though, this notion or idea of knowing what you want to do is bogus. I have never known exactly where I see myself in 10 or 20 years and that is okay.
I don’t believe our lives are linear nor should they be dictated by a plan with one dream. I think we’re allowed many dreams.
I can go to law school to pursue policy or public service while simultaneously pursuing my passions and dreams as a writer and social content creator. That’s the thing, I want to go to law school and possibly become a judge or work in to change laws and policies.
I don’t want to do it for the money. Here’s the first piece of advice: if you’re considering going to law school to be rich, that is understandable. However, know that it may not make you happy. The money and the work you do will not be fulfilling. At the end of the day whatever career you choose, you should do it because it will make your life meaningful and joyful.
So now what? If you’re thinking about going to law school or wanting to do a grad school program here are THREE tips that I want to share with you.
#1: Don’t rush your decision to attend law school or graduate school.
I decided to take two gap years before going back to school after I graduated college. I graduated with a B.S. in Political Science and Honors Sociology May of 2017, worked for a year, and this year I am taking the time to prepare my applications, write my statements of purpose, and take the LSAT. I took the time off to research the schools I wanted to go to and take a break from studying. College was pretty draining and I felt exhausted after. I decided to take time off but with a purpose. I had a goal of going back to school Fall 2019. If you take time off, make sure you have a goal of going back by a certain year or by a certain point and define that.
Additionally, don’t let others dictate your decision or pressure you to go straight into a program. Take the time you need to decide whether that’s your junior year so you know what to do your last year in college or your last year in college to go back the following year, etc. Just remember, it’s your choice. You don’t have to explain yourself to anyone, take their advice, or decide because of someone else.
#2: Take time to study for the Law School Admissions Test or LSAT (or if you’re doing graduate school the GRE).
It is “just a test” but to have the least amount of anxiety on the test day and to make sure you did the best you can then you should put in the time. The time depends on what score you want and realistic expectations. The LSAT is scored from 120-180, the closer you get to 180 the better of course, but schools take into consideration more than this score. I can’t say don’t be nervous, because I am nervous.
I will be taking it on September 8th so I’m taking a couple of months to really prepare. I also have a full-time job and other things, so I don’t spend day and night studying.
I think the best advice is to study at least 5-10 hours a week, an hour or two hours max at a time. Take a bunch of practice exams both timed and untimed. If you’re like me, taking a class is really helpful or if you like self-studying Magoosh or Powerscore are really great online platforms. Do the best you can and know this is just one part of the whole process.
#3: You decide what you want to write in your statements of purpose or personal statements.
Whether you are applying to law school, graduate school, or even scholarships you will be asked to write about yourself. As people of color, women, low-income students, etc. we are often pushed to write our traumas or expose all of our barriers. You do not have to. Write the story that defines you whether it’s a moment yesterday, two months ago, or ten years ago. Write about your victories during undergraduate or your job. Choose how you want to portray yourself and don’t let others dictate that.
If you want to write about how an event or growing up in poverty changed you or informed your decision, do it! Just know you don’t have to do it because it’s expected from you.
Make sure you write it up and edit it a couple of times yourself. Re-read it and then share it with three people who you trust to help you make edits. Take it to an advisor or pre-law counselor if you feel comfortable! Just make sure you have others help you because sometimes we miss things when we have looked at our writing for too long.
Congratulations, it is a huge step to go to law school or graduate school!
It’s exciting to be working towards a goal of mine and I am so excited if you to be doing the same. It’s not easy and sometimes we may feel inadequate or like imposters in these spaces but remember that you are capable and deserving of pursuing your dreams. If you have any questions for me send them! I’m sending my applications late fall/early winter so I will keep you all posted with the process.
Until then, I’m off to study for the LSAT and drink an iced vanilla latte.