I’ve been told that I should be a lawyer basically my entire life (not “should” as in “must be,” should as in “would be good at”). My grandfather is a criminal defense attorney (well, he was — he recently retired after fifty-odd years of practicing law), and I’m the only one of numerous children and grandchildren who has ever shown any kind of law school leanings. None of that, of courses, is a reason to go to law school (and/or become an attorney), but it speaks to the fact that the the possibility of becoming a lawyer has been somewhere in my mind for as long as I can remember.
I graduated from Bryn Mawr with my B.A. in philosophy. Generally, after I tell people that, they have one of three reactions: If it isn’t “What are you going to do with that?” or an anecdote about a philosophy class they once took and didn’t understand, people usually ask me if I’m going to law school. I’ve also heard that being a philosophy major is helpful on the LSATs.
Apparently, I can be very logical (or at least, I can be when my emotions aren’t involved; I’ve realized that I’ve become increasingly swayed by my emotions over the past couple years). I want to do something that makes a difference, something that will benefit my community. I’m currently an intern with an amazing law project that I think is just one of the most fantastic things ever (and to which you really should consider donating, if you have a spare $5 or $10 or more and feel so inclined — shameless plug, yes, indeed; when it comes to TJLP, I apparently have no shame). All of those things make people seem to think that I would be a good lawyer and should consider going to law school.
However, several completely amazing people who all happen to be attorneys (and really fierce activists) and have been influential in my life have warned me away from law school. Well, it was partly warning away, partly cautioning me to really be completely, absolutely, positively certain that it’s what I want to do and that I am utterly aware of all of the consequences — financially, emotionally, ideologically, politically, and spiritually (I’m still working on that). Which possibly makes my grandfather the only attorney I know who’s actually encouraging me to go to law school.
Law school. It’s absurdly expensive. From what I hear, it indoctrinates; it’s not about teaching people to critically question the legal system. Dean Spade wrote an article about law school in hopes of providing “a moment of pause in the assumption that law school is a wise choice for activists who want to transform the world.” I’ve read it numerous times — the general response of those activists/attorneys I mentioned above to the “I want to go to law school!” attitude is, “Have you read what Dean Spade wrote?” So, yes, I have. And I’m seriously taking that under consideration.
Nevertheless, there’s still something that makes me think law school might be what I want to do. Maybe. Obviously, it’s a decision that only I can make — not the family and friends who think I’d be good at it, not the attorney friends who are far more hesitant about pro-law school attitudes. I don’t know what I want to do yet. What I can say for certain is that I’m not going to law school until/unless I am positive that it is what I want to do and can articulate my reasons with more than “it feels like a good idea.”