We could take the easy way out and start off with a few good tried-and-true lawyer jokes, but we decided to spare you our witticisms and get down to business. In law school, nothing is clear and simple, so we might as well give you your last glimmer of clarity with this SYW.

So before your begin memorizing poignant soliloquies from The Practice, read on and figure out what it takes to get yourself into one of the 182 accredited institutions built to turn innocent folks like yourself into fine, young ambulance-chasers. We mean lawyers. And we couldn't resist.


Ally McBeal wears designer outfits, drinks lots of coffee, hooks up with hotties in a posh office, and sings along with a dancing baby. You're convinced: This is the life for you!

Well, maybe. But first you have to get through law school. Law school will teach you many things: to think logically, to write precisely, to speak persuasively, to argue effectively, and it will almost definitely guarantee that you become more marketable. Best of all, when you argue with people, all you'll have to say is, "Excuse me, but I'm obviously correct. I'm in law school. Clown."

Though law school can offer you all of these things, there is one thought that must be at the front of your mind when deciding whether to apply: LAW SCHOOL IS A MEANS, NOT AN END. In other words, law school is not supposed to be fun. It absolutely sucks. Even if you end up loving your career as a lawyer, the actual process of going through law school is usually miserable. So with that sunshine-y news in mind, here are a few other not-so-glamorous things to consider when deciding whether law school is in your future:

  • For three years, you will ignore your laundry and do the smell test on your socks. Why's that? Although some law schools offer part-time/night programs for the masochists who want to work and study law at the same time, most JD (Juris Doctorate) programs are full-time and last for three years.

  • Law school is extremely competitive and stressful. If you don't believe us, read Scott Turow's One L: The Turbulent True Story of a First Year at Harvard Law School. You'll see beyond the glossy brochures (and lawyers' glory-days stories) you have an extremely difficult academic experience in store. Hours run long, tensions run high, and first term grades may run low. You'll read and read and read case after case after case. And then your professors will call on you, asking you to sort out case ambiguities on the spot. We're sure you'd rather be watching reruns of The Golden Girls. We would.

  • There's one more thing you'll need to factor into your decision: MONEY. Yes, law school is expensive. Make that very expensive, in fact, with some schools' annual costs topping $30K. The good news is that many schools grant generous scholarship money, especially to those applicants with outstanding credentials and/or demonstrated need. Also, students may borrow money from the government, the school, or private institutions. While some schools are tricky about allowing students to claim independent status to earn need-based aid, federal regulations cover, by allowing for the distribution of bunches of Stafford loans. Hooray for the government!

You're still reading? Okay, so maybe law school is for you; you're okay with the challenges that await you because you're pretty darn psyched about the stock of benefits that law school can bring you, including summer salaries up to $2400/week at some firms, before you even have a degree. And if you join a large firm at the entry level, you'll be making more than most people in America during your very first year. Money hungry already, eh? We think you'll make a fine lawyer.