Obtaining a law degree is an attractive career choice because it offers versatility (law school graduates work in the fields of law, government, politics and education as well as the corporate sector) and a higher salary compared to graduates of graduate school. The average salary for an attorney is $105,000, while that of someone who has completed graduate school is approximately $60,000. The study of law is challenging. Law school requires satisfactory completion of 80 credit hours, broken down into specific courses over a period of three years, or five years for part-time all students.
Entry into law school requires that you have completed your four-year undergraduate degree. Whether you've obtained a degree in English, philosophy, communication, history, political science or business, any major you've chosen will be considered by your chosen law school. The American Bar Association does not specify which bachelor's degree a law school applicant should have, nor does it place any restrictions on what major you've chosen.
Law School Admissions Test
The LSAT (Law School Admissions Test) is a crucial point in entering law school. Like the SAT (Scholastic Assessment Test), the LSAT is a standardized test that is taken in order to determine how successful a candidate you will be for law school. The average LSAT score ranges from 120 to 180 points, and an average score is 150. All accredited law schools in the United States require a completed LSAT examination before they consider an application.
First-Year of Law School
The first year of law school is very challenging. The first-year curriculum consists of 30 credit hours (15 per semester), and typically includes difficult courses such as ethics, civil procedure, constitutional law, contracts, legal writing and research. The first year of law school is also challenging due to the use of the Socratic method on first-year students (commonly called 1L's). The Socratic method occurs when a law professor randomly calls on a 1L and asks difficult questions, publicly embarrassing the 1L who is unprepared for the question.
Second Year of Law School
The second year of law school is still challenging, but less so than the first year because law students have had time to adjust to the hectic schedule, and the Socratic method becomes less threatening. Another reason why the second year seems easier is because the 2L has more free elective courses to choose from. The second-year course load is still 30 credit hours, but a student has the freedom to choose between family law, tax law, jurisprudence, business law or other courses which might interest him. You will probably be meeting with your dean and adviser each semester to ensure that you are enrolling in the right courses to put you on track for graduation.
Third Year Law School
The third year of law school typically consists of finishing up the requirements set forth by your particular law school. Whether you intend to practice law in the state where you are currently attending, many schools require a course in the state law (schools in Washington, D.C., do not). Another common requirement for 3L's is an additional course in ethics, as well as an upper-level writing requirement (e.g., legal writing). Keep in regular contact with your dean to ensure that you have fulfilled all of your credit obligations.