Welcome to the latest installment of Law Admissions Q&A, a feature that provides law school admissions advice to readers who send in inquiries. If you have a question about law school admissions, email us for a chance to be featured in a future post.
I’m a mother of four amazing children, and my goal in life is to make them proud. Law school has always been in the cards for me, but fear and finances have made it extremely difficult to pursue my dreams of becoming a lawyer, especially since I recently lost my job and now have no income coming in. I’ve made several attempts to take the LSAT. I just need to have the courage to really take on this challenge and push myself to pursue my childhood dream of becoming an attorney. I know 2022 is the year for me and once I dive into anything I’m unstoppable, but right now my fears are really paralyzing me. Can you help me with some positive encouragement? – SP
Good lawyers make their decisions based on evidence. The strong emotions you feel about applying to law school are powerful evidence that going to law school means a lot to you. However, they are not evidence about the strength of your candidacy or your chances of admission.
There are many questions that aspiring lawyers should ask themselves before undertaking the multiyear process of law school, from application to graduation.
Applicants should think through practical considerations about the affordability of tuition and the costs and benefits of their degree, as well as more personal questions about choosing a legal career path and tradeoffs they may have to face.
Older applicants are often better suited to answer these questions than recent graduates, since they benefit from more life experience, specific career goals and realistic expectations.
However, older applicants are also more vulnerable to misgivings about the process. Young applicants are used to applying to schools, studying for tests like the LSAT and coming up with back-up plans. They can draw upon the advice and encouragement of peers, family members and mentors.
In contrast, older applicants face a lot more baggage about their strengths and capabilities. They may feel like late bloomers. They may take setbacks more personally. Their brains may seek confirmation that law school isn’t for people like them, based on outdated myths about who is a typical law student.
Some of these concerns may be very real, like the risks of education debt or the difficulty of balancing coursework with other responsibilities. But there are ways to address such concerns. There are low-cost LSAT preparation options. There are support programs for law students who are parents. There are online and part-time programs and other flexible arrangements.
Facing Your Fears
The same advice for managing LSAT test anxiety applies to other fears that arise during the law school application process. Instead of trying to fight or dispel your fears and doubts, acknowledge them. Then simply set them aside. They are not great truths. They are just ideas from your brain about reasons to avoid a difficult and uncertain challenge.
Write down your concerns as they arise. Write responses to them. Revise this list over time, as you learn more. But don’t base your decisions on it.
Make decisions based on evidence. What do you want to do with your law degree? Is it the best way to pursue these goals? What are the tradeoffs? What obstacles remain and what steps can you take to address them?
Even if law school is your childhood dream, think carefully about whether realizing this dream will truly deliver the results you wish for, now that you know more as an adult. Envision your daily life as a lawyer. If it seems hazy, conduct research and consider volunteering in a law office to learn more.
One hard truth about being a lawyer is that those fears will still be with you. You may walk into a courtroom clouded with self-doubt. Then you may look at your client, whose fears dwarf yours, and remember you have a job to do.
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