From boardrooms to courtrooms, from government agencies to storefront offices, lawyers play a fundamental role in our society. The versatility of the Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree makes it difficult to describe a “typical” law practice. All of the legal areas of specialization vary not only in terms of the field but also in such matters as caseload, amount of client contact, and office environment. But all attorneys develop significant characteristic abilities: to communicate effectively, to analyze issues and synthesize their component parts, and to advocate, counsel, and negotiate.
Some ways to learn about the practice of the law include attending on-campus lectures by practitioners and admissions representatives, talking to professors in relevant courses, and participating in internships and externships. Lehigh’s extensive alumni database can be utilized to identify Lehigh graduates practicing in the law, in order to arrange informational interviews and shadowing experiences (also known as externships).
The Law School Admission Council is the nonprofit organization that oversees applications to law schools. Check out this site to learn about the LSAT (Law School Admission Test), the electronic application and candidate referral service, law school forums, and diversity initiatives. LSAC also helps potential applicants learn more about the practice of the law, legal specialties, being a law student, and admission to the bar in Thinking About Law School.
Students considering a career in the law should ask themselves the following questions:
- Do you enjoy working with people and their problems? Lawyers do not merely work on “cases” but rather help people with aid and advice regarding their business, criminal, financial, and social problems.
- Do you have good problem-solving and communication skills? Being able to critically analyze issues and then communicate your results, both in writing and verbally, is crucial in the law.
- Are you a life-long learner? Legal professionals must keep up to date on court decisions, rulings, statutes, etc., to provide the best client services.