Law school is expensive and the market for legal jobs is highly competitive. According to a 2011 "New York Times" article, the average debt of the average law school graduate was $125,000. Becoming a lawyer is not a decision to be made on a whim. While prospective lawyers need to take the Law School Admission Test, or LSAT, as part of the law school application to test their reasoning skills, they also need to have a number of other characteristics that make them suitable for a career in law.
The most important skill that a lawyer needs is critical reasoning: the ability to synthesize information, evaluate evidence and make deductions and inferences based on facts. These are competencies that can be taught to a certain extent. However, given their importance in this field, it is essential you have some natural critical reasoning skills if you wish to become a lawyer.
Some words have precise legal meanings and a stray punctuation mark can completely change the possible interpretation of a sentence. Lawyers have to be highly aware of language and able to express themselves clearly and precisely. At the same time, they must be able to take advantage of any linguistic ambiguities that someone else may have incorporated into a document. If you have this verbal aptitude, both for written and spoken language, it would put you in a strong position to pursue a legal career.
Lawyers need political awareness, not just in the sense of government and party politics. They need to sense when people have a vested interest in an issue, for example, or to be able to identify who has influence and where. Many people who lack formal authority nevertheless have power, and you would need to be able to tap into that power. This political aptitude is needed to practice law, but also to negotiate your way around the hidden power structures of the legal firm or institution that might employ you.
It is hard work both studying and practicing law. Some of the work, particularly at a junior level, is dull, consisting of researching, drafting, and redrafting documents. There might be a lot of hanging around, waiting for people to come back to you with comments. The hours are long, especially at large law firms where clients are spending large amounts of money and expect round-the-clock service. The rewards of partnership in such firms are high, but getting to that point entails many years of hard slog and sacrifices in terms of your family and social life.
Lalla Scotter has been writing professionally since 1988, covering topics ranging from leadership to agriculture. Her work has appeared in publications such as the "Financial Times" and "Oxford Today." Scotter holds an honors Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Bristol.