Going to law school is a common next step taken by many liberal arts graduates. And while there may be some good reasons to go, there are some equally good reasons not to, according to Dr. John Baker, University of Dallas alumnus, professor at at Louisiana State University, and visiting professor at Georgetown University. Dr. Baker spoke recently to a group of UD students about the ins and outs of law school.
“Here are the reasons not to go to law school,” Baker said. “Don’t go because your parents or anybody else wants you to go. And don’t be go because you don’t know what else to do.” Baker said that not knowing what to do with a liberal arts degree is sometimes a problem for UD students. “Don’t be afraid of the world,” he said. “You have a lot to offer.”
Baker said that UD students can stand out in the competition to get into law school because so many undergraduates are not being taught how to think, and since the best law schools have intellectual depth, unprepared graduates can’t compete. But broad thinking liberal arts majors must be prepared to make the transition to a new level of detail in law school. “Law school is granular,” Baker said. “You have to be ready for that kind of attention to detail.”
Baker said that those considering law school can make themselves competitive by bringing a special skill to the table. This will also help law school graduates differentiate themselves when competing for jobs after graduation. “Since law schools are basically agnostic about majors, try to get a background in anything,” Baker said. “Whether it’s a foreign language, business, or medicine, try to develop an expertise in something.”
“An undergraduate internship with a law firm is another good way to see if the law is right for you,” Baker said. In addition, he suggested that becoming a paralegal for a while before applying to law school can let students test the waters of a law firm before committing to law school.
Baker recommended that if students apply to law school, they should accept the best school they can get into. “There are some good schools in this area,” Baker said. “If you want to stay in this region, consider University of Texas. If you want to stay in Dallas, consider Southern Methodist University.”
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