There are plenty of stories recounting people's regret over going to law school. This isn't one of them. Sure, I didn't love being one of my Corporations professor's regulars for Socratic questioning, and I could have done without the hype over the curve. But looking back, I am thankful I went to law school, and here are some reasons why:
1. My Network
One of the best parts of law school was meeting so many interesting, intelligent people in one place. My class was comprised of people from around the globe with an immense range of life experiences and a variety of future goals. What I learned in the classroom was important, but what I learned from my fellow classmates was life changing. Hearing my classmates ideas forced me to think about my own worldview and push myself to uncomfortable limits in my thinking. It also was just plain fun. I made a wonderful group of friends who remain good friends more than decade later.
My connections pool only grew once I entered the legal profession. From my law firm position to freelance writing for the legal industry to my position as Senior Law Editor at Vault, I have built a network of incredible people who are all so different but share one common bond: passion. I haven't immersed myself in another industry, but being surrounded by so many passionate people throughout my career has been a wonderful asset in my own career.
2. The Push to Think Big
Given that I have been surrounded by so many people with lofty aspirations, I have ruminated on my own goals throughout my legal career many times. Perhaps it is just me, but sometimes I think it is easy to undersell ourselves or be content with "enough." What my peers in both law school and the legal industry have demonstrated is that there shouldn't be a limit on your goals. Someone has to take on the big fights; someone has to fill the highest-level roles; someone has to change the world. Not everyone wants to think big or push themselves to their limits, but I am grateful for the constant reminders of what I can achieve just by glancing at LinkedIn or meeting friends for a glass of wine.
3. Work Ethic
It's no secret that law school is a lot of work. Your peers are the best of the best, and trying to beat the curve takes a lot of work. Not to mention, when the bar exam rolls around and your future career is on the line, the discipline one must muster is nothing to sneeze at. Law school taught me how to hone in on my strengths and leverage them to work smart, but it also taught me that oftentimes, you need to roll up your sleeves and put in the time. In my current job, I have about 20 balls in the air at a time, and being armed with the work ethic and organization I developed in law school is invaluable.
Law school can't open every door, but it certainly can prepare you for many paths. The work ethic and analytical abilities developed through law school and a legal career are valuable for any profession you pursue. And the confidence that one can build by facing the obstacles the legal industry throws at you—whether it is dealing with a brutal day of Socratic method, defending a deposition across from a skilled attorney, or mastering tough negotations—can give you the thick skin you need to pave your way in a traditional legal career or an alternative opportunity. Not to mention, many employers value a candidate who is armed with a J.D. Personally, I have found my J.D.—and how I frame the benefits it has provided to me—to be an asset in building my career.
5. Personal Responsibility
My final reason for being thankful for law school is the personal responsibility it has instilled in me. In many ways, my legal career has centered on team work. But there have also been plenty of times where the responsibility has fallen directly on my shoulders, starting with my law school grades. Study groups were useful, but I also prioritized my individual study time because in the end, my grade was mostly based on the final exam. I learned the importance of being able to manage my studies effectively, prioritize study time, and accept responsibility for my mistakes, while also celebrating my accomplishments. Throughout my career, I have made my fair share of errors, and taking responsibility for those mistakes and stepping up to fix them has been just as important as my successes.
Why are you grateful for law school? We'd love to hear! Share with us on twitter: @VaultLaw.
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