Examine How a Current Career Translates to Law School

Shawn P. O'Connor

Welcome to the latest installment of Law Admissions Q-and-A, a monthly feature of Law Admissions Lowdown that provides advice to readers who send in questions and admissions profiles.

If you have a question about law school, email me for a chance to be featured next month. This month, I answer questions from applicants who wish to apply their career backgrounds to a new career in the legal field.

Dear Shawn: I am an engineering professional in the renewable energy industry. I work at a large firm involved in the construction of solar and wind power plants. In my work, I come across contracts and enjoy being a contributor to the language that we use to ensure we are not promising more than we can deliver.

Originally from India, I am also keen to understand market policies and market dynamics in that part of the world. I do believe that a degree such as international law with a specialization in environmental law could allow for a more rewarding career.

Do I have a chance of being admitted into law school even though I don't have any legal experience? What career prospects exist for law graduates in their mid-30s? -Wanting to Make Moves

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Dear Wanting to Make Moves: You do not necessarily need a law background to apply to law school and be admitted. Applicants hail from a variety of backgrounds, and I believe that since you have a specific career trajectory in mind and a concrete way in which to use your law degree, you will have a very clear story to relay in your applications. However, admissions chances also greatly depend on your GPA and LSAT score.

Law school is an investment in your future, so I understand your concerns about career options after graduating. There are many careers from which an individual with a specialization in international law and environmental law can choose; you have an advantage in that you already have an established career in the environmental industry. Thus, your previous experience combined with a law degree could be very attractive to prospective employers.

Students interested in both of those law specializations tend to work in private international law where they can address environmental issues within private companies and nonprofit organizations.

No one can guarantee what the job market will look like after you graduate, but if you believe a law degree will lead to a more fulfilling career for you, I encourage you to give it serious thought. -Shawn

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Dear Shawn: I saw your article on the four questions to ask oneself before attending law school, and I am hoping you can provide insight on my situation.

I'm currently working as a television reporter, and I've been thinking about making a career change. I enjoy the busy, fast-paced nature of my work and find myself most motivated by legal stories. Do you think my background in news would be of any value when it comes to the legal field? -TV Lawyer

[Learn how to discuss a career change in law applications.]

Dear TV Lawyer: Your background as a television reporter is certainly applicable to legal studies. The critical thinking and investigative requirements of a reporter will be highly sought skills in law school applicants.

In terms of applying your news background to a career in law, it depends what path you plan to pursue after graduating. The skills you have gained in your current career will likely be applicable in many aspects of the law; however, there are areas that your skills will lend to more than others.

For example, First Amendment law is the area most directly related to your previous experience in media. In addition, given your background, you may take interest in how the law will govern the changes in the way information is conveyed with advances in technology and how the intellectual property regime will keep up. -Shawn