Top 10 Questions to Ask Yourself
Before You Decide to Go to Law School

Edward Tom,

Dean of Admissions
Berkeley Law, University of California

(As recorded by Peg Cheng, former UW Pre-Law Adviser,
in a presentation given on May 3, 2007. Included here with permission of Dean Tom.)


1. Are you an opinionated person?

Can you articulate your opinions in writing and in speech? Can you articulate the other side's opinions with equal clarity?

2. Do you care?

Are you part of the 1% of the population that cares about an issue and wants to do something about it?

3. Are you a bit of a ham?

Do you like to talk in class and get involved in the dialogue? Can you play Devil's Advocate?

4. Are you an organized, detail-oriented person?

Lawyers need to read the fine print. Berkeley embeds secret things in their applications. You have to read the instructions!

5. Do you read the Voter's Pamphlet?

Those are laws! If you don't like reading them, you may not like law school.

6. Do you know your strengths and weaknesses?

Law school can destroy your self-esteem, wear you down, and make you doubt your own beliefs. If you know you need eight hours of sleep, get it, even if you have to skip a case. If you know you need to exercise, get to the gym.

7. Do you have a good handle on your EGO?

If you are told fifteen times a day that you're wrong, can you still feel good about yourself at the end of the day? If you can't handle the process, don't come to law school.

8. Are you okay with ambiguity?

2+2=4, but what if 2+2=6? There are a lot of gray areas in law. If you need certainty, consider accounting.

9. After all these years, do you still like school?

Do you still like to read and write papers? Law school is all about reading -- except when it's about writing, in fine detail and at great length.

"I care about spelling errors. I care deeply. We are not here to correct your personal statement. If I see your comma in the wrong place, I will not admit you."

10. Do you have any unfinished business in your life?

Travel dreams? Need to get away from school? Want to work for a while? Need to help out your family?

Take care of unfinished business before you go to law school. You can't get off this train for a long time.


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