Argument: Law school is not best way to make social change

Issue Report: Law school


Jennifer Fields. “Is Law School for You?”: “I want to help people and change the world …”

I, too, was once an idealist. After becoming fed up with my job as a social worker, I thought going to law school would be the best way to give me the ability to change social policy. While lawyers do have the ability to affect change on a case-by-case basis, it is important to realize (as I eventually did) that there is a tremendous amount that lawyers can’t change.

Deborah Aaron, author of What Can You Do With a Law Degree? A Lawyer’s Guide to Career Alternatives Inside, Outside, & Around the Law, emphasizes that law school may not be the best way to make your dream of changing society come true. “It’s a very expensive way to contribute,” she said. “Law school is so expensive and public interest jobs pay so little that you can’t afford to go out and change the world and do good.”

She also points out that affecting change through law is the exception rather than the rule. “The law has been significant in changing things: Brown vs. Board of Education, for example. You could be one of those rare few lawyers, but I wouldn’t recommend going to law school with this as your sole goal,” she said.”