“University will be better because you’re doing what you actually want” and this remains one of the recurring lies of the university.
Whatever stress you think you felt in high school, double it and if you plan on studying law triple it. The prestige of telling people you are a law student or an actual lawyer can only be matched by few things. That is why some of us are in a hurry to enter into the world of the country’s most intellectual but there are a number of things to take into consideration before making this huge decision.
If you’re not a fan of reading you will have a really hard time. Not only do you have to read but you also have to understand.
It’s hard to study, hard to understand and hard to practice. There’s no other way to stress on how much work it takes not only knowing various laws governing various aspects of life but you actually have to apply them to life which is a lot harder than you could have ever imagined. If this thought alone scares you, you should probably stop reading this altogether and just transfer.
There will be times where you can’t even seek help because you don’t even know what you don’t know. Sadly, this is not one of those things that you just study so you don’t fail the semester. Even if you’re somehow able to bullshit your way through school, your incompetence in this field will eventually catch up to you when you intend to practice. This is because you’re not studying the law to pass exams, you’re studying so in the future you don’t destroy someone’s life by sending them to jail or losing them a lot of money because you couldn’t do your job right.
It’s very expensive
Education is expensive, being educated in law is even more expensive. From the actual tuition to books, to legislature, it goes on. This is also a field where the level of education you have is very important because you may literally have someone’s life in your hands so being the most qualified and experienced will definitely bring favour. In order to compete, you have to be willing to spend so that brings me to the question you have to ask yourself. If it’s not something you have a passion for and will be fully committed to, why waste your money?
Your social life may suffer
We often hear of people’s predicaments and are quick to forbid and rebuke them, we always think that “can never be me”, but honestly who actually wishes such things on themselves? No one. Life just happens sometimes. Tomorrow turns into next week and could eventually turn into months. We may piss off family and loved ones when we don’t have nearly as much time for them. We expect them to understand that we’re only doing what we have to and not purposely ignoring them but that doesn’t make it easier on anyone. Time management is not as easy as it may seem and it can get very easy to become distant because there so much to know, so much to learn and not nearly enough time. Multitasking will be a very essential skill, that, and the ability to work well under pressure because there will definitely be loads of that.
Mentally and emotionally draining
You may have to leave your feelings behind for this one because when you become a lawyer you’re exposed to a whole different level of despicable human beings. Even worse you may have to witness the justice system favouring them because that’s just the way things are sometimes. You cannot get emotional with the law because there are only so many things you can do to change it and while our legislature may be available to everyone who can read, many people haven’t bothered and are living in blissful ignorance. However, as a lawyer, it will be your job to know that in Ghana someone can sit in jail for decades for stealing a loaf of bread to feed his family but a corrupt politician who embezzles an entire nation’s funds cannot be imprisoned for more than 3 years. The justice system obviously won’t always function well and that’s a fact but having a front row seat to the injustice definitely makes it a lot harder to deal with.
Being a lawyer does not automatically result in wealth
A lecturer once told a class some lawyers may earn as little as GHS 400 ($80-$100) a case. We giggled, chuckled and murmured for several minutes until we realized she wasn’t joking. Since many of the lawyers we have access to are well off, many people assume that it is an automatic benefit of being a lawyer. Once you become a lawyer you get a well-paying job with a fancy office, a nice car and a nice house. On the contrary, studying and practising law can leave you strapped for cash.
There is without a doubt an influx of lawyers in the system meaning the competition is tough, not to mention the veteran lawyers that are already known and trusted. Not many people would be willing to entrust their lives and money to someone they barely know, especially if you’re not employed in a law firm which comes with its own struggle. Building a reputable image takes a lot of work, pro bono cases (which require money) and a lot of connections (no, not just people who can get you into the VIP section at clubs but those that can influence the right people to give you a chance, those are the connections that matter). Make no mistake even with all these, nothing is guaranteed and you’ll still need to prove yourself. So, if your primary motivation for becoming a lawyer is money you may need to rethink your decision and consider other options in addition.
Your morality may be questioned
We’ve all heard the lawyer jokes about not making it to Heaven or being buried face down but despite the idiotic sense of humour backing this mentality, there’s some truth to the claims. The solution seems easy, just defend the good guys. While possible, this will contradict a major goal of yours that you were hoping to achieve which is the accumulation of wealth, because quite often the good guys don’t have as much money as the bad guys. That means there will be a lot of pro bono cases in your future if you stick to this mantra. Not only does that mean you won’t get paid but you’ll actually have to lose money because court cases aren’t cheap.
It may seem as if you’re being advised to seek corrupt wealthy clients but these are only hard facts. Not to say there aren’t some rich good guys out there but even then, when you’re in the right, you may still have to do some despicable things to win because the law isn’t black and white.
We could go on and on with why studying law is a bad idea but these are just a few of the things to consider. Of course, there are many upsides to studying law which many of us are already aware of which is why we were interested in the first place. This article was not intended to discourage anyone, it may seem a bit harsh but sugar coating the truth would help no one. Law is a great course to pursue if you have the passion for it, if not then it really may not be worth it. Think long and hard before making a decision and remember that at the end of the day it is your life and you’re the one who will have to deal with all your decisions in the future, not your friends or family who may be influencing and pressuring you.