I recently received an inquiry from a 13 year old student in Chicago asking me for advice on what it takes to become a lawyer.  Here’s what she said:

Hello , my name is XXX (removed to protect their name) and I’m 13 years old .Im not emailing you for a report on anything if your wondering . Like I said , I’m 13 and when I grow up i’m looking forward to becoming a lawyer . I am currently in summer break and I’m planing to do some research about the requirements to be a lawyer . I wanted to ask if you can give me some information on whats it like in becoming a lawyer . Whats it like to become a lawyer , how do you prepare for your cases , how do you prepare for your cases , questions that will lead me to the right path and let me distinguish it . Please , feel free to give me as much information as you possibly can . im sorry for bothering you at this moment I just really want to see if this is would lead me to the right path in life and if I’m really up Toit . I want to see if this job is suitable for me .  I would like for you to answer questions about three types of lawyers if possible ; Immigration , Criminal law , and family hood . Again i’m so sorry for bothering you guys , hope you have a wonderful day . Thank you for your time

I get these questions a lot and try not to give boiler plate answers just as I try to be honest when someone calls me for legal advice.  Here is what I said.

Thanks for contacting us. Honest answer is that you will change so much between now and 18 and then again between 18-22 when you are in college that there’s no way to figure out now if you really want to become a lawyer or not.  It’s a good profession and the good news is that unlike medical school, you can major in anything and still apply to law school and get accepted.  In other words, the best time to start thinking about this is when you are in college.  In addition, technology is changing the law a bit, so how we prepare for cases now, might not be the way we do it in 12 years when you can be an attorney.  I was one of the first lawyers with a website in 2001 and now almost every firm has them for example.
I have a 13 year old son and if I was going to give him career advice it would be learn how to code because that seems to be the most relevant skill out there.  But I would also want you to enjoy being 13. My son has a job and thinks about the future, but I wouldn’t want him or you to be over-burdened by it right now. I hope that makes sense.
Something to file away for the future if you do think about law school is that the good is you can do a ton with a law degree.  I recommend googling all of the accomplished people who have a law degree but don’t practice as lawyers.  President and Michelle Obama are just two such people.  The other thing I would suggest to anyone down the road is don’t get yourself boxed in to a career you can’t get out of.  Many attorneys I know are miserable but don’t know how to do anything else.  The best advice I ever heard on this is to chase your passion, not money.
With respect how you get in to law school, it’s mostly based on your grades and a standardized test called the LSAT.  But it wouldn’t surprise me if that changes between now and when you’d be ready to apply.  There is literally nothing you can do to prepare now for applying to law school beyond being a good student nor should you worry about that.  If you are thinking about anything academically it should be what college is the right fit for you and even then, I wouldn’t think about that until high school.
I wish you the best.  If you have any questions you are welcome to contact me at any time.
Yours truly,
Michael Helfand
Attorney at Law