What is it like to be a lawyer? What else can you do with a law degree? Why does law matter? These are some of the questions that I set out to answer. To do so, I am talking to professionals who practice, or interact with, law.
Vikram David Amar is the dean of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Law School. He is also a professor at the University. He attended law school at Yale University where he attained a Juris Doctorate.
Why Law School?
Amar attended law school because he felt that “it would be intellectually interesting” and that it would give him the “skills to help [him] make a living.”
For students considering law school, Amar recommends that they “take classes that make [them] think critically” and make them into “effective” writers. These skills are important because, as Amar said, you can be “successful as a lawyer if and only if you master critical thinking and written expression.” He also contends that “there is no one ideal major or course of study for lawyers to go into;” any major can be helpful as long as “you really immerse yourself and learn to think critically.”
He recommends attending law school because “a good law degree from a good law school” can let you do a lot of things because it is a “training of the mind.”
What is a Normal Day like?
Amar has a lot of responsibilities in a day. As a professor, Amar teaches students in class, during his office hours, and during their independent study. He also has to work on “writing scholarship” like books and articles. As a dean, he also needs to meet “with alums and donors and lawyers who hire our graduates” as well as do “a lot of administration” work and working with other deans and faculty colleagues.
How can Law change?
Two main factors that have changed law thus far are, according to Amar, “the digital age” and “globalization.” These affect law because “information is shared and created” much more quickly and easily and because there are “so many more international aspects of law” and “more international competition."
As for the future, Amar feels that we will see “some continuation of some of the same trends:” that “the people who go to good schools and who have good schools do better and better, but the people on the other end of the spectrum do worse and worse.” A potential change that Amar considered was the creation of jobs for people who fall “in between” licensed lawyers and those with no legal training. This new group of professionals could not practice law, but could “do other things,” such as writing a will.
Why is Law important?
Amar feels that law is important because “not anything you do…that is not affected by law.” Law is both “confining” and “empowering,” and “puts into place systems that help us do great things.” These “great things” include forming and maintaining businesses, the economy, and distributing resources. He stated that “law affects everyone.”
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