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14 Things I Wish I Had Known When Graduating From Law School

By Neetal Parekh | Last updated on

A law professor at law school graduation: "from today forth, please call me by my first name, because now I am no longer your professor, I am your colleague." And like that, 3 years of law school are done, and the real world awaits.

Though you've been anticipating this day since law school orientation, when it actually comes it can lead to a mixed bag of introspection. From considerations of a looming Bar exam, to broad questions about what the degree means to you and where you hope to go with it, you may be looking for sage advice...and a little good fortune.

And while transitioning into law school may have taken a little practice, going from a J.D. to the next big thing is not always a cakewalk either. But fear not, counsel is on the scene.  We polled our fellow J.D. colleagues here at FindLaw about what they wished they had known when getting their J.D.'s...or more precisely, on the day of law school graduation.  A special thanks for sharing input...and now, their pearls of wisdom:

1. For 90% of employers, what you've accomplished professionally is vastly more important than where you went to school or what extracurricular activities you participated in. Formulate your resume accordingly.
2. Nice attorneys finish ahead.  The attorneys that win the cases aren't the most aggressive and overconfident ones.  Nobody wants to work with an aggressive attorney- not the judge and certainly not the opposing counsel. 

3. You can be creative with your degree.  Law firms are not the only place for J.D.'s. 

4. Your study abroad experience will be useful in the long run. You might even wish you had gone for a semester abroad instead of just the summer.

5. Relatives and friends come out of the woodwork for legal advice on anything and everything from wills to traffic violations.

6. You can't necessarily bank on your J.D. in order to make you filthy rich.  Just saying.

7. Being a J.D. makes you think differently. You may never be able to watch Law and Order, Judge Judy, or any other pop culture tv the same way again. 

8. The practice of law is nothing like law school. It's a business, not an exercise in the humanities.

9. Choose who you tell you have a law degree to wisely. You'll see why.

10. You will do more math in one afternoon trying to figure out how to bill for an 18 minute phone call than you did in 3 years of law school.

11. Law school may be much more fun (yes, fun) than practicing in the legal profession.    

12. You have a J.D., you haven't been made Emperor of the free world. Humility still means something and you may learn that, or be taught it.

13. Though you'll have your student loans to remind you of law school for years to come, staying connected to classmates and professors may lead to collaborations and connections you can't even imagine now. 

14. You made it to and through law school, you'll make it out too.

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