Advice for aspiring law students

This post provides advice for getting into law school and for maximizing your chances of obtaining a legal job upon graduation. The bottom line is that in addition to top LSAT scores, grades, and schools, you can distinguish yourself in the application process by a) demonstrating that you are focused such that you are likely to be one of those students with several job prospects upon graduation; and b) emphasizing your strong desire to give back to the school that provides you the opportunity. Below are four specific steps to take with advice on how to accomplish each step.

1. Come up with a preliminary plan of what you will do with the law degree.

a.) What area of law do you intend to practice?

b.) In what context (i.e., government, big firm, non-profit organization, corporation, etc.)?

c.) How does the law school for which you are applying fit into this plan? For example, the law school is well regarded in the intellectual property field and you intend to be a patent attorney.

2. Then, even if you are not asked, articulate your plan.

Now, how do develop a plan if you have no idea what you will do after school (which may be why you are going to law school).

a.) Read Making Partner:  The Essential Guide to Negotiating the Legal Path and Beyond for advice on how to go about determining what type of law you may want to practice.

b.) Review “Top 25 Practice Areas and Sample Practice Settings,”

c.) If possible, match you future plan with skills in your background and match your interest to a booming legal field.

i) consider items constantly in the news (i.e., tax, healthcare, securities, elder law;

ii) related to the news, consider items with heavy regulatory and legislative activity;

iii) talk with alumni of the schools for which you are applying that went to your undergraduate school and for whom you share something else in common (i.e., major, hometown, hobby, etc.). Ask them how they decided on the law school and the area in which they are practicing and how the law school helped prepare them for the practice.

d.) Prepare a succinct, one pager to the admissions committee explaining your intended practice area and type of legal employer, including how you arrived there (i.e., research, background, and experience, etc.).

3. Include in your description a statement of how your plan will put you in a position to give back (primarily financially but also your time) to the law school.

a.) Do some research on big donors and other contributors to the law school.

b.) Name the ones you admire and why (i.e., perhaps you are enamored with one of the projects they have undertaken or funded).

c.) Explain why you feel it is important to give back to your alma mater.

4. Once in law school, refine your plan and distinguish yourself from fellow law students by “picking a major” which may be result in a different plan as described in your admission materials.  More advice on picking a major will be provided in a later post.


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