Pre-Law Practicing

Law Books

I’m a pre-law student in Southern California. I am pretty sure I want to go to law school, but I know how competitive it is. It goes way beyond the LSAT, right? So I’m looking for ways to stand out. I’m also looking for ways to gain experience before going to law school, so that I will have a better idea of what I could study. What are some tips and tricks you would give for somebody looking to gain a little experience before going to law school?

Law is a great field, but law school is a very big (and very expensive) commitment. If you are going to commit to going, you want to be sure that you’ll like what you are doing and that you’re aware of where your career might take you.

As you mentioned, the days of admitting law students to a school based solely on the worth of their acronyms (GPA and LSAT) are long gone. Today, many law schools take a holistic look at their applicants. To truly stand out, you need to go beyond the numbers. According to the ABA Journal, “work experience most correlated with good law school grades at a ‘sweet spot’ of four to nine years of experience.” 

Four to nine years! That might seem like a long time, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s not. Rather than rushing off to law school right after college, taking a year off can provide you with insight into how law and lawyers’ work affects everyday people. One way to approach a gap year is to do something outside of the legal profession. Taking a year off to participate in a program such as Teach for America or the Peace Corps can give you a perspective that you probably did not get in college, and that you probably will not have the chance to in law school, or as a young lawyer. 

If you want to pursue a field that’s more directly related to law, you may want to consider working on a political campaign. Though you probably will not be doing legal or policy work, you will be exposed to the management, fundraising, research, scheduling, and logistical work that keeps the american legislative system running.

Finally, you could consider working as a paralegal. This is probably the most common pathway for aspiring law students. So where might you look? Because you mentioned you are in Southern California, let’s take a local example: the Daniel Kim Law Firm is an award-winning firm based in Orange County, and they specialize in personal injury law. 

If you are interested in working in that field, a position as a clerk or paralegal there would offer you two advantages: first, you get to work in a lawyer’s office, which means that you will have the chance to network with others in the profession and will get to meet people passionate about that area of the law. Second, you will be able to explore an area of the law that is of potential interest to you. Whichever path you choose, remember that there is no one “right” way to do law school, and for a young person the journey is often more important than the destination.

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