Are you a college student interested in a law career? Maybe you love watching reruns of “Law and Order” or “The Practice,” or maybe you want a professional degree to stand out in today’s competitive job market.
As a college student, there are things you can do now to set the stage for a future career as an attorney, or other jobs where you can utilize your legal skills. Read these tips on preparing for a law degree, and check out the list of skills you need to succeed in a law career.
Study hard and compile a record of academic excellence while in college. However, don’t worry if you are not at the top of your class. There are law schools for students of nearly all academic backgrounds since there is a wide range of competitiveness for admission to different schools. Law schools look at more than just your grades as well – they care about your LSAT scores, your skill sets, your extracurricular and work history, and your reasons for applying to law school.
Take a couple of law courses if they are offered at your school to experiment with the type of study required and to test your interest.
Tip #3: Choose a Challenging Major
An academically challenging major will help you to develop a strong work ethic. A challenging major will also help you practice important skills that will be necessary for a law career, like critical thinking, argumentation, and writing.
Tip #4: Choose Appropriate Clubs and Groups
Investigate opportunities through your school to participate in moot court and other debate activities. Law schools will see this engagement as evidence of your genuine interest in the law; this can help separate you from the many applicants who choose law as a default career option.
Consider participating in student government since you will gain experience in drafting legislation for your campus. This is another terrific experience to mention in your law school applications.
Most law schools are interested in attorneys who will spend some of their time advancing the public good. Some volunteer positions might even involve writing memos, campaigning, or other skills that will be valuable in a future legal career.
Law is a writing-intensive profession. Strengthen your writing skills and demonstrate these skills by doing a senior project or independent study, working for your campus newspaper, taking a couple of English courses, creating a blog, or choosing a writing-intensive major.
Line up interviews with as many attorneys as possible through alumni and family connections. Try to speak with attorneys in different fields of law to get a rich sense of the many areas of legal practice. This is a good way for you to learn what fields of law you are most interested in.
Job shadow a few attorneys in interesting fields to see what it is like to be in their shoes for a few days. It can be fun to go to court and observe proceedings! Talk to someone in your college career services office or your alumni office, or speak with a family friend in law to arrange a job shadow experience.
Tip #10: Intern in the Law Field
Gain some legal experience by interning at a local law firm or legal aid society, or interning with a public defender or district attorney. Working side by side with attorneys can help you verify your interest in the field and make valuable contacts. If you have a good experience at a law firm as a college student, the internship might become a summer job while at law school.
Tips for College Graduates
If you have already graduated or aren’t ready to attend law school right after graduation, consider working as a legal assistant (also known as a paralegal) for a couple of years prior to law school. The pay isn’t bad and you will be able to meet many different lawyers and observe their work (even though you may be performing very basic tasks).