Congratulations, you’ve earned a prestigious spot at your law school of choice. Three years may seem like a long time, but they will fly by, and they will fly by quickly. It is important to keep this in mind when scheduling your classes, post-curricular activities, and free time. The decisions you make during law school can play a vital role in landing that coveted post-graduate job offer with the firm/company/organization of your choice. Here are five things you should do in law school to prepare for the legal career you want.
First: Develop a Plan
When you enter law school you may have a very specific career path in mind. You may be fascinated by criminal law and know that it is your dream to work as a prosecutor. You may also simply have a more general understanding that you’re interested in being a lawyer but have yet to settle on the right area of law. The first year of law school is designed to give students a broad overview and understanding of vastly different areas of the law. This helps students with a narrow focus see beyond what they may know to exist. Similarly, it can help students who are unsure about which area of focus is right to dabble in a few distinct areas of law. As you come to the close of your first year you should have (at the very least) a general sense of the area of law you would like to pursue. Harness this knowledge and design your future academic schedules around courses in this area of law. It may be helpful to speak with professors, advisors, and legal professionals to fully understand what courses may be appropriate or beneficial for your desired path.
Second: Embrace Law School Extra Curricular Activities
If you’re interested in being a prosecutor or a defense attorney take advantage of Mock Trial. If you want to dedicate your legal career to helping animals, join your school’s Student Animal Legal Defense Fund (SALDF) chapter if they have one. Want to spend your career helping others? Your school may have a practicing legal clinic to work in. Law schools continue to add student groups to target a variety of interests. Joining these groups can help to prepare you for a career in your desired field, connect you with other students who have the same interests, and help you network with potential employers.
Third: Get on Law Review if You Can
Law students are generally given the opportunity to compete to join one of the school’s Law Reviews. Do not pass up this opportunity and do not take writing your submission lightly. Employers love to see Law Review on applicants’ resumes and it is a great way to really hone your legal research and writing skills. The importance of legal research and writing should not be underestimated. Your success as an attorney can largely depend on your ability to find, analyze, and convey complicated information.
Fourth: Utilize Resources Outside of Law School
Everyone cannot be invited to join a Law Review. If Law Review isn’t an option try to engage with other groups and organizations in a capacity that allows you to work on your writing skills. Many publications solicit and publish articles written by law school students. Develop projects, write persuasive articles, and try to get published. An applicant who has taken the initiative to write articles and have them published can rival any mention of Law Review on a resume.
Fifth: Put Your Knowledge to the Test
You can only learn so much from a book. While nothing can truly replace a law school education, it is important to supplement the education with practical experience. Internships are a great way to get real, on-the-job training. Put effort into finding the right internship, not simply an internship. Many students find that securing post-graduate employment is easier when they already have a foot in the door as an intern. Practical experience is equally as important as education, especially as the number of students attending law school continues to rise. The more practical experience you can get while in school the easier it will be to talk your way into that job you’ve had your eye one.
Use each and every moment of law school to your advantage. Figure out the area of law in which you’re interested in working, design your coursework to form a substantial basis of knowledge, engage in law school extracurriculars, and get practical experience. A combination of education, experience, and passion will go a long way in helping you land the post-graduate job offer you want.