- Knowing Your Expectations for Your Degree
- Strategizing Your Class Schedule
- LSA Transfer Student Program
There is no single path that will prepare you for a legal education. Accomplished legal professionals come from many different personal, professional, and educational backgrounds. There are no preferred extracurricular activities. You should explore and pursue initiatives that interest and challenge you, and find opportunities to develop and broaden your skill sets. Long-term active participation and commitment to extracurricular opportunities, regardless of the type of initiative, demonstrates motivation, maturity, and personal investment. A legal education will build upon and refine the knowledge, skills, and values you have already gained. Law-related activities are not essential as an undergrad, and some non-legal and tangentially related opportunities may even provide better opportunities for demonstrating leadership, making a social impact, and developing core skill sets.
Find opportunities that will allow you to develop leadership skills and demonstrate a purposeful investment of your time. The depth of your involvement in student organizations is more important than the number of activities in which you are involved—it makes for a more impactful résumé to have deeply invested your time and energy in a few activities where you have served in leadership roles than to spread yourself thin in an attempt to lengthen your résumé. Additionally, it is not essential to participate in a student organization. There are many off-campus opportunities that can be just as valuable.
Work and Internships
Law schools neither require nor expect applicants to have had previous legal employment, nor do they give preference to applicants who have had legal internships. Legal internships do provide first-hand exposure to the field of law and can help students evaluate whether a career in law is a good fit for their skills, strengths, and interests.
Experiences that will give you context for the type of legal work you wish to pursue can be just as valuable as a legal internship. Whether the position is paid or volunteer, gaining exposure to the types of business, social issues, or populations you wish to serve will help you build a critical foundation for your later legal work.
Resources for Finding Internship Opportunities
- Search of the Career Center’s Handshake database
- Direct search of a company’s website
- Opportunities with the Federal Government
- Internships with the U.S. Department of State
- Search of your local county court system or public defender’s office for opportunities
- Direct search of local nonprofit organizations
Community service develops social sensitivity and gives student insight into the experiences and challenges faced by the types of communities they will one day serve as legal professionals. Services initiatives should not be entered into lightly, but through a genuine commitment to community involvement.
See the law in action by taking advantage of shadowing opportunities (where available) and courtroom observations. Most courtroom proceedings are open to the public and afford observers a unique window into the various stages of a legal hearing. Oratory and presentation skills are fundamental for litigators, and courthouses provide ready access to the practical side of practice.
Summer Pre-Law Programs
Summer pre-law programs are designed to introduce undergraduate students interested in pursuing a career in law to the law-school environment. These programs also include simulated courses, training in legal research and writing, and LSAT familiarization and preparation. These programs will often include a tuition fee, though some offer scholarship opportunities to cover the cost.
As law schools do not view these opportunities as an academic or extracurricular pursuit, students should assess whether the personal benefit of the program is worth the cost to them.