Making your case

If you’re thinking of pursuing a career in law in the states, start your preparation now

Making your case You’ve heard the lawyer jokes. You’re well aware that law school is difficult. You know all about 80-hour workweeks and that strenuous climb up the corporate ladder. Still, you are intrigued by the idea of working in the legal profession, and rightly so—a career in law can be extremely rewarding and enjoyable. Getting accepted to a good law school is tough, but there are things you can do to increase your chances. Start with your high school classes; it’ll help to have an understanding of law before you go to college. Some high school courses, such as politics, civics, economics and history, will give you the necessary background for college-level pre-law programs. They will also help you decide if you’re willing to spend the next seven years studying law.
Participate in your school’s debate team, mock-trial team and student government. And get involved in your community, too. Volunteer for a local advocacy group, help out at a charitable organization or complete an internship at a law firm. Choosing the right pre-law program in college is also important. Selecting pre-law or legal studies as your major will help you in your studies as a law student and prepare you for rigorous courses. Certain college courses are similar to their law school counterparts; some even use the same textbooks.
However, keep in mind that today’s law schools are looking for candidates who possess well-rounded educations. So don’t just take required or legal classes, but make sure your transcript reflects diverse and challenging classes. For example, take a course on contemporary East Asian markets, venture into the world of art or music, or study the works of Caribbean authors. Law schools seek students who are learned in a wide variety of subjects. Of course, you should never spread yourself so thin that your good grades become jeopardized.
Your collegiate GPA is one of the most important factors considered by law school admissions staff. Receiving good grades is imperative if you plan to apply to law school.
There is another significant number besides your GPA that will determine your law-school application’s fate: your score on the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT), which is administered by the Law School Admissions Council. You should plan to take the LSAT as a college junior, and possibly re-take it during your senior year if your first score isn’t up to par. The LSAT gives law schools a feel for your logical-thinking skills, for how you derive information, formulate arguments and how you are at legal writing. The test measures your ability to learn about the law—it does not attempt to gauge how much you already know about it. At this point, what you already know about law isn’t as important as whom you know in the profession. Networking is a key component of getting into (and through) law school.
Introduce yourself to anyone willing to help you or recommend you to someone else. You’ll want your contacts to be familiar with your accomplishments. After you have established a network of professionals and educators, make sure you maintain regular contact. Call them, invite them to lunch, send them e-mails detailing your current endeavours. When asking for recommendations, be confident about yourself and informative about your future plans while also being courteous and grateful. Follow up with a simple thank-you note. Law schools, like many colleges, are often known for their specialization in a particular area of the legal system, such as international or family law. If you are certain that you would like to practice only one or two types of law, you might want to consider law schools that have a lot of courses in those areas.
Law school isn’t just for future lawyers. You may be preparing to become a judge, an arbitrator, a prosecutor or a law professor. If so, you should consider the school’s rate of students who go on to work in the profession you prefer. When all this preparation is done, sit back and enjoy your last summer before law school. Then, get ready for a strenuous and challenging-yet-rewarding experience!


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