Like most people considering law school, you've probably already formed expectations of what lies ahead. Maybe your impressions are based on stories of lawyers heroically fighting for a more just society or maybe a Debbie Downer keeps feeding you information about law school debt and challenging job markets. These may be important factors, but they're certainly not the only ones to consider.
When digesting information about law school, it's important to consider the sources. For example, one survey of practicing attorneys showed that most would go to law school again if they had to do it over. That speaks volumes. While it's true that law school isn't for everyone, that doesn't necessarily mean that it's not a fit for you. As you gear up for the ride ahead, what you need is accurate information from reliable sources, like a panel of attorneys at a pre-law forum.
What are Pre-Law Forums?
Pre-law forums come in a variety of mediums, from online discussion groups to panels of law students, attorneys or law school representatives. While online discussions may be more convenient, it's often hard to gauge the experience and background of participants doling out advice, which is easier to do with in-person forums.
The Law School Admissions Council (LSAC) holds law school forums and workshops throughout the U.S. every year as do universities like UCLA, which hosts a Law Forum through its pre-law society. Other organizations have forums that specifically reach out to minority students interested in legal careers. In addition, law schools will often put on recruitment events to provide information about their programs and admissions process.
Whatever the nature of a forum, the purpose is to connect prospective law students with professionals that have useful insight into preparing for law school and the legal profession. Forums can include discussions on topics such as:
- Taking the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT);
- The law school application process (Boston University also has a helpful pre-law timeline for college students);
- What law schools look for in applications;
- How to finance law school;
- How to succeed in law school; and
- Examples of law jobs and the paths leading to them.
Since everyone's situation is unique, one of the other benefits to pre-law forums is the opportunity to ask questions more specific to your life situation. For example, you may want to know what resources are available to law students caring for families and children. You might be surprised to find that some law schools actually house nurseries for your mini-me.
Tips for Utilizing Pre-Law Forums
With all of the possible benefits pre-law forums offer, it's important to have a plan going into any event. Below are a few tips to get the most out of a forum:
Research the speakers and their backgrounds ahead of time. This will not only help you to measure the reliability of the information they provide, but it will also help you to ask informed questions and engage in useful discussions if you end up in one-on-one conversations.
Come prepared with questions. Remember, the point of pre-law forums is to connect you with people and information to help you decide whether, and where, to go to law school. You need information to make these decisions so spend some time thinking of questions before you show up.
Contact information is like currency - exchange it! One of the things about the legal profession is that it's all about networks, especially if you're considering opening your own practice down the road. Pre-law forums allow you to meet professionals from the academic and the practice worlds as well as peers in your position, all of whom could be a great resource for you during and after law school. Don't be afraid to reach out to them after an event but, like currency, you don't want spend everything at once. Instead of bombarding someone with emails requesting help, think about ways to share information or articles useful to their work.
Bring a notepad. If you end up going to law school, you're going to be filling up pages of notes anyway, so why not start at a pre-law forum? This will this help to remind you of who spoke and what they said which can make any post-event contact less awkward.
Pre-Law Forums are Helpful, but What's Next?
Pre-law forums are a great way to get answers to your questions. However, as you progress in law school and your legal careers, you'll find that the questions keep coming. The lawyers at FindLaw have been there and are happy to be your trusted source for information and tips to help you be successful. Stay in touch with us at FindLaw for Law Students to learn more.