Law school student organizations are an important part of the legal educational experience. Lawyers are involved throughout civil society. In their careers, lawyers frequently form or participate in organizations that promote a political position, provide networking opportunities, and provide support to the community and other legal practitioners. Law student organizations present a valuable opportunity to begin learning the value of these associations. The following article provides an overview of some common kinds of law student organizations and considers their benefit for future lawyers.
Different Kinds of Organizations
Law student organizations are varied in their focus. They include organizations that are typically sorted into the following categories:
- Area of Practice: Some law student organizations are formed to advance or promote the study of a particular area of law. There may be groups for students interested in common areas of practice such as business law, criminal defense, employment law, international law. Alternatively, law student organizations may focus on new or speculative legal areas, such as space law.
- Identity: Law student organizations formed around groups of students with a shared identity can provide valuable support and networking opportunities, particularly among law student populations that are part of a traditionally disadvantaged minority. These groups are not limited to minority groups, and Christian law organizations, for example, are quite common. Law student organizations for Muslims, Jews, Catholics, and more specific groups, such as groups for women of color or law students from a particular country or region are also common. Groups providing support for LGBTQ students or for "non-traditional" (older) law students also provide support for their members.
- Political Affiliation: Legal practice is inherently political and many law students have aspirations to enter into politics or work within the legal system to effect political change. Law student organizations that support and promote a political affiliation are common. These organizations may involve general support for a political party, as with the Federalist Society and Republican Law Students Association, or they may be focused on a particular political issue such as abortion rights, civil liberties, and human rights. These groups offer excellent networking opportunities and often host speakers that share their views.
- Mentoring and Support: Some student organizations exist expressly to provide resources to help you succeed at law school and beyond. These may include tutoring or mentoring opportunities for those who need help or are interested in helping others. One important example of this kind of law student organization is the Student Bar Association, which typically administers and funds all the other student organizations and coordinates social activities and events that benefit the entire school.
- Extracurricular Interests: Student organizations for law students with shared interests are also common. Sports players or fans, card or board game enthusiasts, runners, gardeners, actors, musicians, and others have formed student organizations that can provide an important break from legal studies, while also providing opportunities to network with your peers and alumni that have shared interests.
Law student organizations are not compulsory, but participation in one or more group that speaks to your interests can enrich your law school experience and provide access to valuable resources.
Learn More About Law School and Beyond
Law student organizations are just part of your law school experience. In just a few short years you'll face a bewildering array of calls for your attention. FindLaw's Law Students section is here to help you decide for yourself how to make the most of your legal education. Check back frequently for articles with valuable insight into law school, the bar exam, and more.