Satisfying admissions requirements when preparing for law school is no easy task. At the top of your list is the need to put together a standout application, but you'll also need to take the ever-delightful Law School Admissions Test (LSAT). This is an exam unlike any you've ever taken and one which you should seriously prepare for no matter how strong your test-taking abilities. Along with these formal requirements, however, are a number of other things that you can do to put yourself in a better position for law school and, ultimately, your future legal career.
Ask the Tough Questions Now
With the uncertainties of the economy and the legal job market, putting together a financial plan before law school is a great way to guide you (and your spending) over the next few years. We all know the challenges that come with having to pay off student loans and how these financial obligations can severely restrain your options upon graduation. However, there are steps you can take before and during law school to minimize the influence of creditors over your life and to take better control over future. It starts with asking tough questions like:
- Should I move back in with my parents/family?
- What's the least amount of money I could live on each month?
- Could I work while in law school?
- What scholarships/grants are available and what's required to apply?
- Could I work in public service so that I can qualify for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program?
Asking the tough questions now and being disciplined during law school could end up paying huge dividends for you down the road. Not only will it help to guide your spending, but it could also help you to determine what you do after graduation.
Preparing for 1L Life
There are many ways to prepare yourself academically for your first year. If you already know what law schools you'd likely attend, an online search or even an email to student affairs could give you a good idea of what a typical 1L schedule would look like. You might even be able to find course syllabi to see what topics you'll be covering in your classes. Don't feel the need to start studying now, though. After all, reading old cases probably won't make that much sense until they're filtered through your professors, but it doesn't hurt to get some frame of reference before classes start.
The extracurricular world of law school is also important especially when you're trying to stand out to potential employers. Many schools offer opportunities for 1Ls to work on law review or other law school journals. It wouldn't hurt to reach out to current law student editors to introduce yourself and learn more about journal opportunities. You can also learn more about a school's law clinics, moot court, or mock trial teams by contacting the faculty who run them and who are usually happy to talk about their different projects.
This advance legwork can make the transition to your 1L year smoother, but try not to go overboard. Remember, you're going to be submerged in the law for the next three years of your life, so have some fun while you still have some free brain space and free time.
Make Your Virtual Connections
Often times, incoming classes will set up their own social media pages when preparing for law school. These can be used to communicate information and to make early virtual introductions among your peers. These are great opportunities to get a feel for your incoming class, to answer urgent questions, and to make your first day of classes a little less awkward.
You Don't Have to Wait to Get a Job
If you still have some time before law school or are looking for part-time work while in school, consider working as a legal assistant or even an unpaid intern at a legal firm, organization or agency. Not only will this complement law school by showing you how the law is actually practiced, it might also give you a great starting point for employment after you get your degree.
Having a good plan, financially and academically, is important when preparing for law school and can help give some order to things that seem unpredictable and out of your control right now. As you move forward, stick with FindLaw for Law Students for additional resources and support to help you through law school and into your career.