Lawyers are drawn from some of the most dedicated and diligent students in the country. A lot of study and preparation is necessary to score well on the LSAT and win a chair at a reputable law school, so students pointed in that direction tend to seek opportunities to excel. Pre-law summer programs are one way that future lawyers try to get a jump on their peers, or as a way for schools to prepare underrepresented or disadvantaged applicants for a more successful law school experience. The following article examines pre-law summer programs and their utility to future law students.
Different Kinds of Pre-Law Summer Programs
Accredited law school programs tend to be extremely similar, since their accreditation carries the same requirements for all schools. Pre-law summer programs, by comparison, may vary greatly. These programs have no national oversight or industry standards, so their value will often depend on the student's needs and the structure and content of the course. Pre-law summer programs typically intend to:
- Prepare underrepresented students for the LSAT and law school admissions;
- Provide pre-law course content; or
- Provide pre-law internship opportunities.
The curriculum of a pre-law summer program is dependent upon the purposes of the program. If the program's goal is the preparation of underrepresented students, the course will likely focus on assisting students with admissions, financing, planning, and other practical aspects of getting into and succeeding at law school.
Pre-law summer programs that provide course content or internships typically seek to provide students with a foundation of study and experience that can be useful in determining the area of practice they find most appealing, help them develop their resume, or help determine whether the law is even an appropriate area of study.
Many programs run for just a few weeks, though some are longer. They may be run as part of a university's curriculum or by a private company. They may be free, available at reduced cost for students, or cost thousands of dollars.
Why Wouldn't I Attend?
There are some reasons why attending a pre-law summer program may not be right for you. Completion of such a program means very little after law school. Potential employers tend to be more interested in your substantive experience in the law and performance at law school than your completion of extracurricular programs, so if you are looking to improve your employability a pre-law summer program may not be an effective method to meet this goal.
If you have already been accepted to a law school, a pre-law summer program focused on admissions will obviously be useless to you. Whether a program that offers course content or internships is valuable will depend on the quality of the opportunities offered and their relevance to your future study.
Finally, you may be able to source opportunities or begin preparatory study better on your own. Self-directed study can be very effective, or you may have social contacts that can help you get an internship opportunity that is superior to the ones offered by pre law summer programs.
A close examination of the programs available to you and a clear assessment of your needs will help you determine whether pre-law summer programs will be valuable to you.
How Else Can I Prepare?
Pre-law summer programs are not the only way you can begin to prepare yourself for law school success. There are resources that can help you learn more about the law school experience, career planning, and issues relating to various areas of law found throughout FindLaw. Peruse our Law Students section to learn more about how you can make informed choices throughout your journey to becoming a lawyer.