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(From “Preparing for Law School” by ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar )

When you apply to law school, you will be competing with many applicants who have demonstrated the academic ability to succeed in a law school’s rigorous curriculum. What you do outside the classroom is important to make your application stand out and show that you excel in more than just academics.

Community Service
Each member of the legal profession should be dedicated to the objectives of serving others honestly, competently, and responsibly, and to improving fairness and quality of justice in the legal system. You should seek some significant experience in which you devote substantial effort toward assisting others. Participation in public service projects or similar efforts at achieving objectives established for common purposes can be particularly helpful. This should be ongoing throughout your college years.

Leadership, Relationship-building, and Collaboration Experience

Lawyers are leaders in their communities. However, much of the work they do requires collaborating with others. Interpersonal skills are essential for attracting and working productively with clients, co-counsel, opposing attorneys, expert witnesses, and many others. Examples includes offices held in organizations, committee work; leadership in church activities; coordinating a project; managing, training, or supervising at work or in other activities; teaching experience of any kind; peer counseling or mentoring, etc.

Exposure to Law

While legal experience is not required for admission to law school, there are many good reasons to explore the legal profession beforehand. You will gain a more realistic view of the actual practice of law and the realities of the legal employment market. You may identify potential practice areas that suit your personality, interests, and values. You will develop relationships with practicing lawyers. Take advantage of opportunities to shadow, network with, or be mentored by practicing lawyers. Seek internships in law-related settings.. Consider law-related employment between college and law school. These can help you make informed decisions that lead to a successful law career.  

Research Experience

You do not need to be familiar with research sources and techniques specific to the law before entering law school. However, it would be to your advantage to have had the experience working on a research project that requires significant library research and the analysis of large amounts of information obtained from that research. Research experience can be from many different areas – it does not have to be law related.

Things to Remember

  • These activities supplement your application. They are not a substitute for good grades.
  • Keep contact information for supervisors for future recommendation letters.

Writing a reflections on what you learned through each experience in a journal will be helpful when you write your personal statement.

Last Updated: 3/29/17