So you’ve decided you want to go to law school.
With the cost of post-secondary education on the rise and an economic downturn that may be pointing to a looming financial crisis, many law school hopefuls will need to be strategic. They’ll have to both compete for coveted spots and plan ahead to ensure successful completion of the program.
Whether you plan to use your law degree for starting your own practice or you’re aiming for a position in an established firm, below we list some tips that could help.
1. Get the Right Funding and Be Smart with Your Loans
Post-secondary education, and graduate school in particular, is expensive. In order to ensure that you will have the funding you need to attend, it is important that you prepare wisely. While some schools do provide need-based aid, the overwhelming majority of monies being awarded to law students exists for one purpose. That is, every law school wants to attract the most highly qualified applicants to their school.
Gaining entrance into the law school of your choice may not be only about your grade point average (GPA) and Law School Admission Test (LSAT) scores. However, the issue of scholarship assistance is. In the case of funding law school, it is really all about the numbers. While there are companies that assist potential students in securing funds for law school, there really are LSAT/GPA combinations that are simply too low to get funding.
So as you move through your baccalaureate program, remember that you increase your potential for scholarships by maintaining excellent grades. What’s more, you need to do as well as you possibly can on the LSAT.
Once you obtain your funding, be sure not to spend all of your money on textbooks. Most of your readings can be found in the library. Additionally, e-textbooks are available. Both of these options are extremely cost-effective.
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2. Choose Your Classes Wisely
While there are no required classes for admission to law school, admission officers do want to see well rounded scholars. In other words, they are looking for students who have a broad range of knowledge. It is best to choose a major in those courses that are both interesting and challenging to you. Also, given our conversation above, choose a major in something in which you feel you will do well.
History, government, and politics are important, of course, as they serve as the cornerstone of law. But law schools will also want to see that you can write and speak well, too. Taking and doing well in coursework that emphasizes logic, like philosophy, and public speaking, like courses in rhetoric, will indicate your potential success in law school.
3. Be Serious About Your Coursework
There are many things you can do to survive graduate school. Do not miss class sessions or lectures. In graduate school (of any kind), a considerable amount of information can be covered in class. It does not take much to fall behind. Additionally, make sure you do all the readings. Seriously, there is nothing that can take the place of actually engaging with all the assigned readings, even if you attend every class meeting.
Be sure to read all of the key cases, and annotate or document them thoroughly for future reference. And speaking of references, learn how to reference your work properly. Make friends with the law librarians at your university. Additionally, learn the various ways to search the vast resources available to you via computer-assisted research services like LexisNexis. And don’t forget that your academic advisor is a valuable resource as well.
4. Use Some of Your Free Time to Do Pro Bono Work
In addition to the things you’ll learn in coursework, getting outside of the walls of the classroom is important. In addition to gaining experience and networking with practicing litigators, pro bono work will look very attractive to future employers.
5. Form a Network of Support
While it would be might be fun to simply grow your following on social media like Jed in People You May Know, networking means finding others who share your academic and career goal orientation. Other law students, especially those who have been in your shoes, can be of great assistance to you.
Getting information, garnering tips, and securing strategies for studying can help you use your time more wisely. Additionally, fellow law students can be instrumental in forming study and research groups. Further, they can point you in the right direction for finding the best pro bono work and select internships.
6. Maintain Your Sanity by Doing Something Fun
It is, of course, important to take a break from the rigors of academics from time to time. Consider joining an exercise class to relieve stress and manage anxiety. Or take an online class to learn piano in 21 days. Be sure that your fun does not spill over into your academics, however.
Always keep the goal of successful completion of your program at the forefront.