For Students Considering Law School
Most students, when entering law school and beginning a legal career, have had little exposure to the practice of law beyond what they know from television shows and feature films. Yet despite this relative lack of knowledge, many may embark on a costly and demanding course of study without exploring its professional and personal suitability. Before you begin the process of applying to law school, it is often a wise idea to evaluate your skills, abilities, interests, and goals. For example, you may want to ask yourself some of the following questions to ascertain whether a legal career is a good fit for you:
- Are you a strong writer?
- Do you enjoy investigating and researching information?
- Can you easily see both sides of an issue and are you comfortable in a debate?
- Are you persistent and hard-working?
There are many ways to learn more about the legal field, including law-related coursework, internships, part- or full-time jobs, as well as conducting informational interviews with practicing (and non-practicing) attorneys. This will provide you with a reality-based perspective on what a typical day is like in the field, the positive and negatives aspects of the career, and even what skills and abilities are important in the practice of law. You might also want to consider the Statement on Pre-Law Preparation prepared by the Pre-Law Committee of the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar.
Some overall advice for students considering law school:
1. Do the best you can academically. One bad semester will not preclude your chances of getting into law school, but keep in mind that this is an academic program to which you're applying. If you're strugging academically, consider resources such as advising, counseling, and tutoring if you need extra support.
2. Develop good relationships with professors and supervisors. This will help you later on when you need to provide letters of recommendations for law school.
3. Get involved in the Penn Community. Admissions Committees take a quality-over-quantity approach when considering your extracurricular commitments. Select a few activities of interest where you can make a substantial contribution, rather than several activities in which you are superficially involved. Admissions officers are not interested in back-benchers; they like to see evidence of leadership, initiative, communication skills, and commitment.
4. Be an informed consumer. It is essential that you are thorough and exhaustive as you research different law schools and use a variety of sources – visit individual law school websites, sit in on a class or two at Penn Law School, attend admissions information sessions on campus in the Fall, speak with current law students about their experiences.
The study and practice of law can be stimulating, challenging, and provide some exciting opportunities – just be sure it's right for you.
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