Work experience: does it matter?

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akhan
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Work experience: does it matter?

Postby akhan » Fri Jun 24, 2011 4:29 pm

I know that some law schools (Northwestern etc) do care about work experience, but once you're in does it make any difference? I'm going to be applying at age 30 and was just wondering whether my work experience/graduate degree from the past few years leave me any better off than someone that went straight from UG to LS, or whether those years were 'wasted' (at least as far as my future professional career)?
Last edited by akhan on Fri Jun 24, 2011 4:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.

bdubs
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Re: Work experience: does it matter?

Postby bdubs » Fri Jun 24, 2011 4:38 pm

I think it largely depends on what you did, but don't count on it being a huge leg up. You will still start out as a 1st year associate with the kids who went straight through.

akhan
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Re: Work experience: does it matter?

Postby akhan » Fri Jun 24, 2011 4:46 pm

Worked as a manager then a director in a professional association, and got a masters in public health from hopkins and a PhD in health policy from maryland; my main interest is health law.

HWS08
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Re: Work experience: does it matter?

Postby HWS08 » Fri Jun 24, 2011 4:52 pm

akhan wrote:I know that some law schools (Northwestern etc) do care about work experience, but does once you're in does it make any difference? I'm going to be applying at age 30 and was just wondering whether my work experience/graduate degree from the past few years leave me any better off than someone that went straight from UG to LS, or whether those years were 'wasted' (at least as far as my future professional career)?


Matters in what sense? If you mean in terms of job prospects after school, maybe. I'm an 0L so take this for what it's worth, but I've spoken to an acquaintance who is a former partner at a large firm and she said that she prefers to hire people with work experience because they tend to be more mature and professional (although that could be a result of generally being older than people with no experience). I work with a lot of lawyers and lots of them seem to think getting work experience before is LS is the better way to go. I'd think that if you want to go into health law your background would be helpful.

mebeSajid
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Re: Work experience: does it matter?

Postby mebeSajid » Fri Jun 24, 2011 5:21 pm

Depends on the job. In general, I thought the older applicants in my 1L class worked harder and were more focused. So my opinion is, it does help you a little bit in terms of admissions, but not that much (it might convert a rejection into a waitlist, but not more than that), but it helps you substantially more while you're in law school.

newyorkterp
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Re: Work experience: does it matter?

Postby newyorkterp » Sat Jun 25, 2011 9:12 am

I too had the same question. I've been working at JPMorgan for 3 years now since graduating from UMD. The consensus I've reached is that it will help slightly, but in the end GPA and LSAT score is the key to T-14.

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Moxie
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Re: Work experience: does it matter?

Postby Moxie » Sat Jun 25, 2011 9:37 am

akhan wrote:I know that some law schools (Northwestern etc) do care about work experience, but once you're in does it make any difference? I'm going to be applying at age 30 and was just wondering whether my work experience/graduate degree from the past few years leave me any better off than someone that went straight from UG to LS, or whether those years were 'wasted' (at least as far as my future professional career)?


There is definitely value in having work experience when applying for legal positions (as an intern or fulltime). From what I know anecdotally and through TLS, work experience is a great way for candidates to differentiate themselves, and it was helpful in the job search.

WSJ_Law
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Re: Work experience: does it matter?

Postby WSJ_Law » Mon Jun 27, 2011 2:56 pm

From an admissions standpoint,

Well (obviously), it does at Northwestern, and there is reason to believe many schools may be moving towards preferring W.E. post-UG from candidates in the future. Not a bad trend IMHO because it expands networks and adds to the professionalism of the setting. This of course can be debated in another forum. I think the determinant factor is the nature of the WE; that is to say, a year at McDonald's with no apparent career drive or vocational interest certainly does not equate to a year as a paralegal or banker looking to transition to a career as an attorney. The WE must be tailored into the application that presents the candidate as well-rounded with a diverse background of experiences, but focused and directed towards a purpose. In this light, a year at McDonald's CAN in some (albeit farfetched instances) be a huge plus. It depends on how you frame it in your PS, Why X, DS, interviews, etc.

From a success-in-law-school standpoint,

I think a case can be made either way. Certainly one is the most academically primed and accustomed to a courseload, class schedule, lecture setting, homework/reading assignment demands, etc. fresh out of undergraduate. However, many (though not many on TLS) approach LS as an extension of college rather than a transcendence from it; hence more partying etc., at least until they wake up. Enter the other side of the coin--that being employed in the workforce and supporting yourself financially independent of parents/etc. would be motivation to appreciate the opportunity that law school affords students and diligently pursue academic excellence in hopes that it improves your financial situation. People with WE often realize the literal value of better grades and identify with how difficult it can be to make an earnest buck, and therefore, they can be better students. I don't think a one-size-fits-all philosophy applies to WE as an indicator of LS success, and it certainly varies by institution.

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ahduth
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Re: Work experience: does it matter?

Postby ahduth » Mon Jun 27, 2011 6:23 pm

akhan wrote:I know that some law schools (Northwestern etc) do care about work experience, but once you're in does it make any difference? I'm going to be applying at age 30 and was just wondering whether my work experience/graduate degree from the past few years leave me any better off than someone that went straight from UG to LS, or whether those years were 'wasted' (at least as far as my future professional career)?


"Wasted" is a pretty grim way of looking at it. I don't think it left me any better off from an admissions standpoint, although something got me into CLS ahead of other people at my index. Basically I matched my numbers overall.

From an employment standpoint, I dunno, I hear all sorts of different things. If a firm only wants people who came straight from undergrad and don't have business experience... I don't want to work there anyhow. You have experience that seems crucially relevant to a firm that's handling health law. I can't see it doing anything but helping you at the right firm.

I mean... who do you want as your litigator in that area? Someone with no experience, or:

akhan wrote:Worked as a manager then a director in a professional association, and got a masters in public health from hopkins and a PhD in health policy from maryland; my main interest is health law.


I wouldn't worry about it.




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