Acquiring Softs

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cblik
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Acquiring Softs

Postby cblik » Sat Jan 04, 2014 1:26 pm

Hello everyone!

First I would like to say thank you in advance for any and all advice and I very much appreciate it.

Been lurking for a while but have a question about softs that I can't find a real tangible answer to.

I am in my second year of undergrad and have known I wanted to pursue law since I started and thanks to this forum's advice I have excelled in the classroom so far. So my question is which softs should I pursue to acquire? I read people asking what softs they should have but basically the answer is "if you're asking you don't have them" which is fine but it seems that the prospective law students that are asking are already applying to schools and just about finished with undergrad. I still have a couple of years until I reach that process so I am looking for advice on certain softs that look good in a general sense to T14 schools; if you can get specific with any T14s in particular that would also be very helpful. Specifically Michigan, Northwestern, Stanford, UC, or Harvard.

Currently I am a math tutor and am in a 2-year NHS as well as an HS specific to Psychology. I will be transferring to a 4-year institution in the fall and am eager to see what I should be looking at getting into as soon as I get there.

Thank you again for any and all advice.

Cheers.

CDB

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TheSpanishMain
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Re: Acquiring Softs

Postby TheSpanishMain » Sat Jan 04, 2014 1:33 pm

In my humble opinion, most good softs are acquired post-undergrad. Things like military service, professional work experience, prestigious post-graduate fellowships, etc. Undergraduate clubs and associations don't really help much.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: Acquiring Softs

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Sat Jan 04, 2014 2:50 pm

Do things that are interesting and meaningful to you as a person. Don't do things just to be able to check a box on law school applications. A lot of what distinguishes undergrad activities is how you can talk about them and if you can show what they meant to you. E.g. if you're the president of a club to be the president of a club to put something on your application - eh. But if you're the president of the Art History Students Association because you love art, you want to go to law school to represent artists, you organize field trips for underprivileged youth to travel to local museums, and you take art classes for fun, then being the president of that club is presumably something you do because it's meaningful to you and you can discuss it in that context. (This isn't intended as a model to follow, it's more a hypothetical to show how for some people, activities are an organic part of your goals/interests/aspirations.)

You may not know what you want to do, enough to have any kind of focus like in the hypothetical. That's totally fine. Then just do things you like. Law school admissions is so heavily numbers-weighted, there's no point doing something you don't enjoy for the almost non-existent gold star you hope it will get you.

(Exception to all the above: I think things associated with academic excellence generally look good - engaging in original research, publishing papers, competitions, that kind of thing. But they're certainly not required.)

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kershka
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Re: Acquiring Softs

Postby kershka » Sat Jan 04, 2014 3:40 pm

I agree with everything already stated; most softs that you can earn during UG aren't going to help you that much. I also went K-JD and what I found most useful about my softs was that I could combine them into a coherent narrative. My volunteer work and internships in particular were easily related to my PS. This was incredibly valuable during interviews. While my Chicago interview placed less emphasis on my resume, my Harvard one was constantly relating different factors listed there. I believe that several of the Deans of Admissions at T14 schools have mentioned that they like applicants with a clear story i.e. all the different aspects of their applications compliment each other.

tl:dr do what you're interested in, push yourself to excel at whatever activities/internships/jobs that you choose to pursue, and nail the LSAT.

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cblik
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Re: Acquiring Softs

Postby cblik » Mon Jan 06, 2014 11:17 am

Thank you for the advice and tips this was very helpful!

Cheers.

CDB

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sd5289
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Re: Acquiring Softs

Postby sd5289 » Mon Jan 06, 2014 12:17 pm

TheSpanishMain wrote:In my humble opinion, most good softs are acquired post-undergrad. Things like military service, professional work experience, prestigious post-graduate fellowships, etc. Undergraduate clubs and associations don't really help much.


Agreed.

Not to mention it will do you some good too (so long as what you do during your "time off" is meaningful). In general, there's a stark difference between law students who go straight through and students who took some time off and worked professionally, did some kind of national service, etc. Plus, it'll give you a chance to live your life and do some things you want (travel, run a marathon, whatever) before you are stuck for at least 3 years with the inability to do anything like that.

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cblik
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Re: Acquiring Softs

Postby cblik » Tue Jan 07, 2014 12:48 pm

sd5289 wrote:
TheSpanishMain wrote:In my humble opinion, most good softs are acquired post-undergrad. Things like military service, professional work experience, prestigious post-graduate fellowships, etc. Undergraduate clubs and associations don't really help much.


Agreed.

Not to mention it will do you some good too (so long as what you do during your "time off" is meaningful). In general, there's a stark difference between law students who go straight through and students who took some time off and worked professionally, did some kind of national service, etc. Plus, it'll give you a chance to live your life and do some things you want (travel, run a marathon, whatever) before you are stuck for at least 3 years with the inability to do anything like that.


Would either or both of you say that taking time between undergrad and law school would be advantageous just for life experience or to help build softs for the application process? sd5289 could you elaborate a bit on what you mean by a stark difference between going straight through as opposed to taking time in between? Do you mean as far as the application process goes or just the type of law student they become due to the time they took off etc? I planned on going straight through and going to law school right after undergrad just due to the fact that I am 25 and had my time off/life experience/wasted my time instead of staying in school right after HS.

Also, how important are softs for the application process if you do really well in undergrad, say 3.9+, and also do above average on the LSAT?

Loving the feedback and appreciate everything!

CDB

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TheSpanishMain
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Re: Acquiring Softs

Postby TheSpanishMain » Tue Jan 07, 2014 1:19 pm

cblik wrote:
sd5289 wrote:
TheSpanishMain wrote:In my humble opinion, most good softs are acquired post-undergrad. Things like military service, professional work experience, prestigious post-graduate fellowships, etc. Undergraduate clubs and associations don't really help much.


Agreed.

Not to mention it will do you some good too (so long as what you do during your "time off" is meaningful). In general, there's a stark difference between law students who go straight through and students who took some time off and worked professionally, did some kind of national service, etc. Plus, it'll give you a chance to live your life and do some things you want (travel, run a marathon, whatever) before you are stuck for at least 3 years with the inability to do anything like that.


Would either or both of you say that taking time between undergrad and law school would be advantageous just for life experience or to help build softs for the application process?


I'm not starting till the fall, so take this with a grain of salt, but I would say both. I think doing something other than high school -> college -> law school is good just from the standpoint of becoming a mature, well rounded person who has experiences outside of the academic cocoon. I've heard that having some professional work experience on your resume, even if it's not law related, is a big help when it comes to getting your first job. Say you spent two years as an office drone after college. What you did may not relate to legal work, but potential employers at least know they won't be your first professional job. They're going to be a little more confident that you understand things like professional behavior, appropriate dress, workplace culture, etc.

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sd5289
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Re: Acquiring Softs

Postby sd5289 » Tue Jan 07, 2014 8:53 pm

cblik wrote:
sd5289 wrote:
TheSpanishMain wrote:In my humble opinion, most good softs are acquired post-undergrad. Things like military service, professional work experience, prestigious post-graduate fellowships, etc. Undergraduate clubs and associations don't really help much.


Agreed.

Not to mention it will do you some good too (so long as what you do during your "time off" is meaningful). In general, there's a stark difference between law students who go straight through and students who took some time off and worked professionally, did some kind of national service, etc. Plus, it'll give you a chance to live your life and do some things you want (travel, run a marathon, whatever) before you are stuck for at least 3 years with the inability to do anything like that.


Would either or both of you say that taking time between undergrad and law school would be advantageous just for life experience or to help build softs for the application process? sd5289 could you elaborate a bit on what you mean by a stark difference between going straight through as opposed to taking time in between? Do you mean as far as the application process goes or just the type of law student they become due to the time they took off etc? I planned on going straight through and going to law school right after undergrad just due to the fact that I am 25 and had my time off/life experience/wasted my time instead of staying in school right after HS.

Also, how important are softs for the application process if you do really well in undergrad, say 3.9+, and also do above average on the LSAT?

Loving the feedback and appreciate everything!

CDB


Re. advantages of taking time off: both actually. Life experience helps you to narrow your career goals and also just to figure out what you like to do and will enjoy doing day in and day out, hour after hour. Law school is hard, and law practice is also hard. It's meant to be. But if you also hate what you're doing, then you'll basically be miserable. The wonderful side effect of this process is that you accrue attractive "softs" in the process that not only look good on a law school application, they look really good to future employers. As the poster above me noted, employers are attracted to candidates who won't be working their "first" professional job in their office.

Re. the difference between straight through vs "seasoned" students: I mean that the latter students seem to be more relaxed (as relaxed as you can be as a 1L), more confident, and less likely to engage in stupid gunnerdom. This is a generalization obviously, but I've noticed that the students closer to my age with at least a few years of actual work experience adjust to the first year of law school more quickly and with greater ease. This isn't true of all older students, nor is it true that all straight through students don't adjust well or aren't happy; it's just the trend I've noticed.

Re. application process: I actually think the value of "softs" have a much bigger influence when you apply for jobs both first and second year as well as post-graduation. Again, legal employers are no different from other employers who take the fact that this won't be your first professional job as a huge plus. When it comes to applications to law school, numbers first, softs tend to be a distant second. I had a ridiculous number of interviews 1L year, and I ended up in my #1 choice, which I attribute largely to my work experience. It's come up in every interview I've been in, and I got the one and only job (also my #1 choice for 2L summer) I applied for at the beginning of the fall semester. My work experience came up in that interview as well, and I got an offer within the same week. My work experience seems to have opened up a lot of doors for me.

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cblik
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Re: Acquiring Softs

Postby cblik » Wed Jan 08, 2014 9:01 pm

Thank you both so much this was very, very helpful and informative to me!

CDB

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