Pre-Law School Work Experience - Does It Matter?

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somedeadman

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Pre-Law School Work Experience - Does It Matter?

Postby somedeadman » Wed Jan 04, 2017 7:17 pm

How much, if at all, does pre-law school experience matter when interviewing for 2L and 1L SAs? What kind of experience are they looking for?

I was recently laid off from my job writing clickbait, and I'm wondering if I should get a job (even an unpaid internship of some kind) in a law office before school starts in the fall? The only legal experience I have was working for the State's Attorney's Office in college for a semester.

cavalier1138

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Re: Pre-Law School Work Experience - Does It Matter?

Postby cavalier1138 » Wed Jan 04, 2017 8:11 pm

It's just a talking point. Working in a law firm prior to school will give you little to no boost over a similar student who worked at Chipotle.

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Re: Pre-Law School Work Experience - Does It Matter?

Postby somedeadman » Wed Jan 04, 2017 8:28 pm

cavalier1138 wrote:It's just a talking point. Working in a law firm prior to school will give you little to no boost over a similar student who worked at Chipotle.

Gotcha. So what does matter for landing one - grades and class rank I assume. What else?

In addition, how bad would it look if I remained unemployed until law school?

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Re: Pre-Law School Work Experience - Does It Matter?

Postby cavalier1138 » Wed Jan 04, 2017 8:37 pm

Grades and class rank are pretty much the most important thing, especially outside of the T14.

Remaining unemployed for the next 7 months won't look great, so I'd recommend finding something to occupy your time. But it really wouldn't hurt your chances all that much. You'll be applying for jobs in a totally new field; they aren't expecting your prior experience to be directly useful to them beyond giving you some idea of what a full-time job is.

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Re: Pre-Law School Work Experience - Does It Matter?

Postby Voyager » Wed Jan 04, 2017 8:50 pm

School name is most critical, then grades

Everything else is *almost* window dressing.

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Re: Pre-Law School Work Experience - Does It Matter?

Postby somedeadman » Wed Jan 04, 2017 9:27 pm

cavalier1138 wrote:Grades and class rank are pretty much the most important thing, especially outside of the T14.

Remaining unemployed for the next 7 months won't look great, so I'd recommend finding something to occupy your time. But it really wouldn't hurt your chances all that much. You'll be applying for jobs in a totally new field; they aren't expecting your prior experience to be directly useful to them beyond giving you some idea of what a full-time job is.

Right now, I'm just studying for an LSAT retake. But, basically any job would do the trick? Maybe working at a law office during the summer?

I'm hesitant to get a full-time salaried job, as I don't want to work somewhere for half a year after being trained only to leave.

Though I am doing some freelance writing on a very minimal level, so I guess I could even list freelance content marketer as a position. This is my last stab at the lsat, so I'm trying to avoid too many other commitments.
Last edited by somedeadman on Wed Jan 04, 2017 10:14 pm, edited 2 times in total.

somedeadman

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Re: Pre-Law School Work Experience - Does It Matter?

Postby somedeadman » Wed Jan 04, 2017 9:27 pm

Voyager wrote:School name is most critical, then grades

Everything else is *almost* window dressing.

Good to know. Sounds like I should do something besides study for the LSAT, but I shouldn't stress about it, correct?

obx

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Re: Pre-Law School Work Experience - Does It Matter?

Postby obx » Thu Jan 05, 2017 3:16 am

cavalier1138 wrote:It's just a talking point. Working in a law firm prior to school will give you little to no boost over a similar student who worked at Chipotle.


This is not quite true. If you are a paralegal at a firm before law school (and don't suck at it), it will absolutely be easier to go back to that particular firm for 1L or 2L summer.

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Re: Pre-Law School Work Experience - Does It Matter?

Postby cavalier1138 » Thu Jan 05, 2017 7:08 am

obx wrote:
cavalier1138 wrote:It's just a talking point. Working in a law firm prior to school will give you little to no boost over a similar student who worked at Chipotle.


This is not quite true. If you are a paralegal at a firm before law school (and don't suck at it), it will absolutely be easier to go back to that particular firm for 1L or 2L summer.


Not for biglaw. They aren't going to say, "Oh hey, Reggie, good to see you! How's Cooley treating you? 2.7, huh? Well, since you were a paralegal here, we're pretty confident you'll be a fantastic associate. Here's $180k and a phone!"

Now, if you're referring to a mid-size firm where there's an outside chance the hiring partner remembers your name, sure. But that's not what the OP asked about.

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Re: Pre-Law School Work Experience - Does It Matter?

Postby obx » Thu Jan 05, 2017 10:40 am

cavalier1138 wrote:
obx wrote:
cavalier1138 wrote:It's just a talking point. Working in a law firm prior to school will give you little to no boost over a similar student who worked at Chipotle.


This is not quite true. If you are a paralegal at a firm before law school (and don't suck at it), it will absolutely be easier to go back to that particular firm for 1L or 2L summer.


Not for biglaw. They aren't going to say, "Oh hey, Reggie, good to see you! How's Cooley treating you? 2.7, huh? Well, since you were a paralegal here, we're pretty confident you'll be a fantastic associate. Here's $180k and a phone!"

Now, if you're referring to a mid-size firm where there's an outside chance the hiring partner remembers your name, sure. But that's not what the OP asked about.


No, you're wrong. I don't want to out myself or colleagues since some of these SA classes aren't really that big, but from my t14 former paralegals absolutely summered at firms they worked at where they were well below the grade cutoff. Ex: below median to v10s -- and this wasn't HYS.

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Re: Pre-Law School Work Experience - Does It Matter?

Postby obx » Thu Jan 05, 2017 10:44 am

cavalier1138 wrote:
obx wrote:
cavalier1138 wrote:It's just a talking point. Working in a law firm prior to school will give you little to no boost over a similar student who worked at Chipotle.


This is not quite true. If you are a paralegal at a firm before law school (and don't suck at it), it will absolutely be easier to go back to that particular firm for 1L or 2L summer.


Not for biglaw. They aren't going to say, "Oh hey, Reggie, good to see you! How's Cooley treating you? 2.7, huh? Well, since you were a paralegal here, we're pretty confident you'll be a fantastic associate. Here's $180k and a phone!"

Now, if you're referring to a mid-size firm where there's an outside chance the hiring partner remembers your name, sure. But that's not what the OP asked about.


I guess to be fair I'm talking about t14s, but being a former paralegal definitely helps at that one particular firm, even if you don't have the grades.

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Re: Pre-Law School Work Experience - Does It Matter?

Postby dabigchina » Thu Jan 05, 2017 10:51 am

cavalier1138 wrote:It's just a talking point. Working in a law firm prior to school will give you little to no boost over a similar student who worked at Chipotle.

Having a talking point is a boost during OCI. Having something to talk about beyond "how did you like 1L" or "I see you didn't do anything with your gap year" is a good thing to have.

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Re: Pre-Law School Work Experience - Does It Matter?

Postby Voyager » Thu Jan 05, 2017 12:42 pm

somedeadman wrote:
Voyager wrote:School name is most critical, then grades

Everything else is *almost* window dressing.

Good to know. Sounds like I should do something besides study for the LSAT, but I shouldn't stress about it, correct?


Correct.

Firms aren't going to care. Many kids are coming straight from undergrad.

Here is the inverse: I had a 100x more impressive pre-law school resume than any of my peers and I got the exact expected OCI results based on my school and grades only.

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White Dwarf

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Re: Pre-Law School Work Experience - Does It Matter?

Postby White Dwarf » Thu Jan 05, 2017 1:03 pm

The nice thing about having work experience pre-law school was that I had a list of professional references and three great LORs ready to go as soon as internship applications opened up in my 1L Fall. As someone who isn't very good at networking/ingratiating myself to professors, this was a huge help.

Probably not relevant for 1L SA's or OCI though, as I don't think most firms ask for references. But, if you're interested in PI/government, it's helpful.

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Re: Pre-Law School Work Experience - Does It Matter?

Postby somedeadman » Thu Jan 05, 2017 2:20 pm

dabigchina wrote:
cavalier1138 wrote:It's just a talking point. Working in a law firm prior to school will give you little to no boost over a similar student who worked at Chipotle.

Having a talking point is a boost during OCI. Having something to talk about beyond "how did you like 1L" or "I see you didn't do anything with your gap year" is a good thing to have.

To be fair, I do have work experience. I worked at a marketing agency for a year, and then worked at this clickbait factory for a few months before it had massive layoffs due to the fake news outrage on Facebook.

Since I was laid off, I decided to take the LSAT again and go all out.

With that said, and I'm sure a lot of people say this, but I have excellent interviewing skills.

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Re: Pre-Law School Work Experience - Does It Matter?

Postby somedeadman » Thu Jan 05, 2017 2:27 pm

Also, how far back does a resume for SA's go (I'll google and click around in a bit)? I've had six internships and two fulltime jobs, as well as a managerial role with a catering company. How much of that would need to be listed?

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Re: Pre-Law School Work Experience - Does It Matter?

Postby somedeadman » Thu Jan 05, 2017 2:29 pm

White Dwarf wrote:The nice thing about having work experience pre-law school was that I had a list of professional references and three great LORs ready to go as soon as internship applications opened up in my 1L Fall. As someone who isn't very good at networking/ingratiating myself to professors, this was a huge help.

Probably not relevant for 1L SA's or OCI though, as I don't think most firms ask for references. But, if you're interested in PI/government, it's helpful.

I have a lot of good LORs from undergrad. Professional would be tough for me at this point. I was only at my last job for a few months, and the first person I worked for was...let's just say they had a colorful personality. Do you think it'd be worthwhile to start getting some LORs from my internships, or not worry about it?

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Re: Pre-Law School Work Experience - Does It Matter?

Postby Voyager » Thu Jan 05, 2017 2:48 pm

somedeadman wrote:Also, how far back does a resume for SA's go (I'll google and click around in a bit)? I've had six internships and two fulltime jobs, as well as a managerial role with a catering company. How much of that would need to be listed?


Fit your resume on 1 page. Just create an internship section with 1 line for each internship (company and time of internship).

You can make it all fit, no problem.

All of you are too junior to warrant multi page resumes.

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Re: Pre-Law School Work Experience - Does It Matter?

Postby somedeadman » Thu Jan 05, 2017 3:53 pm

Voyager wrote:
somedeadman wrote:Also, how far back does a resume for SA's go (I'll google and click around in a bit)? I've had six internships and two fulltime jobs, as well as a managerial role with a catering company. How much of that would need to be listed?


Fit your resume on 1 page. Just create an internship section with 1 line for each internship (company and time of internship).

You can make it all fit, no problem.

All of you are too junior to warrant multi page resumes.

Cool, sounds good. I think I'm being neurotic right now anyways. Though I'll definitely start looking for some legal work of some kind so I don't have a 6 month employment gap on my resume. I highly doubt I'd land a paralegal gig at a big law firm, and would rather not work full-time while hitting the LSAT again anyways.

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Re: Pre-Law School Work Experience - Does It Matter?

Postby Voyager » Thu Jan 05, 2017 5:00 pm

somedeadman wrote:
Voyager wrote:
somedeadman wrote:Also, how far back does a resume for SA's go (I'll google and click around in a bit)? I've had six internships and two fulltime jobs, as well as a managerial role with a catering company. How much of that would need to be listed?


Fit your resume on 1 page. Just create an internship section with 1 line for each internship (company and time of internship).

You can make it all fit, no problem.

All of you are too junior to warrant multi page resumes.

Cool, sounds good. I think I'm being neurotic right now anyways. Though I'll definitely start looking for some legal work of some kind so I don't have a 6 month employment gap on my resume. I highly doubt I'd land a paralegal gig at a big law firm, and would rather not work full-time while hitting the LSAT again anyways.


I worked for 5 months (Feb-June) as a lowly legal assistant at a plaintiff's firm just prior to law school while living on a sailboat in Santa Cruz. The job was part time. I also had a part time job teaching LSAT.

None of it matters, man. I did it for fun and because I hit it off with the attorney who ran the shop.

Don't stress yourself.

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Re: Pre-Law School Work Experience - Does It Matter?

Postby Voyager » Thu Jan 05, 2017 5:06 pm

somedeadman wrote:
Voyager wrote:
somedeadman wrote:Also, how far back does a resume for SA's go (I'll google and click around in a bit)? I've had six internships and two fulltime jobs, as well as a managerial role with a catering company. How much of that would need to be listed?


Fit your resume on 1 page. Just create an internship section with 1 line for each internship (company and time of internship).

You can make it all fit, no problem.

All of you are too junior to warrant multi page resumes.

Cool, sounds good. I think I'm being neurotic right now anyways. Though I'll definitely start looking for some legal work of some kind so I don't have a 6 month employment gap on my resume. I highly doubt I'd land a paralegal gig at a big law firm, and would rather not work full-time while hitting the LSAT again anyways.


to add: you could just as well go traveling for 6 months. the firms will get it. they all know the path you are about to embark on is simply awful...

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Re: Pre-Law School Work Experience - Does It Matter?

Postby somedeadman » Thu Jan 05, 2017 8:15 pm

Voyager wrote:
somedeadman wrote:
Voyager wrote:
somedeadman wrote:Also, how far back does a resume for SA's go (I'll google and click around in a bit)? I've had six internships and two fulltime jobs, as well as a managerial role with a catering company. How much of that would need to be listed?


Fit your resume on 1 page. Just create an internship section with 1 line for each internship (company and time of internship).

You can make it all fit, no problem.

All of you are too junior to warrant multi page resumes.

Cool, sounds good. I think I'm being neurotic right now anyways. Though I'll definitely start looking for some legal work of some kind so I don't have a 6 month employment gap on my resume. I highly doubt I'd land a paralegal gig at a big law firm, and would rather not work full-time while hitting the LSAT again anyways.


to add: you could just as well go traveling for 6 months. the firms will get it. they all know the path you are about to embark on is simply awful...

If I end up putting law school off for another year, I will definitely do ESL somewhere for a year (or even join the peace corps).

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Re: Pre-Law School Work Experience - Does It Matter?

Postby browniestasty » Fri Jan 13, 2017 3:54 am

cavalier1138 wrote:
obx wrote:
cavalier1138 wrote:It's just a talking point. Working in a law firm prior to school will give you little to no boost over a similar student who worked at Chipotle.


This is not quite true. If you are a paralegal at a firm before law school (and don't suck at it), it will absolutely be easier to go back to that particular firm for 1L or 2L summer.


Not for biglaw. They aren't going to say, "Oh hey, Reggie, good to see you! How's Cooley treating you? 2.7, huh? Well, since you were a paralegal here, we're pretty confident you'll be a fantastic associate. Here's $180k and a phone!"

Now, if you're referring to a mid-size firm where there's an outside chance the hiring partner remembers your name, sure. But that's not what the OP asked about.


I know two girls that didn't even interview and went straight back for summer associate at where they paralegaled. One was a V100.

But yeah, my impression is if you're in the normal hiring pipelines, exp before law school doesn't do much.

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Re: Pre-Law School Work Experience - Does It Matter?

Postby jbagelboy » Tue Jan 17, 2017 2:22 am

somedeadman wrote:
cavalier1138 wrote:It's just a talking point. Working in a law firm prior to school will give you little to no boost over a similar student who worked at Chipotle.

Gotcha. So what does matter for landing one - grades and class rank I assume. What else?

In addition, how bad would it look if I remained unemployed until law school?


I disagree with the above advise. I think working in a professional setting is materially superior to working at Chipotle.
somedeadman wrote:
Voyager wrote:School name is most critical, then grades

Everything else is *almost* window dressing.

Good to know. Sounds like I should do something besides study for the LSAT, but I shouldn't stress about it, correct?


Reverse the order of grades and school. And aside from work experience, diversity and personality are both important factors in hiring. You can't do much about those, but having interesting pre-law background and experiences can contribute to personality/connecting with a professional.

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Re: Pre-Law School Work Experience - Does It Matter?

Postby GoneSouth » Tue Jan 17, 2017 10:09 am

cavalier1138 wrote:It's just a talking point. Working in a law firm prior to school will give you little to no boost over a similar student who worked at Chipotle.


I agree generally that most work experience is fungible, but I think working at a firm might be the exception if we're talking about getting an SA. A bunch of my friends are summering at the firm they worked at before law school, and I have to imagine the connections they made before law school helped with that.



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