Work a year before law school?

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Zamya
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Work a year before law school?

Postby Zamya » Sat Jan 23, 2010 5:34 pm

Hi. I was wondering if it would be beneficial for a prospective law student to work a year or two before attempting to get into law school. I will be graduating college at the end of my fall quarter (december) in 2010 (as a junior, age 20) and I am wondering if law schools would perceive me as being too naive or something to enter law school. After my fall quarter, I'll have January to August of 2011 to work but since law school applications are due around January-February 2011, but I'm not sure if the time I work between undergrad and law school would be considered in the application. For Cornell, I noticed that only 7 students were "straight from college." I plan to shoot for UC Davis or Hastings. Even though they are a lot lower than Cornell, do they also have very little "straight from college" students? In light of the economy, I'm not even sure if I'll be able to land a job in my field (economics) from January to August. I'd rather not stay in undergrad. for the remainder of my junior year as I don't want my parents to pay the tuition for classes I don't really need. If anyone could advise me on what I should do, I'd really appreciate it. Thanks.

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Veyron
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Re: Work a year before law school?

Postby Veyron » Sat Jan 23, 2010 5:46 pm

I have never met a single person who regretted this.

WhyBother?
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Re: Work a year before law school?

Postby WhyBother? » Sat Jan 23, 2010 5:51 pm

I took time off. I'm glad that I did. If things don't work out this year, I won't be all that upset for having to wait and reapply/defer (although I am 100% ready to go and hope to start this fall). Taking time off has given me time to refresh mentally, clarify my goals, given me perspective on what kind of career and life I want, and made me a MUCH more competitive applicant (even without impressive work experience, it's amazing what time off from school allows you to do).

Zamya
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Re: Work a year before law school?

Postby Zamya » Sat Jan 23, 2010 6:17 pm

Thank you for the responses. Do you think the time I spend working from January to September would be considered? If the applications are due towards the end of February, the law schools would only be able to see, at most, one month of my work experience. I'd like to go to law school as soon as possible and would only consider working longer than January to September, if it greatly increased my chances.

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Veyron
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Re: Work a year before law school?

Postby Veyron » Sat Jan 23, 2010 6:19 pm

Some low level econ job won't impress law schools in the slightest. If you did it for two years, still not school would care (except for NU for which 2 years WE is practically mandatory and Penn if you have worked for several years in a field and can tie it to what kind of law you want to practice) Its just something that you may enjoy doing to get some outside-of-the-academy perspective. The only jobs that law schools will care about is the very prestigious save the world type stuff like americorps, TFA, etc. You are probably best served from an admissions standpoint by working/volunteering 5 hours a week and studying for your LSAT the rest of the time. About 2/3 of the students at your typical T-14 have at least 1 year of WE. As a side note, if you are shooting for schools that low, you may not want to go to law school.

Zamya
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Re: Work a year before law school?

Postby Zamya » Sat Jan 23, 2010 7:07 pm

Veyron wrote: As a side note, if you are shooting for schools that low, you may not want to go to law school.


So, 35 and 39 are considered low? Thanks for the insight. To be honest, I really want to stay in California and the only options above that are UCLA, Stanford, USC, and Berkeley. Even though that's a lot for one state, I doubt I'll be able to get into Stanford or Berkeley, and USC and UCLA are a bit of stretch for me. Also, I am studying for the LSAT now, but what you proposed may also be a good idea. Can I ask why I may not want to go to law school if I am shooting that low?

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Veyron
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Re: Work a year before law school?

Postby Veyron » Sat Jan 23, 2010 7:27 pm

Zamya wrote:
Veyron wrote: As a side note, if you are shooting for schools that low, you may not want to go to law school.


So, 35 and 39 are considered low? Thanks for the insight. To be honest, I really want to stay in California and the only options above that are UCLA, Stanford, USC, and Berkeley. Even though that's a lot for one state, I doubt I'll be able to get into Stanford or Berkeley, and USC and UCLA are a bit of stretch for me. Also, I am studying for the LSAT now, but what you proposed may also be a good idea. Can I ask why I may not want to go to law school if I am shooting that low?


I think you perhaps meant this sarcastically but the truth is that in the legal world, these are low. Kids at T-6s and T-10s- including very smart friends of mine- are scrambling for 80k a year jobs right now. You are unlikely to recover enough money to live a decent lifestyle after paying off your debts at 35 and 39 because at those schools, only the top 10-15% even have a shot (not a guarantee, a shot) at a solid firm or government gig. California is a notoriously difficult market to be in if you didn't do T-14 and of course, you can't really work anywhere else coming from the schools you have named. Even UCLA (not to mention USC) is hurting terribly right now although the top 1/3 there at least has a fighting chance. Your best bet is to re-take the LSAT if you are sure you want to go to law school. Your GPA may forever keep you out of Stanford and Berk anyway but at least with a solid enough score, you will be able to swing a scholarship at USC or UCLA and then if you have to take a 40k a year small law gig after you graduate, at least you won't be crushed by debt.

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wadeny
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Re: Work a year before law school?

Postby wadeny » Sat Jan 23, 2010 7:42 pm

Working before law school is the way to go, assuming, of course, that you can actually find a worthwhile job ITE. I decided to take a year off and have managed to gain more experience and savings, so it worked out for me, but it's important that you have a "plan" (i.e. work, volunteering, etc), otherwise you would just be wasting your time. At the very least, though, having experience holding down a full-time job is something that will prove invaluable before law school (not to mention less stressful than what you will likely be dealing with in three years with more debt).

Also, don't limit yourself to finding work simply to impress schools; just find something that you want to do and could ultimately learn from in the long run. It's the #s that will ultimately make or break you at most schools, so I wouldn't worry too much about finding the perfect job.

Zamya wrote:Can I ask why I may not want to go to law school if I am shooting that low?


It really depends on the particular school and how much debt you're taking on. Davis and Hastings are solid schools, but unless you graduate in the top part of your class, you could be having a tough time paying off your loans. Personally, I wouldn't pay full-tuition for either of these schools, but if you can get some $$$ and you want to stay in Cali, they're certainly options worth considering. It's not T-14 or bust, as a lot of posters on this site make it out to be, but you need every advantage you can get in this tough job market.

Zamya
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Re: Work a year before law school?

Postby Zamya » Sat Jan 23, 2010 8:08 pm

Veyron wrote:
Zamya wrote:
Veyron wrote: As a side note, if you are shooting for schools that low, you may not want to go to law school.


So, 35 and 39 are considered low? Thanks for the insight. To be honest, I really want to stay in California and the only options above that are UCLA, Stanford, USC, and Berkeley. Even though that's a lot for one state, I doubt I'll be able to get into Stanford or Berkeley, and USC and UCLA are a bit of stretch for me. Also, I am studying for the LSAT now, but what you proposed may also be a good idea. Can I ask why I may not want to go to law school if I am shooting that low?


I think you perhaps meant this sarcastically but the truth is that in the legal world, these are low. Kids at T-6s and T-10s- including very smart friends of mine- are scrambling for 80k a year jobs right now. You are unlikely to recover enough money to live a decent lifestyle after paying off your debts at 35 and 39 because at those schools, only the top 10-15% even have a shot (not a guarantee, a shot) at a solid firm or government gig. California is a notoriously difficult market to be in if you didn't do T-14 and of course, you can't really work anywhere else coming from the schools you have named. Even UCLA (not to mention USC) is hurting terribly right now although the top 1/3 there at least has a fighting chance. Your best bet is to re-take the LSAT if you are sure you want to go to law school. Your GPA may forever keep you out of Stanford and Berk anyway but at least with a solid enough score, you will be able to swing a scholarship at USC or UCLA and then if you have to take a 40k a year small law gig after you graduate, at least you won't be crushed by debt.


Sorry Veryon. I realize that it does sound kind of sarcastic, but I really do appreciate what you have to say. I'd rather hear the truth than receive a generalized response like, "do what you think is right."

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Veyron
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Re: Work a year before law school?

Postby Veyron » Sat Jan 23, 2010 9:08 pm

wlcm

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Aeon
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Re: Work a year before law school?

Postby Aeon » Sun Jan 24, 2010 12:08 am

Age is not a major factor in the admissions process. The only situation where being younger would likely hurt you is if you affirmatively demonstrate to the school that you're not mature/responsible (ie: MIPs, sophomoric personal statement, etc.).

I wouldn't say that it is always a good idea to take a year or two off after undergrad before going to law school. Many who have taken time off rave about how much they enjoyed it, but I can guarantee you that there are also those who thought that time wasted. If you do take time off, make sure that you engage in something meaningful. It doesn't need to be a superstar job at a Wall Street firm or anything, just something in your general field of interest (and commensurate with your undergrad degree, if even nominally). You could do some more volunteer-oriented work, too, such as Teach for America (yes, you do get paid, but the people aren't in it for the money).

What might doubly help is if you have a rough idea of what field of law you would like to go into, and if you are able to find a job in that field, such as a paralegal at a firm with a primary practice area therein. This is great because you can get some experience working in a real law office, become somewhat familiar with the substance of the law, and most importantly, make connections in the field that might reap rewards down the road when you become a practicing attorney.

I will qualify the above by saying that if you haven't really held a job in college, then taking some time off to work would be your best option. As I've said, law schools do not much care about your age, but lacking substantive work experience is not to your advantage.

An argument against taking time off after college is that in this economy, finding a job is difficult, especially barring any connections that can help to make it happen. This is something to consider, because spending a year without doing much of anything is guaranteed to raise the eyebrows of law school admissions officers.

Best of luck, Zamya!

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tallboone
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Re: Work a year before law school?

Postby tallboone » Sun Jan 24, 2010 12:15 am

Admissions officers couldn't care less if you took a year off or didn't, even if you do just sit on your ass (as long as you have SOMETHING to put on a resume, such as traveling, learning to play guitar, whatever) You should ABSOLUTELY take a year off because it will give you some perspective when you are going through the law school grind...after struggling to make ends meet with your undergraduate degree, you will be more willing to put in the necessary effort in law school. Plus, when else in your life are you going to get to take a year off to do something you want to do, be it just working a mindless job and drinking beer or practicing to be the next scrabble champion. Everyone should take time off. You will be more pleasant to be around. (Disclaimer, I took two years off)

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vanwinkle
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Re: Work a year before law school?

Postby vanwinkle » Sun Jan 24, 2010 12:23 am

I worked for five years between college and law school, and I will say the real-world experience is highly valuable.

I think that law school requires much more self-discipline and is more like a real-world job than undergrad is; people who go to law school fresh out of undergrad often have this idea that they can just study the material and ace the exams, and that's totally not true. They teach you part of it (the law in that subject) but leave part (learning to "think like a lawyer" and take exams) entirely for you to develop on your own, and people who've worked between undergrad and law school are typically the self-starters that can get that done better.

Also, taking time off can give you more time to prepare for the LSAT, which should give you a better shot at a top law school. Understand that in the legal field, prestige of degree is a major factor in getting your foot in the door anywhere, and it really does matter where you go. The difference in opportunities between, say, Berkeley and UC-Davis, are rather enormous. Do what you can to make sure you can get into a T14, or at least into UCLA or USC. Anything less than that, and you need to very seriously weigh the costs of attendance against a realistic expectation of your post-graduation employment.

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savagedm
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Re: Work a year before law school?

Postby savagedm » Fri Jan 29, 2010 2:56 am

I am just over the halfway mark for my year off between UG-LS and I must say I am NOT disappointed. I originally planned to go straight into law school after graduating in the summer but I did not get scholarships where I wanted, nor did I get into my target schools because I applied late. It was the greatest and most devastating blessing I could have had at the time. I've gotten pretty killer on guitar, read a lot of books about philosophy and all the stuff you wanted to read more into during UG but never had the time, and I have partied my ass off to the point of actually getting in a lil' trouble with my normally laid back parents. Would I do it all over again this way? Yes, and I'd probably throw Europe in there too.

bigmnstyle
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Re: Work a year before law school?

Postby bigmnstyle » Sun Mar 14, 2010 6:29 pm

lol!!!




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