if you are in high school and thinking ahead to law school, you should be commended.
As someone who graduated from law school and spent ten years working as an attorney, I wish often that I had started planning for law school well before I did.
High school is a great time to start.
How To Prepare For Law School In High School (Tips and Advice)
Yes, you’ll see tons of articles (and career advisors) tell you that you need to focus on getting excellent grades, taking courses in public speaking, drama, philosophy and writing.
But everyone gets this advice.
And by the time you get to applying for law school, people with great grades are a dime a dozen.
The same is true when it comes time to apply for judicial clerkships and jobs.
The thing that really makes a resume/application stand out is the ‘interesting’ factor.
Hiring committees and employers imagine standing around the water cooler with you, working 12 hours a day with you, investing their time into you.
In reviewing resumes, they look straight past all of your qualifications to that tiny paragraph at the bottom of your resume that contains the “other things about me” stuff: baseball? language? cooking? travel?
What will you talk about at work? And not only that, do you have similar interests, goals, mindset?
If all you do is study, you’ll be just like almost all the other applicants.
But if you hike the Appalachian Trail from beginning to end, visit every country in the world, start a business selling quilted socks to cat owners, serve on committees that provide food to needy families….do you see where I am going with this?
And the sooner you start, the better.
And the more unusual, the better.
You won’t become the director of a successful organization overnight.
You won’t sell a million units in a weekend.
Getting a jump start on becoming interesting will also help you with your entrance essays and interviews, as you will have a lot of cool stuff to talk about.
Work On Getting Comfortable Public Speaking
Getting in front of people can be hard when you first get started.
Even if you are reasonably comfortable talking to people, there is something to be said for spending hours and hours in front of other people, talking.
Even better if you are called to answer questions on your feet, causing you to have to dig into your memory to produce the answers, or even improvise.
This can be done in a debate class, Toastmasters, drama, or even at work out in the world.
This can even be done livestreaming on Youtube, teaching martial arts, or selling candy door-to-door for scouts.
The easier it is for you to get on your feet (even if you don’t plan on doing trial work), the better you will perform under pressure in class, as you will often be called upon to speak your mind in front of your colleagues.
This will also assist you in interviews when you want to get a job, and out in the world when you are appearing in court.
Learn How To Read Cases
The first year of law school is mostly taught through cases, aka legal opinions written by judges explaining the outcome/decision of a case.
It is rare for high school students (or even college students) to learn how to read a legal case in any class, unless the class is specifically law focused.
And even then, the focus is rarely on ‘how’ to read the case.
Law students read hundreds of cases, and their initial success in that first year relies heavily upon the students ability to read and understand a case.
You can start with the cases you might come into contact with in law school, or you can start with current cases that you find interesting that are coming out of the United States Supreme Court.
The learning curve on reading cases is just so so so steep in that first year, and I really regret not having gotten a jump on learning how to read cases.
As a lawyer, I read cases every single day, and being able to quickly and easily understand them is a valuable skill.
The most successful lawyers know a lot of people.
The same is often true of law students.
The more people you know, the cooler people you can use as references on your application.
The more people you know, the more likely that you’ll be able to get a job you actually want during law school and afterwards.
This might also help you get some really relevant experience that will help you launch your law school career.
While law students are generally very smart, they often come out of law school without really knowing how to do anything.
They can’t use the fax machine or the copy machine.
They have never filed.
They have never talked to clients.
They’ve never done intakes or spoken with strangers.
Networking can help you find work in areas that will expand your useful life skills.
And if you decide against law school in the future, that same network will support you in whatever you decide to do.
You can build your network by speaking up everywhere you go: in school, at church, at clubs, and meetings.
Talk to everyone, and find out about what they are doing or are passionate about.
Offer to help whenever you can, and actually follow up.
Visit The Courthouse
Many law students start law school having never actually set foot inside a courthouse.
I highly recommend that you you do so, and as often as you can.
Most trials are open to the public, and you are welcome to sit quietly in the back and observe.
Yes, it might be very boring when you have no idea what is going on.
But sitting in court (when you aren’t a participant) gives you a really good look at what trial work (and attorney work) really looks like.
If you think it appears incredibly boring and you’d rather do something else, then maybe you should re-evaluate your career choices.
Further, if you attend court regularly and sit in the back, you might get to know folks at the courthouse, and even get to talk to a judge now and again, once you make it known that you are planning on applying to law school.
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