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Why You Need to Take Time Off Before Going to Law School

Both currently practicing lawyers and officials of law school programs are in agreement that law school applicants should take time off from school before they go to law school. Some of the top law schools in the United States have even started requiring students to take time off before starting a program.

For example, Northwestern’s School of Law has a prerequisite for post-college work experience. 98% of first year students there have one or more years of experience at a full-time job, highlighting the importance of getting real world experience before diving into law school.

Here are a few considerations that you should take when you think about preparing for law school.

How much time do you want to take off?
Rod Taynes from Blue Print Prep proposes that students consider three blocks of time: a summer, three to nine months, and a year or more. Consider what kind of experiences you want to have, what your ultimate goals are (i.e. what you want to take out of it), and how long you anticipate it will take to accomplish them.

What do you need to do to prepare for law school?
Kathryn Espiritu from the Ford University Law School and Anna Ivey from the University of Chicago Law School both urge potential law students to get their applications in as early as possible. As law schools read applications on a rolling basis, it is ideal to have an application sent by late November or early December.

And remember: when you’re not in school, it’s a lot less stressful to fill out the application to the best of your ability.

In addition to work, what other experiences do you want to have before you start law school?
While law related work experience takes precedence for many future law students, it is important to consider additional opportunities. If you can’t get the job that you want, don’t discount internships and volunteer positions for law-related non-profit organizations. The UCLA Pre-Law Society also urges individuals to think about the Peace Core, Teach for America, teaching abroad, and traveling abroad.

These last two points are especially important as more law firms are expanding overseas, a topic that I will explore more next Friday.

Is your financial aid package important? Use this time off to negotiate your offer.
If you get a great offer from one law school, you can use it to leverage your offer at another law school. Students coming out of law school with piles of debt is a notorious reality, so it’s important to alleviate the financial burden as much as possible.

It can take time to narrow your focus for a career path.
Many students enter law school without a clear idea what they will do with their degrees. Taking time off to gain work and other real world experience can help you narrow your focus, making your time in law school more productive.

About Author

Sumita Dalal is the Founder and CEO of FindMyLawTutor, the largest and most trusted website and online portal that connects law students with law tutors for success in law school. Whether preparing for the LSAT, are currently a law student or are studying for the bar exam, FindMyLawTutor makes finding a law tutor fast and easy.

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