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Is a gap year between undergrad and law school a bad idea?

CloudyafternoonsCloudyafternoons Posts: 195Registered User Junior Member
edited December 2012 in Law School
I'm a junior in college, and just recently started to consider law school. I was thinking of taking a year off after I graduate to volunteer with City Year or AmeriCorps or something of that sort and study for the LSAT during that year. Would that hurt my application, especially since those non-profits don't have anything to do with law?
Post edited by Cloudyafternoons on

Replies to: Is a gap year between undergrad and law school a bad idea?

  • sybbie719sybbie719 Posts: 16,786Super Moderator Senior Member
    No, it will not hurt your application at all. In fact many schools will waive their fee for Americorp participants.
  • zoosermomzoosermom Posts: 23,849Registered User Senior Member
    In terms of being hired after law school, it's a very GOOD thing not to go directly to law school. Hiring committees are always looking for expertise in an area or an interesting, unique resume. Just be aware that Americorps alum are very common in law schools, so by itself that wouldn't be a resume booster.
  • CloudyafternoonsCloudyafternoons Posts: 195Registered User Junior Member
    I wouldn't be doing Americorps for a resume booster. I'd do it partly because I was thinking of it even before I was thinking about law school, partly because I need a year away from school altogether before I go insane, and mostly because I'll need time to study for the LSAT.

    Anyone have any other good gap year ideas?
  • WordworkerWordworker Posts: 850Registered User Member
    Look for ideas on the Idealist website. Also check your career center for suggestions.
  • GreybeardGreybeard Posts: 2,355Registered User Senior Member
    I spent a year living in Asia right before I went to law school, and found a variety of part-time work such as teaching English, editing documents in a law firm, playing music, and working as a movie extra.

    My memories of that year are much more vivid than my memories of most of the 27 years I have spent practicing law. There's no way I would trade that year for a 28th as a lawyer.
  • yaledailynews15yaledailynews15 Posts: 15Registered User New Member
    a lot of top law schools actually accept a lot of applicants who have taken more than 2-3 years off after undergrad. they look for applicants who pursue their interests, and experience at a non-profit would add very strongly to your application.
  • LaBarristerLaBarrister Posts: 168Registered User Junior Member
    I'm the type who would use about 3/4 this year to study for the LSAT and get a really good score, just because it's so important. If you would also do this, then I would say this is one benefit of a gap year that will serve you well.
  • AxelrodAxelrod Posts: 663Registered User Member
    A gap year should help. Nevertheless, admission to the top law schools is mostly based on one's LSAT score & undergraduate GPA.
  • ariesathenaariesathena Posts: 5,023Registered User Senior Member
    Um, I don't think that any law school, let alone enough law schools to influence your admissions strategy, would look down on you for taking a year off, decompressing from college, and working for a non-profit.

    If such a beast of an institution does in fact exist, I don't know why you would want to spend three years of your life there, but to each his own.

    Even if it mattered for admission, I'm with Greybeard: take the year off. What is hard for young people to fathom is that once you start 1L year, your next opportunity to indulge your interests, work where you want, or not worry about earning a salary is when you retire. (Yes, there are people who leverage their law degrees into different fields, but this could be your last chance, and it's just not the same when you're older.)

    Career-wise, you're best off (IMHO) making as many contacts as possible inside *and outside* of the legal profession. Lawyers who know no one besides other lawyers, and have no skills outside of the law, are hardly in short supply. AmeriCorps and City Year might have 1L summer intern opportunities; your colleagues and supervisors might be able to get your resume in front of their lawyer friends; you can sign on as (often unpaid) legal counsel when you pass the bar.

    Likewise, if you are gunning for paid non-profit/public interest work when you graduate, employers will want to see a commitment to such work, and pre-law-school employment in public service is a good indicator of that.
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