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Peace Corp Before Going to Law School????

whitecastle7whitecastle7 11 replies8 threads Junior Member
edited October 2016 in Law School
I am 100% planning on becoming a lawyer. However, I do have a great interest in volunteering and human rights throughout the world. I am interested in International Law. Paying for law school will be an absolute challenge as well, planning on having at least $90,000 in law school debt if I do not get scholarships (still about 2-3 yrs away). Currently, I am a sophomore in community college about to graduate in the spring. I am planning on attending University of Wisconsin- Eau Claire in the fall of 2017. I will be majoring in Political Science with a World Politics emphasis, a minor in philosophy and Spanish and will graduate in the Spring of 2019. I am starting to plan and studying for the LSAT as well. Would it be smart to join the peace corp for 2 yrs before I go to law school? What is the specific process? Will it benefit my application and give me a better chance at a top tier law school? Are there any good law schools that have a specific programs for RPCV so they can easily go into that program? Should I take the LSAT and apply to law school and try to postpone my acceptance until I finish the Peace Corp? If I take my LSAT before I join the peace corp, could I still use it when I return from the PC and be ready to use it for my law school app (2 yrs later)? I am planning on applying to Vanderbilt, WashU, Georgetown (super high reach tho), UW Madison, and University of Iowa law schools.

Can anyone answer my questions or give me advice on what to do???? I have heard lots of stories of Returned Peace Corp Volunteers (RPCV) receiving full tuition scholarships at ivy league law schools.

Would it be better to do it before I attend UWEC (probs have $20,000 ish in student debt)?
edited October 2016
14 replies
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Replies to: Peace Corp Before Going to Law School????

  • Demosthenes49Demosthenes49 1622 replies4 threads Senior Member
    I'm unaware of any law school admissions benefit coming from the peace corps. It's a nice soft but softs rarely enter the admissions process. Those are driven by GPA and LSAT. I'm not sure how you know what is or is not a reach given that you're a sophomore (meaning no final GPA) and have no LSAT score.

    I'm concerned that you express an interest in "International Law." International law isn't really a thing. Those interested in it almost exclusively are those without any practical experience with law. That's also concerning. Have you interned or worked in a law office?
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  • frazzled1frazzled1 5632 replies247 threads Senior Member
    First: always spell it "Peace Corps."

    Second: selection for the Peace Corps is highly selective. You can probably find helpful information by asking about that process in the Parents Forum (several active posters have children in the Peace Corps), or in the Internships, Careers, and Employment Forum.

    It will help your applications to top law schools to have work experience. Peace Corps service is considered a prestigious accomplishment because it's difficult to get in and even more difficult to stay in. Is law school your main reason for being interested in the Peace Corps?
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  • whitecastle7whitecastle7 11 replies8 threads Junior Member
    Yes, I have. I worked as a law clerk for a firm in Chicago that specializes in Medical Malpractice. Also, I have interned at my local senator's office. Currently, I volunteer at a Rape Crisis Center so that I have more experience with criminal law. I guess what I want to do is either to work in business on an international scale or work within the government through international relations (but I also want to make six figures and be good financially). Basically, I would love to work at the UN, however, I feel like that would be impossible because it is ridiculously competitive and I may not have the best credentials i.e. I did not attend an ivy league. Would the Peace Corp help tremendously with law school scholarships or to get in to the best law schools in the country?
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  • whitecastle7whitecastle7 11 replies8 threads Junior Member
    No, but I know ultimately that law school is what I want to do. I have a great love of community service like years at working at soup kitchens, Habitat for Humanity, a Rape Crisis Center and so forth. I'm interested in things on global scales so I feel like the Peace Corps combines things that I love to do in general.
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  • intparentintparent 36292 replies644 threads Senior Member
    I know someone who did it. She took the LSAT in the country she was stationed in (Ecuador). I think she didn't get to take it the first attempt, though -- maybe due to an earthquake? She ended up only doing 1 year of her PC obligation. She was an engineer undergrad with a few years of work experience, and they put her in a place teaching kids English. She didn't say so, but I think it was a waste of her skills. So she did her applications while abroad with the PC.
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  • inthegardeninthegarden 1958 replies33 threads Senior Member
    Google the Peace Corps website...you can find answers to many of your questions there, and also find contact information for Peace Corps recruiters (who often work from college campuses.) The website has a lot of fascinating information about the different country programs, and essays written by current and past volunteer in every county served.

    I was a Peace Corps volunteer many years ago and many things have changed since then. Many of my fellow volunteers studied for GREs and MCATs while in service (in many cases during long evenings with candlelight ) and took the tests while there (at U.S. embassies and/or American schools, if I remember correctly.) Don't know about LSATs. There were agreements with specific graduate programs that gave RPCVs (Returned volunteers) competitive status, but I don't know specifically about law school.

    Peace Corps is not for everyone. It can be highly frustrating, even boring at moments! HOWEVER...if you are not in a big rush in life, and if it is "IN" you to do this, I highly recommend it. Sounds as if it fits your personal goals in life, and whether or not it makes you more competitive getting INTO law school, it will surely make you a better-informed (and more complexly-informed, if that makes sense ) person of the world. With many types of international careers, having done Peace Corps is almost a rite of passage. Honestly, I still feel that I learned more about life, the world and myself during my two Peace Corps terms than I did during college or graduate school. Today, whenever I meet another RPCVs (regardless of country or year of service) there is usually some kind of instant bond...it's a lifetime association. I would not be the same person today without it.
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  • HappyAlumnusHappyAlumnus 1177 replies46 threads Senior Member
    edited October 2016
    I think that the Peace Corps would be helpful in being admitted to law school; any work experience, but particularly transformative work experience that matches one of your life's passions, will help your application essays be amazing. It isn't a substitute for great LSAT/GPA numbers, though, but it can still be an extra reason for a great law school to admit you.

    I did "international law" for a few years. It's not that different from regular domestic law. If you get to work abroad as a lawyer (which I did) and/or use your foreign language skills as a lawyer (which I did), then it's interesting and, in my view, worth pursuing. Otherwise, just find an area of law that you really like and pursue it, even if it's not "international."

    If you end up doing an area of law that is unbearable just so that you can deal with some "international" aspect to it (which I did), try something else!
    edited October 2016
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  • Demosthenes49Demosthenes49 1622 replies4 threads Senior Member
    @whitecastle7: I'm glad you've had some experience of the practice of law. Your restated goals of working on international transactions or in government are far more reasonable than the nebulous "international law." @HappyAlumnus can fill you in on what cross-border transactional work looks like. I believe he has experience with such things.

    Working in the government is difficult but not impossible. You'll need solid credentials from a solid law school. I don't know too much about working in the State Department, so I recommend you start by examining the backgrounds of the people already working there.
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  • momcincomomcinco 1047 replies23 threads Senior Member
    https://www.peacecorps.gov/volunteer/university-programs/coverdell-fellows/

    :Look into this to see if law school partners are a possibility for grants/partial tuition.
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  • inthegardeninthegarden 1958 replies33 threads Senior Member
    @intparent, there are many situations in the Peace Corps similar to your anecdote...where volunteers end up doing something different than they went in for. For that reason I found that often the most effective and happiest volunteers were the generalists (those who went in with a flexible and questioning mindset,, a range of skills (and nacent skills), a desire to figure out where/how they could be of most use in their communities and a great desire to learn about the culture. The technical specialist who wanted to apply a specific skill-set in a specific way were often thwarted and frustrated by the endless constraints and felt the time was a waste and a failure. Though technically superior, they may have had limited patience for adapting to the actual circumstances. Even those volunteers who worked in their assigned projects often will tell you that they found their greatest satisfactions in side projects that became bigger over time, or in the social relationships (informal diplomacy) with people.

    The (fantastic) volunteer who followed me had many great technical/mechanical skills that he did put to use in a well-digging project throughout the region. However, he did amazing things in other areas (such as first aid, health education, and follow-up on some agricultural work I did. ) Many years later he started a tiny, grass-roots NGO that is doing amazing things for the village and surrounding region in areas of health, education, small businesses loans, etc. Resourceful and committed volunteers are never limited to doing their assigned projects.

    To me, it seems @whitecastle7 may have the mindset of a generalist....able and willing to find out what is needed and actually possible to do, to learn about life outside of the U.S. in a way that no book, journal article, website or documentary can ever do, and to learn to see life as a question than a single job to do.
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  • intparentintparent 36292 replies644 threads Senior Member
    This person was given NO responsibilities that used her engineering experience. Almost any interchangeable person who spoke English could have done what she was assigned to. There was no potential for using it in the second year, either. They didn't need wells or buildings or anything like that. I think this person is flexible and looks for ways to help, and would have if there was work to do. Don't be so sure that she was the problem. The PC does sometimes put volunteers in areas that don't really need "Western" help.
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  • inthegardeninthegarden 1958 replies33 threads Senior Member
    sorry, @intparent, I wasn't judging this particular person as I don't know her or her particular circumstances in the Pac Corps. Maybe i expressed it in way that came across differently than I meant. I was voicing an observation of a pattern I have seen having known literally hundreds of volunteers in my two tours of service, traveling in Peace Corps countries, working in the Peace Corps office for a year and living in a D.C. neighborhood that was practically a RPCV ghetto. What I meant is, that people having highly sophisticated technical training naturally do want to use those particular skills. It may be a greater letdown for those who were led to believe by Peace Corps that this skill set would be utilized than those people who are jack-of-all-trades but maybe not so highly skilled in their assigned Peace Corps project area (i.e. liberal arts major doing child/maternal health education or community gardening project.)

    Peace Corps is a gamble. Program quality does vary from country to country, and project to project. The Peace Corps administration in the second country I served in was a complete, chaotic mess (as was the infrastructure of the county itself), and I had I had a very specific technical job to do likely would not have been able to do it. In fact, I did change the emphasis of the project I was supposed to do because I didn't find it realistic or geared to meeting actual local needs. Had that been my first tour of service, I likely would have quit early except that I had matured enough in my first country of service (which was much better organized) to be able to persevere. Project assignments can vary vastly in different regions of the same country. These are the same kinds of constraints and uncertainties that citizens of these countries have to deal with their whole lives. It is good, and humbling, and the best kind of learning experience IMO for Americans to experience this. When we live with the constant roadblocks that other people face their whole lives we have a better understanding of life beyond the U.S. I can understand that if a person's main goal/hope in the Peace Corps is to be able to help using rare and needed skills, (a wonderful thing, when it is possible) it is less fulfilling to be there when that is not possible. OP is hoping for a career in some kind of human rights area of law. The particular work expectations I think she might bring to a Peace Corps experience would likely be less tangible in than those of an engineer. Really, ANY kind of experience working with a struggling community, even if it involves teaching English, will give her experience, insight, and complex questions that will well-serve her in a future human rights career. That is what I meant. I didn't mean to insult.
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  • inthegardeninthegarden 1958 replies33 threads Senior Member
    Sorry for th typos....my computr ky is now sticking (fifth lttr :).
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  • gardenstategalgardenstategal 6967 replies10 threads Senior Member
    Many programs like this are somewhat potluck in terms of what your experience will be. THERE are some domestic versions as well. Are you looking at those as well? SOME of those might give you a chance to spend some time doing something related to the law.
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