Spring is a time of transition, with a new generation of college graduates about to enter the workforce while others complete programs and scholarships. Whether you’re about to take a gap year before going to law school or you’re already in the workforce, it’s worth thinking about how best to position yourself to apply for law school. straight.
Here are four professions that will help boost your profile:
- Paralegal or legal assistant
- Policy researcher or analyst
- Community work
- Work for a startup
Paralegal or Legal Assistant
Working as a paralegal can be dry, demanding, and high-pressure, but there are few comparable ways to get paid while directly engaging in legal work.
Paralegal work can spruce up your resume and result in a strong reference letter. Paralegals also gain key insights into how legal positions differ in their culture, challenges, pace, and expectations.
Aspiring lawyers are often so focused on the type of law they want to practice that they fail to figure out what type of day-to-day legal work best suits their interests and lifestyle. Law firms range from sole proprietorships to multinational corporations. They also differ in their degree of specialization or variety, transactional or adversarial work, desk research or client interviews, and countless other factors.
With that in mind, if you can’t find a position at a firm that specializes in a legal area that interests you, look for a larger firm to gain wide exposure. Also look for opportunities to work with clients, such as greeting or taking notes on depositions, to keep in mind the people you will be helping as an attorney.
Research or policy analyst
Whether you work in a think tank, nonprofit, public office, or for a professor, a research position can hone two essential legal skills: analytical reasoning and writing. Even better, they can allow you to contribute published work that will stand out on your resume or in answers to interview questions.
If you didn’t have the chance to write a major thesis or paper in college, a research position can help you show similar abilities. Some schools, like Harvard Law School in Massachusetts, even ask questions directly about substantial written work you have produced.
Law is a service profession, so law schools value applicants who have demonstrated an ability to serve others. Whether through a political, civic or faith-based organization, assisting vulnerable populations can help you identify causes that resonate with your values.
These jobs tend to be exhausting and low paying, which is why they are a great entry-level job! And since these organizations tend to be understaffed, there is often plenty of room for personal growth and initiative. Whether you are alone or part of a team, grassroots efforts allow for engaging personal statements.
Work for a startup
If you are interested in the financial or business side of law and don’t want to take on a more conventional role in investment banking or management consulting, consider a small business. Joining an untested company is the kind of risk that makes the most sense when you’re young, independent, and mobile.
Growing businesses often face legal and compliance issues that show how rules and markets interact in the real world. There’s also a good chance that you can get a strong letter of recommendation from a supervisor who can speak convincingly about your work.
These are just a few examples of the types of work well suited for a year or two between college and law school. There’s no harm in using that time to follow a less worn path, like teaching English abroad, coaching a youth sport or running test prep classes. It is better to do work, even part-time or on a voluntary basis, than to have long gaps in your resume.