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EXPLORING YOUR INTEREST IN LAW

By Gladys Gomez,2014-07-17 01:07
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NAPLA HAS PREPARED THE PRE-LAW GUIDE FOR THOSE CONSIDERING THE LEGAL PROFESSION, FOR UNDERGRADUATES PREPARING FOR LEGAL STUDY, AND FOR CANDIDATES APPLYING TO ...

    NAPLA Pre-Law Guide

    Table of Contents

    Introduction ................................................................................................................. 1 Exploring Your Interest in Law ................................................................................... 2 Preparing for Law School ............................................................................................ 4 Determining Where to Apply ....................................................................................... 5 Understanding Admissions Criteria ............................................................................. 8 Applying to Law School .............................................................................................. 9 Law School Admission Test (LSAT) ....................................................................... 9 Credential Assembly Service (CAS) ...................................................................... 10 The Application ..................................................................................................... 11 Personal Statements ............................................................................................... 12 Letters of Recommendation ................................................................................... 12 Filing Your Applications ....................................................................................... 14 Taking Time Off .................................................................................................... 15 Considering Admissions Decisions ............................................................................ 16 Financing Law School ............................................................................................... 18 Legal Career Checklist .............................................................................................. 22 Legal Career Resources ............................................................................................. 23

? 2008 NAPLA Inc. Permission to use this content is granted to nonprofit educational

    institutions. All other rights reserved.

    Introduction

NAPLA has prepared the Pre-Law Guide for those considering the legal profession, for

    undergraduates preparing for legal study, and for candidates applying to law school. The Guide

    is designed to help at each stage by providing accurate and up-to-date information.

    Pre-law advisors at nonprofit educational institutions are granted permission by NAPLA to use the Guide and are encouraged to tailor it to their respective schools. The Guide can be printed

    and distributed to students and alumni, and used on schools' websites. NAPLA requests that the attribution below be included in both print and online versions of the Guide.

The NAPLA Pre-Law Guide is based on Cornell University's Legal Careers Guide, which was

    used by permission of Cornell Career Services. NAPLA would like to acknowledge the following schools for their contributions to the Guide: Binghamton University, Boston College,

    Boston University, Bucknell University, Columbia University, Duke University, Northeastern University, Princeton University, and Texas A & M University. The Law School Admission Council provided information on study abroad transcripts, and the Financial Aid section is based on the "Financial Aid Toolkit" developed by the Pre-Law Advisors National Council (PLANC).

     NAPLA Pre-Law Guide 1

    Exploring Your Interest in Law

    A J.D., Juris Doctor, can lead to a wide range of law-related careers and can open doors to careers in government, business, higher education, communications, and numerous other fields. Law school graduates are administrators, teachers, librarians, and business managers as well as advocates, judges, and politicians.

The law can be a rewarding profession. At its best, legal practice challenges the intellect,

    demanding the exercise of reason and judgment. The ethics of the profession require attorneys to promote justice, fairness, and morality; thus, legal employment can bring particular satisfaction to those who seek to work, within the law, to seek social injustice.

There are significant differences in career choices lawyers make, from public interest law and

    government law to private practice in a firm. The range in starting salaries alone can exceed $100,000. And, the need to pay back law school loans can affect the career choices of a new graduate.

    Before beginning the application process, consider carefully if a law degree is right for you. It is not necessary to know what kind of law you want to practice or even if you want to practice law to decide to attend law school. There are a number of ways you can explore the field of law:

     Talk with a career counselor and/or a pre-law advisor about your interest in pursuing

    legal studies. If you are uncertain who the pre-law advisor at your school is, the Law

    School Admission Council will inform you when you register for the Credential

    Assembly Service (CAS).

     Conduct research on legal careers using resources at your pre-law advising office or

    college career office.

     Investigate online resources, including the American Bar Association, the National

    Association of Law Placement, and Internet Legal Research Group.

     Intern with a law firm or law-related organization to gain exposure to the field and to

    experience the work environment.

     Conduct information interviews to learn about the legal profession. Talk with

    lawyers who are family members, family friends, or alumni of your college to learn:

     * what lawyers do in a typical work day

     * personal attributes needed to be successful in a legal career

     * satisfactions and dissatisfactions of the field

     * impact of a legal career on personal lives

Realities of a Legal Career

An important step in making a decision is to distinguish between commonly held expectations

    and the reality of legal practice. Hours can be very long and often include weekends. Legal work can require spending considerable time in tedious, painstaking research. Depending on the type of law practiced and the location, entry into law firms can be difficult and salaries may not meet expectations. The market for new lawyers is competitive for those seeking positions in

     NAPLA Pre-Law Guide 2

cities and firms that are in high demand.

    Employment statistics for the class of 2007 law graduates, based on responses from 40,416

    1(92% of all graduates) reveal the following:

     The average starting salary was $86,396; the median salary was $65,750.

     About 11% of salaries reported were at or below $40,000.

     Salaries of more than $75,000 accounted for nearly 43% of salaries reported.

     Approximately 56% of the class chose private practice in law firms.

     About 27% took positions in public service, including judicial clerkships, government

    agencies, and public interest organizations.

     Graduates entering business accounted for about 14%.

     Approximately 23% of graduates were employed in positions for which bar passage is

    not required.

    While a corporate lawyer in a private firm may earn $135,000 the first year, he/she may also work twelve hours a day, six or seven days a week. Most of those interested in public interest law can expect a starting salary around $40,000.

1NALP The Association for Legal Career Professionals Jobs & J.D.’s: Employment and Salaries

    of New Law GraduatesClass of 2007.

     NAPLA Pre-Law Guide 3

    Preparing for Law School

    Admissions committees look at a variety of factors and trends in your academic record in an attempt to predict how you will perform in law school. There is no “pre-law major” and unlike

    medical school, there are no specific educational requirements for entrance into law school.

Develop research, analysis, and writing skills

Law schools are interested in your ability to do rigorous analytical research, to write well, to

    present, and to persuade. Take courses that will develop these skills. The American Bar

    Association offers an overview of the skills and values important to preparing for a legal education and a career in law.

    Law-related classes may allow you to get a feel for law as a general subject, but they neither cover the material in the same depth nor embody the intensity and rigor of law school. Therefore, they are not especially accurate indicators of your ability to succeed in the study of law or whether you will enjoy it.

Select a Major

    Choose a major that interests you. Admissions offices are not particularly interested in your major, but they are interested in how well you did in the discipline(s) you chose to pursue. A double major is not necessarily a positive factor in the admissions process.

    While specific coursework may be helpful in corporate law, environment