4 Extracurricular Activities That Boost Your Law School Application
Gone are the times when law school admissions were only based on your LSAT scores and your undergraduate GPA. While those two factors still remain extremely important, admission committees now seek qualities that make you stand out among a diverse swath of candidates.
Today, law schools take a much more holistic approach to the application process. They go beyond your academic credentials and delve deeply into what you can contribute to the classroom, school, and community. It’s important to remember this when planning your law school application strategy!
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In addition to your personal statement, supplemental essays, and letters of recommendation, admissions committees will also look at your activities and extracurricular activities, which shape your individuality. Your choice of extra-curricular activities–on campus and in your community–reveal a lot about you. Consequently, it is incredibly important to make sure that your application has a coherent theme based on these traditionally “soft” factors beyond the test scores and GPA.
Your involvement and membership in organizations, especially when you hold a leadership role, should be relevant to your chosen career path and should make you stand out as a candidate. Since law school involves a heavy dose of reading, writing, and advocacy, activities that help to develop and showcase these skills will ultimately aid you in your legal education and ultimately down the road in your legal career. Admissions officers have recognized several activities as being extremely strong predictors of success in the first year of law school and in students’ legal careers. Here are a few common pre-law extracurricular activities:
Debate Team. Debate can be an excellent training ground for future lawyers. It will help you develop strong communication skills, form decisive arguments, and learn how to prove and present them extemporaneously. Memorization comes in handy, but it won’t matter if you do not know how to analyze and interpret logical relationships between texts. Debate teaches you that, and allows you to practice it. In fact, several Supreme Court justices are former debaters. Law schools will recognize your ability to distill nuanced arguments from a complex set of facts and to present them cogently in front of an audience. Granted, not all law will afford you the opportunity to speak in public, but you will always need to present your ideas coherently and succinctly orally and in writing.
Pre-Law Society. Most, if not all, universities have established organizations that will help their students prepare for law school by initiating law-related activities on campus, such as moot courts, mock trials, negotiation workshops, and cross-examination exercises. Engaging in pre-law society, or writing for a pre-law journal, will help to demonstrate your passion for the law in addition to helping you hone the skills necessary to enter law school.
Model United Nations. Model United Nations competitions and similar competitions such as Student Congress will help you test your skills in diplomacy as well as your ability to negotiate and possibly mediate disputes. These competitions have slightly less of a competitive tenor, but are still very valuable in the skills they help students develop over the course of their preparation and participation.
Student Government. What have you done for your school? What changes have you implemented for the good of the student body? Being in the student government will manifest your leadership skills, if executed properly. Participating in student government demosntrated that you have stepped up and are respected by your peers enough to be elected as their representative. However, to maximally improve your candidacy, you will want to be able to show tangible results of your tenure in office as a student government representative. Serving is not enough; you should have accomplished some of the goals that you set out to achieve and contributed positively to your school community.
Please remember that these are not your only options. It’s most important to choose activities that you are passionate about and that interest you, and then devote your time and effort to them in order to achieve tangible results that you can put forth as credentials on your law school applications. At the end of the day, admission committees look at your commitment and your ability to make a difference.