To become a well-rounded lawyer after graduation, students in law school need to study more than just the material found in the classroom. They also need diverse, real-life experience found in the form of volunteer work.
Pro Bono Work
A priceless fountain of experience comes from doing pro bono work, which is why law students are advised to seek out all possible pro bono openings with law firms, bar associations, law schools or government offices. Pro bono opportunities allow students to experience what it’s like to work with people unable to afford legal representation. This not only provides a human perspective, it lets students give back to the community as well. Some schools might even offer school credit.
Law Review is a scholarly journal that focuses on legal issues. The articles are written exclusively by law students and it gets published by the law school itself. There is generally one main journal for each law school, as well as several smaller specialty journals. The time required for writing, researching and editing Law Review can be very demanding, but also worthwhile because some employers will specifically check whether a student has Law Review on their resume during the interview process.
National Leadership Roles
Being a speaker at the National Student Leadership Conference (NSLC) is another great volunteer opportunity. It builds connections and provides public speaking experience, as well as strengthens leadership skills. It also looks great on a resume.
Bar Association Committees
Any actively enrolled law student can select up to five free Bar Association (ABA) specialty groups. Choosing a group, however, is only the first step. Once chosen, there are hundreds of group-related committees to choose from and this is where you’ll meet other law professionals who share your interests. Committees are similar to independent bar associations and have their own officers and dues. They use publications, periodicals and journals to provide continuing education for members and the general public.
Internships and Clinics
Both paid and unpaid internships can help law students gain experience and make industry connections, as well as add valuable lines to their resume. The state bar association has a law student division that offers networking contacts, information on specific areas of law, mentoring possibilities and discounted or free continuing education (CLE). All of these resources are extremely helpful when students need to find post-graduate work.
Clinics are law school programs that give students credit for working in real-world situations. Students do all the same jobs as a lawyer, such as doing research, drafting briefs and interviewing clients. Each law school has different clinics and each one offers priceless hands-on experience and insight into what specific field of law a student might want to enter after graduation.