December 10, 2018

Preparing for Law School While in High School

How to prepare for law school while still in high school. What to do in high school to prepare for law school. 7 Things High School Students Can Do To Prepare For Law School. 7 tips for Preparing for law school early. Prepare for law school as a high schooler. Prepare for law school as a teenager. law school application tips. law school application advice. law school blog. law student blogger |

Lately I've been getting emails from high school juniors/seniors who are already setting up their 5 year plans which includes law school as the end goal. Good for you! I really can't stand the people who tell teenagers "oh you'll probably change you mind about being a lawyer.'' Sure, there's a chance that you might end up realizing that law school is for you, but it doesn't hurt to be prepared in case *gasp* you actually do end up applying to law school. So pause the How to Get Away With Murder or the Law & Order because I'm going to show you things you can do that will actually help you, right now, as a high schooler to prepare for law school.

Take AP (or any advanced) research/writing classes

A very, very important part of law school (and being a lawyer) is researching and writing. If you want to be successful in law school and eventually get a high paying lawyer job, you're going to need to be excellent in research and writing. By starting in high school, you'll be ready to take on researching or formal/business writing classes each semester in college. Then by the time you get to law school you'll have a really strong foundation to build upon. Look for classes that have you learning how to use a research database and have a persuasive writing aspect listed in the syllabus. Your 1L self will be so grateful if you show up on day 1 already knowing the basic components of how to write a memo.

Related: College majors that are helpful for law school

Get help with test taking skills

The great thing about high school is that a lot have a testing counselor available for you for free. Even if you have a 4.0 GPA, it's still worth it to go here. College is harder than high school so if you are already improving how this skill now, you'll be setting yourself up to get great grades in college (which are necessary to get into law school). Always strive to be improving yourself academically.

While we're on the subject, get really really good at standardized tests. I thought the ACT and SAT weren't fun, but they also didn't seem like this huge challenge to me. The LSAT is much harder than the ACT/SAT, costs way more, and LSAT prep takes a lot of money and time. Take advantage of any free standardized testing help that your school offers. Even if it's not free, it's still probably a lot cheaper than standardized testing help you can find after high school. Oh and remember that you'll have one last standardized test- the Bar. And if you don't pass this one, you don't become a lawyer. 

Be involved

Not only will this help your college applications go smoother, it will prepare you for law school. You need to learn prioritizing and time management skills now so that you'll already know how to get good grades while having a busy schedule before you get to college and then eventually law school. Your 1L year will have you so busy at times you don't seem to have a moment to yourself. This can be very overwhelming if you're not used to it and has been the downfall for more than one 1L. 

A lot of people try to join debate teams or mock trial teams at their high school because they think it's necessary to be a law school contender, but it just isn't. If you're interested in that then definitely go for it, but don't waste your time doing something you're not interested in just because you think it'll help. It's better to do something you're passionate about and form hobbies than to sign up for something just because you think you should.

Shadow as many lawyers as possible 

Judges, practicing attorneys, non-practicing attorneys, criminal, civil, private, government. There's so many different areas of the law and the best thing you do is exposure yourself to as many legal fields as possible before law school, starting now. Hopefully you have a family friend or distant relative or even just that one person who graduated in the same grade with your older sister years ago who you don't really know but somehow are Facebook friends, reach out to these people and I'm pretty sure they'd be flattered to let you shadow them for a day. If you don't know anyone, just Google for lawyers in your city and start cold emailing them explaining that you're in high school interested in becoming a lawyer and want to learn more about it. 

Pay attention to questions you've started getting ever since you started talking about going to law school: what made you want to be a lawyer? what kind of law are you interested in? why law school? Ask these questions to those you shadow! This will help you realize your own answers to these questions you'll be getting a lot and will give you sample answers of how to explain yourself and your goals. Other questions to ask them: what they do/don't like about being a lawyer, why they got in to their particular area of the law, how law school/being a lawyer is different than what they expected, what do they wish they would've known before law school, etc. Knowing this can maybe help you decide what kind of law you're interested in and can help you make sure that you're making an informed decision regarding your future career.

Take notes about what kind of law you're shadowing and things that stand out to you. This will help you later on when you try to talk about your legal interests and goals in your personal statement. And learn the magic word of the legal profession— networking. Meeting tons of lawyers will help you when you want to try to find a summer job while in high school and college, a clerking job while in law school, and a post-graduation job. Speaking of...

Get a job

If you can, try to find a legal job. This can be legal assistant, legal secretary, or even a receptionist at a law firm. This exposure and experience will help you so much during the next 7 years when you need a legal job. However, I know a paid legal job can be hard to find if you only have a high school diploma (or not even that yet). Now is a great time to suck it up and take an unpaid internship (or offer to help out in an office for free) because you still live at home with your parents so concerns like rent or groceries aren't really on your radar yet. Taking these unpaid internships now might help you out later when you do have bills and need a paid internship.

Alternatively, just take any old high school job. Getting a paycheck is really nice so you can go to the movies or mall with your friends, but it's better to be boring responsible and save up as much as you can. Having a few thousand dollars saved up from years of working while in high school will really help out future you. This can mean you'll end up taking out less student loans for college (or if you get help with college, less student loans for law school). Remember tuition for law school is about double that of college, and all together someone's going to have to pay for 7 years of schooling. This is how many law school grads end up with $100-200k in student loan debt.


This is another thing that will look good on your college applications and also will really help you out. When people come to lawyers, usually they're at the lowest point in their lives— whether it be because they've been arrested, their house is getting foreclosed on, the need a divorce, their personal company is going bankrupt, they've been severally injured... the list goes on and on. You have to be compassionate to be a lawyer (despite what TV might tell you) but you also have to be strong for those who come to you at their worst. Almost anywhere you volunteer, you're going to build these skills.

Want a good place to start volunteering? Google [your city] legal aid center or [your city] free legal help. Then call those places, let them know you're in high school and interested in the law, and ask how you can help. It might just be handing out intake forms to a crowded waiting room, but this kind of volunteering will expose you to the real challenges that lawyers face every day. Then when it's your turn to be a lawyer, you'll be ready to spring in to action helping people in ways that you've been watching other lawyers do for years.

Make college choices wisely

Remember how I was talking about the crazy amount of debt that most law grads are in? I could have a lambo for the amount I've paid for schools! The best way to minimize your post-law school debt is to have little to no college debt. How do you do that? Work really, really hard on getting scholarships for college. Do this by having the highest grades possible, being close to your teachers for scholarship recommendation letters, and applying for every scholarship you can find. Even if your parents are going to pay for all of your college, the more you save them in college tuition the more they'll have still in that college fund leftover to pay for your law school. 

Also, put some thought into the colleges you'll be applying for. Don't go to a college that you don't think you can succeed at. Remember, the closer to a 4.0 college GPA you have, the easier literally everything about the law school application process will be for you. Law schools don't really care where you went to college so they'd be much more likely to admit someone who got a 4.0 from a Division II state school than a 2.9 from a prestigious private school. And if your parents can't pay for your college, consider going to a cheaper college so you'll have less debt. Because remember, law schools don't care where you got your college degree from so it's a smarter move financially to go to a cheaper state school and also load up on summer classes from a community college.

I guess to sum up this post, the way to prepare for law school while still in high school is to just start being intentional about the choices you're making. Yeah you have 8 years from freshman year of high school until your first year of law school and this may sound a long ways off, but by planning ahead you can make things a little easier down the road. Once you're a senior and you're getting ready to go to college, come back to this blog and I'll help you with Phase 2 of Operation Go To Law School. Lastly, enjoy high school and don't try to grow up too fast because you have your whole life to be an adult!

let's be friends!


Post a Comment