When it comes to getting into a good law school, competition is often fierce. Of course, good grades and test scores are basic prerequisites for getting into a top school, but there are literally thousands of candidates with good grades and test scores that will be competing for essentially what amounts to only a handful of slots. In order to even have a shot at securing a coveted slot in a prestigious law program, you’re going to have to distinguish yourself from the crowd. Here are three great ways to do that.
1. A clear interest and passion for the law:
There are many reasons why people might pursue a career in law, but not all of them are necessarily equally admirable or compelling. Some may be drawn to the prestige or the high salary they think they can earn, while others may simply feel pressured by their family or peers. Students that have a clear and compelling passion for the law itself will often distinguish themselves on applications. This is particularly true for students that already have a clear idea of the specific type of law they want to practice. Even more influential is having a good reason why a certain type of law is of interest. Students who are the children or grandchildren of immigrants may have a strong desire to practice immigration law as a result of seeing what their relatives went through or individuals who have had close family members or loved ones experience some type of injustice might have a clear and compelling reason to want to become attorneys.
2. Practical experience:
While many students will apply to law school while still completing their undergraduate degree, students that complete their undergraduate degree and take some time to work in a law related field before applying to law school may find they have a significant advantage. Not only will they often have a clearer understanding of what exactly they want to do and what all it entails, but if they do well, they will most likely have far stronger recommendation letters than those who try and go straight from an undergraduate program directly into law school.
3. Appropriate projects or extra-curricular activities:
Aside from taking time off and getting a job in a legal arena, extra-curricular activities can go a long way towards underscoring your passion for the law and your ability to excel in law school. Whether it’s volunteering at a legal aid clinic, doing an internship with a law firm or even working summers at a firm, these may all help you get an edge over the competition. Not all extra-curricular activities that help set you apart need to be law-related, either. Anything that demonstrates leadership or academic excellence can all help you stand out from the crowd.
Typically, some of the best law schools have some of the lowest acceptance rates. Many top schools accept less than 10% of their applicants. The majority of applicants will all good grades and test scores, so it’s important to distinguish yourself in other ways in addition to having excellent grades and test scores.
Jay Sekulow is the Chief Counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), one of the most prestigious law firms in the country.