Law school can be challenging, but with the proper preparation it can be a very rewarding part of a successful career practicing law. However, law school is not a mere pit-stop, and your decisions in this time will have a great effect on not only your job outlook upon graduation, but also the skills you bring to the start of your career. That is why it is important to obtain as much practical experience as possible to make yourself more marketable to potential employers and ensure a more successful start to your career.
TIPS FOR LAW STUDENTS
1. TRIAL PRACTICE
Many of you will see time in a court room as trial attorneys. Some version of this class is offered at almost every law school across the country and goes through the basics of trial including jury selection, opening statements, direct and cross examination, and closing arguments. While your future law firm will not expect you to be an expert on trial procedure on your first day, they will expect you to have a certain degree of familiarity with the trial setting and the procedures involved. Having this base knowledge will make it easier to transition from law school to actual practice. Even for those that prefer the transactional side of the law, it is beneficial to familiarize yourself with the basics of trial practice while still in school. Every contract that is drafted by a transactional attorney is done while anticipating potential disputes, and understanding basic trial procedures will help a young attorney foresee those issues.
2. STUDY MANY PRACTICE AREAS
Coming into law school, many students have an idea of what area of the law they believe they want to practice in upon graduation. Even if you believe that you want to pursue a particular area of practice as a profession, it is a good idea to take classes from a broad range of practice areas. Many attorneys practice in an area of the law that they did not plan on practicing in while in law school. Taking a wide variety of classes will help you assess which area is better suited for you, and it will give you the base-level experience necessary to work in many practice areas which can translate to a higher probability of employment after graduation.
3. CORE/BAR COURSES
Many law schools have certain required classes, some of which are topics on their state’s bar exam. These courses may have different names at various law schools, but they include evidence, business organizations, sales or UCC, and secured transactions. If these courses are not required by your law school, it is advisable to take them anyway in order to obtain a base understanding of the topic prior to your bar review course. Additionally, these topics are tested on many bar exams because they are important to the practice of law. Having an understanding of these fundamental classes will not only prepare you for the bar exam, but it will also give you a general knowledge of the practice of law.
4. PARTICIPATE IN MOOT COURT OR LAW REVIEW
Many law students will consider whether to join their school’s law review or join moot court. Both of these opportunities teach practical skills that will be useful after graduation. Law review also provides experience and helps students develop their writing skills. Some employers require at least one of these activities of the candidates that they will consider hiring.
5. GET PRACTICAL EXPERIENCE
Law school courses will teach you about many substantive topics, but learning about them in a classroom setting is different from actual practice. As a result, it is important to pursue opportunities through legal clinics, summer internships, or externships. Your school’s career development personnel can explain what opportunities might be available. The practical experience gained through these opportunities is valuable and will help give you an early insight into what the practice of law actually looks like. This experience will also give students the ability to see the concepts that they learned in class in action. Potential employers often look to see what practical experience you have in their field, so not only is practical experience helpful to you as a student, but it also helps increase your marketability for future employment.
**Reiling Teder & Schrier, LLC is an Indiana Limited Liability Company. The information contained in this website has been prepared by Reiling Teder & Schrier, LLC for informational purposes only, and is not legal advice. The information on this website should not be relied upon to make any decision, legal or otherwise. If you have any specific questions or inquiries regarding any of the information contained in this website, you should consult with an attorney licensed in your state. The information contained in this website pertains only to matters of Indiana law and the laws of other states may be completely different from the laws of the State of Indiana.