Law school is an exciting experience like no other, but it requires adequate preparation to ensure a smooth ride to the finish line.
In the following article, Samuel Dewey, a Harvard Law alumnus and practicing lawyer specializing in white-collar investigations, regulatory litigation, and public policy, offers the following advice for young law students.
Hone Your Time Management Skills and Good Study Habits
Get ready because law school will be a whole new animal compared to your undergraduate experience. On average, students spend 2–3 hours studying for every hour of class time, culminating in 45–60 hours of schoolwork per week.
Learn effective time management techniques so you can establish a good routine early on. Create a calendar that clearly outlines not only your classes and study time but also time for meals, exercise, and adequate sleep. Law school is intense and can be a drain on your mental health if you do not stay on top of taking care of yourself and managing stress.
Get to Work
Start getting hands-on experience as soon as possible through clinical law courses, externships, internships, and entry-level positions. Not only will work experience make your resume more attractive to future employers, but it will also allow you to explore future potential career paths as you figure out what works best for you and what doesn’t. It also will allow you to learn important practical skills that aren’t necessarily taught in law school but will serve you well in your career.
Build a top-notch resume that highlights your accomplishments (even if you don’t have work experience yet) and is specially tailored to each position you apply to. Drop in at the Career Services department at your school to have a professional review your resume for free.
Once you land an interview, practice answering common interview questions with thoughtful responses and figure out how to best frame your overall knowledge, skills, and attitude so that you can present yourself in the best way possible to your interviewer.
After your interview is over, make sure they remember you! Send a brief thank-you note that refers to a specific aspect of your interview to help jog your interviewer’s memory.
Network, Network, Network
Learning how to network is a critical skill to gaining access to opportunities both in and after law school. The U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics reports that 85% of jobs are filled through networking, and nowhere is this truer than in the field of law. Building genuine, professional relationships in the field will help you learn more about what employers are looking for to help you do better in interviews down the road and can help keep you at the front of their mind when a new entry-level position pops up.
To build your professional network, reach out to professors, former students through your university’s alumni network, speakers at on-campus events, and professionals. Study sample networking emails and professionalism guides to help put you on the right track.
Make sure you do not come off like you are just fishing for the job. Also, do your research so that you can ask intelligent questions that are not going to leave your contact wondering why you didn’t just Google the information you’re asking from them. Building a professional network takes time, but it’s an important investment that will help you achieve your goals after graduation.