We get a fair number of inquiries from students who are thinking about law school in high school, or even earlier. You do not need to have it all figured out right now, but here are a few tips from our office if you think law school might be of interest to you in the future.
1. Explore broadly!
There is no one pre-law curriculum in college, and no preferred major or set of extracurricular activities for law school students. We encourage you to explore different interests both inside and outside the classroom. Each year, we work to ensure that the admitted class at Harvard Law School comes from a wide variety of academic backgrounds, extracurricular pursuits, and professional experiences. Choose your college major and coursework based on your passion, and do not be concerned that we will disregard your application because you chose music over political science
2. Choose a college that is right for you, and where you will flourish.
We know that high school students often experience pressure to pick a “name-brand” college. Please rest assured that students matriculate to Harvard Law School from a wide variety of undergraduate institutions (182 in last year’s 1L class – check out the list here).
Rural or urban, large or small, Northeast or Southwest, Ivy or Big Ten – they all end up at Harvard Law School. Choose the undergraduate institution that fits you best, and you are more likely to feel happy and settled. You will be more likely to dive into your academic interests, pursue leadership positions on campus, and enjoy yourself.
3. Write, write, write, and then write some more.
Writing skills are the single most important thing you should develop before law school – we hear this from professors and legal employers. Take every opportunity you can to write. For example, you might send a letter to the editor of your local paper, summarize your class notes as you study for exams, or volunteer to draft a report the next time you are in a professional setting. Practice writing now – I promise it will pay off later (frankly, whether or not you end up deciding to go to law school).
4. Develop relationships with professors while you are in college.
Approaching professors in college may or may not be a comfortable process for you, depending on the size of your school, the nature of your major, your academic and professional interests, and a whole other host of factors. To the extent you can, try to develop relationships with your professors. Go to office hours, talk to them after class, see if any of them need some research help. Not only will this help you secure excellent letters of recommendation, it will enrich your undergraduate academic experience.
5. Get a small taste of legal practice.
This is not a piece of advice for your application – it is advice for you. As you consider whether law school is the right choice for you, see if you can find opportunities to learn more about what lawyers do. Go sit in on a federal court hearing. Ask your local legal services organization if it could use another intake volunteer. Inquire about legal internships at law firms in your area. See if an attorney would be willing to meet you for coffee. These actions won’t influence your application to law school, but they help you understand the legal profession and explore pathways that may begin to excite you.
Filed in: Assistant Dean's Corner, Inside the Black Box
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