Kristi, Courtney, and Nefyn are all members of the Junior Deferral Program admissions committee. In this post, they share their thoughts on some of the most frequently asked questions about the Junior Deferral Program.
How do I know if JDP is right for me?
Kristi: Only you will know if JDP is right for you. I strongly encourage you to ask yourself three questions:
(1) Do I know I want to go to law school?
(2) Do I know I want to go to Harvard Law School?
(3) Do I know I want to do something else (anything else!) for at least two years between college and law school?
Find a sunny coffee shop and sit down with a pen and paper to jot down your reactions to these three questions. Take a good long walk and reflect (leave your phone behind so that it’s just you and your thoughts). Talk it through late at night with a roommate or loved one. Do whatever you need to do to crystallize your thoughts. If the answer to all three questions is a deep, emphatic “yes,” then JDP might be a good choice for you. If the answer to any of the three questions is “I’m not sure” or “I am still reflecting” or “probably not,” then wait. Harvard Law School is over 200 years old, and we’ll be here when you are ready.
How important is it to know what you want to do in the law?
Courtney: It’s great to have a sense of what areas in the law interest you, but our applicants vary in regards to how committed they are to a specific field of law or type of practice when they apply. All of our admitted students, however, share a passion for pursuing the law in some form. They have also demonstrated that they have the focus and determination to succeed at HLS and in their career, whatever it may be. Considering the wealth and breadth of resources and expertise at Harvard Law, we hope students challenge their initial interests and explore the different practice areas that will be open to them. Pursuing work experience before law school often helps students get a better sense of how they want to use both a law degree and their time on the HLS campus. Therefore, we expect that our JDP students will grow and hone their focus during their deferral period.
What are you looking for students to do on deferral?
Nefyn: Related to Kristi’s point about whether or not JDP is a good fit for you – only you know what you should do while on deferral. You are free to pursue opportunities that you are interested in and passionate about. If you want to work for a law firm, great. If you would rather teach abroad, volunteer with a service fellowship, or do research, that’s also fine. We want you to come away from your deferral experience with a stronger sense of self, perspective on the working world, and skills that will help you navigate 1L year and beyond. For some students, that means taking a deeper dive into an area they already have some experience in. For others, it means branching out and seeking out new experiences in order to develop new skills. At the end of your deferral, we want you to enter 1L year focused, refreshed, and – hopefully – excited!