Usually starting in your 2L year you have the opportunity to participate in “professional experience” activities, also known as co-curriculars or extracurriculars. There are numerous different organizations that you can join that hone different skills. At my law school we had moot court, mock trial, law review, Journal of Business Law, The Journal of Law in Society, Jessup International Law Moot Court, and the transactional law competition. (Please note that other schools may have other programs or more niched organizations in a specific area of law). Regardless of what the focus of the organization is, these extracurriculars are amazing opportunities to gain practical experience about what it’s like to be a lawyer. Not only do you obtain valuable skills and can add something to your resume, you also usually can get credits toward your degree!
This all sounds great, but how do you get involved with one of these groups? Each organization does it differently but usually it involves a tryout or an interview with the executive board and/or advisor. These typically happen at the end of the school year, meaning you will have the opportunity to apply for membership at the end of your 1L year. Fortunately for you, I have been involved in numerous of these co-curriculars, including serving as the commissioner of the mock trial organization at my law school. Here are some of my tips to help you prepare for your co-curricular tryout or interview!
Know the Co-Curricular
You cannot have a successful tryout or interview without knowing about the co-curricular. Obviously you know that it exists, but you should have a deeper understanding about what the organization is about. This means knowing what the expectations are for members, what you would be specifically responsible for, how your contributions are evaluated, what specific skills you would be developing, and how the group is generally run. Each co-curricular is very different in the way that they operate and what you will actually be doing as a member. Educating yourself about the co-curricular will help you better prepare for your interview or try-out.
Know What They Are Expecting
As I said before, each co-curricular is different. This also means that each tryout or interview is different, and you need to prepare accordingly. The obvious difference is the way you are evaluated as a potential member. Some programs have an in-person interview with the e-board. Others make you submit a writing sample and application as a “tryout.” And other programs (like moot court and mock trial) make you do an in-person tryout where you perform a portion of a trial or appeal. Each organization is also looking for certain attributes in a candidate and how they perform in their interview or tryout. By knowing what the organization is looking for in a prospective member, you will be able to better prepare for your tryout or interview!
Know Who to Reach Out To
Sometimes it is not about what you know, it is about who you know. I am not saying that you will get a guaranteed spot on the team if you get buddy-buddy with the mock trial e-board. However, knowing who the leaders of the organization actually are can benefit you. First, if you know who they are, it is likely you have been participating in whatever ways you can as a non-member (e.g. volunteering as a witness, attending informational meetings, supporting the organization by attending events, etc). Second, your relationship with the organization and members can put you above another candidate. For example, if the board is between you and another potential member, they are more likely to choose you because they know who you are and what you are all about. Thus, it is important to network and make connections, even when you are just starting law school.
Know How to Look Professional
In order to get the part, you need to look the part! I know you may think that you are just interviewing/trying out for your fellow law students, but you should take this as seriously as you would a job interview. Whether you like it or not, everyone is judged based on their appearance and this includes whether or not you are professionally dressed. By being prepared and looking professional, you are showing your interviewers or judges that you are taking this seriously and that you care about the organization. This will help your tryout or interview go smoothly and will definitely earn you some points!
Know that You Can Do it!
Putting yourself out there can be scary, especially when the people choosing your fate are your fellow law students. However, the secret is, they also understand that you are just starting out and developing your skills (after all, they were just in your shoes not long ago). You will be able to make it through your interview or tryout, so shake those nerves off! Being prepared for your interview or tryout is crucial to your success in earning a spot on the co-curricular.
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