So you’ve successfully completed your first semester of law school, and you’re already halfway through the spring semester. As the days get closer to you officially becoming a 2L, I know there’s one burning question on your mind: what should I do for spring break, right? While I may not be able to offer the best advice for this question, I can certainly help you out with settling the second burning question on your mind: should I do a law school extracurricular? Well, the quick answer to this is, yes! A law school extracurricular such as Moot Court, Mock Trial or Law Review will undoubtedly enhance your law school experience and will certainly give you an advantage in your job hunt. But, I know, I know you’ve probably already heard this a billion times. So if you’re looking for some advice that will convince you even more to make this decision, here are a few pointers that I wish I learned when I faced this decision just a few years ago:
1. Yes, it will be time consuming but it’s worth it
Many of you may be hesitant to take on an extracurricular because of how time-consuming it will be. Perhaps you’ve heard horror stories of how miserable law review students become because they spend so many hours of the day working on their comment. I mean where will this extra time come from? You already spend most of your days just prepping for classes and the possibility of a cold call right? However, despite the fact that an extracurricular will take up a lot of your time, I assure you this time spent will not be in vain because you will spend this time developing many of the practical skills that you will actually use as an attorney. Skills that you simply won’t get from attending your typical law school lecture.
Many of the interviews I completed during law school were spent discussing with attorneys how Moot Court or Mock Trial prepared them more than any law school class could for their current practice. Also, I’m sure nothing can prepare you more for that federal clerkship you’re hoping to get after law school than hours spent spading footnotes and writing your law review comment. So if it’s time that you’re worried about, don’t let that stop you. By the time you become a 2L, you will be much better at managing your schedule. Therefore, incorporating an extracurricular into your schedule will not be as burdensome as it may seem now. Also, if you’re lucky enough to be receiving credit for this extracurricular then it shouldn’t be as tough to allocate the time that you would normally put towards a course to this instead.
2. It will give you good talking points for those awkward moments in an interview
So if you’ve done a couple job interviews you know the awkward moment I’m referring to here. That moment after you’ve already spent a good fifteen minutes discussing your qualifications, when your interviewer casually leans back in their chair and asks, “do you have any questions?” Yes, you probably had some questions prepared, but if you’re anything like me, it’s possible that your nerves have pushed these well thought out questions from your memory. So, when caught in this struggle, a good fall back question is: can you tell me how your time on [insert extracurricular] has prepared you for this job. From my experience, this question tends to evoke a very light-hearted discussion of your interviewer’s memory of this activity during law school. This will also be a great opportunity for you to sell how your experience in your extracurricular has set you up to be prepared for the position.
During my interview for my 2L summer position, I spent the majority of the time discussing my experience on Moot Court. It was very comforting to have a casual discussion with my interviewer about this experience.
3. It will expand your legal network
Participating in an extracurricular will not only look great on your resume, but it will also help to expand your legal network. Usually, these extracurriculars allow you to develop a sense of affinity with other law students who are involved. These are the same people that will become your colleagues in the legal field a few years down the line. The same people who you could possibly turn to for client referrals in the future and also the same people who could likely be a useful contact for future job hunting. So take advantage of these relationships that will develop within these activities.
Extracurriculars can also expand your legal network beyond law school. Participating in activities such as Moot Court and Mock trial will likely expose you to legal practitioners who either judge your competition or assist with your preparation. In fact, several of my Moot Court peers were given job offers solely based on their performance in their competitions. Additionally, if you decide to join law review, you will likely seek the help of many legal professionals while completing your comment and hence form a relationship with them. These are great contacts to have as you develop yourself as a law student.
So as your spring semester progresses, don’t restrict yourself! Make sure to try out for at least one or several extracurriculars. Then stick with the activity that you think will prepare you best for the legal career path you plan to pursue. Trust me, you won’t regret it!
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