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Preparing for law school while at the community college

by Donna Sharpe

As if autumn quarter is not busy enough for students, professors and advisers, it is also the season for law school applications. In addition to all of the other late autumn duties, students are busy writing their personal statements and resumes, professors are busy writing letters of recommendation, and advisers are busy giving feedback on personal statements and resumes and attempting to calm the jittery nerves of the applicants who didn’t do as well on the LSAT as they had hoped!

If you are considering law school as a possibility in the future but are not yet at the application stage, the biggest question probably is not, “What can I talk about in my personal statement?” It is more likely to be, “What can I be doing now to prepare to be a strong candidate for law school when I am ready to apply?” Like most other professional graduate programs, law schools do not specify any particular major as being the “best” or preferred one. Any major works so choose something you love! It is important to major in the subject about which you are most passionate and in which you have the most interest. This makes a strong grade point average more likely and the GPA is one factor which the law school admissions committees take into account. While any major works for law school, there are certain skills that you can develop through a variety of classes that will help you in the application process and once you are in law school. Excellent communication skills are essential and that includes both writing and speaking. It is never a waste of time or effort to take composition, writing intensive courses and speech classes, including public speaking. Critical thinking is a skill that can be developed across a variety of courses, including philosophy, history, political science, English, and sociology, among many others. Whatever you decide on for a major, be sure to take a broad variety of classes to stretch your thinking and broaden your horizons. You can take these classes throughout your undergraduate experience at the community college and at the university.

In addition to the academic preparation for law school, there are things you should be doing outside of the classroom that will enhance your chances of being admitted. Get involved in student and community organizations, but don’t simply be a member, take on leadership roles! Be a part of the change you want to see in the world so that you can actually demonstrate your commitment to it. The application package for law school includes a resume that should document all of your experience, both paid and volunteer, as well as your honors, awards, leadership roles and internships. As you approach the time that you will actually be applying to law school, you will be taking the LSAT, working on your personal statement and requesting letters of recommendation. Developing critical skills and a strong educational foundation and gaining valuable experience are important pieces of the application package that you can begin building long before you even think about the LSAT!