Last night I had so much fun speaking to 60 or so Phi Alpha Delta members at UCSB. People asked great questions about choosing an area of law to mention in their personal statements, who should write letters of rec and what they should say, and whether to take time off after college. I shared with the group 9 things they could do in college – whether first years or 5th years – to improve the quality of their law school applications and chances for admission to law school. Here are my tips:
1. Get to know your professors. It’s not too late for seniors. LSDAS will hold onto letters for 5 years, so if you end up taking time off next year you won’t have to re-contact professors and remind them about who you are and what you did.
2. Don’t join anything just to join. If something really interests you, become an active leader in that organization. It doesn’t have to be the pre-law club (again, sorry Marla!) but if it is Phi Alpha Delta, be a leader in it and not just someone who writes the name of the club on his resume after paying dues. (Marla, have I redeemed myself with that one?)
3. Find your niche. Use college to explore things that really interest you and find the connection between them.
4. Grades always matter. If you don’t end up going to law school next year, everyone will see this year’s grades so keep going! Plus, if you’re waitlisted somewhere and want to add something impressive to your file, there’s nothing like an improved GPA in your senior year.
5. Watch yourself on myspace and facebook and google….. Be professional in presenting yourself to the public because you are trying to show you can be a lawyer one day soon.
6. Be careful about minor in possession tickts, DUIs and Academic Probation. Show you can exercise good judgment by not finding yourself in these situations.
7. Prepare adequately for the LSAT – that means 2-3 months of solid prep.
8. Find meaning in what you are doing. Don’t pick a major because it “looks good” or because your father thought accounting would be a good major for finding a job after college. You’ll do better with subject that interest you and inspire you. Likewise, pick activities that have meaning for you and really get involved with them.
9. Use this time to really explore what you want to do. Don’t take an internship at a law firm for your resume’s sake if it’s really a sports agency that interests you, or a non-profit, or a soup kitchen… Spend your time in a way that shows who you really are and that will encourage your growth.
Thanks so much to Marla and Lindsey, Vanessa, Billy and Crystal and the rest of the UCSB chapter for inviting me to speak again this year.