Should I Take a Gap Year Before Law School?

Should I take a Gap Year Before Law School?

Today we welcome Christen Morgan, guest writer and foreclosure attorney, to discuss taking a year off before starting law school.

Should You Take a Gap Year Before Law School?

Well, it depends. Taking a gap year before beginning your law school career can certainly be a beneficial alternative as opposed to jumping right in after four years of college. Although I highly recommend this alternative venture, taking a gap year will only be worthwhile based on your current situation. If you’re a non-traditional college student, who perhaps started college later in life after already receiving some work experience, or a student who worked full time during college and completed their bachelor’s degree on a part-time basis, then taking a gap year before law school may not be in your best interests. A gap year is a perfect opportunity to gain full-time work experience, to travel or to complete a fellowship. These are all experiences that should be completed with the intent of enhancing your resume for post-graduate legal employment. If you’re a non-traditional student, chances are you may have already amassed a wealth of the above experiences to enhance your resume. Therefore, jumping right into law school after college without taking a gap year should not hurt your chances in the legal job hunt.

However, if you’re a traditional four-year college student, this article is for you. As a traditional student, you may have had some part-time work experience during college. Chances are, this experience may have been an unpaid internship or just a part time job to give you some extra cash to take a break from the campus cafeteria and enhance your palette. Therefore, taking a gap year would be extremely beneficial for you. Okay, I may be a bit biased as a traditional college student that took a gap year myself. However, I found that taking a gap year helped my job hunt during law school, gave me more flexibility with LSAT preparation and applying for law school and also allowed me to hit the reset button and feel completely refreshed by the time I attended law school a year later.

So if you fall in this category, and you’re contemplating whether you should take a gap year, I highly recommend that you take the plunge! Also, consider the below benefits as you make your decision.

 

1. A Gap Year Can Help your Job Hunt During Law School

A gap year can be extremely beneficial towards your law school job hunt, but only if you do it the right way. If you already have an idea of what type of law you want to practice after law school, then consider finding employment as a legal assistant either at a law firm or organization within that field. Even if a legal assistant position isn’t open at that firm/organization, be open to taking a job as a mail clerk, file clerk or runner. The whole point is to get your foot in the door at that firm/organization so that they will know who you are and remember you a year or two later when you’re looking for summer employment. Additionally, if you’re able to gain fruitful experience in your legal field of choice, this gives you an edge during the job hunt process. Employers will notice that you already have full-time experience in this field. This will give you an advantage over your peers who have no work experience and can also work in your favor if your law school grades aren’t very high.

Gap Year Tip: If you already know that you want to work in Big Law, try to get your foot in the door at one of these firms during your gap year. It will be a whole lot easier to secure a job as a file clerk/legal assistant at one of these firms than it will be to secure summer employment. However, if they get to know you before law school, they will definitely remember you during summer OCI’s. I have seen this technique benefit some of my peers who didn’t graduate at the top of the class but still secured big law offers.

Additionally, using your gap year to travel or even complete non-legal related work experience can also benefit you greatly. If you’re considering a career in international law, having travel experience would definitely boost your resume for those employers. Also completing work experience such as Teach for America or a social work fellowship will allow you to develop advocacy, communication and leadership skills. These are all skills that are beneficial for an attorney, and they will definitely stand out in your job hunt.

2. A Gap Year Can Help with LSAT Preparation and the Law School Application Process

Taking a gap year can also help with providing you with some flexibility during LSAT prep and the law school application process. I know quite a few students who juggled the LSAT with their senior year college coursework. However, during my senior year, I realized it would be very difficult for me to juggle both. I HATE standardized tests so I knew the LSAT would need all my attention and, frankly, I wanted to enjoy my senior year of college, and I didn’t want the LSAT to interfere with that. Therefore, one of the reasons I took a gap year, was to provide myself with more flexibility to prepare for the LSAT. Although I was working full time, the LSAT was my main priority as this is one of the main determinants for law school admission. I worked in the days and did evening LSAT classes. I also appreciated my gap year during the law school application process. That process in and of itself felt like a full-time job. I was grateful for the extra time I had to dedicate my energy to applications.

So if you’re considering taking a gap year, definitely consider how this alternative can be beneficial towards the LSAT and your law school applications.

3. A Gap Year Can Give You a Much Needed Break

Taking a gap year can give you a much needed break to feel refreshed before law school. A gap year is the perfect time to unwind from the four years of pressure you just experienced, before entering another three years of even more intense pressure. Although I worked during my gap year, my job was not super intense. I had some time on my hands to “smell the roses” and mentally prepare myself to take on my law school journey. So if you’re considering a gap year, go for it! You won’t regret taking that break.


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About Christen Morgan

Christen Morgan graduated magna cum laude from the University of Tampa where she received her B.S. in Criminology. She earned her J.D. from Emory Law School where she competed and served as an executive board member for the Emory Law Moot Court Society. Christen also served as a student representative for LexisNexis and also as a mentor for several 1L students offering them advice and a variety of resources to help them through their law school journey.

Christen previously practiced as a Foreclosure Attorney for a Real Estate law firm but has since then transitioned into a Real Estate Specialist role at a wireless infrastructure company.

Comments

  1. Hi! I had a quick question for you. I just graduated from the University of Michigan in May and am taking a gap year before applying to law school for Fall 2018. I was working at a university department throughout my senior year and into the summer after my graduation. I stopped working in late August (just a couple of weeks ago), traveled back home, and am currently studying for the LSAT in December. I am not planning on working in the coming months, as I want to devote all my time to LSAT studying (I’m pretty far behind in studying as I was working a lot). I do plan on getting some type of job after my test date. So, my question is: do you think that law schools will look negatively at my application if I am spending the next 3-4 months not doing some type of internship or job even though I have been working pretty much nonstop since my sophomore year of college?

    • Christen Morgan says

      Hey Nikki,

      That’s a great question! I think it’s awesome that you have such an extensive work history and it definitely should not be an issue for you to take a few months off as you prepare for the LSAT. I don’t believe that law schools will consider a break in your work history to be a hindrance to your application. If anything they will think that you’re a stellar candidate because of your work experience. Not many 1L’s begin law school with work experience. Therefore, you will definitely stand out. Additionally, leaving your job in order to study is definitely a good excuse. So if for some reason you get asked about that explain your reasoning and I dont foresee you receiving a negative response to that.

      Good luck with the LSAT and the law school application process!

  2. Hi Christen! Would you mind describing the job you had during your gap year? I’m still only a sophomore undergrad but I have begun seriously thinking about law school during this semester. I’m trying to start getting small, unpaid internships, but I’d like to here what kind of work you found in your gap year. Thank you!

    • Christen Morgan says

      Hey Clancy!

      During my gap year I worked as a legal assistant at a Foreclosure law firm. It’s never too early to begin thinking about what you want to do following undergrad. Therefore, you are definitely on the right track by searching for internships during your sophomore year. I definitely took advantage of all the legal related experience I could get during undergrad and this served me well during my post-grad job search. If you’re able to snag an internship early on you could very well receive a post grad offer for your gap year. Good luck on your internship hunt! Please let me know if you have any more questions.

  3. Shia Miller says

    Hi Christen,

    I am considering a gap year, and I wanted to know what you did for letters of recommendation once you started applying to law school. Did you maintain connections with professors over that year? Or did you form new connection through your gap year job?

    Thanks in advance!
    SHia

    • Christen Morgan says

      Hey Shia,

      Thanks for reaching out! I’m so happy that you’re considering a gap year! As for my letters of recommendation, all of my recommenders were former undergrad professors. During my gap year I made a point to keep in contact with professors I had a good relationship with in undergrad. However, I definitely recommend keeping the pool open and building new connections as well. If you decide to take a gap year that will give you a ton of time to network and definitely meet people who could be great recommendation options.

      Good luck!

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