Law school extracurriculars can make the difference between getting accepted or getting rejected and should therefore be taken seriously by applicants. , and most law schools in Canada for that matter, will offer applicants the opportunity to answer that can involve extracurricular activities. Having a variety of non-academic entries on your resume not only gives you the opportunity to discuss the relevant experience you gained, but it can endow you with the skills and knowledge to increase your chances of being successful in law school. If you’re interested in learning more about the importance of law school extracurriculars, how to find them, and what some of the best options are, then keep reading!
Law school extracurriculars are important because they provide students with the opportunity to acquire knowledge and skills that can demonstrate academic readiness. For law school, there are a variety of relevant skills, habits, and knowledge that you can gain from doing extracurriculars. Some of the qualities that law schools are looking for in your application materials are an interest in law, intellectual curiosity for issues within the field, interpersonal skills, and persistence. The emphasis on certain qualities is subject to change, so make sure you research what each school is looking for before you apply. You can often locate these qualities among the law school essay prompts in the application requirements section of their webpage. Depending on what you’re being asked to address in your or , you can map out the desired applicant characteristics in your extracurricular choices.
There is a common assumption among law school applicants and pre-law students that the two most important factors that determine law school acceptance are GPA and LSAT scores. This is true, but here’s where the applicability of extracurriculars comes in: non-academic activities complement GPA, LSAT scores, a , and other mandatory application materials. The experiences you gain as part of your non-academic endeavors will convey that you’re a well-rounded and prepared student, which is ultimately what law schools are looking for.
The number of law school applications per year is steadily increasing, which means the challenge for law schools is to find new ways to distinguish candidates. Extracurriculars are one of the ways, albeit not the most essential, for law schools to accomplish that. At this point, it’s worth mentioning that extracurriculars for law school don’t have to be directly related to law, although they can be. Because most schools are looking for evidence of certain characteristics, you can choose anything that you think can highlight targeted skills such as leadership and communication. When it comes to submitting a document like an optional essay, you can take that opportunity to discuss your extracurricular activities and what you learned from them. Most schools mention in the disclaimer for optional essays that you should include information that isn’t in your personal statement, transcripts, or other materials. This is where extracurriculars have the practical purpose of helping persuade committees that you’re a strong candidate outside of GPA or LSAT scores. If you need help crafting this document or others, you could look into a .
Before we get into some of the best law school extracurriculars, let’s take a moment to address a common question: “how do I know if it’s a good extracurricular for law school?”
Again, to help you navigate your options and determine which ones are most applicable to law school, you need to start by researching the law school you’re applying to. Your goal is to find out what kind of applicants the program is looking for. Most schools are primarily evaluating candidates for strong leadership skills. The reason leadership is such a highly sought-after skill is because one of the objectives of law school is to prepare students to become leaders in their communities and careers. Leadership is also a foundational skill that can improve your ability to negotiate, handle conflict, resolve problems, and persist in challenging situations. For your extracurriculars, the most important factor when deciding which to choose should be whether it can demonstrate your ability to lead.
How much do extracurriculars actually matter? In terms of how significant law school extracurriculars are, you can be sure that they will carry a lot of weight for applicants who have LSAT and GPA scores that are close to the markers for rejection. So, essentially, extracurriculars can give you some security when it comes to the strength of your candidacy. Still, if you’re worried about the holistic quality of your application, you can look into the , or the United States.
Check out some of these extracurriculars that can help improve your chances of getting accepted.
Pre-law internships give undergraduate students a taste of what it’s like to work in the field of law. These programs can expose students to a variety of different law environments and relevant fields of work, including intellectual property law, casework and research, preparation of non-disclosure agreements and investigation documentation, government and legal processes, and trial preparation. In some cases, students might be asked to attend trials or help draft and organize documents for various legal cases. Internships can be a great opportunity for students looking to learn more about the lifestyle, responsibilities, and work environment of someone working in law professionally.
Why is a pre-law internship a good extracurricular? Because it demonstrates that you can successfully commit to and complete tasks that you will encounter in a law career. Knowing that you have indirect prerequisite experience is a strong indication that you have what it takes to thrive in law school. With internships involving research or case studies, you will also be showing admissions that you’re aware of real-world situations that lawyers face, and that you’re not only prepared to address these issues, but that you’re passionate about resolving them. Pre-law internships can also be a great addition to your once you’re an enrolled student as you continue to build on these experiences.
Debate team is a student club activity in which students gather to discuss and debate various topics and current political issues. Some debate teams, although not all, will compete with other schools at events. Debate team will give you an opportunity to collaborate with other students as you work together to construct logical arguments and rebuttals against an opponent. Debate club teaches you to think quickly, research effectively, persuade, and argue. As a result of your participation, you will also become more aware of current issues and improve your public speaking ability. These skills in particular are among the most relevant predictors of success in law school and in a career in law. Search your school’s club forum to find out how you can join the debate club or team. Some schools host tournaments, while others might host debates with the members of their clubs in various casual or competitive formats.
Why is debate club a good extracurricular for law school students? Debate club can simulate many of the activities entailed in a career as a lawyer, such as research, writing, debating, and public speaking. Joining your school’s debate team gives you a chance to gain experience with those tasks and practice the skills that you will be continually developing in law school. By including debate team on the extracurriculars of your law school application resume, or by mentioning it in one of your written documents, such as your , you’re showing admissions that you’ve gotten a head start on developing these high-value applicant characteristics.
The main objective of student government is to provide an outlet for students to voice their concerns to school faculty. Student government is exactly what it sounds like: a group of students advocating for other students by managing events, creating programs, developing educational resources, and working with faculty members to adjust policies and initiatives toward more productive outcomes for students. There are a few options if you’re interested in joining your school’s student government project. The first is to join an executive department. The executive department is organized by the student body president and vice president, and their role is to communicate student concerns to faculty members to enact change. The next option is to run a campaign to become a student senator. This position involves a range of responsibilities, such as organizing fundraisers, reviewing policies, and budgeting various activities. The final option, for most schools, would be to work in the treasury branch, which involves preparing budgets for various projects and reviewing expenses, performing audits, and negotiating tuition and funding for students.
Why is student government a great extracurricular for law school? The main benefit of joining your school’s student government is that you get to practice your leadership and advocacy skills. If you’re a senator, your job is to listen to the student body and communicate on their behalf with influential members of the university. One of the most important aspects of the training you will receive in law school is the clinical program, in which students engage in a variety of law activities guided by a professor. Some of these include environmental policy, animal law, cyberlaw, and immigration and refugee advocacy. The clinics offered will vary according to the school, but the reason student government applies to this particular domain is that the skills are transferrable. And because admissions is looking for students who they think will succeed in their program, possessing some of these skills and having relevant experience demonstrate your readiness to succeed. Student government is also likely to come up in your interview if you have it on your application, so when you’re doing your , be sure to practice some questions about this experience.
When it comes to law school admissions, you might not think that playing a sport has anything to do with law. While sports aren’t directly related to law as a field, trying out for a competitive sport in university or participating in a more casual sporting format can yield benefits for your law school application. Once again, playing a team sport like baseball, basketball, hockey, or football can give you the opportunity to show an admissions committee that you value teamwork, that you can communicate effectively, that you can collaborate with others to work toward a common goal, and that you can be a leader. Bonus points if you have any awards or notable accomplishments; if you won or were a runner-up at a tournament, for example.
If you aren’t necessarily interested in competing at a high level, but you still want to play, you can choose a sport and program that aligns more with your interests. Intramurals are a great way to socialize and enjoy the sport while still developing some of those key skills that an admissions committee is looking for. Some schools also host e-sports or gaming events with opportunities to develop a team and compete against other schools in an online format. Visit your school’s website to find out how you can sign up for sporting events or when tryouts are scheduled.
Why are sports a good extracurricular for law school? Because admissions committees are looking for evidence in your application that you’re intrinsically motivated, a team player, and a good leader. A common misconception is that law schools are only going to consider extracurriculars that are in some way related to law school. This isn’t true, and while having more direct experience can also benefit your application, playing a sport can still reveal the characteristics that an admissions committee wants to see but can’t surmise from documents alone. Playing a sport also gives you the opportunity, in your optional essay, to discuss life skills or inspirations that are relevant to why you want to pursue law. Sport can also make for a great analogy for what it’s like to pursue a career in law, which is something you might discuss with a to help you craft an interesting narrative in your application materials.
Applying to law school? Learn what the application process looks like in this video.
Mock trials are similar to debate clubs in that they involve many of the same activities and skills. Mock trials are, as the name suggests, simulated trials in which students compete against opposing schools. Usually, a mediator will distribute the case materials to each party to review and prepare a case. In competitive mock trials, both teams are given an opportunity to argue as the plaintiff twice and the defense twice in a series of four rounds. Each team must develop opening statements, examine the primary witness, cross-examine the primary witness, change sides, and then finish off with closing statements. Mock trials are an excellent way to practice your trial skills, which will be further developed in law school and as you start to build a career in law. It’s never too early to start gaining career-benefitting experience!
Why are mock trials a great extracurricular for law school? Because the activities involved in mock trials are directly related to what you will be doing in law school and in many domains within a professional law career. Additionally, law schools also have their own interscholastic mock trials, which means having mock trial experience can function as an excellent unofficial prerequisite. If you’re interested in finding work as a lawyer in a trial setting, mock trials are a great litmus test to decide whether this is truly the field you want to pursue. For admissions, having mock trials on your resume will show a committee that you understand this crucial element of the justice system and that you have experience playing the role of the plaintiff, jury, prosecution, and defense. This activity also shows that you’re serious about pursuing a career in law and motivated to continue developing in this respect. Your can also greatly benefit from mock trial experience, as you can explicitly show that you’re thoroughly invested in your law career goals.
1. Why are law school extracurriculars important?
Law school extracurriculars are important because they can mean the difference between getting accepted or getting rejected. Extracurriculars can also enrich your academic performance and show an admissions committee that you possess a broad skill set.
2. Do law school extracurriculars matter more than LSAT scores and GPA?
Your LSAT score and GPA are going to be given more weight on your application compared to any other factor. However, extracurriculars can significantly improve the quality of your application if you take advantage of the skills you gained by discussing them in your personal statement or optional essays.
3. What are some of the best law school extracurriculars?
The best law school extracurriculars tend to be pre-law internships, student government, debate club, sports, and mock trials.
4. Can I use some of the people I meet during my extracurriculars as references?
Ideally, you want to submit letters of recommendation from professors. However, people with whom you’ve worked or volunteered, such as supervisors from an internship or other extracurriculars, can also offer strong letters.
5. Do my extracurriculars have to relate to law school in some way?
The extracurriculars you choose should reflect your interests and goals. When it comes to selecting which ones will benefit your law school application, start by researching the schools you want to apply to as a means of identifying what they’re looking for in a candidate.
6. What’s the most important skill I should develop from my extracurriculars?
Most law schools are looking for strong leadership skills, highly motivated individuals, and evidence of personal growth.
7. Can extracurriculars compensate for low GPA or LSAT scores?
If your GPA and LSAT scores are too far below the cutoff, extracurriculars can’t improve the likelihood of you getting accepted. Generally, your extracurriculars are there to enhance aspects already present on your application, but you will still need a certain minimum GPA and LSAT score to get accepted. Research the schools to which you’re applying to find out what their cutoffs are.
8. If I have good grades, should I worry about extracurriculars?
Even if you have good grades, extracurriculars could mean the difference between acceptance and rejection when competing with other applicants who are just as strong academically.