Law School Admissions ‘Actively Preferences’ Work Experience
Did you knock your LSAT out of the water? And did you work hard for four years at a top undergraduate school hoping for admission to a top law school. And did you still not get accepted (or scholarship dollars) to your top choice? It could be because you don’t have enough experience after college. If Harvard was your top choice, this is likely the case.
Gone are the days of having a good chance to jump from undergrad straight to Harvard. In 2009, when Martha Minow took over as dean of Harvard Law School, one of the changes she wanted to make was to put a greater weight on post-collegiate experience in the admissions process. Mission accomplished. From 2005 to 2009, between 39 and 45 percent of students entering Harvard Law were fresh out of college. In 2014, that number was about 25 percent. And it wasn’t a quick shift. In 2010, the number fell to 30 percent and has been hovering around 25 percent since.
Jessica Soban, chief admissions officer at the law school, says her office now ‘actively preferences’ students with work experience. She also told The Harvard Crimson that students, faculty and deans at the school nearly all agree students with work experience bring more and better perspective to the classroom.
In addition to admitting older and more accomplished applicants, Harvard has implemented its “junior deferral” program. Undergraduate students at Harvard may be accepted to the law school on condition they work for two years after graduating from undergrad before beginning law school.
As to be expected, those making the admissions decisions are looking for more than a “gap year.” Soban told the Crimson her office likes to see applicants “actually engaging in active employment, or in active graduate student.”
In addition to making the classroom a deeper and more interesting place, the prior experience can help students in finding a job after graduation. They’ve already been out in the real world and know a little about what it takes to find a job. For others, simply having a year or two outside of the classroom could help shed light on if the law school decision is the right one for them. Regardless, soon-to-be college graduates might want to consider a year or two of work experience to first, make themselves more attractive applicants and second, see how this legal job market situation might shake out.
Source: The Harvard Crimson
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