Four Ways Paralegal Experience Can Help Law School Applicants
Sometimes, being a paralegal feels like being a lawyer without the diploma. The attorneys may not appreciate the grunt work, but you know the place would fall apart without you.
Sure, you file and answer calls and emails. But you also know the process and procedures cold, making you more valuable than any new law grad.
Becoming a lawyer is the next natural step. From being exposed to so many specialties, you know where you want to practice. Chances are, you’ve drafted some memos and contracts, conducted research, and even helped prepare cases. You’ve coped with the heavy workloads and stress inherent to being a lawyer. And those experiences should give you a leg up in law school.
Before you enroll in law school, you need to submit an application and be accepted. While your experience will impress adcoms, your LSAT score, grade point average, and interview will ultimately make or break your candidacy. In this context, how can your paralegal background serve as an advantage?
Actually, it is a big help, according to Shawn O’Connor, CEO of Stratus Prep and a Harvard Law graduate. O’Connor shares that many law firms will pay for LSAT preparation such as classes, books, and tutoring. If you’re thinking about keeping your job while you attend school, you could earn some tuition reimbursement. In fact, working part-time while you take classes provides a unique advantage in O’Connor’s view: “… access to practicing lawyers who can advise you through law school to help you with your studies.”
Chances are, you’ve also built strong relationships with attorneys in your office, too. As a result, they’ll make perfect sources for letters of recommendations, where they can talk about the experiences, skills, and personal qualities that would make you a “great addition to your law school class as well as to become a great lawyer,” in O’Connor’s words.
Don’t forget that your paralegal experience in particular practice areas makes you an attractive candidate for summer internships.
Bottom line: Your paralegal experience awards you every possible advantage once you’ve enrolled in law school. Before then, you must study like mad for your LSAT. Even more, you’ll need to capitalize on all that goodwill you’ve built up in your current position. Your attorneys were once like you; they too had mentors and advocates who helped them. You can bet that most will use every means at their disposal to pay it forward.
Source: U.S. News and World Report
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