When I went to law school my only goal was to graduate at the top of my class. I figured if I graduated as the #1 student in my class, I would have the maximum number of opportunities available to me. (Ironically, I was never interested with most of the opportunities that come with graduating at the top of your class—i.e. working at a big law firm. I didn’t even want to practice law after law school!).
I don’t regret making that a goal because I did find to be very worthwhile to achieve the top class ranking. (And to teach others how to follow suit, I developed this law school prep course that teaches students skills to graduate at the top of their class.) However, there are plenty of other worthy law school goals to think about as you get ready for law school. We recommend you compile them into a law school bucket list—a list of things you may want to do when you are in law school.
Some Ideas for your law school bucket list
- Graduate with a high GPA. Again, graduating in the top 10% of your class will maximize your opportunities in terms of big law firm jobs. (If you are interested in learning the skills to graduate at the top of your class, please consider signing up for our law school prep course.)
- Network (adjunct professors, and classmates). I don’t mean those silly networking events, although if you are drawn to them, go ahead. By “network” I mean, form valuable relationships with your classmates and your professors. Some classmates of mine have remained great friends and they have helped other classmates get jobs. Further, adjunct professors are great to get to know because they generally have a lot of connections in the fields where they work.
- Do something you’re afraid of. Join moot court. Study abroad for a semester. Do something that is intriguing and outside of your comfort zone. It will help you grow both personally and professionally.
- Give back. Whether it is law-related or not, find a way to give back. Help with a fundraiser. Mentor students in classes below you. Serve food at a soup kitchen. This will help others and it will also help you feel less stress out and keep law school in context.
- Take classes that relate to a specific area of law, a specific problem you want to solve, or a specific issue you are passionate about If you are interested in Education Law, Tax Law, Corporate Law, or helping victims of domestic violence, or those with disabilities, or small business, or whatever, immerse yourself in those classes. Take classes, clinics, and workshops on whatever you are passionate about. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t keep an open mind about your field (you should keep an open mind! Many students who go to law school certain they want to do, say, Family law, end up hating it and falling in love with Environmental Law or some other area.) But it is to say that now is the time to immerse yourself in areas of law that pique your interest.
- Take classes that will prepare you for the bar exam. It may sound too early to think about the bar exam, but trust me, your future self will thank you for making wise decisions in law school. This is especially the case if you are not a good test taker to begin with or if your state has a low bar exam passage rate. (Wondering what courses will prepare you for the bar exam? See this link.)
- Run a marathon or join a gym, learn to cook healthy meals, or find some other way to take care of yourself. This may not sound like a law school bucket list item but law students frequently neglect their health in law school and making it a goal to keep it in mind throughout law school certainly is a worthy goal.
- Do something different. Start a club. Start a charity. Start a business. One of my bar exam students got an interview for a job because she was passionate (and certified) in many areas of diamonds and worked at a jewelry store. A friend of mine got a job because he started a club for Native Americans when no other one existed at the law school. Even if doing something different doesn’t get you a job, it will be a cool life experience to hae.
Some students add more specific things to their law school bucket list (“work on the Innocence Project” “Study in Spain” “clerk for a judge”). Others add smaller goals or experiences they want to have (“survive being called on in class”). Your law school bucket list may change over time and that is okay. It is not static. But it is a nice list to compile and to help you think about your priorities as you start your journey.
Ms. Ashley Heidemann graduated as the number 1 law student out of over 200 students in her class of 2011 at Wayne State University. She, along with a team of tutors, tutors for law students and the bar exam. She also offers a Law School Preparatory Course for students interested in learning the skills necessary to achieve a high GPA in law school prior to starting law school.