Ambitious law school applicants trying to find that edge on applications may find that those summer paralegal internships are not going to be enough.
Kaplan Test Prep and Admissions conducted its annual survey of law school admission officers, receiving responses from 152 on a range of topics, including the importance of legal internship experience.
Over 60 percent of officers said that having a law-based internship will not give much of an advantage to law-school hopefuls. Rather, admission officers are usually more interested in applicants with internships, jobs and volunteer positions that reflect more on who they are aside from a law school applicant, said Jeff Thomas, Kaplan director of pre-law programs.
“Law schools are just looking to see that the student is passionate about something, no matter what that is,” he said.
Though a law-based internship is not detrimental to a student’s application, the intentions behind it are key.
“We don’t encourage students to seek out a legal internship if it’s solely to look better on an application,” Thomas said.
UC Davis pre-law advisor and second-year UCD law student Aida Macedo advises students to focus on their GPA and LSAT scores, but overall, students need to be well-rounded, with internships, jobs and experience.
“Internships don’t have to be law-related as long as they show you are proactive,” Macedo said. “It shows commitment.”
Simply worrying about looking good on an application is not the only factor. When students are on the fence for admittance, admission officers consider who the person is, as opposed to just an applicant, and what they have done.
Drew Amoroso, a third-year law student at UCD, was a bartender and a substitute teacher before he arrived at UCD School of Law- with no legal experience.
“The most successful student is someone who has a lot of [life] experience and can apply it,” Amoroso said.
Passion is the catch phrase of the law admission process, as first-year law student Scott Judson said.
“The big thing was that I showed that I was passionate about something,” said Judson, who graduated from UCD last spring. “I demonstrated why I want to be [at UCD School of Law].”
In a slow economy, law school application numbers are increasing, Thomas said. The law school exam, the LSAT, is gaining popularity with double-digit increases in test-takers.
“Schools are bracing for many more students applying next year,” Thomas said.
Though law school numbers are up, competition stays fairly stable and students who are eligible still have a chance at law school acceptance.
“The numbers do look scary,” Thomas said. “But there is a lot [students] have in their control to make them look competitive.”
SASHA LEKACH can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.