3 Reasons to Take Some Time Away From School Between College and Law School

You may have heard this bit of advice already, but there are good reasons (three big ones are listed below!) for the growing popularity of taking one to three years off between your undergraduate studies and law school. As someone who took the ‘straight through’ route, one of the biggest things I would change when I look back would be to spend at least a year outside academia.

  1. You can recharge
    The undisputed truth about law school is that your first year (the infamous 1L) is the most demanding and for career prospects (especially for big law firms) can be the most important. That makes it imperative to go into your 1L year ready to put in a lot of study time, probably the most you ever have and ever will. This is why getting away from academia, and especially resetting your effort levels after any degree of ‘senior slide’ as you wrap up college, is crucial. It can have you hitting the ground running in 1L with renewed energy and with a feeling that ‘school’ is a fresh and exciting prospect again.
  2. You can make sure law school is right for you
    Even if you have been dreaming about NYU law since birth, it is still worth taking time for serious introspection before fully committing. That goes double if you’re just starting to look at law school as you finish college. If you intentionally take a break, you can ask yourself tough questions about what your career goals look like and do some research to see how well those align with your prospects in the legal (or a J.D. advantaged) field. As a bonus, when it comes to personal statements and any admissions or job interviews, that introspection will allow you to demonstrate that you’re serious and realistic about what you’re getting into.
  3. You can use your ‘gap year(s)’ to do something useful and/or cool
    Take a moment to consider all the things that you could do. Working as a paralegal could give you a leg up on some basic legal concepts and a reasonable window into what a legal career might look like; doing something ‘unusual’ like living and working overseas or working for a start-up could provide a unique perspective and something great to discuss in all types of interviews; and taking a retail or service industry job can push your interpersonal skills and would hopefully put a small dent in the financial burdens of law school.

Ultimately, though, this post isn’t titled ‘3 Reasons Going Straight Through to Law School Will Ruin Your Life’ because many laws students go straight through and come out alright. I did for one. It’s sort of the difference between running a marathon and running two half marathons with some time off in-between; if you work hard you can always get to the finish line in either case, but it can be easier and safer when you take a real break in the middle.

What’s best for YOU?!


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