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There are a lot of extracurriculars available to students in law school. But the choices can seem overwhelming. They are very different from what you can do in college. So what extracurriculars are out there and what should you spend your time on in law school?
Well by the end of this video you will have a really good idea of which extracurricular is for you. What will add to your resume and what is a good use of your time in law school.
So stick around. (melodious instrumental music) All right, so first and foremost. Extracurriculars can be very rewarding in law school but generally speaking, grades are more important when you’re in law school.
So while it may be tempting to sign up for lots of extracurriculars especially during the first week of class. As a general rule, you never want to sacrifice your grades for spending time in extracurricular activities. And that goes for even the most prestigious extracurriculars like participating on law review. It’s almost always better to have good grades than it is to participate in lots of extracurriculars. So with that being said and without further ado, here are the most popular extracurriculars in law school and my opinion as to how valuable they are.
And I should tell you I know what I’m talking about. In addition to working in BigLaw for over 10 years, I have recruited for big firms, I have interviewed many law students for associate jobs and I have read more law student resumes than I could possibly count.
So, let’s talk about the most popular extracurriculars in law school. The first one and the most popular and usually the most highly regarded is law review. Generally, law schools have one flagship law review.
A law review is a weird student-run publication that publishes papers by professors, professionals and other academics. While other fields have peer reviewed journals that are run by professionals or experts in the field. Law schools have these student-run publications that do two things. They review, curate and proof the academic papers mostly of professors and then publish them.
And Law Reviews will publish the papers of students who are on law review and those are called notes.
Sometimes without attribution to the individual student who produced it. but the law review serves the purpose of publishing academic papers. They tend to be the most prestigious legal journals in the legal field and they also publish the papers of students. Now if you want to publish in law school you should join law review. There are, generally, also a lot of other journals or law reviews that specialize in different topics.
But almost always the most prestigious journal in a particularly is law school the law review. And there are a couple very famous ones, the Harvard Law Review comes to mind. It’s an incubator for future professors and legal scholars. It’s really the top of the field when it comes to legal publications. And while there are a number of different journals and law reviews in law school, generally, the main law review is the most prestigious, it can be a real resume bump.
Out of all the things that you can do in law school as an extracurricular, there is no doubt that participating in the Maine Law Review for your law school is by far the most prestigious extracurricular that you can do.
It is a real resume bump especially when you get to the top law schools where the law review itself has an actual reputation in the field. But that being said, it is a ton of hard work. You are constantly proofing and reviewing different papers, only a few of which are going to be published. It’s really thankless work.
It is very persnickety, you have to have a real eye for proofing, you have to be a very good writer and it’s also very difficult to get on to the law review.
Some law reviews require you to have top grades before you can participate and other law reviews have a straight merit-based system based on writing on to the journal. So you show a writing sample and that’s how you get on. Other law reviews have a combination of the two where some people will grade on and some people will write on. But once you get on to law review you can anticipate that you’re going to spend a lot of time doing writing related activities, a lot of proofing and a lot of publishing related work.
So that brings me to the second most popular extracurricular in law school and that is moot court. Moot court is where students pretend to be appellate attorneys. Students will write appellate briefs and then they will argue that brief usually on a very narrow part of the law in front of a panel of judges. This panel of judges is sometimes real judges if the school is able to get the judges to participate.
But usually some lawyers from the community who are judging the students on their ability to argue on either the appellate brief and/or their oral argument ability in front of them.
There are a number of different moot courts, some specialize in international law or patent law. And some are just sort of a general civil or criminal appellate jurisdiction where they’ll give you a topic that is of wide appeal and you’ll argue that particular topic. Some moot courts are just for the particular school where it’s just amongst students in that school. And some are against schools from around the city or state where students will be competing against each other. In some moot courts you’re graded on the brief and some it’s just your oral argument and some is a combination of the two.
Now moot court is certainly a resume bump, not as much as law review.
But if you have moot court, especially if you are a successful moot court competitor then employers will look favorably on that in your resume. Especially if you can show that you are someone who was very good at arguing, very good at writing, those are the kind of skills that future employers want to see. So it’s not quite as prestigious as law review and it’s not quite as much of a bump in your resume but it’s certainly a positive mark on your law school resume. It’s also a great way to hone your oral argument skills.
It feels like, there’s a bit of a bait-and-switch when you get to law school where you think you’re gonna be arguing all the time but really you’re just sitting in a lecture hall listening to your professor. And at most you’re going back and forth in the Socratic method when he or she peppers you with questions.
But this is one of the true places where you are able to get better at arguing and have a chance to compete in that type of competition. So that brings me to the third most common extracurricular in law school and that is mock trial. Don’t get mock trial and moot court confused.
If moot court is a simulation of appellate advocacy then mock trial is a simulation of a real trial at the trial court level. I did both moot court and mock trial in law school and while moot court is a lot of fun and it’s great, I thought mock trial was way more fun. You get to do all the aspects of a trial. You guys to do opening statement, examination of witnesses, cross examinations, closings, objections. It’s like Law & Order but in real life but still fake, if that makes sense.
It’s not dissimilar to mock trial in high school or in college but it’s operating at a much higher level.
There are different mock trials and they vary by topic. There are civil mock trials, there are criminal mock trial competitions, there are employment mock trial competitions, there are a lot of different formats too. In some mock trials you provide your own witnesses, in other words their fellow law students who are training to be a witness and you prep them ahead of time. And in some mock trials, the competition actually gives you a witness that you’ve never met before and you only have a couple of minutes to prep them before they go on the witness stand.
So there are a lot of different venues that can be a lot of fun to participate in because they’re so varied. Mock trial is probably less prestigious than law review and moot court. But I would say that people in the know really understand that mock trial is an incubator for people who really want to be in court.
So you can show that you have the skills of a real practicing trial attorney if you hone them in mock trial. So while it’s not quite as much of a resume boost as moot court and law review, it’s still something that’s worthwhile doing if you’re prepared for the time commitment.
So that brings me to the next extracurricular in law school. It is by far the most popular and it’s the one that almost every law student participates in and that is drinking.
There’s a lot of drinking in law school. I’m talking in jest, that is an extracurricular. But I am telling you this for two reasons.
One is that, your social life is an important aspect of law school. You should go out and you should meet other people and have a little fun on occasion. And number two is that, when people go out to go drinking they usually call it bar review. And the first time anyone ever hears that they’re going to bar review on Thursday night, they often make the assumption that it’s a study group, it’s not. Bar review means going out for drinks.
Just FYI, you have been warned, it happens. And you know, go out once in a while, it’s worthwhile. Okay, so back to all seriousness, the next extracurricular is the various student groups on campus. There are a lot of student groups in law school, you have human rights groups, you have ethnic and cultural groups, the Federalist Society, outlaw, Black Law Students. There are a lot of social groups and cultural groups that, it’s sort of a loose association, they try and bring speakers in, they often hold conferences.
This isn’t that much of a resume boost but it’s a great way to network, so I wouldn’t discount it entirely. It’s also a good way to meet friends and other attorneys in the community who share similar values to you. So you know a part of law school that most people overlook is networking. And you should spend some time getting to know people in the community especially if you want to work in that community. Because it’s a great way to form a social network of your own that may come in handy when you’re looking for jobs later down the line.
So after that, I would say the last big extracurricular are social committees in law school. These are things like participating on law prom, putting together the big dance for law students. If your school has a law school musical, putting together the musical. There are also public interest committees and various fundraising activities. Again like the social organizations these are not necessarily a big resume boosters but they’re great for networking and a great way to spend some time on something other than the black letter law in your particular classes which you know sometimes we get tunnel vision and we focus just on studying and not other social aspects of law school.
So don’t discount the social committees as well. Now if you want even more information and strategies and tactics before you get to law school, please download our free ultimate pre-law checklist. It’s our free gift to you. The link to that is below. It will help you demystify law school.