According to an old wives’ tale, law school applications rise and fall with the applicant’s LSAT score and GPA, marginally aided by a personal statement. However, work experience is becoming increasingly important when applying to law school, with some schools openly stating that they prefer applicants a few years removed from college.

Yet, some applicants prefer not to wait and apply to law school while still in college. So how does such a student leverage their extracurricular activities to compete with applicants coming in with a few years of work experience under their belts? Here are a few tips.

Think outside the box. Intuitively, one might seek to highlight law-related activities when applying to law school , such as moot court, debate team or a prelaw society. While these all look good on your application, do not exclude other activities just because they’re not directly connected to the legal realm.

Remember: Law schools do not expect you to come in knowing much about the legal system. They evaluate your application based on the traits you’ve shown more than on any actual knowledge gained during those activities. Being the captain of a varsity team or the president of a sorority or fraternity all show skill, ambition and social involvement that schools love to see on the application.

Show depth, not breadth. Some applicants tend to overcompensate for a lack of work experience by including dozens of extracurricular activities on their resume. First, the admissions committee doesn’t really care that you won third prize in your school chili cook-off. Ask yourself if that activity showcases qualities that the law school would value in a student – culinary acumen probably isn’t one of them.

Second, by listing a plethora of activities you run the risk of the committee skimming over all of them rather than focusing on the important ones. Treat your extracurriculars like jobs. Just like you wouldn’t list 15 different positions on your professional resume, limit yourself to the most significant activities, preferably the ones which you’ve been involved in for a long time.

Leverage all parts of the application. A resume doesn’t […]

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