Looking for some pre-law school career advice

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studentathleted
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Joined: Wed Jun 10, 2020 1:58 pm

Looking for some pre-law school career advice

Post by studentathleted » Wed Jun 10, 2020 2:00 pm

Hello everyone, I'm looking for some life/career advice: my final job before I go to law school.

I've received an offer to work as a paralegal at a personal injury firm, which is pretty neat considering I don't have any real substantial legal experience, but it's also not exactly what I want to practice. I am dead set on doing public defense. I am all about criminal justice reform, it's my life, yadda yadda.

Unfortunately I'm exiting a fellowship rn where I didn't get much of a say in my placement choice, so the work I've been doing since I graduated in 2019 also doesn't relate to public defense or criminal justice reform in any way. I have some cjr experience from undergrad (and good extracurrics and grades from undergrad too), and I have the potential to volunteer at a prison nearby at this paralegal job, but I'm just so lost on whether or not I should take this position.

If anyone has any thoughts on whether or not this position would be a good addition to my law school app or if I should wait it out for something more related to my law interests (but also... the economy...) I would be so so so so grateful. thank you in advance!

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pancakes3
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Re: Looking for some pre-law school career advice

Post by pancakes3 » Wed Jun 10, 2020 2:10 pm

you working at a PI firm won't have any effect on what you do post law school.

LS admissions is almost entirely based on your LSAT/GPA and your post-LS job placement is almost entirely based on your LS accomplishments. unless you worked as an ivory trafficker and then tried to apply to earthjustice or something extreme like that, your pre-LS career won't have any bearing on your post-LS career.

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beep
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Re: Looking for some pre-law school career advice

Post by beep » Wed Jun 10, 2020 2:47 pm

pancakes3 wrote:
Wed Jun 10, 2020 2:10 pm
your pre-LS career won't have any bearing on your post-LS career
I disagree with this in its most general form -- at my prior firm, people frequently treated pre-LS work experience in certain white collar professions (consulting, ibanking, expert witness firms) as significant pluses. It wouldn't be enough to get you in the door if grades/school didn't otherwise qualify you, but it would give you a leg up on an otherwise-similar candidate. I can think of at least two candidates for whom it was an important, possibly dispositive factor in getting them an offer.

That said,
(a) totally agree that being a paralegal at a PI firm would not move the needle in the same way, and
(b) my experience comes from the biglaw context and I have no idea how CJR/public defenders view pre-LS experience. I would guess that there are similarly some jobs that would be major pluses -- like, if you did policy research for a non-legal org committed to CJR, or did social-work-adjacent work, or something -- but that paralegal at a PI firm similarly is not the type of job that moves the needle in this context, either. But people here who have worked in criminal justice would have better views on that.

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