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Preparing for a Career in Law

In preparing for a career in law, questions arise on how to deal with certain challenges and how to put yourself on a path to success. Here are answers to two common questions facing students as they prepare for a career in law.

Grades Not in Top Percentages

Q: I have been asked back for a call back interview, but I am positive that I am going to be grilled on why my grades are not in the top percentages. How do I effectively answer the question and show the interviewer that I do have the necessary intelligence level as well as other key attributes?

A: If a firm has called you back, the hiring attorney is most likely interested in your personal as well as your academic skills. I would interview with the confidence of knowing that your grade point average is far less important than your professional demeanor, your law school standing, and your record of other accomplishment. If asked closely about your grades, I would be prepared to point out some courses in which you scored most highly, and explain why the subject matter or learning environment in these courses inspired you to such feats of accomplishment. You can also drive focus back to your strengths by highlighting your other accomplishments such as participation in student organizations or government, in moot court or clinic activities, and by explaining how attributes and skills you possess may have been overlooked in the grading process. Although top grades are undeniably a benefit to a job-seeker; the ability to defend your performance with aplomb can help a recruiter or partner understand your ability to redirect a negative line of inquiry and provide a prime opportunity to show how you might defend the firm's clients when they find themselves questioned about their own shortcomings.

High School Preparation for a Law Career

Q: I'm a freshman in high school and I've been told that some of the classes you take in high school could help increase your chance of becoming a successful lawyer and my question is what classes do you suggest I take?

A: I commend you for your eagerness in wondering which courses to take in high school, with possible law studies and practice in mind. But in all honesty, your high school curriculum will make little or no difference in your eligibility for law school admission or law practice. To practice law, you will need good writing skills, so you might want to spend some time in writing composition. But in high school, as in college, the most important task is to develop some understanding of who you are and of your strengths and interests. The future will unfold out of the present; too much advance planning could tie you up in knots and deprive you of some important lived experience in the present. Read some good books, make some good friends, find a teacher mentor or two, learn a sport or a musical instrument, and get to know yourself. Law school can wait.

Courtesy of Edward Honnold.

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