Like most people considering law school, you've probably already formed expectations of what lies ahead. Maybe your impressions are based on stories of lawyers heroically fighting for a more just society, or maybe a Debbie Downer keeps feeding you information about law school debt and challenging job markets. These may be important factors, but they're certainly not the only ones to consider.
When digesting information about law school, it's important to consider the sources. For example, one survey of practicing attorneys showed that most would go to law school again if they had to do it over. That speaks volumes. While it's true that law school isn't for everyone, that doesn't necessarily mean that it's not a fit for you. As you gear up for the ride ahead, you need accurate information from reliable sources, like a panel of attorneys at a pre-law forum.
What are Pre-Law Forums?
Pre-law forums come in various mediums, from online discussion groups to panels of law students, attorneys, or law school representatives. While online discussions may be more convenient, it's often hard to gauge the experience and background of participants doling out advice, which is easier to do with in-person forums.
The Law School Admissions Council (LSAC) holds law school forums and workshops throughout the U.S. every year, as do universities like UCLA, which hosts a Law Forum through its pre-law society.
Other organizations have forums that specifically reach out to underrepresented students interested in legal careers, such as the Black Pre-Law Conference. In addition, law schools will often sponsor recruitment events to provide information about their programs and admissions process.
Whatever the nature of a forum, the purpose is to connect prospective law students with professionals that have useful insight into preparing for law school and the legal profession. Forums can include discussions on topics such as:
- Taking the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT)
- The law school application process
- What law schools look for in applications
- Paying for law school
- How to succeed in law school
- Professional development and legal career paths
Since everyone's situation is unique, one of the other benefits of pre-law forums is the opportunity to ask questions more specific to your life situation. For example, you may want to know what resources are available to law students caring for families and children. You might be surprised that some law schools like UC Davis have childcare resources for your mini-me.
Tips for Utilizing Pre-Law Forums
With all of the possible benefits pre-law forums offer, it's important to have a plan going into any event. Below are a few tips to get the most out of a forum:
Research the Speakers and Their Backgrounds
This will not only help you to measure the reliability of the information they provide, but it will also help you to ask informed questions and engage in useful discussions if you end up in one-on-one conversations.
Come Prepared With Questions
Remember, pre-law forums connect you with people and information to help you decide whether and where to go to law school. You need the information to make these decisions, so spend some time thinking of questions before you show up.
Interact with Others
One of the things about the legal profession is that it's all about networks, especially if you're considering opening your own practice down the road. Pre-law forums allow you to meet professionals from the academic and practice worlds and peers in your position, all of whom could be a great resource for you during and after law school.
Don't be afraid to reach out to them after an event but remember contact info is like currency — you don't want to spend everything at once. Instead of bombarding someone with emails requesting help, think about ways to share information or articles useful to their work.
Bring a Notepad
If you go to law school, you will be filling up pages of notes anyway, so why not start at a pre-law forum? This will this help to remind you of who spoke and what they said, which can make any post-event contact less awkward.
Pre-law forums are a great way to get answers to your questions. However, as you progress in law school and your legal career, you'll find that the questions keep coming. The lawyers at FindLaw have been there and are happy to be your trusted source for information and tips to help you be successful. Stay in touch with us at FindLaw for Law Students to learn more.