Student organizations are an important part of the law school experience. Lawyers are involved throughout civil society. In their careers, lawyers frequently form or participate in organizations that promote a political position, provide networking opportunities, and provide support to other legal practitioners and the community at large.
Like law review or moot court, student organizations provide you with opportunities to develop skills and relationships. Joining a student-run organization can give you a chance to work on your leadership skills. Attending symposiums on different legal topics can deepen your understanding of the law. Providing legal services through a community program can help build your advocacy skills.
The following article provides an overview of some common kinds of law student organizations and considers their benefit for future lawyers.
Types of Law Student Groups and Organizations
On-campus law student organizations vary in their focus. They include organizations that are typically sorted into the following categories:
- Area of Practice: Some law student organizations focus on professional development in a specific practice area. There may be groups for students interested in common areas of practice such as family law, business law, criminal law, international law, and intellectual property law. They can also be more niche, like an entertainment law group or environmental law society. Alternatively, law student organizations may focus on new or developing legal areas, such as space law. These organizations can help students find internships in their area of interest and connect them to the legal field of their choice.
- Identity: Law student organizations formed around groups of students with a shared identity can provide valuable support and networking opportunities, particularly among groups who've historically been underrepresented in the legal profession. Two prominent examples are the Black Law Students Association (BLSA) and the Asian Pacific American Law Students Association (APALSA). Other groups, like the Jewish Law Students Association, form based on shared religious beliefs. Still others might focus on career development for women of color or LGBTQ+ students.
- Political Affiliation: Legal practice is inherently political, and many law students aspire to enter politics or public interest law. These organizations may involve general support for a political party, such as the Federalist Society or American Constitution Society, or they may be focused on specific legal issues, such as reproductive justice, civil rights, or human rights. These groups offer excellent networking opportunities and often host guest speakers that share their views.
- Mentoring and Support: Some student organizations exist expressly to provide resources to help you succeed at law school and beyond. These may include tutoring or mentoring opportunities for those who need help or are interested in helping others. One important example of this kind of law student organization is the Student Bar Association (SBA), which typically administers and funds all the other student organizations and coordinates social activities and events that benefit the entire school.
- Community Service: Many student organizations focus on networking events, but others focus on public service. For example, students might provide pro bono legal services through an on-campus community outreach program. Or they may lead fundraising efforts for a certain cause, like the Animal Legal Defense Fund.
- Extracurricular Interests: Student organizations for law students with shared interests are also common. Sports players or fans, card or board game enthusiasts, runners, gardeners, actors, musicians, and others have formed student organizations that can provide an important break from legal studies while also providing opportunities to network with peers and alumni that have shared interests.
You don't have to join a student organization in law school. But participating in one or more groups that speak to your interests can enrich your law school experience and provide access to valuable resources. Joining a group during your first year can help you make connections and form the support system you'll need to make it through law school. Plus, social events can provide a welcome break from studying and be good for your mental health!
Learn More About Law School and Beyond
Law student organizations are just part of your law school experience. FindLaw's Law Students section is here to help you decide for yourself how to make the most of your legal education — from exploring different legal careers to deciding which law school extracurriculars are right for you.