Is it necessary to work as a paralegal before law school?

Is it a good idea to take a year break between college and law school? Well, if you are doing something useful in that break then yes, why not!

It is becoming a common phenomenon that students take a year break to get prepared and sometimes to get a job as a paralegal before law school. As a matter of fact, it has been reported that 75% of law students of Harvard took a year break before setting foot in the law school. When it comes to deciding what to do in the break, law students often wonder whether they should take up a paralegal job or not.

Well, the first question that should come to your mind before deciding on this is, will it help you to get into a law school? To that, pursuing a career in law starting with a paralegal is a wise decision, but it does not guarantee that you will become a successful lawyer.

Will a job as a paralegal before law school will help you with your law school application?

It was a common consensus that working as a paralegal before law school will not certainly help you with your law school application. In reality, most of the lawyers think that it will put you at a disadvantage, how so? A paralegal job is generally associated with administrative tasks rather than actually learning about the law. If you are really looking for a way to make your law school application competitive, then go for something that you are passionate about. This way you will have something to set out with zeal to the admission committee. Not only this will improve your chances of getting into law school but clarify your mind about how to take up things step by step. Even if the paralegal is what you are passionate about, that is fine as well. Though describing your paralegal job experience will at most show a general interest in law, and moreover, it is not certain that you will be able to express your experience in a way that the committee is expecting from you.

Will a paralegal job give you quality legal experience?

There was a question raised by a law student that whether a job as a paralegal will provide one with quality legal experience or not? The general consensus was it will not. This is far more accurate in the case of large organizations where administrative tasks offset other substantial tasks required to gain valuable legal experience. However, there are some non-profit organizations where paralegals get to learn a lot and have a far better experience than in other private organizations. Furthermore, in nonprofit firms, paralegals are assigned tasks similar to the ones performed by the lawyers on their jobs. There are other small firms as well where paralegals are assigned quality tasks that can be added up in their experience profile. 

Are there any advantages of working as a paralegal?

The biggest advantage of working as a paralegal is that you get to live the life of a lawyer beforehand. You will know before starting your career how it feels to be a lawyer. In this regard, working as a big law paralegal will be particularly helpful as it will give you a complete insight into the big law life, which is associated with long working hours, unpredictability, representing clients in court, etc. Although, you can have an equally valuable law experience if you do an internship or work as a paralegal during law school. Furthermore, a paralegal job will expose you to just one aspect of law (for instance, immigration) it may put you off to the entire law studies. Since lawyers do not always end up working in a single domain, therefore a glimpse of this field is not enough to make a final decision about your career in law.

Some valuable advice before starting your career as a lawyer

There are 2 key pieces of advice that you should keep in mind here. Firstly, if you already have made up your mind to take a year off then take it up as an opportunity to pursue your passion. By doing so, you will have great material for your law school applications, resumes, and interviews. This gap year has a huge impact on the application because employers look at this time of your life to identify what you are actually made of and how much potential you have and how passionate you are about something. However, a paralegal job before law school still has an unknown weightage in your school application. Secondly, if you want to do a job as a paralegal before attending your law school then it is better to sit with lawyers who have prior experience of working as a paralegal. You may also talk to your fellow paralegals about their likes and dislikes being a paralegal.

Conclusively, a paralegal job may be a good idea if you are passionate about law however, it will not assist you to get into a law school.

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