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by Vault Law Editors | March 10, 2009

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Most law schools claim to look at your extracurricular activities. While they may not be what clinches your application, outside activities and interests can help you stand out from the crowd. There are some particular activities that law schools like to see and that can also help you develop the skills of a good litigator.

The first is speech and debate. Any organization that encourages public speaking and the formulation of an argument is extremely helpful for those thinking of practicing litigation. "I did speech in high school and in college, and it helped me organize my thoughts. It's handy even when I'm not speaking in public; you learn to approach things from a logical fashion and defend your theories," says one junior litigator. Any good debate team in college will also get you used to thinking and arguing under pressure and developing a clear method of communication.

The second activity that law schools like to see is anything involving public or community service. Volunteering at a local shelter or hospital, organizing clothing drives and even tutoring are all good ways to demonstrate commitment to your community. Community service shows that you are willing to work hard even without monetary compensation and gives the admissions counselor a better picture of those things that are important to you. "I certainly look for community service," says a court attorney in charge of hiring interns. "I like to see that they understand that this isn't a cushy job and that they've done things for reasons other than money."

Finally, any activity that puts you in a leadership position is beneficial. Whether you are captain of the football team or president of your theater club, being in a leadership position shows that you know how to take responsibility, manage large groups of people and rise to the top of an organization. Law schools look for people who will become future leaders as lawyers, business people or politicians, and they tend to look for leadership potential in their candidates.

If you aren't one of those who planned ahead to go to law school and it seems too late to follow some of these suggestions, don't despair. If practicing law is your dream, think about how you might convey that desire and arrange your accomplishments in a really persuasive essay explaining why you should be admitted. Law schools may have an eye on statistics, but they also like to bring together people from all over the country, with diverse skills and interests. When and if you do apply, do so with confidence and enthusiasm, display all your positive qualities and achievements, and show your dedication to the field of law. This will set you apart from the indifferent and lackluster candidate.

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Filed Under: Law

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