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by Vault Law Editors | April 07, 2011


Nearing the end of your college career and got your eyes fixed on law school? Maybe you should take a cue from Yale Law—the reigning U.S. News’ number one law school—and chill for a few years (or more) before plunging into law school. The majority of law students at Yale Law took time off before cracking open the casebooks. According to the Yale Daily News,

Only 20 percent of the first-year class at Yale Law School came straight from college, and more than half of the 80 percent who took time off had been out of school for more than two years. Students and administrators interviewed said that for those who wait before applying or attending Yale Law School, the intervening years may help them understand why they want to apply to law school and what they hope to gain from it — which can strengthen their application, as well as guide their course of study after matriculation.

Gaining some real world and work experiences can help prospective students better understand their goals. According to Yale Law student Taylor Asen, his prior work experience has given him a deeper appreciation of law school. A little time for exploration also may help students refine their objectives. As Brigid Davis of Yale Law’s Class of 2012 puts it, “Even if you know you have a passion for the environment or prison reform, you might not necessarily know if you want to pursue that in government or direct services or public policy.” Plus, gaining some experience may result in a more impressive resume and more thoughtful personal statement, which could help you get into your top-choice school.

According to Yale Law’s Dean of Admissions Asha Rangappa, “Sometimes the experiences themselves can also just make them more interesting, particularly if they are able to write about it.” The trend at Yale Law of taking time between undergrad and law school is a good lesson for prospective law students. Sure, some people are ready to pursue law school the minute they turn their college tassel. Perhaps they have worked in legal internships, received exceptional mentoring from attorneys, are older students who took gap years before undergrad or are 100 percent confident that law is the career path for them. But many other college seniors are just starting to explore their futures, and taking time to gain some experience could go a long way. It also makes sense for prospective law students to seek experience in the legal field to get a taste of their future careers. Of course, a career that sounded like a good idea in college may not seem right after you broaden your horizons, hone in on your talents and develop a better sense of your direction. But it’s better to reach that realization before the investment.

Did you transition directly from college to law school? Do you think it was a good decision or a mistake? Did you take time off before law school? Are you happy with your decision?

Yale Daily News Source
U.S. News Law School Rankings



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