Developing Your Law School Application:
Community Service & Why It’s a Must
Similar to how we discussed work experience and extracurricular activities, community service can greatly help ones law school application stand out and impress admission committees.
(We also recommend reading the general overview on how to apply your credentials to your law school application.)
With the exception of those who had to work full-time during college or work a great deal to help support their family, law school admission’s generally like to see that you have served some form of community service or civic duty.
For those who did not have time for community service due to a necessity for wages, make sure your application makes this clear. Make it clear that you had to spend a significant amount of time and energy working for wages necessary for you and your family.
For those not in this situation, it would be wise to have at least one activity on your law school application that signifies you participated in some form of charity event or volunteer work.
What Type of Community Service Is Best for Law School?
Similar to how with extracurriculars it is looked higher upon to have participated in one or a only few clubs over a long period of time, it also looks better if you participated with a charity or volunteer work for a full project or extended period of time, rather than 10 different volunteer activities only once or twice.
That being said, as far as what particular group or charity you work with does not really matter. Admission committees are not generally biased over one type of charity. The important thing is they see you took the time to give back and similar to extracurricular’s, also get a sense of who you are outside the classroom.
For a list of ideas for community service, check out Sign Up Genius’ list of 60 volunteer projects here. There are also projects known as “Pro Bono Projects” which are volunteer activity organized by law schools.
When you choose the type of community service you get involved with, it can be wise to choose an organization that may help you in the future as an attorney. For example, if you are planning on applying your JD toward environmental law, it would make sense to choose a community service organization who helps keep the land clean, or teaches kids and communities about how to better protect the environment.
It’s also important to do your best to be part of the actual “hands on” aspect of volunteering. For example, rather than just filing paperwork, it’s far more beneficial to be involved directly, and gain more experience with a cause, leadership skills, initiative, people skills, and much more.
Of course, you could always go a step further and create an organization or organize a class. One example of this is a current law student who had a passion for fitness. He started a local organization to work with children at inner city schools to teach them various ways to work out and stay healthy. Though this isn’t necessarily elated to law, the leadership behind this looks great to an admission’s office, along with the payoff it brings from the accomplishment itself.
Wrapping Up: Community Service & Your Law School Application
Don’t put too much time into deciding on the cause or how much of a role you take. Obviously not everyone has the time to start a whole organization. What’s most important is law school admissions see you care about something more than yourself and you take the time to give back to the community.
And of course, similar to applying work experience and extracurricular’s, make sure to include in your law school application what you learned from community service.
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