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Back to school, back to school

Lots of people are going back to school these days. While it’s a personal decision whether it’s worth the investment of time and money, it will make you more marketable (the vast majority of the time, at least).

Regardless, if you wanna be a lawyer, ya gotta put in your three (or four) years. But is it more advantageous to go to law school at a certain point in your career/ life? And can it help you in your legal job search to get your J.D. at a specific time?

A few of my classmates had a theory that having some experience working as a paralegal prior to law school really helped you perform. While I’m not sure there is any truth in this theory, I do think in some instances having work experience under your belt before going to law school can help secure a job afterwards.

Growing up, I was always told how important education was and pushed to finish school right away. I was warned and warned again about how difficult it can be to go back to school once you start working. But I think there is value to having work experience before continuing your education. It shows that you’re serious about the legal profession, since you had the drive to leave gainful employment to further your education and become a lawyer.

It can show that you weren’t just prolonging your education because you couldn’t find a job. It helps you build a professional network and demonstrates that you can maintain normal working relationships and basically function in the real world (which is, sadly, not something that can be assumed). It also gives you additional skills from your job prior to law school to bring to the table, whether those skills are legally related or not.

That being said, I don’t think that having two to three years of experience working in an office prior to law school will make a difference in your career long term. It bears some similarity to your law school grades: it can help you get your first job, but beyond that no one’s going to care. What do you think? Do you think it can give you a bit more credibility from the start or does it not matter?