By Caambridge Horton • September 27, 2019•Writers in Residence, Law School, Other Law School Issues
Several 1L law students have asked me what activities they should look into joining while in law school. They also have asked me the practical benefits of joining organizations in law school. The short answer is that joining an activity will significantly enhance the law school experience. Activities are a great way to meet new people and an even better way to strengthen leadership skills and gain practical tools necessary for the practice of law. What organizations an individual should join depends greatly on what you seek to gain from the organization. For instance, many law school students seek to enhance their leadership skills, so they join Student Government Association as a Law School Senator or Representative. Another way to gain leadership experience is by becoming a class representative for an organization or by joining the board of any organization.
One practical point that I must make is that a 1L should not feel the need to join every organization their respective law school has during their first year. At times it will be tempting to join organizations for a myriad of reasons, but it is important to remember that the first year of law school serves as the foundation for the rest of your legal career. It is important to buckle down and make sure that studies come before any organization or activity. I will say if your law school hosts an organization fair, it is a good idea to go to see what all the law school has to offer and to find the point of contact for organizations you are most interested in.
During the second semester of 1L year is when a first-year law student should seriously begin thinking about organizations. Many organizations will make this easy by hosting information sessions that lay out exactly what is necessary for a 1L law student to gain membership into an organization. Some of the most influential organizations to consider joining are Moot Court, Mock Trial, Law Review, and Journals. These are among the most respected law school organizations, and they provide the most practical and relevant experience:
- Moot Court: Moot court involves appellate cases where law students research, write appellate briefs, and present oral arguments in front of the judges. Legal employers often prefer law students who have participated in moot court because moot court involves spending considerable time honing analytical, research, and writing skills that practicing attorneys should have.
- Mock Trial: Mock trial is competitive trial advocacy, and competitors simulate full trials before lower-level courts. Students interested in any field of law that relies heavily on evidence should strongly consider joining the mock trial team. Mock trial is also a great way to work with multiple people and to hone public speaking skills.
- Law Review/Journals: Law Review is a student-led journal that publishes articles written by law professors, judges, and other legal professionals. Law Review typically covers pressing and emerging legal topics while other journals are content-specific and only publish articles that conform to the specific topic. Law review is looked at favorably by employers and is a great way to hone writing, research, and Bluebooking skills.