Yes, we know, you went to law school to save the world. "Saving the world" is a dandy goal to have, and more likely achieved if you take baby steps getting there. Knowing what you want out of law school is important at the outset so you can hit the ground running to achieve those goals.
So, keep the dreams of saving the world alive, and know that you'll probably need to do some of the following to do just that.
1. Create a Network
Look around -- the people in your classes will be the foundation of your legal network. A few years out of law school, when your cousin's "friend" needs a criminal lawyer, you'll have a network to ask for a recommendation. Your network will also likely help you find work down the road, so don't burn bridges.
2. Go to the Top of the Class
The importance of grades cannot be underestimated. If you go to a mid-tier school being at the top of your class is essential for getting a job. Also, if you want to work on a journal, or have your choice pick of research assistant and teaching assistant gigs in school, you'll need the grades to back it up.
3. Journal It
Becoming a member of one of your school's journals -- especially law review -- is a great goal to have as it's one of those things employers like to see on resumes, according to U.S. News and World Report, and gives you great writing and editing experience. If you have goals of clerking or being a professor down the line then you must publish -- the saying for professors goes "publish or perish." 'Nuf said.
4. Experience -- Clinics and Moot Court
Law school is a great time to dip your toes into potential areas of interest by gaining practical experience in different subjects. Dying to litigate? Join moot court. Wanting experience with clients? Join a clinic. Go with your gut and what you enjoy to do, and there will likely be an activity at your school where you can explore it.
5. Gainful Employment
The market is not what it used to be, but you can still find a job while you're in law school. If you have the grades, and journal or experience, then hopefully your second summer job will result in a post-graduation job offer. If it doesn't, don't give up, keep pursuing your dream and as a back-up, know there are lots of things you can do with a law degree.
Everyone's goals after school vary, but for many, the path to get there is the same. Good grades, practical experience and journal experience not only look great on a resume, but they give you the foundation skills so one day you can be a great lawyer.
- One More for 1Ls: Top 5 Study Tips for First Year Law Students (FindLaw's Greedy Associates Blog)
- What to Wear to Law School -- Do's and Don'ts (FindLaw's Greedy Associates Blog)
- 5 People You May Meet in 1L Hell (FindLaw's Greedy Associates Blog)