Law Students

How to Bridge the Gap from Law School to Law Firm
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For law students, legal education and the practice of law might seem worlds apart. Many times young lawyers first entering the legal profession feel ill-prepared for the everyday rigors of working at a law firm, as the discrepancy between the academic study of law and the practice of law becomes immediately– and painfully – apparent.

The gap between law school learning and legal practice is something that many young attorneys come to experience in the early stages of their legal careers.

The ’gap’ comes as a side-effect of the law school curriculum’s focus on doctrinal law and teaching students how to “think like a lawyer,” prepare for the bar exam and engage in legal work. Therefore, the curriculum is light on practice skills, marketplace changes, and business skills. 

  
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How Can You Bridge the Gap from Law School to Law Firm?

Here are some tips that might help you proactively narrow this gap now, as a law student, and make your transition to practicing law a smooth one:

Take Skill-Based Courses

Instead of solely focusing on core legal courses, try a practical skill-based course that might help you build and improve your practical skills. Many of these skill-based courses are interdisciplinary in that they are useful across all areas of practice. They usually include interviewing and counseling, negotiations, alternative dispute resolution, advanced legal research, and trial advocacy.

Externship Program

Externship programs are a great way to supplement your curriculum with direct immersion into legal practice. Externship programs will help you gain practical skills that you can’t learn by reading from your textbook. Participating in an externship will provide you the opportunity to apply law trough client interaction, research, drafting. Also, an externship is a great opportunity to find mentors and make connections. 

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Participate in a Legal Clinic

Participating in a legal clinic allows law students to enhance their legal skills by working directly with clients. Since clinic offerings are often broad, you can gain transactional and litigation skills through clinic experiences. It’s a great opportunity to develop advocacy and counseling skills.

Attend CLEs

Attending CLEs will give you a great opportunity to find out more about recent developments in the law. You may discover an interest in an area of the law that you had overlooked, or it can serve as a talking point in an interview. CLEs are also a great place to network with attorneys practicing in the field.



 Set a Networking Goal

Law students are constantly reminded of the importance of networking since you learn as much from your law professors as you do by talking to attorneys. 

Networking, however, is not solely about attending career nights and social events. Meeting someone at a networking event is the first step. Follow up with your contacts, meet with them over coffee or lunch. It’s not about whether these connections could lead to a job or internship, it’s about fostering relationships that could open doors for career opportunities.



 

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