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Should I take time off before going to law school?

This is an important decision, and a personal one. No one can tell you what to do; I can only give you some things to think about. There are a number of good reasons to take time off between college and law school:

You will gain experience (work/volunteer, preferably legal);
You will save some money to pay for law school;
You will be a more competitive applicant;
You will have the benefit of all of your senior year grades on your transcript;
You will have more time to prepare for the LSAT;
You will have the time to determine whether law school is right for you;
You will be more mature, a quality that law schools place a premium on.

Taking time off is likely to give you an advantage. In today's extremely competitive environment, it is increasingly difficult for a college senior to put together an application package to rival those of graduates who have been out in the "real world" for several years. (This is true, incidentally, for all graduate and professional schools. Entering classes everywhere are getting older, not younger.)

A large percentage of applicants (67%) have taken time off between college and law school. They use this time to work, to travel, or to obtain an advanced degree. The consensus among law school admissions directors seems to be that it doesn’t matter so much what you do with that year or two (or more) off, but rather what you learned from it. The time off is supposed to mature you, and to make you more prepared to attend law school. Hopefully you can make a better case for why you want to go, and how the interim period has contributed to your decision to attend law school.

Many parents are concerned that if their child takes time off after college, he or she will never return to school to advance their education. That’s possible, I suppose, but the statistics suggest otherwise. Two-thirds of law school applicants have taken time off, and have still chosen to apply. If law school is right for you, taking time off should only make you a more competitive applicant. If you are too distracted or uninterested to apply after taking time off, law school was not the right choice in the first place. Let’s face it: most law school applicants are highly motivated to go, regardless of how much time has passed since college.

In sum, you should think seriously about taking time off. Often it's simply the smart thing to do.

 


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