Pre-Law Senior Margorie McLenan

Margorie McLenanWhen I first began this internship I was expecting reaffirmation of all my reasons for going to Law School. However, my revelations were quite different! Through this program, I learned about the difficulties of getting into a good law school and the difficulties of staying in law school. This experience has given me more than I could have hoped for because it gave me real lessons about law school which I might not have encountered by simply going through the application process.

Lesson 1: Is law school right for you? Before this process I was sure that I was a prospective law student and believed that I was carving that path out for myself. However, I have often allowed for other things like my organizational involvement to take precedent over my academics. And because of this internship I have learned that I need to be highly committed to my academics in order to succeed in law school. Thus, I have begun to question my future. And I think this questioning is healthy because it has forced me to explore other possibilities and majors that I would not have considered before. However, this questioning has also been detrimental in a small way because it has led to an indecisive phase when I should be making decisions about the LSAT and technically decisions about the rest of my life.

This semester has also been an eye-opening experience because I have begun to explore my choices and decisions. This questioning which I refer to above has made me put my life decisions in perspective. Before, I saw law school as an ends to mean because I kept saying to myself, "What am I going to do with a Government degree?" Thus law school was a way for me to accomplish and a relatively "easy" way for me to successful. However, I didn't question whether law school was the right fit for me and if I had valid reasons for wanting to attend law school. So I have been on a continual search for answers which surprisingly have led me back to law school.

My trajectory back to attending law school has not only been a difficult one but one of self-growth. This internship had pushed me to address some of my inherent fears of failure. I realized that I have procrastinated taking my LSAT preparation class and subsequently the LSAT because I was afraid of failing. I saw the LSAT as a risk that was too big to take so I pushed and changed my timelines to fit this fear of failure. However, I have gotten to speak with a lot of "professionals" in the admissions field and I have been given a small glimmer of hope. A hope that even though I don't have the "law school GPA," I can prepare for the LSAT and I have a good chance at getting a high score but, all I have to do is focus. And more importantly all I have to do is really (really) want it because that will give me the necessary will to stay focused.

Lesson 2: organizational involvement is not important. Even though I questioned several of my beliefs and attitudes about law school I only encountered one disappointment: the lack of emphasis on organizational involvement. I consider myself a leader inside and outside of my community but more importantly I pride myself in being a good and active leader who is always willing to help. And very early on I learned that I didn't involve myself for the accolades or to build my resume but because I genuinely cared and strongly believed that I could most effectively change things through direct involvement. However, this semester I have learned that my involvement in different organizations or my leadership with in these organizations is not weighed as heavily as my GPA, LSAT score or writing capabilities.

I have learned that resumes are not necessarily top priority for admissions panels and are sometimes rarely reviewed. Thus, I think that applications should be looked at more holistically. I am a firm believer that leadership and involvement shape students and help individuals grow. I know first hand that being involved in organizations has pushed me to address certain flaws as well as learn about ethics and how to be an effective leader. And these are all essential skills for lawyers so I am disappointed and surprised that admissions panels don't give more weight to involvement in different organizations.

Lesson 3: Getting in is a challenge (not hard but a challenge). I heard a panelists say that over the years the law school admissions process has gotten more difficult because the curriculum has changed not necessarily for the worst but it is now more open and less rigid thus somewhat easier than before. So law schools now have higher standards of admissions and thus the application process has become the most difficult. To be honest, this frightened me because a lot of weight is placed on GPA and not necessarily on how well-rounded the candidate might be. Furthermore, through this process I learned about the "law school GPA" which I define as a GPA which lies in the top percentile among law school statistics. This means that my "high" GPA might be more than acceptable for some programs but when it comes to competitive law schools I might be lagging behind which leads to Lesson 2.

Lesson 4: the importance of the LSAT. This semester I learned the true importance of the LSAT especially in cases where students don't have the "law school GPA." This again was another frightening revelation because I am not great at standardized testing. However, this internship offered me more information about the LSAT. I became informed of the resources available like LSAT courses and more importantly the time commitment required to be adequately prepared for a test which weighs so heavily on my future.

Lesson 5: being a law school student is hard. I learned that the first year of law school is difficult and challenging. Several law school students explained that going out and being social is no longer a priority or even a necessity because cramming is not an option. Even though everyone studies differently, as a law school student, I had to give priority to my studies and find the best way to learn the material. Furthermore, I learned that law school is a lot about reading and learning not skimming and understanding. And the most interesting revelation is that you evolve as a student in the first year process because of the ability to make your studies your number one priority which is quite different from undergraduate where students often tend to be socially oriented.

Overall the Pre-Graduate Internship Program has been a great benefit to my personal growth not only as a prospective law school student but as a person. Through this program I have been able to assess some of my fears when it comes to my future and also explore the myth that is law school. This has been especially beneficial to me because I come from a home where neither one of my parents attended Graduate school programs and thus were not a resource to me when it came to advising. And even though I could not attend classes with my mentor or attend the monthly meetings which I think I would have been more beneficial to my experience, I am greatly for this experience and thus I thank you for this opportunity.