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3 Takeaways from the nation’s biggest pre-law event

The Next Step Test Preparation team had the good fortune to attend this year’s Pre-Law Advisors  National Council conference. This was a 4-day event with over 300 undergrad advisors and nearly 100 law school admissions representatives.

While there were dozens of panels and presentaitons, three themes emerged that will be helpful for students considering law school.

Successful LSAT-prep is a multi-year process. We in the prep community get to work with most students for 2-4 months. However, the skills necessary to do really well on the LSAT can and should be built over time. We can teach you how to do logic games in 2 months, but learning how to read closely is a skill built over a much longer period. Here’s the advice from some veteran advisors:

  • Read challenging long-form material in your spare time — like The Economist. While some majors force you to read complicated text which makes arguments, many do not. It’s up to you to build those reading skills.
  • Take a logic class. I’ve written before that this is a great elective for LSAT-takers but that it’s neither necessary or sufficient. I’ve been convinced that nearly every college student bound for law school has one elective they could trade out for a logic course. Check the philosophy department.
  • Train with “logic games” like sudoku. This is pretty straightforward advice, but it hit home when one advisor recommended that her students should do this instead of the crossword in the student paper. Everyone has a time-waster — make yours worth LSAT points.

The legal economy is bad, but it’s likely near the bottom. We heard a great presentation by a senior staffer at the Association for Legal Career Professionals. The news is, as you know, bad for the legal profession. However, there was some evidence that the legal hiring environment is very slowly recovering. Summer hires are picking up, for example. However, it seems clear that the legal industry has changed and there likely won’t be a full recovery to the good times of the mid-2000’s. Students should not plan on nabbing those $160,000/year jobs unless they are near the top of their class from the very top schools.

The practice of law is changing — and law school should help. One area of legal practice that’s growing is alternatives to traditional practice, like legal process outsourcing (LPO — the practice of sending routine tasks like document review offshore). Additionally, technology will inevitably change law practice as it does every field — for example, a professor from Michigan State Law discussed how a database of past patent decisions alongside predictive software can predict with an incredible degree of success whether a patent will be upheld. However, very few schools are meaningfully changing their curriculum to stay ahead of the curve. Students who want to be ready to practice should make sure that their law school has courses that prepare them to practice law in 2015 rather than 1965.

So there you go — the top headlines from the nation’s biggest pre-law event.

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