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To Gap Year or Not To Gap Year?

I graduated from my undergrad in 2010. It took me four years to make my way to law school. I wrote about how I decided to go to law school before, but today I bring you my take on the gap year(s).

Generally, I think it’s a great idea to take a year off. Once you start law school you’ll never have the chance to take a “gap” year again, unless something goes horribly wrong. Law school is a lot of work, and so is being a lawyer. Taking some time off can also help you work harder once you get to law school without burning out.

If you’re only going to take one year off in between your undergrad and law school, you don’t really have to do anything special. Sure, you should work at least part-time, and it would be great to do some sort of work as a legal assistant or paralegal, but you can also spend a significant chunk of your gap year just traveling – may I recommend Croatia? I would also take a few months off to study full time for the LSAT, unless you’ve already hit your ideal score.

A lot of people are hesitant to take a gap year because they don’t think they can get an impressive enough job to wow an admissions committee. However, almost all of the law schools you apply to won’t care much at all about what you did during your gap year. It’s a helluva lot more important to rock your LSAT and to have a decent undergraduate GPA.

Other than chilling for a year and studying for the LSAT, a gap year is a great chance to figure out if law school is actually right for you. Talk to law students and lawyers. Visit some law schools. Try to do some legal work. And most of all get informed about how hard it’s going to be to get a job from law schools in your range.

That said, you do not have to take a gap year, and the opportunity cost – you lose a year of income and legal experience – is pretty high. If you get into a good school, one with good job prospects, you’ll work your buns off for the first year, interview at the beginning of your second year, and then pretty much coast for the next two years, if everything goes right. You’ll have plenty of chances to have fun and take it easy during law school. Heck, even during your first year there’s still plenty of time to have fun.

Yup, there’s no “right answer” when it comes to deciding whether you should take a gap year or not. So do whatever feels best to you, and don’t worry about it much either way. Just keep the positives in mind once you do make your decision.