Monday, March 7, 2011

Extracurricular Organizations That Impress Elite Law Schools

By Patrick Levitt

1. Starting a Debate Team

Putting together a debate team at a local high school takes leadership. It can show the ability to forge connections and navigate the paperwork process involved in working with the necessary authorities.

The ability to build a new program from scratch will set one apart from others who join an existing program.

Off campus groups such as the Federalist Society that require your commitment and activity over and above just paying membership dues bode well. Commitments to activities that are not on-campus are viewed with more favor.

Volunteering at a hospital might be an example of a program to start. Often, universities lack these kinds of opportunities, and Law Schools like to see them. Even when a program already exists, the activity will be seen more favorably if you play an active role.

2. Search for Programs that Assign You a Grade

Keeping your resume and transcript in mind can highlight the differences between your activities. Membership in a fraternity or on a debate team would be listed on your resume, and not have a presence on your transcript.

The resume doesn't have the same official air that a transcript has, and a rich and diverse transcript can sometimes mean more to elite law schools than your resume.

This will confer a sense of legitimacy on that activity you are involved in. This will make you stand out from others.

When I had a research apprenticeship with a professor, I helped provide research on detainees' rights to trial during detention at Guantanamo Bay (post-9/11).

Working with the professor on this was very interesting and intellectually challenging. The works presence extended beyond by resume alone, as the resulting grade was a mark on my official transcript.

It was interesting, diverse, and intellectually challenging, It had the appearance of legitimacy because it wasn't something that I only described on my resume, but it was also listed on my official transcript.

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