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Extracurriculars in law school

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Posted (edited)

Hi everyone,

I am currently a 0L slated to start law school in September. I am curious about extracurriculars in law school and, at risk of jumping the gun, thought I'd ask about them here. 

- How did you decide which extracurriculars to pursue? 

- How important is choice of extracurriculars and breadth of participation (e.g. the number of clubs joined) to employers? 

- I have noticed that working with a legal clinic and mooting are frequently mentioned in discussions on this topic. What was your experience like participating in them?

- What was your experience like balancing extracurriculars with exam preparation? How many extracurriculars do you suggest pursuing in 1L?

Edited by bamboozled

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Posted (edited)

You should pursue extracurriculars that you find interesting and impart you with skills that law firms look for. Definitely go for depth over breadth. I'd add that being a member of a club doesn't really count as an extracurricular. I'd also caution against being a 1L rep for a club. It's an incredibly useless post that just saps your free time and adds nothing to your resume. The options you should be looking at are clinics, moots, law journal and PBSC. Maybe the school paper and student government but these last two shouldn't be your first choice. 

I'd start off with 1 in term 1 and add a second in term 2 if you can handle it. That said, apply to everything rather than just your first choices. Hopefully you'll have a a few offers.

Edited by harveyspecter993
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20 minutes ago, bamboozled said:

Hi everyone,

I am currently a 0L slated to start law school in September. I am curious about extracurriculars in law school and, at risk of jumping the gun, thought I'd ask about them here. 

- How did you decide which extracurriculars to pursue? 

- How important is choice of extracurriculars and breadth of participation (e.g. the number of clubs joined) to employers? 

- I have noticed that working with a legal clinic and mooting are frequently mentioned in discussions on this topic. What was your experience like participating in them?

- What was your experience like balancing extracurriculars with exam preparation? How many extracurriculars do you suggest pursuing in 1L?

1) Pick your ECs based on your interests. Whatever you're interested in, there's probably a club for.

2) I think choice is relatively important. If you want to do litigation but never do any moots, that's probably going to look weird. 

3) I did both of those. Clinics are good because it's hands on, real lawyer stuff. You can start working on actual files and you deal with real clients as early as the beginning of 1L (albeit in an extremely limited capacity, obviously). As for moots, I'd recommend doing at least 1 to all 0Ls. Even if you don't want to be a litigator, it's still a pretty fun thing to do and it's a good experience. Worst case scenario, you absolutely hate it and now you know that you should probably avoid it as a career. And, unless you're on the actual mooting team, the prep time for those 1 off moots isn't terrible.

4) This will depend entirely on what the EC is. Some are more time consuming (e.g. clinics), whereas others occupied an hour of my time every few weeks. 

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3 minutes ago, harveyspecter993 said:

You should pursue extracurriculars that you find interesting and impart you with skills that law firms look for. Definitely go for depth over breadth. I'd add that being a member of a club doesn't really count as an extracurricular. I'd also caution against being a 1L rep for a club. It's an incredibly useless post that just saps your free time and adds nothing to your resume. The options you should be looking at are clinics, moots, law journal and PBSC. Maybe the school paper and student government as well.

Disagree. Some clubs tend to fill their executive roles with the 1L reps. So, if you want to be a president of a club, you have a way better shot if you were at least somewhat involved. Moreover, it shows interest to employers. You can go on a firm tour just because, or you can go on that firm tour to that boutique because you're in the club. I think that helps.

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Posted (edited)
4 minutes ago, RollMaster said:

Disagree. Some clubs tend to fill their executive roles with the 1L reps. So, if you want to be a president of a club, you have a way better shot if you were at least somewhat involved. Moreover, it shows interest to employers. You can go on a firm tour just because, or you can go on that firm tour to that boutique because you're in the club. I think that helps.

You don't have to be an exec to be part of a club. Moreover, I'd argue that simply going on the firm tour shows interest.

Furthermore, if Barry and Sally are at an IP firm on a tour and Barry happens to be in the IP clinic whilst Sally is a 1L rep of the IP club guess who would be a stronger prospect.

Edited by harveyspecter993

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Just now, harveyspecter993 said:

You don't have to be an exec to be part of a club. Moreover, I'd argue that simply going on the firm tour shows interest. If Barry and Sally are at an IP firm on a tour and Barry happens to be in the IP clinic whilst Sally is a 1L rep of the IP club guess who would be a stronger prospect.

You previously said that "being a member of a club doesn't really count as an extracurricular." I'm not aware of any clubs at Osgoode that allow you to be a member but not an executive. Unless you mean signing up for the mailing list or liking their Facebook page, in which case you can't even really put that on your CV. Simply going to a club's events doesn't make you a member. Also, there's a big difference between being a member (if that's even a thing) and actually being involved in the overall direction of the club, no matter how small, pointless, or "useless" your role is.

Of course Barry would have a stronger prospect. But that's not what I said, nor what you initially said. You flat out claimed that being a 1L rep is useless. I do agree that head to head, a clinic is better than a 1L rep. But what you seemed to initially imply, which is what I pushed back against, was that being nothing and being a 1L rep are identical. They're not. 

There's also nothing stopping Sally from being a rep and a member of the clinic, in which case she would have a stronger prospect than Barry, who's only in the clinic.

 

 

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12 minutes ago, RollMaster said:

You previously said that "being a member of a club doesn't really count as an extracurricular." I'm not aware of any clubs at Osgoode that allow you to be a member but not an executive. Unless you mean signing up for the mailing list or liking their Facebook page, in which case you can't even really put that on your CV. Simply going to a club's events doesn't make you a member. Also, there's a big difference between being a member (if that's even a thing) and actually being involved in the overall direction of the club, no matter how small, pointless, or "useless" your role is.

Of course Barry would have a stronger prospect. But that's not what I said, nor what you initially said. You flat out claimed that being a 1L rep is useless. I do agree that head to head, a clinic is better than a 1L rep. But what you seemed to initially imply, which is what I pushed back against, was that being nothing and being a 1L rep are identical. They're not. 

There's also nothing stopping Sally from being a rep and a member of the clinic, in which case she would have a stronger prospect than Barry, who's only in the clinic.

 

 

I'm on the mailing list for a few clubs so I count myself as a member. I get email invitations to firm tours just by being on the mailing list.

My point is that, given the time commitment involved in actively participating as a 1L rep and how comparatively little it improves a resume, I just don't think it's worth it. You don't have that much free time as a 1L and so what free time you do have has to be husbanded. It's only to be taken up if its your only remaining option for an extracurricular. Going back to our example, if either Barry or Sally is in the IP clinic then there's no need to be a 1L rep for the IP club as well. The time would be better spent on schoolwork.

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17 minutes ago, harveyspecter993 said:

I'm on the mailing list for a few clubs so I count myself as a member. I get email invitations to firm tours just by being on the mailing list.

My point is that, given the time commitment involved in actively participating as a 1L rep and how comparatively little it improves a resume, I just don't think it's worth it. You don't have that much free time as a 1L and so what free time you do have has to be husbanded. It's only to be taken up if its your only remaining option for an extracurricular. Going back to our example, if either Barry or Sally is in the IP clinic then there's no need to be a 1L rep for the IP club as well. The time would be better spent on schoolwork.

I get your point. I just fundamentally disagree. I think something is better than nothing. No matter how small that advantage is, an advantage is an advantage. As it is, the labour market for lawyers and law students is tight as shit, so I personally think that if something gives you even the slightest of edges, you should do it. 

I also found the time commitment as a 1L rep was basically nothing. That’s just my own anecdotal experience though as I’m sure all clubs vary. 

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1 minute ago, RollMaster said:

I get your point. I just fundamentally disagree. I think something is better than nothing. No matter how small that advantage is, an advantage is an advantage. As it is, the labour market for lawyers and law students is tight as shit, so I personally think that if something gives you even the slightest of edges, you should do it. 

I also found the time commitment as a 1L rep was basically nothing. That’s just my own anecdotal experience though as I’m sure all clubs vary. 

I did add that I think it's fine if its literally your only chance for an extracurricular. We can agree to disagree on the broader point.

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7 hours ago, bamboozled said:

Hi everyone,

I am currently a 0L slated to start law school in September. I am curious about extracurriculars in law school and, at risk of jumping the gun, thought I'd ask about them here. 

- How did you decide which extracurriculars to pursue? 

- How important is choice of extracurriculars and breadth of participation (e.g. the number of clubs joined) to employers? 

- I have noticed that working with a legal clinic and mooting are frequently mentioned in discussions on this topic. What was your experience like participating in them?

- What was your experience like balancing extracurriculars with exam preparation? How many extracurriculars do you suggest pursuing in 1L?

I picked stuff that interested me. No other reason. 

I think doing a few well and seriously looks better to employers than doing a lot. Do the ones you like and can commit to rather than padding your resume.

 I loved doing clinic work and I loved mooting. In my opinion, they complement each other well. Clinic work exposes you to the type of people and issue you may meet in practice if you pursue a certain type of law, and even if you don’t it allows you to develop interviewing and problem-solving skills.

Mooting is more artificial but you get a sense of what litigation is like. It was an incredible experience for me in 2L to go to a national moot in a Court of Appeal and appear before SCC judges. 

I didn’t find it to be an issue doing extracurriculars and writing exams. They usually slow down for exams and I kept up with my work throughout the term.

 I would not do a lot of ECs - just the ones you really want to do. 

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Choose the ECs you want to participate in, by exploring your areas of interest. All this talk above about what ECs will improve your resume and look good to employers is all a bunch of hooey.  There will be an abundance of opportunities to get involved in all sorts of ECs. When I was in law school, most of my friends had probably 2-3 ECs in 1L that involved active participation. Being on an email list doesn't mean anything as an EC.  Please don't try to join anything and everything and then never show up to actually be involved.

Participating in ECs serves many purposes, not the least of which is exposing you to various areas of the law, which is probably the most important feature of ECs.  Don't make the mistake of weighing the time commitment against the supposed value to future employers. Choose wisely and actually show up! 

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14 hours ago, RollMaster said:

I get your point. I just fundamentally disagree. I think something is better than nothing. No matter how small that advantage is, an advantage is an advantage. As it is, the labour market for lawyers and law students is tight as shit, so I personally think that if something gives you even the slightest of edges, you should do it. 

I also found the time commitment as a 1L rep was basically nothing. That’s just my own anecdotal experience though as I’m sure all clubs vary. 

You're free to do whatever works for you, obviously, but to me this is the kind of thinking that has law students and early call lawyers relying on substances, developing eating disorders and generally just falling psychologically to shit. You cannot, you cannot, you cannot subject every decision you make, every day, to some kind of obsessive "will this help me get a job one day!" analysis. You just can't.

For the love of God, join a club or don't join a club based on whether or not you're interested in participating in that club. Volunteer or don't volunteer for some rep position based on the same reasoning. Should you do some things in law school, over and above memorizing your textbooks? Yes, of course you should - but that's because I would expect anyone who wants to actually practice law would find that interest comes naturally. If it doesn't, you should be trying to figure out if you're in the right field at all, or perhaps angling towards legal academia (at which point presumably you've become more interested in RA positions, publishing, law journals, etc.). Stop thinking of this as an artificial process. Do the things that naturally interest you and your natural interest rather than the accumulated weight of bullet points on your CV is what will lead to some opportunity down the road.

I'm further down the road than most on this forum, at this point, and trust me, it doesn't change. By that I mean, part of the justification used by anxiety-prone law applicants, law students, early call lawyers etc. is some version of "just for now" thinking. As in "just for now" I'm going to put aside the things that actually matter to me, and concentrate on doing all the things that I figure are going to help me get to X. And then when I get to X, I'll have all the time and leeway and money I need to really be myself and get back to what matters. Except X never comes. It never, ever, ever comes. There's always a new goalpost, always a new justification, always a new "just for now" objective, and at some point you wonder how the fuck your life turned into something you don't even recognize anymore.

Be who you are. Concentrate on what you actually care about. Pursue the goals that genuinely matter to you, for the right reasons, right now. Because if you don't do it now, you never will. And believe it or not, all of the most accomplished people I know followed this advice, whether consciously or otherwise. Meanwhile, all of the people giving you this advice based in "the job market is tight, everything is competitive, do anything and everything you can to look better, don't waste your time on trivialities..." those people are themselves just trying to hang on by their fingernails, and the advice they are giving you comes in large part from their own anxiety. So why the heck are you listening to them?

Anyway. Good luck everyone - whatever you do.

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5 hours ago, Diplock said:

You're free to do whatever works for you, obviously, but to me this is the kind of thinking that has law students and early call lawyers relying on substances, developing eating disorders and generally just falling psychologically to shit. You cannot, you cannot, you cannot subject every decision you make, every day, to some kind of obsessive "will this help me get a job one day!" analysis. You just can't.

For the love of God, join a club or don't join a club based on whether or not you're interested in participating in that club. Volunteer or don't volunteer for some rep position based on the same reasoning. Should you do some things in law school, over and above memorizing your textbooks? Yes, of course you should - but that's because I would expect anyone who wants to actually practice law would find that interest comes naturally. If it doesn't, you should be trying to figure out if you're in the right field at all, or perhaps angling towards legal academia (at which point presumably you've become more interested in RA positions, publishing, law journals, etc.). Stop thinking of this as an artificial process. Do the things that naturally interest you and your natural interest rather than the accumulated weight of bullet points on your CV is what will lead to some opportunity down the road.

I'm further down the road than most on this forum, at this point, and trust me, it doesn't change. By that I mean, part of the justification used by anxiety-prone law applicants, law students, early call lawyers etc. is some version of "just for now" thinking. As in "just for now" I'm going to put aside the things that actually matter to me, and concentrate on doing all the things that I figure are going to help me get to X. And then when I get to X, I'll have all the time and leeway and money I need to really be myself and get back to what matters. Except X never comes. It never, ever, ever comes. There's always a new goalpost, always a new justification, always a new "just for now" objective, and at some point you wonder how the fuck your life turned into something you don't even recognize anymore.

Be who you are. Concentrate on what you actually care about. Pursue the goals that genuinely matter to you, for the right reasons, right now. Because if you don't do it now, you never will. And believe it or not, all of the most accomplished people I know followed this advice, whether consciously or otherwise. Meanwhile, all of the people giving you this advice based in "the job market is tight, everything is competitive, do anything and everything you can to look better, don't waste your time on trivialities..." those people are themselves just trying to hang on by their fingernails, and the advice they are giving you comes in large part from their own anxiety. So why the heck are you listening to them?

Anyway. Good luck everyone - whatever you do.

I didn’t say join the club and be a 1L rep because employers will like it. I said being that rep is better than not being involved whatsoever, because at least it’s something to put on the CV and it shows interest in that practice area. I also said join clubs based on interest in my very first response to the OP. I never suggested to join solely to impress employers. 

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Posted (edited)
51 minutes ago, RollMaster said:

I didn’t say join the club and be a 1L rep because employers will like it. I said being that rep is better than not being involved whatsoever, because at least it’s something to put on the CV and it shows interest in that practice area. I also said join clubs based on interest in my very first response to the OP. I never suggested to join solely to impress employers. 

Yeah, but I'm guessing that Diplock was referring to this paragraph, or something like it: 

21 hours ago, RollMaster said:

I get your point. I just fundamentally disagree. I think something is better than nothing. No matter how small that advantage is, an advantage is an advantage. As it is, the labour market for lawyers and law students is tight as shit, so I personally think that if something gives you even the slightest of edges, you should do it. 

I'll add the same caveat: you're free to do as you like. And maybe you were just making a point to harveyspecter993, rather than describing your actual philosophy. But I'll say this. The bolded text represents an unhealthy attitude towards choosing extracurriculars and the job market. It represents the tendency of law students to work themselves into a frenzy over every decision, to live and die with every OCI, and to talk in hysterical, hushed tones before and after every exam.

I have peers like this. I'm not exaggerating when I say that they look they're aging in dog years. They've gained weight because they've stopped eating properly and exercising. They're working too much. They've taken jobs that seem to have little interest in. And it seems like they do a lot of these things, because they keep telling each other horror stories about the labour market, about not getting a 2L summer job, and so on. 

Sure, by its nature, this is kind of a stressful profession. And granted, I don't know very much about it, because I've barely started. But I swear to god, there are healthier ways to do it, and none of those ways start with the mindset, "if something gives you even the slightest of edges, you should do it." It starts with Diplock's advice. Try new things, until you find stuff you actually like. When you find things you like, do those things more and do them well. For me, at least, those have been the things that have given me actual advantages so far. 

Edited by realpseudonym
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On 5/3/2019 at 6:15 PM, bamboozled said:

Hi everyone,

I am currently a 0L slated to start law school in September. I am curious about extracurriculars in law school and, at risk of jumping the gun, thought I'd ask about them here. 

- How did you decide which extracurriculars to pursue? 

 - How important is choice of extracurriculars and breadth of participation (e.g. the number of clubs joined) to employers? 

- I have noticed that working with a legal clinic and mooting are frequently mentioned in discussions on this topic. What was your experience like participating in them?

- What was your experience like balancing extracurriculars with exam preparation? How many extracurriculars do you suggest pursuing in 1L?

Pursue extracurriculars in areas that you are interested in. For example, if you’re interested in business law, seek out opportunities that will give you exposure in those areas (e.g., business clinics or various corporate oriented groups at your school). 

In my experience and opinion, pursue extracurriculars/clinics/clubs with a quality over quantity mindset. I also think employers see the type of extracurriculars you are involved in as being indicative of your interest in that area. The 1L clinics I was involved in were minimal commitment, which allowed me to spend most of my time focusing on readings and lectures. On the other hand, I also know that some of my peers did not like the minimal commitment since they didn’t learn as much as they wanted to. 

I believe balancing extracurriculars with exam preparation comes down to your ability to manage your time well. Try your best not to procrastinate (such as keeping up with lectures and readings) and you should be fine. Considering that it may take time to adjust to 1L itself, I’d recommend pursuing 2 clinics/clubs/extracurriculars max. Obviously the choice is yours but I found that worked out pretty well for many people I know in 1L. 

I hope this helps! 

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On 5/3/2019 at 6:15 PM, bamboozled said:

Hi everyone,

I am currently a 0L slated to start law school in September. I am curious about extracurriculars in law school and, at risk of jumping the gun, thought I'd ask about them here. 

- How did you decide which extracurriculars to pursue? 

- How important is choice of extracurriculars and breadth of participation (e.g. the number of clubs joined) to employers? 

- I have noticed that working with a legal clinic and mooting are frequently mentioned in discussions on this topic. What was your experience like participating in them?

- What was your experience like balancing extracurriculars with exam preparation? How many extracurriculars do you suggest pursuing in 1L?

Dont do ECs because you might get a benefit at the end and dont feel you need to do anything extra.  If you want to study and go out a couple of times a week and exercise that is cool and enjoy it.  If you wan to try to be president of the student association thats cool then do that.  

The point is not to pad a resume but to make your experience better and meet people along the way.  Realistically most students are going to have varying levels of the same ECs and nothing is going to really blow employers out of the water.  

I ran the law games for my school, ran the ball hockey team(s), played a bunch of different sports that were available and volunteered a bit for a hockey tournament in town.  Nothing too crazy but they were not "ECs" to me they were just things I enjoyed doing.  I havent really applied for a law job but when and if I do it will be written on my resume in some form and whether or not that helps me is to be determined.

The real risk is thinking you have to do as much ECs as possible and you force yourself into things you dont like and your grades and personal life suffer as a result.

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I over committed in 2L to a bunch of ECs because it seemed like that's what everyone else was doing and it was a major time suck, made me miserable, and I deeply regretted it.

That being said, I got very involved in clinic work which led to summer jobs, demonstrated my interest and dedication to a niche area of law, and directly led to my articling job.  I was a very mediocre student.  There had to be higher achieving students applying for that position but I had three years of relevant work experience and a winning personality. My involvement also made sense in the context of my life story and why I went to law school.

If I could do it again I would have just done the clinic plus something fun like yoga, or intramural volleyball or wine tasting or something.

 

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6 minutes ago, bumblebee said:

I over committed in 2L to a bunch of ECs because it seemed like that's what everyone else was doing and it was a major time suck, made me miserable, and I deeply regretted it.

That being said, I got very involved in clinic work which led to summer jobs, demonstrated my interest and dedication to a niche area of law, and directly led to my articling job.  I was a very mediocre student.  There had to be higher achieving students applying for that position but I had three years of relevant work experience and a winning personality. My involvement also made sense in the context of my life story and why I went to law school.

If I could do it again I would have just done the clinic plus something fun like yoga, or intramural volleyball or wine tasting or something.

 

[emphasis added]

Sorry you didn't do more interesting stuff.

I was amused because I included winetasting in my outside interests section and varsity fencing in my education section (as well as in outside interests) because was official/university while in law school.

But more generally re OP, with the caveat: not recent experience and not involved in law firm practice now (PT solo) so pay more attention to others.

You know, I'll say snide things about some lawyers, but I really don't think they're going to look at an application and say, oh, this candidate belonged to 6 clubs with impressive names and this one belonged to 3 clubs and had better marks, toss the 3-guy in the garbage because more clubs is better than higher grades... :wacko:

Doing something might be of interest - like, I was a member of a club and in 1L did a competitive moot against other law schools outside the province as a member of that club. Or, if the activity itself is interesting enough that the interviewers may ask questions (which was my experience with fencing, started in 2L and almost every interviewer asked me about it because it intrigued them, or doing a competitive moot or clinic work as bumblebee did etc. But just joining a club, who cares? And agreeing with the notion, don't do too much so as to interfere with studies and grades.

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2 hours ago, epeeist said:

[emphasis added]

Sorry you didn't do more interesting stuff.

Don't worry. I did some interesting stuff.

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1. I did what interested me (research for profs/moot/writing workshops for other students). I "joined" many clubs but most clubs at my school seem to exist solely as CV-stuffers for the execs. I mentioned none of the clubs I joined on my own CV.

2. I very much doubt they care how many clubs someone joins. I know the lit boutiques I met with cared that I was mooting, and the writing stuff came up as something to talk about.

3. Mooting was excellent, but a lot of work. I can't wait to not do a moot in 3L.

4. You'll be fine. I worked weekends right up until the exam period in 1L. 

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