Law School Preparation for First-year Sophomores
Your second year at Cornell provides ample opportunity to focus your efforts on making a decision to go to law school. After all, at the end of this year you are half-way done with college.
This year, take advantage of more CLS sponsored opportunities that help get you connected with practicing attorneys, learn about the different areas of legal practice, and start thinking about what kind of law school experience you are hoping to have after Cornell. You also need to refine your academic focus this year by choosing a major that speaks to your interests and challenges you academically. Take courses this year and beyond that are fascinating, intellectually rigorous, and allow you to have exposure to the breadth of the liberal arts.
Major tasks for this year include:
- Start the year by visiting with your academic advisor during the first two blocks of the year. Talk about how your first year at Cornell went--what classes you liked, what classes you didn't like, classes you may want to take in the coming year and beyond, what's changed or not changed in your academic or professional goals over the summer.
- If you haven't already gotten connected with a faculty pre-law advisor, now is the time to do so. They can help you think through how your four-year curriculum at Cornell will effectively prepare you for law school.
- Declare your major in the spring semester. Remember to pick a major that really piques your interests! There is no such thing as a "pre-law" major nor is there one "right" path to go to law school.
- Talk with your academic advisor or faculty pre-law advisor about doing internship or Cornell Fellowship, taking an off-campus study course domestically or internationally, or getting involved with an interesting research project. You don't have to limit yourself to just "law-related" opportunities (e.g., law firm internships or government research). A major benefit of a liberal arts education is that you are prepared to see the world from multiple viewpoints; immerse yourself in an experience that helps you broaden your perspectives.
- Continue participating in Center for Law and Society events that give you exposure to the law and legal professionals. Make the time to become more involved with Phi Alpha Delta, attend more Lunch with a Lawyer events, take a trip to an off-campus speaker, or spend some one-on-one time with your law mentor.
- Develop a professional relationship with members of the Cornell faculty. By now, you will likely have taken classes with several faculty members and perhaps have had multiple courses with some faculty. Take the time to get to know faculty members outside of the classroom and let them get to know you on a more personal level. Starting these relationships in your sophomore year, especially with faculty members in classes where you've done well academically, will be significant later on when it comes time to ask for a letter of recommendation.
- Keep working hard in your classes and earn good grades. Your undergraduate GPA is one of many important elements of your law school application. It is one indicator of your work ethic and your understanding of content covered in the courses you've taken at Cornell. If you're GPA isn't as high as you would like it to be going into your sophomore year, you still have some time to make significant improvements before the law school application process starts, so make it happen!