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Preparing for a career in law

Is high school too early to start thinking about a career in law?

Some students recognize their interest in law before they begin college – and for them, it only makes sense to follow that passion and learn more about the profession as early as high school. This way, not only can they find out whether they want to continue to pursue this direction, but they can also create a strong foundation that will help them get accepted to the college law program of their choice.

Here are a few tips to help high school students get a head start on a successful career in law.

Keep a broad spectrum of classes

There is no “best” concentration of courses for law; in fact, law schools accept students with a wide range of majors. It is always important to form a solid foundation of education to prepare you for college and beyond. In fact, many schools prefer a student who demonstrates wide interests and is well-rounded when it comes to knowledge.

Maintain a high grade-point average

What matters most with your courses is that you keep your grades up in all of them. No matter how strong your course load and how many AP classes you are taking, your chances of finding your way into a law career will weaken if your grades are low. This advice holds true for almost any profession!  

Take challenging AP classes

Lawyers spend much more time reading and writing than they do in court. Whether it’s researching case law, interpreting precedent, evaluating contracts or writing briefs, these skills are paramount for a successful attorney. Because of this, taking high-level classes that incorporate substantial reading and writing will serve a number of purposes.

They will strengthen your skills in areas that are important for college, law school and your future career as a lawyer. At the same time, the classes – and your grades in them – will show up on your transcript, demonstrating the hard work you’re doing to acquire key skills necessary to succeed as a lawyer. 

Get hands-on experience

It is never too soon to begin getting experience in your chosen profession. While a summer job in a law firm, legal department or courthouse is a great step, even better would be an internship for course credit. This will help you learn more about what lawyers actually do from day to day, and what types of law jobs are available. Beyond the experience itself, this will be a strong addition to your resume which will help you build your career.

Build your network

Grades and scores matter – but so does knowing people who can help you find your way throughout your career. While you are in high school, look to build relationships with faculty members and legal professionals whenever possible. Not only will you need recommendations for internships, college, law school, and ultimately for jobs, it is also always helpful to have mentors to guide and teach you all along the way.

Choose a school with a pre-law program

It is not often that students get the opportunity to begin to build their legal skills while still in high school. In our Honors Legal Studies Program, offered to students in ninth through twelfth grade, American Heritage School challenges students interested in a law career with courses not usually offered in high school. The Honors Legal Studies Program emphasizes essential writing and communication skills; upperclass students also have opportunities for internships delivering experience and insight into the legal system. With a champion mock trial team, Prelaw Society, Model UN and many additional opportunities, our program is perfect for ambitious students interested in a career in law.

Read more about the American Heritage pre-law program

Students heading for high school may feel they have ample time to prepare for professional school. However, getting an early start is always a smart move. Even if you decide that you want to go a different way with your career, learning about the law and working hard to get solid experience will help you in any profession you choose.