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Beyond The Classroom of Law Schools

published July 30, 2013

By Author - LawCrossing
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The title of this article will undoubtedly make many future first-year law students laugh. Extracurricular activities? Who has time for that when you're eating, sleeping, and breathing Civil Procedure? Moot court competitions? Who has time for them when you're practically dating the Criminal Law textbook? The truth, however, is that extracurricular activities are an important part of the first-year law student experience. Participating in activities outside of normal classwork provides you with excellent practical knowledge, a well-rounded resume, and often the social outlet you need to counteract the stress of first-year classes.

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Most student organizations are run by second- and third-year law students. These organizations draw their membership from students in all three years.


Student organizations come in a variety of types. They are all similar in that the participants are usually motivated individuals who are interested in a particular field or activity. The following is a list of several types of student organizations found at law schools across the country.

Journals. Working on a journal is probably the most common extracurricular activity. The pros and cons of working on a journal are discussed in detail in the previous chapter.

Political Groups. Many student groups are associated with political organizations and sponsor activities in their law schools on behalf of those organizations. These groups might include the Democratic Law Student Association, Republican Law Student Association, and Libertarian Law Students. Often these groups are active during specific political campaigns.

Legal Aid Groups. Many student groups advocate helping individuals who do not have access to legal assistance. These organizations might include Law Students for Prisoners' Rights, Legal Aid for Immigrants, and Public Defender societies.

I joined the Harvard Defenders my first year. It was my first chance to see what it felt like to be a real lawyer with real clients. I had a client who had stolen about $100 from a store where he was employed. He was sure he was going to jail. I talked with the magistrate on my client's behalf. We worked out a deal where my client would pay back the money but serve no time. The smile on my clients face is one of the things I will remember most about my first year in law school.

National Legal Associations. Many groups represent a national legal organization on the student level. These groups are often organized by alumni of the law school. Such groups might include the Law School Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Union.

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Religious Groups. These groups draw members according to their interest in a particular religion. These organizations might include the Christian Legal Society and Jewish Law Students Association.

Issue Groups. Another type of student organization revolves around important issues, usually of a legal nature. An example of this type of group is Law Students Against the Death Penalty.

Cultural and Ethnic Groups. Many student organizations promote the advancement of a particular cultural or ethnic group. These groups might include the Black Law Student Association and South Asian Law Students Association.

Lifestyle Groups. Some groups on campus promote alternative lifestyles, such as the Gay and Lesbian Law Student Association. Other organizations cater to those students with children. Some groups are formed not for law students, but for the partners of law students.

Awareness Groups. Many student groups revolve around increasing community awareness about a particular issue. These groups might include the Women's Law Association and the Environmental Law Society.

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Athletic Groups. For those law students who prefer the challenge of scoring 23 points a game over the intricacies of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23, many schools offer athletic groups devoted to your usual variety of activities: basketball, football, softball, and so on. Many students find athletic activities an excellent way to counterbalance the academic rigors of student life and to relieve some stress.

Participating in the Student Lawyer Athletic Program (SLAP) at my school was rewarding in many ways. First, it was a great release from the pressures of the first year of law school when 15of my section mates would go straight from Civil Procedure to the football field to take on our friends from other sections. Second, being the commissioner of the league was beneficial in interviewing. The league always came up, and law firms are always looking for a good shortstop for their Softball team. -DAVID SHAW, NEW YORK UNIVERSITY LAW SCHOOL

Law School Parody. And, finally, for the frustrated actors and singers out there, there is the performing showcase that is often called Law Revue or the Parody. The show, which is usually quite humorous, offers talented students the opportunity to send off their professors, deans, and assorted law school characters in grand fashion. Although seemingly time-consuming and apparently requiring some skill, the people in the Parody always seem to be having the most fun.

The best move I made was auditioning for the Law Revue-our two-and-a-half hour musical law school Parody. I met second- and third-years who gave me perspective on first-year angst (not to mention their old outlines). After spending 20 hours a week in rehearsal, my grades actually improved. And when else would I have been able to belt out a tune in the spotlight with a 17-piece orchestra just three blocks from Broadway! -MELISSA MORGAN, NEW YORK UNIVERSITY LAW SCHOOL

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published July 30, 2013

By Author - LawCrossing
( 1 vote, average: 5 out of 5)
What do you think about this article? Rate it using the stars above and let us know what you think in the comments below.