1. Don't get good grades in college. I didn't study that hard in college, figuring that just graduating from an Ivy League school would be enough; it’s not. If you’re serious about getting a job with a large law firm, you must get into a really good law school, and one of the best ways to do that is to have top grades from your undergrad institution. I didn't have good enough grades to get into a top law school. I could've overcome that, but I didn't.
2. Take a lot of time off between college and law school. Many people take time off between college and law school. It may help if you didn’t get the best grades in college or your best grades were in senior year, where the law school would see them on the application, as opposed to applying to law school in your senior year, when those grades are not available. But you should not take too much time off, because then you'd be old as a first year associate. Most senior associates, who would be your bosses and give you assignments, would then be younger than you. I took off seven years, and that was probably a bit too long.
3. Don't get the highest possible LSAT score you can. In addition to needing the best possible grades, one also needs the best possible LSAT score. I was always good at test taking. Most people who graduate from top colleges are good at test taking. I didn’t think I needed to take an LSAT prep course and could just study on my own. This was foolishness. Almost every aspiring law student takes an LSAT prep course. I now realize that not having taken an LSAT prep course was almost like not taking a bar exam preparatory course. In some ways, it’s even worse. Whereas the bar exam is pass/fail and your score does not matter as long as you pass (though now with the unified bar exam for several states, which have different passing scores, it does matter), one’s LSAT score and how one does compared to everyone else is crucial. Thus, any advantage you get matters. Even two or three points.
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