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Gap Year

Ron SwansonRon Swanson Alum Member Inactive ⭐
in General 1650 karma
What do people consider the pros and cons of gap years? I've done some research on my own but was wondering what you sagers think, because I know we come from a variety of backgrounds.

Personally, I had always been anti-gap year because I've had over a year of internship experience with a law firm while in College. But now, being a senior, balancing LSAT studying with a full course load which includes my senior thesis is really piling on the stress. Plus December LSAT mixed with final exams sounds like a recipe for ultimate burnout.

Do people generally think gap years are the best move? On the one hand you can make $$ to put towards law school expenses, and can really focus on the LSAT. But on the flip side you start a year later and could lose some motivation.

All thoughts are appreciated!

Comments

  • nicole.hopkinsnicole.hopkins Legacy Inactive Sage Inactive ⭐
    7965 karma
    Why just one gap year and why not 2? Or 5? Get some serious real-world work experience. You'll be better for it, all around. Thinking outside of the K-JD box is a productive exercise.
  • PacificoPacifico Alum Inactive ⭐
    8021 karma
    I took 8 gap years... And I'd say I have a lot more to offer law schools than most K-JDs because of it. Law school will always be there, so figure out what timetable works best for you and go for that... But if you are set on law school, I'd keep your focus on doing things in the interim that make you more attractive to schools. So go have all the crazy fun you want traveling the world or whatever, but then come back and do something that is adding value to the lives of others and not just your own.
  • NYC12345NYC12345 Alum Inactive Sage
    1654 karma
    It depends on what kind of law you want to practice. For example, if you plan on doing M&A, it only makes sense to take off a year or more if you are working in investment banking or working on other deals. Many people take years off doing work that has nothing to do with the practice group in which they attend to practice, which I think is a big mistake. Yes, someone with work experience might appear to be more mature than a K-JD, but firms hire plenty of K-JDs. There are a lot of variables that come into play. Additionally, I'm not sure what city you live in, but it is unlikely that you will save a lot of money in one year. You also have to consider the opportunity cost. If you take a year off, you are postponing graduation and a BigLaw salary (if that's what you're interested in) for a year, so, even if you save $40k, you will be losing out on $160k plus a bonus. Just something to consider.
  • Ron SwansonRon Swanson Alum Member Inactive ⭐
    edited October 2015 1650 karma
    @alexandergreene93 , My hometown is just outside a large city and would fortunately be able to live at home/commute to work if necessary. Additionally, I have interned in IP at a big law firm and didn't feel that lifestyle was for me. The people there seemed constantly burnt out and turnover was high. By contrast, I interned at a small boutique litigation firm for a year and felt way more comfortable there.

    Based on that, my goal is to attend law school near-free and exit with minimal debt. My past experiences are telling me not to rely on big law life for financial security.

    I've only been considering the gap year recently, preparing for the fact that my Oct. score is too low for big scholarship $. Taking an honest stock of myself, I don't think I can give the LSAT adequate attention for a round 2 this December while balancing my thesis/other courses this fall. A June 2016 exam seems more reasonable and would allow me to take a break from the LSAT and get going next January when my final semester course load is light. To add further, I recently got a part time gig at a start-up in my city..and for the first time feel the need to at least explore another option before committing myself to the law.

    tl;dr: Me, the Type-A planner, is unnerved by potentially reevaluating the timeline I had prepared.
  • NYC12345NYC12345 Alum Inactive Sage
    1654 karma
    @"Ron Swanson" said:
    I don't think I can give the LSAT adequate attention for a round 2 this December while balancing my thesis/other courses this fall.
    Then, by all means, take time off to maximize your score.
  • nicole.hopkinsnicole.hopkins Legacy Inactive Sage Inactive ⭐
    7965 karma
    @alexandergreene93 said:
    it only
    Careful with that usage of "only."
  • nicole.hopkinsnicole.hopkins Legacy Inactive Sage Inactive ⭐
    7965 karma
    @"Ron Swanson" said:
    Based on that, my goal is to attend law school near-free and exit with minimal debt.
    Earning some money and putting it away in savings would be an excellent way to defray costs. Things like books, computers, furniture ...
  • nicole.hopkinsnicole.hopkins Legacy Inactive Sage Inactive ⭐
    7965 karma
    @"Ron Swanson" said:
    I don't think I can give the LSAT adequate attention for a round 2 this December while balancing my thesis/other courses this fall.
    Agreed
  • nicole.hopkinsnicole.hopkins Legacy Inactive Sage Inactive ⭐
    7965 karma
    @"Ron Swanson" said:
    A June 2016 exam seems more reasonable and would allow me to take a break from the LSAT and get going next January when my final semester course load is light.
    Or maybe October ...
  • nicole.hopkinsnicole.hopkins Legacy Inactive Sage Inactive ⭐
    7965 karma
    @"Ron Swanson" said:
    and for the first time feel the need to at least explore another option before committing myself to the law.
    Yeah ... follow this instinct ... Too many folks who go K-JD, get their first attorney job at 25, and then realize by 27 that they don't want to be attorneys at ALL. Take a few years and explore other options. Seriously. I know 25 or 27 seems old to you right now but for those of us who have that time of life in the rear view mirror ... Man, I'm glad the plans I had at your age didn't pan out. I'd be seriously regretting having dug my heels into academia right now, as I'd planned to do at age 20-21.
  • Gabriella.HarrisonGabriella.Harrison Legacy Member
    20 karma
    I feel like I am in the same boat. I am finishing my last year of a 5 year combined degree program where I am earning my masters and the workload is overwhelming. I am also working a full time Job as a legal assistant, and I am finding myself very busy, which is taking away from my studying for the LSAT. I am planning to take the Dec., and I don't think my score is scholarship ready, so a gap year is sounding very lovely right now.
  • poohbearpoohbear Alum Member
    496 karma
    Take a break. I can't recommend it enough. I graduated 2014 and I was super burnt out with school and everything else by the end of college. I was originally on that K-JD path (partly because I didn't know any better but partly because I was dealing with pressure from the fam) but decided that for my own sake I needed some time off. My one year gap year has turned into a two year gap year and I'm totally okay with it. This time off has been incredible in terms of how much I've learned about myself--my strengths and weakness, what I care about and why I care about those things. This year has also presented a lot of new and exciting opportunities for me so I think as long as you spend your time wisely and not just fool around 24/7 I think you'll gain a ton from taking some time off. And on top of that, you'll be able to really dedicate time to studying for the LSAT and you'll be grateful that you spent more time on the exam rather than going in when you're not ready. Also, based on the conversations I've had with law students and practicing attorneys, those who go back to school after taking some time off will often approach law school with a different and stronger mindset that'll help them excel in the long run. Ultimately the decision is all yours but I can at least tell you that my experiences during my gap year has been absolutely amazing and I'm very glad that I decided to take the time off.
  • LordDenning2LordDenning2 Alum Member
    edited October 2015 14 karma
    @"Ron Swanson" I tried completing Test Masters while finishing a Master's program and I can tell you the end result was not encouraging. I did finish my thesis and got a decent GPA but my LSAT score suffered. And that was in December 2010. So I've taken almost 5 years off school and now working towards Law School. Since then, I have interned for a Public Defender's/Mitigation Specialist Office, worked as bailiff for a few judges, and worked with Adult Probation. So you can see I have garnered a few experiences in the legal industry and that has given me perspective and renewed focus in pursuing a JD. My advise is to set realistic goals and time frames that will work to your advantage. A gap doesn't necessarily mean you will lose motivation but you can gain experience during that period, learn more about yourself and even find new interests in law or other disciplines. In fact, an attorney I worked with when he graduated law school in 2011 just discouraged me from applying to law school and suggested getting a Ph.D. I don't intend to take his advise but at the end of the day, it is your decision to make and be certain you are comfortable with it.
  • Ron SwansonRon Swanson Alum Member Inactive ⭐
    1650 karma
    Everyone,

    I can't describe how much I thoroughly appreciate the advice and experiences. I'm the only one in my close group of friends considering law school, and there are no lawyers in my family. Online research can only help so much when compared with real responses. I feel much more at ease with the idea of a gap year (unless I killed it on the Oct LSAT).

    So we'll see what happens, thanks again
  • lsatblitzlsatblitz Alum Member
    521 karma
    I'm in my last year of undergrad and I won't take a gap year if I hit my target LSAT score in December. If I don't think I've scored to my potential, I'll take the gap year. Simple as that.

    Starting law school much later on is obviously very beneficial as many people above had said, but it really does depend on a case by case basis. I wouldn't agree that everyone should take several years off after undergrad before pursuing law school. There's so much more I want to do with my JD than I want to do prior to getting my JD.
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