As the deadline to enroll in law schools approaches, many seniors are weighing the benefits of deferring their three-year commitment to studying law.
At Penn Law, only 30 percent of the JD class of 2013 came directly from college. For the classes of 2012 and 2011, the percentages are 29 and 31, respectively.
While some students choose to defer their acceptances, others wait a year or more after their undergraduate education to apply to law school.
“I was about to apply all the way up to September,” said College senior Roger Stronach, who decided this past fall to take a year off before applying to law schools. Stronach, who hopes to work as a paralegal in Philadelphia for a year, feels waiting to apply will allow him to take a break from academia and devote more time to his application.
For students weighing the benefits of going straight through, deferring or taking time off before applying, “there is no correct answer,” Associate Dean for Admissions at Penn Law Renee Post wrote in an email.
College senior Grant Dubler said he “literally went back and forth dozens of times” before deciding to go to law school directly after college. Dubler, who plans to attend Georgetown Law, said one reason he ultimately decided to go straight through is the excitement of and security of having a three-year plan as opposed to the uncertainty of a job search.
Taking time off “would just be delaying the inevitable,” Dubler added.
Todd Rothman, associate director of Pre-Law/Pre-Health Advising for Career Services, agreed that the decision is “individual to each student.” He noted that students often take time off to enhance their resume, make money, take a break from academia and ensure the legal profession is right for them.
1983 Penn Law graduate Natalie Wexler noted that when she graduated from college, there “wasn’t really a way to try out the law by being a paralegal.” Wexler suggested that students today may be more likely to take time off because of increased opportunities to explore the profession before entering law school.
First-year Penn Law student and 2008 College graduate Melanie Foreman noted that working for two years as a paralegal before entering law school allowed her to “get away from an academic environment” and determine law was the path for her.
In addition to paralegal work, students may pursue full-time employment, graduate work, civic volunteer experiences like Teach for America or travel opportunities before law school, Rothman explained.
“You’re still 22, you’re still pretty young, you can do something that you might not be able to do after law school,” said College senior Evan Philipson, who plans on applying to law school after experiencing a few years of full-time work experience in Washington.
Rothman added that at a school like Penn it is also “very possible to have a depth and breadth” of experiences as an undergraduate as well through internships, studying abroad, independent research, thesis work and a variety of extracurricular groups.
College senior Cory Krasnoff, who plans on attending George Washington University Law School next fall, said the opportunity to take a class at Penn Law during his sophomore year, an internship in the House of Lords in British Parliament and an internship in the legal department of Sony Pictures helped him determine law school was right for him.
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