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  • Writer's pictureKailey Lei

Best Law Opportunities for Highschoolers

Through the midst of discovering self identity, future goals, and extracurriculars for college applications, it can be difficult to know how to navigate experiencing the career of law. At Youth for Innocence, we have compiled a pros and cons list of 5 different activities that you can get involved with in high school to gain experience and prepare yourself in the legal field.


1. Youth for Innocence

Youth for Innocence is an excellent choice to learn legal terms and understand cases while creating impact by directly working with pro bono attorneys on wrongful conviction cases. Volunteers would complete a short training to familiarize themselves with case terms and how to collect evidence. Then paired with an attorney on a specific case, they would summarize reporter transcript notes specifically identifying points of interest based on their training knowledge, helping cut down the time it would take to exonerate innocent prisoners! (Link to begin training here)


Pros

  • flexibility, as volunteer work takes place online

  • ability to gain leadership positions

  • easy process to begin working with attorney

  • gain experience understanding reading cases and identifying points of contention in wrongful convictions

  • understand issues within the legal system that result in wrongful conviction

  • direct impact in REAL cases and ongoing justice system issues

Cons

  • not legally certified, so can only work WITH attorneys

  • mostly online interactions only

  • case work can be lengthy


2. Legal Job/Internship


Finding a job at a local courthouse or an internship with your local government can be a great option as well. Many legal offices could be willing to take high school volunteers or hire them. You would most likely assist a lawyer and do clerical work like answering the phone or organizing documents, but it's a great opportunity to network and understand the way a legal office works!


Pros

  • real world experience in the realm of law

  • can pick up basic legal knowledge as assistant

  • be mentored by a practicing attorney

  • network and develop social skills that may be valuable in the future


Cons

  • opportunities can be limited based on geographic area

  • may be difficult to fit into schedule

  • job can be mundane with just basic tasks

  • hard to advance in rank, as not legally certified

  • little impact on actual cases and legal work


3. Pre-Law Summer Programs


What better way to maximize productivity during a break in the school year by immersing yourself in a law summer experience? Pre-law summer programs can offer students flexibility both online and in person, ranging from a few days to 2 months+, where students can become educated on basic legal knowledge, tour law capitals, and gain friendships, skills, and legal experience!


Pros

  • flexibility with in person/online programs

  • develop basic legal knowledge through lectures and immersive activities

  • get educated on current legal issues and reform while receiving college credit

  • learn with legal experts and socialize/network

Cons

  • most summer programs are paid and can be extremely expensive

  • superficial participation that doesn't go beyond simulation activities

  • no opportunities to advance in leadership, just fun experience

  • oftentimes too short to make significant impact in legal reform

4. School Clubs/Classes

image source: Owlypia

Activities and classes within your school are also amazing options to choose. Clubs like Mock Trial, Debate, Student Government, and Journal Publications are all great options in developing skills that can be applied in the legal field. Furthermore, classes that are related to law like history, sociology, and legal studies are also helpful in developing the knowledge that is needed in your future law career as well.


Pros

  • wide variety of school activities that help develop necessary skill sets in law

  • widely accessible

  • most clubs allow for leadership positions/advancement

  • socialize with other students and seek help from mentors to ensure secure knowledge in critical thinking, questioning, and advocacy skills.

Cons

  • ability to participate in clubs can be limited by personal reasons

  • limited amount of leadership positions (can also be skewed by "popularity elections")

  • low direct impact on real world legal issues

  • loosely related to actual experience in law


5. Other Ways You Can Prepare

image source: Candee Fick

Remember that law school is still many years away and you can always change your career path while you discover others. You may have a change of heart during the rest of high school or even college. What's important now is to secure common mindsets and habits that will allow you to be successful for the rest of your endeavors in life, whether in law or not. Strengthen basic skills like reading and writing, keep your grades and knowledge high, and continue to build on positive habits like proactivity, compassion, productivity, and other skills that you will always use. Take care of yourself before all other actions!


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