Here Are 5 of the Best Tips to Increase Your Chances of Success in Law School

Getting into law school takes an incredible amount of work, from studying for the LSAT and achieving an impressive score to creating a compelling personal statement that explains your motivations. However, once you get into law school, the difficult work is far from over. Law school itself requires a great deal of diligence and hard work.

If you are about to start law school, you should think about your strategy for success during your three years of study. Even if you are already in law school, it is important to take a step back and consider your habits to determine what does and does not work for you. Some tips to keep in mind that can help you stay competitive throughout law school include:

1. Avoid comparing yourself to classmates.

You may feel like you are not doing enough if you see your classmates spending eight hours each day in the library. When it comes to studying, however, everyone needs something different.

Most likely, you will need to make some tweaks to your study habits from your undergraduate years, as law school is significantly more challenging and fast-paced. If you are worried about your grades, experiment with various methods and see what works best.

The important thing is to know that everyone has different study habits. Remind yourself that just because you see others staying longer hours, does not mean they are necessarily learning more. It is easy to get caught up in the competitive atmosphere of law school. Make sure you are paying attention to yourself, rather than what the people around you do to prepare for exams.

2. Keep yourself healthy mentally and physically.

Because law school can be so competitive, you may find yourself neglecting yourself physically and mentally. This can quickly lead to burnout and can actually negatively affect your grades. Students who carve out time in their schedules to relax mentally and take care of themselves physically tend to perform better.

Make sure you are getting enough sleep, eating well, and engaging in activities that reduce stress. Ultimately, you need to be your own champion in law school. Take charge of your schedule and reach out to people who can offer support when you need it. Creating a strong support network is essential for success. Keep a careful eye on your own limits and avoid pushing yourself so hard that you need to take time off from the program.

3. Create your own outlines of the material.

Your primary goal in law school is, obviously, learning about the law. You need to take charge of your own learning and identify any gaps you may have. One of the best ways to do this is to create outlines for each class that you take. These outlines will help you connect the different concepts and can point to any weaknesses in your understanding. These can then guide the rest of your time studying for that class.

If you depend on outlines from study guides, you are not really testing your own understanding in a meaningful way. Even worse is relying on outlines created by other students, as they may think differently than you do. Comparing your outline to one created by someone else is a great way to ensure you both have a solid grasp of the material, but be sure to do your own work first.

4. Make a schedule and stick to it.

Often, the best law school students treat their years studying like a job. To that end, create a schedule for yourself as you would in the workplace. Schedule time to read, go to class, create outlines, study, and review the material. Once you establish a routine and stick with it, you will likely feel much more on top of your responsibilities.

The upside of creating a schedule is that you can make sure you budget enough time to be social and also recharge mentally. If you feel like you need more time to recover, you can rearrange your schedule to make sure you are still putting in the hours while giving yourself the break you need. Buy a planner and keep your schedule in it so you never lose track of what you should be doing.

5. Get to know your classmates and instructors.

While studying hard and getting good grades should be your primary aim in law school, you also need to dedicate some time to networking. Your classmates will soon be your professional peers. Developing relationships with them can help you advance your career, especially if you plan to practice in the city where you are studying. Even if you are not, building these connections now can help you meet the right people later in your career.

For the same reason, you should also get to know the school’s faculty. These individuals can serve as important mentors and give you great direction on how to achieve your goals following graduation. Also, faculty members can broaden your horizons about other career opportunities based on your interests that you had not previously considered.

Get More Involved in Local Politics with These 5 Tips

People often think about politics on the national stage, such as presidential elections. However, government also happens at the local level. Getting involved in local politics can help you understand how your government works and become familiar with the issues and needs in your community—as well as the people who are working to address them.

Despite the fact that local government is happening around us all the time, you may wonder how exactly you can get involved. Too often, it can feel like there are barriers to entry. Many people aren’t sure what they can do to help or get their voices heard outside of voting. In reality, there are lots of ways to get involved in local politics depending on your interests and available time. Some of these ways include:

1. Contact local leaders.

The best way to get involved with local politics is to speak with these politicians. Of course, this means first getting acquainted with them. Spend some time looking up who represents you and contact them with your specific concerns. You may have more elected officials representing you than you thought. For example, in the US, you may have a mayor, city councilmember, county supervisor or other county-level representative, state assembly representative, and state senator representing you, and that’s not including your Congressional representative and US senator! At the local level, you may have elected representatives serving on public school, transportation, and library boards as well.

These individuals are meant to represent you—they or their staff will at least listen when you reach out to them. Don’t be afraid to reach out often, either. Most officials want to know what’s on their constituents’ minds. In general, a physical letter, email, or even a phone call is better than using social media. While the official may not answer the phone themselves, their staff will take a message and ensure it’s delivered to them. You can also request a reply, which increases the chances that the message gets to the intended recipient.

2. Support a local political organization.

Think about the issues you care about most and then do a search for organizations already getting work done in that particular area. These organizations always need support, whether that means monetary donations or volunteers. Getting involved with these organizations is a great way to learn about the problems in your community and the political solutions people are working on to fix them. Through these organizations, you can learn a lot about how local government works and how you can make a lasting impact on your community. If you have never gotten involved with these sorts of organizations before, don’t be anxious about reaching out to them. In general, people will be happy to have the support and eager to talk to you.

3. Go to town hall meetings.

Town hall meetings are often sparsely attended, which is a shame since this is the best time to speak directly to elected representatives. Local legislators are typically present and even members of Congress will come to hear from their constituents. Town hall meetings generally consist of a short speech from an elected official followed by a question-and-answer session. Even if you don’t want to speak up, you can learn a lot by listening to your neighbors. You can call your elected officials to ask about upcoming town hall meetings or find information online. Because of the pandemic, many of these meetings are now virtual and thus even easier to attend.

You can also attend city council meetings, which have also gone virtual. Though city council meetings are sometimes notorious for long discussions on the minutiae of proposed laws, you can certainly learn a lot, and there is almost always a public comment period. Check your city’s website to see if the meeting agenda is published ahead of time.

4. Join a board or commission.

Across the country, many cities and counties have boards and commissions designed to advise local government on particular policy issues. Some examples might include a historical preservation board, zoning board, or parks and recreation commission. These groups allow residents to get directly involved with policymaking. Do some research about what groups exist in your jurisdiction, and push for new boards and commissions if you feel like something is missing.

Often, the people who belong to these groups are appointed by local officials, so you may need to make yourself known before you’re placed in one. These positions are always unpaid and considered a form of volunteering, but they are a great way to learn more about local government, meet members of your community, and forge connections with public leaders. A great way to start is to Google your city’s name along with “boards and commissions.” Your local government website should also have a list.

5. Run for public office.

If you really want to enact change at the local level, think about running for office. Do some research about what openings are available and think about how you could drive change in those positions. Even if you aren’t confident in your ability to win, running makes it possible to speak about the issues that matter to you. You can use your platform to raise awareness and push for change.

Do Great on the LSAT by Studying with These 5 Important Tips in Mind

The process of becoming a lawyer starts with getting into law school. The typical application involves a number of components, including the personal statement, which is the applicant’s chance to tell his or her story. Another important component is the Law School Admission Test (LSAT), a standardized test.

Getting a high score on the LSAT makes it much easier to get into a top-tier law school. However, the LSAT is unlike any other test the vast majority of applicants have taken, so it is important to prepare thoroughly. For most people, this means months of dedicated preparation.

The LSAT consists of five sections, each of which is 35 minutes long. One section focuses on Analytical Reasoning and another on Reading Comprehension with two testing Logical Reasoning. Each exam has a fifth, unscored section used to validate questions that may appear on future iterations of the test. The LSAT also includes an unscored writing segment that you take on your own time.

Schools receive the writing sample along with your numeric score. The maximum score on the test is 180, but a score of 170 puts someone in the 97th percentile, so it is important to keep that in mind. Some tips to consider when studying for the LSAT include:

1. Take timed practice tests to get a feel for time management.

You should practice taking timed sections to understand how to manage your time effectively. When taking the LSAT, it is important to remember that all questions are weighted equally and there is no penalty for getting something wrong. Thus, you should not avoid answering a question if you are not sure of the answer.

Typically, the questions get more difficult as you progress in a section. A great strategy is to do a run through to answer all the easier questions and then return with any extra time to focus on the more difficult ones. Never put yourself in the position of missing easy points because you put too much time into the hard questions. They are all weighted equally.

2. Give yourself time to get a handle on the Analytical Reasoning section.

The Analytical Reasoning section, also known as “logic games,” is considered one of the most difficult for test takers. People struggle because this section is unlike anything on any other standardized test. The section consists of four puzzles that require you to understand complex hypothetical relationships and answer questions.

When you start studying for the LSAT, this part may seem difficult, but you can train yourself to think logically with enough time and patience. If you dedicate lots of time to practicing the logic games, then you will likely see a lot of improvement. Once you get the mindset down, this section will become easier.

3. Analyze your performance on practice tests.

People generally understand the value of taking lots of practice tests as they prepare for any exam. With the LSAT, taking these tests is not enough. To make true progress with your studying, take time to analyze your performance. Ask yourself why you got certain questions wrong and what you can do in the future to be better prepared for similar problems.

Moreover, mark the questions that you struggled with and eventually got right. Did you get them right because you chose the correct answer out of luck or did your logical skills eventually lead you to the right choice? Dealing with these issues takes a significant amount of time but will ultimately beat do a better job of preparing you for the LSAT than another set of practice questions will.

4. Choose review courses and study materials carefully.

Since no coursework at the college level is designed to prepare someone for the LSAT, most people will invest in study materials or a review course to help them get ready. These investments can be a good decision, but more is not always better. In other words, it generally pays to do some research and invest in one or two resources that will likely have the biggest payoff for the investment.

As you approach different resources, think about how you learn best and make sure you choose materials suited to that style. People have vastly different ways of learning, so understanding how you best acquire and retain information can make it much easier to figure out the resources that will work best. For example, some people do well with review books they can go through at their own pace whereas others may benefit from lectures and live tutoring sessions where they can ask questions.

5. Dedicate plenty of time to the Logical Reasoning sections.

Because the Logical Reasoning portion of the LSAT spans two sections, this skill essentially accounts for half of your final score. For that reason, you should dedicate more time to this than the other two sections and ensure you feel comfortable with it. Logical reasoning is an important skill for legal professionals, so the skills gained by studying for these questions is directly applicable to law school classes.

Many people find this portion of the test stressful, but the key is identifying specific types of questions. The questions generally follow one of a handful of different patterns, such as argument, assumption, inference, and more. Become familiar with these different types of questions and pay attention to the ones that cause you more problems. Then, you know exactly how to focus your efforts moving forward with a study schedule.

What You Need to Know about the Two-Party System in American Politics

When George Washington gave his farewell address to the nation in 1796 as he stepped down from the presidency, he warned against a political system with only two parties, noting that they would divide the nation. However, the politics of the 1790s were defined by two distinct parties, the Federalists and Anti-Federalists. Much like today, these two parties disagreed on fundamental issues such as foreign policy and federal power.

Today, the two-party system remains dominant in the United States. While many political activists have criticized this system as Washington did, the two-party approach remains the primary approach to American politics.

How Does the Two-Party System Shape American Politics?

A large number of voters register independent of a party because they disagree with partisan politics and do not want to be loyal to either the Democrats or the Republicans. However, the party system is entrenched in how American politics work. Parties select candidates for elected positions, and some people argue that voters would be overwhelmed by having to choose between several independent candidates without any party affiliations.

Party affiliations provide at least some insight into a candidate’s political approach—voters can deduce the candidate’s leanings simply by knowing the general platform of the party the candidate belongs to. Beyond political affiliation, the party system has several other points of impact on American politics.

The party system largely plays into the checks and balances of the overall American political system. Each major party can keep the other in check and prevent them from having complete control of the management of the country. Party leaders often publicly criticize actions and positions taken by the other, which creates partisan politics. Today, many people feel like partisanship has become a self-serving practice rather than a check on the other party.

At the same time, the disagreements between the parties bring major political issues to the center stage, and the resulting conversations help inform the public so individuals can make their own informed choices. Given how entrenched party affiliations are in Congress, it is difficult to imagine a system with more than two options.

Why Is a Two-Party System Dominant in the United States?

The majority of democratic nations outside of the United States have more than two parties in their political systems. Thus, it is perfectly reasonable to ask why the United States has adhered to two parties throughout history. In truth, third parties have appeared quite regularly throughout American history, but they tend to either die out or get absorbed by one of the majority parties.

For instance, the Green Party has earned a large number of followers with its message of ecological justice and social equality, but a Green Party candidate winning the presidency is not something that most people would consider a real possibility. Some other third parties in the United States, such as the Libertarian Party, also have political sway. Again, a Libertarian presidency is highly unlikely to ever happen.

The two-party system dates back to the Federalists and Anti-Federalists already mentioned. Two of George Washington’s cabinet members, Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson, disagreed on fundamental issues and created two factions that have largely developed into the Republicans and Democrats. However, the two-party divide started even before that with divisions over the Constitution.

You could say that the two-party system is truly American in the sense that it defines the earliest embodiments of the government. Also, the winner-take-all electoral system in the United States supports a two-party system. In American elections, the person who gets the most votes wins even if they do not have a majority. If a third-party candidate gets 15 percent of the vote for every contested seat, for example, they will still not get any seats without a majority. In most elections, one of the two major parties wins a plurality and the third parties get shut out of office.

Will a Two-Party System Continue to Exist in the United States?

The other thing to keep in mind is that Republicans and Democrats agree on many fundamental issues. While it is easy to get caught up in the bickering between the two parties, neither one is arguing to get rid of the Constitution. Both parties believe in liberty, individualism, and equality, even if they define those concepts differently. Also, both parties accept the overall election system, even if they advocate for some changes. Countries with multi-party systems often have much deeper divides than those that exist in the United States. In Russia, for example, major parties advocating for communism, socialism and/or capitalism, and ultra-nationalism all exist. These divides do not exist in the United States, at least not in a way that makes the idea politically powerful.

While it is impossible to say how American politics might change in the coming decades and centuries, getting rid of the two-party system would likely involve some fundamental changes to political systems. Most notably, giving power to third parties would necessitate giving proportional representation rather than having a winner-takes-all approach to elections. As it stands, these third parties still play a role in educating the public and putting pressure on the two major factions to reconsider their policies. While a lot of tension exists within the two-party model, it still helps inform the public and engage citizens in important debates whether they identify as independent or not.

Follow These 6 Tips to Make the Best Impression in a Legal Internship

If you are a law student, landing a legal internship can be exciting. You may be looking forward to escaping the stress of classes, exams, and the search for job opportunities. But once you start your dream internship, the hard work is just beginning.

Depending on your experiences before law school, a legal internship may be your first real work experience in practicing law. You also likely want to make the best impression possible, whether to secure a position after graduation or leave with a glowing letter of recommendation.

You will get the most out of the experience and make the best impression if you approach the internship with intentionality. Some of the tips to keep in mind as you prepare for your legal internship include the following:

1. Show enthusiasm.

For the most part, legal interns are not expected to know the intricacies of every single law when they first start. However, they can make up for this fact by showing their enthusiasm and motivation to learn.

Ask to be included in meetings and workshops as much as possible so you can pick up new skills, ultimately making you more helpful in the workplace. Avoid spending any of your time idle. If you finish an assignment early, ask for additional work or read about relevant cases. Your passion for the work will shine through and make an excellent impression. Moreover, enthusiasm tends to be contagious, so you may motivate fellow interns and even supervisors to learn more.

2. Respect everyone’s time.

In the legal world, as well as the larger professional world, time is precious. You can show that you respect your supervisors’ time by making sure you submit all assignments before the deadline and that the quality of your work exceeds standards—this will translate to less of their time spent fixing any mistakes.

If you know you will need help with an assignment, ask for it early on to make sure you can deliver the assignment according to schedule. Supervisors will pay close attention to how you spend your time and take note of the interns who show up a bit early and stay a bit late to make sure everything gets done. Spending a little extra time at the job demonstrates your dedication.

3. Find mentors.

One of the most important experiences for a legal intern is a mentorship. Sometimes, a person will be assigned to you to serve as a mentor, but you should feel free to talk to any other people you find inspiring. Ideally, your mentor should have similar values and goals. In addition to providing advice when you find yourself in a difficult situation, mentors can introduce you to people and experiences that allow you to explore your interests.

4. Be professional.

For some people, the legal internship will be their first professional experience. Even people who have worked elsewhere may find differences in legal interning. In either case, paying attention to how things are done in the office is extremely important, which includes dressing appropriately.

Further, be sure to exercise common sense when it comes to social media. If you want to connect online with people at the office, consider keeping your personal accounts separate and making a social media account just for work friends. You should also use good judgment when participating in social work events. These events are meant for networking, and people pay closer attention to your behavior than you think.

5. Recognize your limitations.

The jobs assigned to a legal intern may sometimes seem menial, but everyone has to pay their dues. Taking on a task like making copies—with a smile—will always be appreciated.

Eventually, supervisors will begin entrusting you with more interesting tasks. When this happens, be sure to ask for help or clarification if you need it. No one will expect you to know everything. If you attempt to do something you’re unsure about and complete it incorrectly, that means someone else will need to pick up the slack—and you will likely not be asked to help with that task again. Recognizing your limitations is a key skill to have, and one that your supervisor will not overlook.

6. Collaborate well.

Law school can be a very competitive environment. For this reason, many legal interns feel like they need to compete with other interns in the office. However, competitiveness does not pay off—everyone should be on the same team.

Part of completing an internship successfully is learning how to collaborate. You and your fellow interns will bring different backgrounds and experiences to the table, so it is important to divide work in a way that makes sense. You should also make it a point to learn from your fellow interns. Your ability to collaborate effectively will speak to your ability to succeed in a professional environment.

Key Points to Know about the Electoral College and Presidential Election

One of the most important ways to become politically active is through education. In the United States, many people are discouraged to vote because they do not truly understand how the system works—and the Electoral College is behind much of this confusion.

For the vast majority of elected officials, the popular vote is what matters. In other words, whichever candidate gets the most votes wins the election. This system is not how the president is elected, however. Instead of using the popular vote to determine the president, the Electoral College chooses the winner of the highest office.

The Two Confusing Electoral College Outcomes

The Electoral College consists of 538 votes, which are determined through the number of people in Congress. Each state has a number of votes equal to its two Senate seats plus the number of seats it has in the House of Representatives. A candidate needs to secure 270 of the 538 available votes to win the presidency.

Because of this system, it is possible for a candidate to lose the popular election yet still win the presidency—and this has happened multiple times in recent history. In 2016, for example, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by about 3 million votes, but Donald Trump won the majority of electoral votes and thus became president. In 2000, Al Gore won the popular vote, but George W. Bush won the presidency. Before 2000, however, this had not happened since 1888.

The other issue that can come up because of the Electoral College is the possibility of a tie given that there is an even number of votes. In the event of a tie within the Electoral College, the ultimate decision goes to the House of Representatives, and each state serves as a voting unit rather than each representative.

The Constitution is surprisingly vague about how this would work, but presumably each state delegation would vote as a unit—the candidate with the plurality of votes within a delegation would win that state’s vote. If a delegation could not agree on a candidate, the vote from that state would not be counted. However, the candidate would need at least 26 votes to win. The Senate would then choose the vice president, with each senator casting a single vote. Any disagreements in Congress on this process would ultimately be decided by the Supreme Court.

The Questions of Faithless Electors

Another problem with the Electoral College is the potential for what’s called “faithless electors.” States trust that their nominated electors will vote as best represents their state’s voice, but electors can go against this as they cast the final ballot. In 2016, seven electors—the most in history—broke their promise and voted against their party’s nominee. Some of the candidates they voted for were not even on the ballot, such as Colin Powell, Bernie Sanders, and Ron Paul. Still, these faithless electors did not change the outcome of the election.

The ability of electors to change their position is a hotly contested issue. In July, the Supreme Court unanimously decided that states can require electors to abide by their promises, but some scholars have taken issue with this judgment.

The argument against this requirement is based on the elector’s freedom to make a final decision. These electors are chosen by their party for their loyalty to a specific candidate. This would seem to indicate that, if an elector decides to vote against their pledge, they likely have a very good and important reason for doing so.

Currently, 33 states and the District of Columbia have law that requires electors to vote for their pledged candidate. In New Mexico, abandoning a pledge is considered a felony. This same action is a misdemeanor in Oklahoma. Other states will simply cancel votes and replace electors if they vote against the party line, which can help prevent problematic situations.

The Past and Future of the Electoral College

The Electoral College was created at the 1787 Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia. The point of the Electoral College was to fight against overly powerful factions or political parties by creating a mechanism that did not rely solely on the popular majority.

The political parties in each state choose their electors every four years in the months leading up to the general election, and these individuals cast separate ballots for president and vice president on a specific day in December. Because the political and social situation now is radically different than it was in 1787, the Electoral College has received more scrutiny, with many people calling for its abolition.

Currently, the majority of Americans support doing away with the Electoral College and relying on the popular vote to elect the president. However, Republicans benefit from the electoral power of rural states, so there is partisan pressure to keep the system. While more than 60 percent of Americans want to abolish the Electoral College, a split by party is clear: 89 percent of Democrats want to abolish it, compared to only 23 percent of Republicans.

Another route may be possible as well. Abolishing the Electoral College would require a constitutional amendment, but 15 states and the District of Columbia have already signed an interstate compact pledging to grant their electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote instead of the state vote. However, this law would not take effect until enough states to achieve the 270 electoral vote majority have signed on to the compact. The 15 states and DC that have signed the compact together control only 196 votes. Only time will tell if this is a viable way to temper the Electoral College’s power.

5 of the Best Careers outside of Legal Practice for People with a JD

The foundation of a legal career is a juris doctor. In virtually every state, individuals need to earn this degree before they can sit for the bar exam and become licensed to practice law. At the same time, many people choose to pursue a juris doctor without aspirations of practicing law. Additionally, some students may decide over the course of their studies that a legal career is not actually what they want.

Luckily, this degree is useful for a wide range of positions that do not involve legal practice. For many of these positions, having a juris doctor can give candidates a leg up when it comes to interviewing. This is because the degree provides a foundational knowledge of the law that can prove extremely useful even if the position does not require any sort of licensure to practice.

Some of the broad career paths that individuals with a juris doctor can pursue outside of legal practice include:

1. Analyst

Many private agencies and government organizations employ legislative analysists. These individuals monitor the new policies established by all levels of government and analyze their impact on relevant processes and operations. Often, analysts focus on legislation in a particular field, such as healthcare or agriculture. Analysts are responsible for reporting on how new legislation will affect the parent organization and providing recommendations on how to adjust processes.

Typically, analysts devote a majority of their time to research and then meet with various government officials and executives. The job may also involve consulting with additional experts about specific topics. Usually, analysts have either a business or law degree. Many organizations prefer analysts with law degrees since they will have a broader understanding of the legal underpinnings involved in new legislation.

2. Consultant

Legal consultants are contracted to provide advice to businesses, organizations, or individuals. Depending on the exact position, consultants can weigh in a wide range of different issues. Often, the job requires some sort of focus, whether that be employment, healthcare, corporate, or real estate law. Many people with a juris doctor enjoy serving as a consultant because they directly use their legal skills but in a way that is different from traditional firm practice.

Consultants will frequently bring example cases to their clients to help them better understand the issues at hand so they can operate more efficiently. Several pathways to becoming a consultant exist. Many people work independently as a contractor when they offer consulting services. However, it is also possible to join a legal consulting agency, such as Robert Half, which guarantees a steadier flow of work but can also have demanding hours.

3. Politician

Many prominent politicians have a juris doctor. Perhaps the most immediate example is former president Barack Obama. Bill Clinton, Richard Nixon, and James Madison also all earned law degrees, as did Hilary Clinton. Overall, about a third to a half of all U.S. Senate seats have been held by individuals with a legal background. The percentage in the House of Representatives may be even higher.

In law school, individuals learn how to argue cases and persuade listeners, which is an incredibly valuable skills in politics. The problem-solving and analytical skills emphasized in law school also prepare people well for a career in politics. Also, it is worthwhile to mention that the connections made in law school can lead to introductions to the backers they need to have a real shot at winning elections.

4. Entrepreneur

People from a variety of backgrounds become entrepreneurs. Approaching entrepreneurship from a legal background can give people a distinct advantage. Law school promotes an analytical approach that can help people see problems from a different angle and come up with unique solutions. Furthermore, a background in law can help entrepreneurs navigate the tricky legal frameworks of starting and growing a business.

Founders often need to consult with lawyers to learn about the intricacies of law, but a juris doctor gives people the skills they need to do this work for themselves, which can save time and money. Many successful entrepreneurs founded their companies after a legal career, including Peter Thiel, the cofounder of PayPal, and Nina and Tim Zagat. This couple created the Zagat Survey after meeting at Yale Law School.

5. Journalist

A number of prominent journalists have a legal background, such as Jeff Greenfield and Cynthia McFadden. In many ways, the job of a journalist resembles that of an attorney. Both jobs require an incredible amount of research, synthesis of information, and the ability to distill it into a clear, convincing message for audiences who do not have a strong background the subject matter at hand.

Both professions emphasize a responsible, logical approach to problem-solving and need to be both personable and persuasive. Since most journalists do not have a juris doctor, individuals who decide to go down this path may also have an advantage in their knowledge of legal precedents. This may help them provide in-depth coverage of events regardless of whether they choose to do so through print, television, or other media.

6 of the Best Tips for Writing an Engaging Law School Personal Statement

When you apply to law school, you may begin to feel like you boil down to your undergraduate grades, LSAT scores, and extracurricular activities. However, you are much more than these few data points.

As the law school application process unfortunately does not include interviews, it can be difficult to convey more about yourself beyond these data points. The primary tool applicants have to show this depth is the personal statement. You should look at the personal statement as a surrogate interview and your chance to show the admissions committee exactly what you stand for and why. Your personal statement can show schools exactly why you want to go to law school and what you hope to do with that education. Read on for six tips for writing a great personal statement.

1. Address something specific

Too often, applicants try to fit their entire life story into a short personal statement. While a person’s whole life may speak to why they want to go to law school, broad strokes do not make a lasting impression. Instead, keep the essay specific by addressing a particular theme, idea, or moment in time.

Space is very limited, so you should think about what information would round out or complement the application. The personal statement is not a forum for repeating information—it should instead enhance it with a personal voice. Ideally, you should choose one or two points to explore in depth and think carefully about how these specific topics reflect your career goals and motivation.

2. Tell an interesting story.

A personal statement needs to grab readers’ attention. One of the best ways to do this is to start with an interesting and personal story. By telling a story, you can show a new side of yourself while also standing out among a sea of other applicants.

To that end, you should think about a unique story you alone can tell. Also, it is important to remember that all good stories have an ending. Often, applicants start with an interesting anecdote and use that to launch into a larger discussion of career aspirations. Be sure that you circle back to the story at the end and provide a proper conclusion that does not leave readers wondering.

3. Research the specific program.

Before applying, you should research the various law schools to figure out which programs are a good fit for you. Each law school has a different culture, as well as different strengths in terms of education. You can then customize your personal statement to show why you are a great fit for the school and vice versa.

If you cannot identify the defining characteristics and values of the school, you need to do more research before writing a personal statement. Spend some time reading blogs, press releases, and other information until you have a good sense of the institution. Then, highlight attributes of yours that will complement that program.

4. Address the why.

Law school admissions committees ultimately want to know why you have chosen the legal field, so this is the most essential point to address in your personal statement. While you do not need to have your entire future planned out, you need to show why law school is the logical next step and speak about what you hope to get out of the program.

People have a range of different reasons for attending law school, from policy work and political aspirations to social justice and public defense. Anyone who reads your personal statement should be able to articulate exactly why you think a legal education is necessary and what you hope to do with the degree. Importantly, the answer is not always becoming a lawyer, and essays that address other goals can be just as engaging provided they have an appealing story.

5. Free write when stuck.

One of the most difficult parts of writing a personal statement is simply starting. If you feel stuck, you should free write until you start to hit your stride. You may not have a particular feature to focus on, but that’s not a problem. Free write about your experiences, including extracurricular activities, professional pursuits, accomplishments, and hobbies. You may also want to write about the challenges and obstacles you’ve overcome. By writing about these various things, you will eventually hit upon inspiration. Then, you can take that inspiration and run.

Free writing will help you explore the experience so you can define the exact points you wish to touch upon. You may end up editing the free-write or starting from scratch, but either way, free writing is a great way to get past writer’s block.

6. Polish the final essay.

Great writing comes from a lot of revisions. Before sending in the personal statement, let several people read it. Professors, advisors, and professional contacts can all give input on the impact of the statement. Friends and family members can help verify that the personal statement accurately reflects you and your life. However, it is also useful to have someone read the statement for grammar and spelling. Continue to proofread and change the statement according to the feedback that you get. Also, it is advisable to refer back to application instructions to ensure that you followed any specific guidelines or requests. Programs may differ in their expectations for the personal statement.

Get Involved with Political Activism in These 5 Important Ways

People who pay close attention to the news can quickly become overwhelmed with the current situation of the world, especially when it comes to politics. One of the great strategies for dealing with this stress is choosing a cause and dedicating time to it so you can effect change. Politically, you can get involved in a number of different ways, especially during election seasons, whether for national, state, or local candidates.

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, many traditional approaches to political volunteering, such as hosting fundraising parties or canvassing from door to door, are no longer feasible. However, you can still get involved in many other ways to support the candidates you want to see in office—no matter how much time you have to spare. Consider one of the following options:

1. Register voters

People cannot get their political voices heard without being registered to vote. Even though in-person voter registration has become trickier, you can still help people register to vote online. Currently, 40 states and the District of Columbia all provide avenues for online voting registration, and other states allow socially distanced registration through mail-in applications.

If you want to get involved politically, you can reach out to your social circles and help people register to vote. This may require you to have conversations with friends and family about why their vote matters and why they should make their voice heard. Usually, it’s a good idea to focus on both the local and broader national reasons to vote, so the person you’re trying to convince understands that casting a ballot is important in every election. To get started with registration campaigns, seek out local groups dedicated to this cause.

2. Phone banking

One of the most traditional approaches to political volunteering is phone banking, which means calling people to discuss the issues with them and encourage them to vote for a particular candidate. Historically, phone banking involved a group of people calling from a single location, like a campaign’s headquarters, but today more people are staying home to make phone calls. These phone calls are often a major part of a candidate’s outreach. The calls allow volunteers to have direct contact with voters, which offers the biggest chance of changing their mind or convincing them to vote for the candidate. Be sure to take this responsibility seriously—only volunteer if you have a good grasp of the particular issues at hand. To participate in phone banking, reach out to a campaign you support.

3. Political conversations

Getting involved politically does not always mean volunteering with an organization or for a particular campaign. Do not discount the value of spearheading political conversations with friends and family members. The conversation can start with the simple question of whether they plan to vote and then whom they plan to endorse. These questions can be considered taboo, but bringing them up often removes some of this stigma and encourages open conversations.

The impact of voting cannot be understated—people need to understand how their vote, or their refusal to vote, could affect their life and the lives of people they love. Opening up these conversations makes it possible for you to explain your reasons for supporting a candidate or particular issue. You could end up changing the other person’s mind.

4. Voter texting

Another way to help political campaigns is by texting voters. Most campaigns will have a long list of voters they would like to reach through text messages. Sending these messages can change minds, encourage people to vote, and even start a conversation about the candidates or issues in the election. While most people associate this kind of volunteering with large, presidential campaigns, even smaller, local campaigns are starting to adopt voter texting, especially as a way to increase voter turnout.

Campaigns are generally short of people willing to do voter texting, so it is a great way to get involved with a fairly low time investment. In addition, text messages tend to be better received than phone calls, so it is a great option for communicating with voters without coming across as overbearing or intrusive. And of course, you can easily text from home. 

5. Send postcards

Another option is writing letters or postcards to people in swing states. While this approach may not seem like it would be particularly effective at first, postcard outreach has actually had a major impact on past elections. For example, the 11th district in New Jersey was flipped from red to blue in 2018 after a team collectively sent 80,000 postcards to voters who had not previously turned out for midterm elections. The team behind the postcards didn’t expect much of a return on their efforts, but for every 30 cards they sent, one voter turned out. The impact was quite significant. If you’re interested in joining or creating a postcard campaign, organize through local political action groups, or contact a politician’s team to coordinate.

These Are 6 of the Most Important Issues When Vetting Political Candidates

One of the most important civic duties that Americans have is voting in both general and local elections. Candidates, particularly for federal office, receive a lot of media attention. It is easy to get desensitized and stop paying much attention.

However, the issues at hand will directly or indirectly affect virtually everyone in a given community. Voting is how people make their voices on these matters heard. All elected officials play an important role in the community and the creation of new policy.

Citizens have a duty to do due diligence and make sure they vote for the person who best reflects their personal values and beliefs. When vetting candidates for public office, you should consider their positions on several key topics, including:

1. Economy

One of the most important questions in any election is how the results could potentially affect the economy. In the United States, unemployment rates skyrocketed due to the coronavirus pandemic. They remain high, so people are more interested than ever before in how candidates plan to drive job creation.

You should also consider how candidates feel about taxes, what their plans are to increase or decrease them, and how they see their proposed changes affecting the budget. If someone suggests cutting taxes, that candidate should have a plan for readjusting the budget accordingly. If a candidate would increase taxes, the question then becomes what the community will gain as a result.

2. Environment

An issue that has become increasingly important to voters is the environment. You should know how candidates feel about measures to protect the environment and their stance on issues like global warming.

Any candidate should have a clear stance on energy policy, but it is also important to look at any history of resource-management decisions. Everyone has their own individual stance on how important environmental issues are to them. It is critical to determine which candidates align best with your personal vision for the future of the United States.

3. Civil Rights

For many people across the country, civil rights are an extremely important political issue. In current politics, the concept of civil rights applies to many different issues, from the definition of marriage to voting rights (especially for people who have been convicted of a serious crime).

Many other issues may be of concern depending on communities with which you identify, and these issues are often very divisive. For that reason, you should pay close attention to the stance that political candidates have on issues you believe are important.

While clear divides exist between people who lean liberal and those who lean conservative, you may be surprised by the stance that some candidates take. For this reason, you should not make assumptions.

4. Drug Policy

Not long ago, most politicians were expected to take a conservative stance on the criminalization of drug trafficking and use and to support aggressive enforcement of drug policies. However, the debate about the decriminalization or legalization of cannabis continues to evolve. Politicians will play a key role in how this situation plays out in the coming years.

You should ask candidates how they feel about this issue and why. People may support decriminalization or legalization for a number of reasons, from economic to social. The same is true of people who do not think decriminalization or legalization are warranted. Understanding candidates’ motivation for a particular position can tell you a lot about how they conceptualize the world.

5. Education

In any election, education is an extremely important issue. In the past 100 years, many different models of education have been piloted in the United States. The various states still differ in terms of school options.

In recent years, substantial debate has taken place around the issue of student loans and the possibility of making higher education free, at least for students at state schools. Politicians should have clear stances on these issues, as well as an overall opinion about educational funding in the United States.

Some people argue that a much larger portion of national and state budgets should be earmarked for education, while others advocate for maintaining the status quo. Some politicians may even push for lower funding for American schools. Decide where you stand and find out what your candidates believe.

6. Governance

While it may seem strange to think about a politician’s stance on governance, many people have pushed for change, especially in recent years. Many issues related to legislative processes, states’ rights, and government size have been raised in recent years. Also, many questions about the election process itself have come up, especially in terms of redistricting, campaign finances, and the utility of an electoral college in modern times.

Elected officials make these policy changes. It is important to know what they think about current political practices and how they might want this to change in the future. Most politicians will have clear stances on issues related to governance and it pays to read up on them to make sure they advocate for her and implement the changes you desire.