What to Expect in Your Third Year of Law School
During your third year of law school you will be focused on three main goals: graduation, securing employment, and passing the bar exam.
Your Third Year is a Time to Excel
By the time you reach your third year, graduating is often considered a forgone conclusion. However, coasting to the finish line, and the poor grades that follow, can tarnish your record. So, don't coast. Continue producing the same high quality work all the way to graduation. This applies even after a job offer is secured because, sorry to say, some firms have been known to withdraw offers to students whose grades or class rank declined. Keeping your grades up also ensures flexibility in employment decisions if you change jobs down the road.
Practical Legal Experience is a Great Teacher
On average, a 3L spends less time doing class work and more time doing other kinds of work. While first year students feel like they live on campus, and second year students spend a lot of time in class and with organizations, a third year student may feel like a stranger in the building. After two years of learning theory, the third year is the time to put those skills into practice and pick up some real world experience. For example, why not look into working in a law clinic, externship, or a part-time law job? It's wise to use your remaining time in law school to pick up skills, such as drafting basic documents, which future employers will expect you to have.
Have Strategic and Realistic Job Goals
Securing a job before graduation can be tough. Many students will not secure employment until after they've graduated and passed the bar. You should know that many employers will not consider your application until you have a license to practice law. Creating unrealistic expectations and putting excessive pressure on yourself is counterproductive and unhealthy. So while it's vital to network and work hard to find employment, keep things in perspective, too.
Know What To Do Before Graduation
The most important thing to do during your third year is apply to take the bar exam. It is extremely important to research all the requirements for sitting for the particular bar exam you plan to take, especially if you plan to take it in a different jurisdiction than your law school. For example, some states require applications to be completed and submitted over six months in advance. Other states require a student to pass the MPRE exam before even applying to take the bar exam.
The Bar Exam is Different From Law School: Start Prepping Now
The earlier you begin, the better. The bar exam is focused on the practice of law, not the theory behind the law. A significant portion of the exam consists of multiple choice questions, which is foreign to the typical law school exam experience. Plus, the content you need for answering the questions on the bar exam-- regardless of whether they are multiple choice or essay questions--will likely be different from and more comprehensive than the standard survey course you took in law school. It's also recommended that you start reviewing subjects you've taken in your first two years, while continuing to learn new subjects.
Professional and Definitive Bar Prep
These reasons and many more are why your third year is a good time to consider bar review programs like Kaplan PMBR's Complete Bar Review Course. Expert instructors cover all of the information you'll need for your bar exam, and give you the skills needed to accurately answer the questions.
A Great Ending and Beginning
Your third year is a crossroads: it's the conclusion of a rewarding three year experience, and the dawn of an exceptional legal career.