Practical Advice From the 2024 Vault Law Annual Associate Survey: Law School Tips

Published: Jun 05, 2024

 Career Readiness       Education       Grad School       Law       
Article image

While we are still preparing for the release of our 2025 rankings, we thought it would be fun to give you a sneak peek at some of the results of Vault Law's 2024 Annual Associate Survey. Below, we present twenty little tidbits of practical advice from current associates themed around making the most of your law school experience.

  • "Get real-world litigation experience through internships during law school. So much of being a lawyer is on-the-job experience."
  • "Get on a journal, it's the closest thing to having real work."
  • "Focus on research and writing when in law school, it's the only part of school that will translate directly to practice."
  • "Law school is heavily focused on litigation, definitely target classes that are corporate-focused, but be prepared for a ton of on-the-job training because school definitely fails to teach nearly all practical mechanics of running a deal."
  • "Think about the type of law you want to practice and take classes specific to that practice. If you have a summer job, take as many classes related to that job as possible. Working on journals prepares you most for the professional side of law."
  • "Law school does not prepare you for transactional practice. Work on systems to stay organized."
  • "I think law school could have better prepared me for practice by providing better training for the "practical" parts of lawyering, i.e., drafting motions, reviewing discovery documents, and drafting complaints/responses to complaints. I would encourage law students to take advantage of the "simulated practice" or clinic opportunities as much as possible to gain some experience."
  • "Law school prepared me very little for practice. Take negotiations course and courses involving document drafting."
  • "Focus on writing!"
  • "School prepped well in the sense that it required you to be very organized and focused on getting things done. Get organized and maximize down times to go through standard documents of your practice area. Learning is key."
  • "Law school prepares you for legal research and writing, but does not prepare you for juggling the varied day-to-day responsibilities of litigation practice, especially in discovery! To prepare for life as a litigation associate, consider working in a clinic or investigative team that will get you out interacting with case files."
  • "As much as I hate to admit it, the grunt work from law review (working in track changes, meeting deadlines, somewhat boring assignments) was good training for the early stages of BigLaw. I would recommend working on a journal for this reason."
  • "Be prepared to work a lot and also know that you are not alone if you're feeling burnt out or run down! Turn to your peers, trusted partners, and others in the industry for support."
  • "Legal writing was the most helpful!"
  • "Take drafting or practical classes. Do a clinic. Lectures don't prepare you for practice at all."
  • "Law school trains people to be analytical and work hard. It doesn't train for practice. Accept that you know little and be a sponge."
  • "Network with as many practicing lawyers as possible and get to know their practice and how they do and see things from their perspective. Utilize your electives to cover areas of law that you see yourself practicing in. Try to get involved as much as possible and volunteer as much as possible."
  • "It prepared me for issue spotting and thinking critically. I did not prepare me for management skills."
  • "My education prepared me because I took a number of practice-related courses, like classes on writing and class actions. Students should take those."
  • "Law school prepared me for research, reading cases, thinking, and some drafting. It didn't prepare me for business realities that have to be considered in litigation or discovery."