Page 1

The Time in Between Taking Time Off Before Law School

Presented by: Tracie Thomas, M.A., M.S. University Career Services

What does “taking time off” mean to you?

Taking a year off: Pro’s • More exposure to industry/career fields • Not quite ready to embark on law school/ need a break from undergraduate • Would like “real world experience” to supplement law education: can help clarify career goals • Increased maturity/exposure to life outside academia

Taking a Year off: Cons • Parallel planning: can be time consuming • Will lose access to on-campus recruiting • Not a good option if you need a substantial income right away • May lose momentum of being a student

Considerations: • Am I financially/mentally/intellectually ready for graduate work? • Will the school(s) I apply to defer enrollment, or should I just wait a year to apply? • What do I need my financial situation to be for the next year? • What are the ethical issues of taking a position for one year?

Tips for Planning • Think about your comfort level with risk, but be prepared to take a risk • Set goals for taking time off!! • Use UCS Career Counseling to help set goals

Sample Goals • I want to experience the industry for which law school will prepare me before committing to further education • I want to gain specific skills that may help in studying/practicing law (e.g. interpersonal, research, analysis) • I think/know I want to go on to law school but want to try out another field before committing

Sample Goals continued • I always wanted to work/travel/study abroad, but didn’t have the chance in undergrad • I’d like to pay off some of my undergraduate debt before continuing on

Other Tips

•Begin to plan early! • Consider having professors write recommendations before you leave NU • Consider your financial situation – Figure out a budget! – – – –

Avenue A: Temp Work • “Temping” goes beyond clerical jobs • Look for temp agencies with specific theme: Advertising, Law, etc. • Resources: American Staffing Association: Yellow Pages, Yahoo Directories

Sample Temp Agencies: General: Manpower: Kelly Services:

Specialized (examples): Providus: Robert Half Legal: Provides paralegals to law firms and corporate law departments Paladin Staffing: Temporary specializing in marketing and advertising positions

Avenue B: Internships/Fellowships

• Excellent way to “sample” potential fields • Not just for undergraduate students • Research resources in field • Be prepared for lower pay than full-time positions • Line up 2-3 internships if possible

Resources: Internships • • • •

UCS Internship Specialists iNet CareerCat Internships Online: (username:


password: credit)

• (promo code: wildcats)

Resources: Fellowships • NU Fellowship Office • GRAPES: searchable database of fellowships: • New York City Urban Fellows Program • NU Public Interest Program • Coro Fellows Program in Public Affairs

Avenue C: Volunteer/Service Work •Also a good way to sample different roles •May be able to defer loans: see your lender Sample Programs/Resources: • Alternatives to the Peace Corp (in UCS library)

•*** • Americorps • Public Allies

• International Volunteer Programs Association • Jesuit Volunteer Corps • GreenCorps • Teach for America • Inner-City Teaching Corp

Avenue D: Work/Travel Abroad • Know your motivation for going abroad • Be flexible • Have realistic expectations • Be prepared to do a lot of homework and research

Working Abroad con’t • Choose a type of job and be flexible about where OR choose a country and be flexible about the type of job • Get to know work visa requirements for target countries • Target programs that arrange work visas for you • Apply to as many programs as time permits

Some Options for Going Abroad • Internships • Short term/long term volunteer experiences • Teaching English abroad • Professional positions *often the hardest to obtain

• Farm work/leisure opportunities

Resources for Working Abroad • Going Global • University of Michigan • University of California, Irvine Center for International Education • University of Minnesota’s International Study and Travel Center:

Work Abroad Programs • Bunac: • Council on International Educational Exchange: • Interexchange: • AISEC:

Teach Abroad Programs • World Teach: • French Chamber of Commerce:

• Japanese Exchange and Teaching (JET):

Additional Resources • • Back Door Guide to Short-term Job Adventures (available at UCS) • Delaying the Real World: A twentysomething’s Guide to Seeking Adventure — Colleen Kinder • Language Departments

Avenue E: Get a “real” job • May be a good option if unsure how long taking time off • Address employers just as you would as if you were not taking a year off: research the industry • Be honest about your intentions to stay short-term • Every field has its own hiring timeline • Focus on how skills learned on job will benefit short and long-term career goals

Best Bets for short-term full-time work • • • • • • •

Office administration positions in law firms Legal Assistant/paralegal Court advocate positions Technical Consultant (patent law) Nonprofits University settings Government: Partnership for Public Service:

Legal Opportunities • These can be hard to find to find:

Network!! • CareerNet • UCS-Assistant Director for Education, government, and Non-profit • Craig’s List (local listings) • New York Recruiting Alliance • CareerCat: use keywords “legal” or “law”

Last suggestions • Be creative about making it work! • Don’t forget about career development while taking time off! • Use UCS alumni services after graduation!


The Space Between: Taking Time off before Law School  

Discover the pros and cons of taking time off and attain ideas for how to spend your gap year effectively.