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  • Writer's picture Emma Shahabi

An Applicant’s Guide to Law School Extra Curriculars

Updated: Jun 15

I, like many folks I’m guessing, didn’t have any lawyers in my family when I started law school. I had no idea what sorts of extracurriculars to expect or which ones to look for when considering schools. Nonetheless, the activities and student groups I’ve gotten involved in since starting 1L have been some of my favorite parts of law school. I’ve included a few of my favorites below, take a look and be sure to look for these when perusing school websites or speaking with current students.


Affinity groups:


            For incoming students, especially those from underrepresented backgrounds, affinity groups can be the most meaningful communities that you join during law school. While I was in school, I was a part of the Middle Eastern and North African Law Students Association (MENALSA), the Womxn of Color Collective (WOCC), and Outlaw (LGBTQ+ student group). Connecting with other students who share your identity is great not only for making friends and meeting people but also is super helpful when it comes time for applying for jobs, studying for finals, and more. A lot of these groups have built in mentoring programs too!


Subject area groups:


            These groups operate similarly to affinity groups but are more focused on areas of the law you might be interested in. While in school I was heavily involved in the Environmental Law Society, but also attended events run by the Coalition Against Gendered Violence, the Child Welfare Law and Policy Society, the National Lawyers Guild, and more. These groups are especially helpful for networking opportunities, pro bono projects and of course meeting like-minded classmates.


Law school specific “honors” groups:


            This category especially was one I was not familiar with prior to attending law school. While in school I served on the Moot Court Board and was managing editor of the Duke Environmental Law and Policy Forum (DELPF). Moot court is a type of court simulation activity similar to mock trial but focused on the appellate level as opposed to the trial level. Students can make the moot court board through competing in an oral argument competition their first year. Serving on the board is considered an honor and looks great on job applications. It’s also really great experience for those interesting in litigating because you get to compete interscholastically against other schools in your later years. For example, I competed in the National Environmental Moot Court Competition my second year and worked with my team to write a brief and compete in several rounds of oral arguments.

DELPF, on the other hand, is Duke’s environmental journal. Through serving on the board, I helped our team edit and publish two issues of the journal each year. Journal also requires a competition to join, but instead of oral arguments you write a case note, which is a paper discussing a recent case ruling. Joining a journal helps students substantially with their writing and citing skills and is another great talking point for resumes and interviews. One thing you may want to look into at potential schools is if they have a journal focused on the area of the law you are interested in practicing in. I was much more interested in working on the environmental journal at Duke rather than the normal flagship journal due to my background.


Touch grass:


Finally, join some fun groups! Law schools also have student groups for non-academic, non-career related activities. At Duke we have a run club, law school softball teams, an annual pickleball tournament, pirate society, and more. These typically aren’t advertised as much on school websites but be sure to ask students you speak with at schools whether they have fun activities like these each year. Law school is hard, but it should still be an enjoyable experience and the school atmosphere can be equally as important a factor in your choice as the academics or career set up.


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