Gap Year and Highlighted Post-graduate Opportunities (Jobs, Gap Year, and Fellowships)

What can you do during a gap year? There is no right or wrong path to pursue. The are many options from accepting a full-time legal assistant or paralegal role to working in a non-legal position. Many students who eventually apply to law school will take gap years, and only about 1/3 of law students nationwide go straight from college to law school.

1. Work in a Non-Legal Job

If you are trying to decide between law and another career, working in another career field can help you make that decision. Non-legal jobs can also be helpful for people who are sure that law is right for them. If you are considering a specialty area of law such as environmental law, consider working for an environmental non-profit. It can help make you more confident in your decision to go to law school and the experience will help you better understand the issues faced by your future clients.

2. Work in a Law-Related Job

Working in a position in the legal industry may help you confirm that law school is the path you want to pursue. You can also gain skills that will be valuable in your legal education and develop networking connections in the industry. However, this will not give you an advantage in law school admissions versus any other type of professional experience.

3. Volunteer With a Service Organization

Many graduates will pursue opportunities in service programs such as Teach for America, the Peace CorpsAmericorps, and similar programs. These programs are valuable for developing skills beneficial in law school. If you are considering volunteering with a service organization, explore opportunities at

Volunteering more locally can also help you develop skills and show a commitment to service, which is at the core of all law careers.

4. Graduate School Work

Some students will choose to attend graduate school before applying to law school, such as recipients of Rhodes or Fulbright fellowships who will pursue graduate level work before attending law school. It’s also not unusual for those with a specific area of interest in law, such as intellectual property law, to seek a graduate degree before attending law school.

Will It Be Too Difficult To Get Back Into School Mode After Working?

Many students share this concern. If law is truly your passion, taking a few years off to work should only increase your desire to apply to law school and you can save money to help finance your law education.

Do Law Schools Prefer Applicants Who Have Taken Time Off?

Law schools want to select applicants that will be successful in law school and taking time off can give you a chance to strengthen your application.

Some schools, such as Northwestern Law, do generally prefer that applicants take time between college and law school to gain professional experience before applying. Because the school emphasizes prior work experience, many incoming 1L classes have at least one year of professional experience after graduating college. This is not the norm for all schools, so evaluate your decision based on the criteria used by the schools where you plan to apply.

Some other gap year resources:

Service Year
Americorps Legal Advocates of MA
Scoville Fellowship
White House Internship Program
ProJustice MN  – Listing of all pro bono projects in Minnesota
Minnesota Council of Nonprofits – non-profit job and internship posting board
Minnesota Bar and Bench – This website has classified ads for positions in the legal field.
Legal Organizations in Twin Cities Area – links to many legal organizations

DC Job Search Engine

  • Tom Manatos
    • username:
    • password: pipercenter
  • DC Daybook
      • username:
      • password: pipercenter

Non-Profit and Law Job Search Engine