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Gap Year Before Law School: What You Need to Know

May 24, 2023


Reviewed by:

David Merson

Former Head of Pre-Law Office, Northeastern University, & Admissions Officer, Brown University

Reviewed: 01/18/23

If you’re an aspiring lawyer, you may be considering taking a gap year before law school. To learn more about the pros and cons of taking a gap year, read on.

When you enter law school, expect to spend the next three years dedicating all of your time to your studies and opportunities that can facilitate your education. 

You’ll have to be both mentally and financially prepared to not only get through these three grueling years, but excel in them! After all, grades in law school are considered to be one of the most important factors in determining your job prospects post-graduation!

If you’re unsure if you’re ready for this commitment, this article will go over the potential risks and benefits of taking a gap year before law school.

Should You Take a Gap Year Before Law School?

Pros and Cons of taking a gap year before law school

Deciding whether or not a gap year is the right choice for you depends on your unique situation, career plans, and life goals. To help you make this decision, consider these pros and cons of taking a gap year before law school.


Let’s begin with the positives! Here are some pros of taking a gap year before law school. 

You Have More Time to Perfect Your LSAT Score

If you wrote your LSAT while you were completing your undergrad, you may have felt like you couldn’t dedicate enough time or energy to a comprehensive study plan while trying to maintain a high GPA.

By taking a gap year, you’ll be able to dedicate more effort to your LSAT prep and increase your chances of getting to your target score. 

You Have Time to Save Up

It’s no secret that law school costs an arm and a leg and most students acquire copious amounts of debt with their law degree. To help ease the financial burden of law school, you can work during your gap year! 

You Can Build Your Law School Resume

Going off the last point, during your time off, you can gain valuable experience that will make you stand out as a candidate and maximize your chances of getting into your dream school! 

The majority of fresh grads don’t have a lot of experience on their resumes because they were busy focusing on school. If you have a year of relevant experience on your resume, your application will already be one step ahead of the game. 

It would be best to get direct law experience during your year off, but you can also find other opportunities that will help you hone some of the key skills that lawyers need, including leadership, initiative, communication, critical thinking, adaptability, and interpersonal skills.

You Can Work On Other Life Goals

As we stated, your JD is a huge time commitment. A time commitment that will likely take precedence over any other major life goals you plan on achieving, like backpacking across Europe. 

With your summers between your JD years being short and best used for clerkships, you can kiss backpacking goodbye for at least three years.

Once you graduate with your JD, you’ll likely be on the hunt for a job to begin paying off your debt as soon as possible, which will also make it difficult to check off certain bucket list goals.

By taking a gap year, you can backpack through Europe, travel elsewhere, pick up a hobby, or fulfill other life goals you have! 

You can take some much-needed rest after completing your undergrad to explore other interests and passions. Doing so will allow you to enter law school refreshed, regret-free, and armed with happy places to imagine when the program gets tough!

You Can Give Yourself More Time To Make the Correct Choice

For students who don’t take a gap year, their applications will be submitted during their senior year of college, leaving them little time to think about what they truly want to do with their undergrad. 

While you might think law is the perfect path for you, taking a gap year can help you confirm this passion. Whether you choose to explore a different career or try gaining some legal experience, taking a gap year can help you decide if you’re making the correct decision by going to law school.


Now, the negatives. Here are some cons of taking a gap year before law school. 

Gaps In Your Resume

If you decide to take a gap year before law school, you’ll have to fill this time with something meaningful; law school committees don’t like seeing gaps of more than a few months on their candidates’ resumes.

If you’re planning on taking a gap year just to kick back and relax, then you’re going to harm your chances of admission when you do want to go to law school. 

While you don’t have to pick up a full-time job and volunteer in your free time, you should find at least a part-time job or volunteer position that will prevent you from having a large gap in your resume. 

If you aren’t willing to stay busy during your gap year, you’re better off just applying straight out of college. As a new graduate, admissions committees won’t expect your resume to be jam-packed or have direct law experience. However, if you take a gap year, they might. 

A Gap Year May Turn Into Gap Years

There is also a high risk that you will enjoy the freedom you have with your gap year too much to end it after just one year. 

You may decide to take one more year off and then continue doing so. In this case, you’re leaving more room for admissions committees to question your time off and decisions, you risk having your LSAT score becoming invalid, and you may not be able to secure letters of recommendation from your professors anymore. 

You should only take a gap year if you’re sure law school is the right path for you and you are dedicated enough to fight the urge to extend your gap year.

What To Do In a Gap Year Before Law School?

While we’ve already made some suggestions on what you can do during your gap year before law school, the opportunities are really endless. Since you’ll have a whole year to yourself, you should try to check off some of your bucket list items and spend time de-stressing before going to law school.

You should definitely dedicate a decent amount of your time to pursuing meaningful professional or volunteer experiences that can boost your application and set you apart from other applicants. 

You may also want to learn more about the law and perfect your writing, reasoning, and reading skills, so you can get through law school with more ease!

FAQs: Gap Year Before Law School

If you’re still unsure if you should take a gap year before law school, here are frequently asked questions about taking time off before law school.

1. Is It Good To Take a Gap Year Before Law School?

If students use their gap year to make themselves better candidates through a higher LSAT score or a richer resume, then yes! A gap year can help them get into law school easier and can also give them time to fulfill other goals they have.

2. What Should I Do In a Gap Year Before Law School?

A lot of people wonder what to do in a gap year before law school.

You should ideally work or volunteer in a legal environment or retake the LSAT if your score is low. If you cannot gain experience in the legal field, find an opportunity that allows you to still develop skills that will still be useful in it.

3. Should I Take a Gap Year To Study For the LSAT?

Yes, if you feel you won’t have enough time during your undergrad to study for and write the LSAT, or your current LSAT score is too low to give you a competitive chance at admission, taking a gap year to study is a great idea.

4. Do People Work Before Law School?

Most undergraduate students don’t work before law school, and if they do, it isn’t directly in the legal field. Students who take gap years generally do work, though, and try to find employment in the legal field.

Final Thoughts

If you take a gap year and make it meaningful, you can open more doors of opportunity for yourself. It can help you get into law school, excel in it, and even feel fulfilled with your life outside of law!

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