First of all let me just say I’m sorry. High School can suck.
Path to Practising Law
The path to law school is a long one. If you are fortunate enough to know you want to become a lawyer at a young age there are many things you can do to ensure success.
In High School you should:
- Volunteer a lot.
- Get those grades up.
- Participate in extra-curricular activities.
- Apply to, and get in to, a good University.
You are required in Ontario to participate in a set of mandatory volunteer hours. Think carefully about where you choose to spend that time. It may help you make connections, display an interest in the law, or show your diversity. If possible, volunteer double or triple the required hours. You will need to volunteer throughout university and law school so it is better to learn to make time for it at a young age. Law is a social justice, give back to the community, type of career. Schools likely want to see that level of engagement with your community. Visit volunteer job boards and get out there as soon as possible !
Maclean’s did a piece on the entering grades for universities a few years ago. I think it is helpful to understand that you are going to be expected to achieve 80% or higher on average to be competitive for the schools you want. Remember, schools are looking for more and more well-rounded students and if there is a good reason your grades are lower, such as extreme athleticism, you can leverage that for entrance to universities. Now, if your grades in High School aren’t currently high don’t worry. Think about those elective courses you have left and try to take something you will excel at. Also make sure you are looking into the pre-requisites for the university programs that interest you. Remember that law school does not require a specific degree. You can take Criminology, English, Physics, or Animal Biology (if that is what interests you). There is no harm in taking gym for 4 years, in fact I would recommend it. Physical health is very important in any stage of life, for any career.
In High School it can be very easy to get involved. Find a list of clubs and join at least 1. Join at least 1 sport or physical activity. Try and display that you are well-rounded and in the process I am sure you will find something new that you love. Hobbies are very important in University, Law School, and life. They help with mental health, and provide excellent networking opportunities.
First you need to ensure your application to university is excellent. Click here for information on how to apply in Ontario.
Attending a good university is key to getting into law school and succeeding when you’re there. In picking a school there will be many constraints. Is it close to home? How much is tuition? Maybe even: where are all my friends going to be after High School? You need to, as best you can, pick a school that will help prepare you for applications and law school.
EXAMPLE 1: You’re a mediocre academic but an amazing athlete with the potential to ride scholarships through university. You need a school with a great record for producing winning athletes. You need to be very dedicated to that sport throughout university. You need to leverage that participation into your entrance essay. Explain the mediocre grades by drawing attention to the winning tournaments, the ability to work on a team, the dedication and the ability to network that the sport has given you.
EXAMPLE 2: You’re excellent at school, you can memorize anything, you test well and your grades show it. You need a university with the prestige to make those grades shine. Be careful though, law schools do not care they you went to Fancy Pants University if your average drops below the GPA cut off. Further, they don’t care that your degree is in Bio Medical Engineering Physics Math if your average drops below the GPA cut off. Law school wants excellent grades, if you’re more likely to obtain those grades in Sociology, so be it.
EXAMPLE 3: You are neither an academic or an athlete. You’re just an average student but you have a passion for becoming a lawyer. Maybe your parents are lawyers, maybe you had to hire a lawyer and enjoyed the experience, maybe you watch too much Law-and-Order style television. You need a University which helps you show that passion and dedication, you need a Pre-Law club or society to join, and you need to participate in undergraduate debate clubs and Moots. It would also be good to get a degree or take classes in law and politics. Anything to demonstrate the dedication to the field is your leverage.
Thanks for reading!
Disclaimer: Nothing I write should be taken as legal advice, I am writing my opinion backed by my own research. In fact, learn to question everything!