Work Experience and Law School Applications

Hello Ivey Team,

I just discovered your service and ordered the book, but I have questions about work experience that I thought perhaps the blog could answer. I'm 29 and a police officer, and I'd really like to go to a good law school. How much will work experience likely help? Are there certain types of work experiences that help more than others? If it comes down to a person with work experience versus a recently graduated student with a similar GPA/LSAT, will one triumph over the other more often than not?

Thanks so much.

Meaningful work experience-like that of a police officer-can make an application stronger and give it an edge. If your work experience has influenced your decision to apply to law school, tell the admissions committee why and how. I have worked with former police officers who are motivated to become prosecutors because they have fought crime on the streets and want to fight crime in the courtroom. That type of focused interest and determination appeals to admissions officers, and may give an applicant an advantage over a candidate with similar "numbers" but less interesting or meaningful work experience.

If you have developed significant skills in your job, you may be able to make a case for why lower grades in undergrad don't reflect your ability to succeed in law school. I worked with a student who had average grades in college, but then led platoons as a commander in the US Army. His amazing experience and stellar recommendations from his time in the armed forces made him into a markedly different--and obviously stronger!--candidate than he was when he had finished college four years earlier.

Questions? Comments? Please share!


Nicole Vikan is a graduate of NYU Law School. She spent her first law school summer at a large law firm, and her second summer in the Homicide Investigation Unit at the Manhattan District Attorney's Office. She returned to the District Attorney's Office after graduation and spent five years as a criminal prosecutor, handling cases such as robbery and assault. Nicole then joined Fordham Law School's Career Planning Center, where she advised students seeking employment in the private and public sectors. She is currently a career counselor at Georgetown Law Center's Office of Public Interest and Community Service. As part of the Anna Ivey team, Nicole works with law school applicants and people exploring legal careers.