For those community college students who are looking to pursue careers in the legal field, attorney and Saddleback College instructor Emily S. Quinlan led a career-information seminar at the Career Center on Feb. 19 and provided advice for aspiring law students.
Quinlan, who teaches business and personal law, began by clearing up some facts about the correlation between your undergraduate degree and getting into law school.
“You absolutely need an undergraduate degree to be accepted into law school,” Quinlan said. “No major is required but I highly recommend being an English major for the reading and writing.”
Having formerly gone through the law school admission process herself, Quinlan advised that students should keep a competitive GPA.
“You definitely need to maintain a 3.0 GPA or higher, that’s important,” Quinlan said.
Quinlan emphasized the importance of networking and establishing connections.
“Networking is important,” Quinlan said. “Make people remember you in a positive way.”
Quinlan reminisced the many students in her past that came to her for letters of recommendation when applying to law schools as examples of the benefits of networking and establishing good relationships with your fellow students and professors.
One requirement that could potentially be disheartening for some students who are hoping to be lawyers is the background checks that law schools perform on all of their applicants.
“If you’re a convicted felon, you need to let your law school know upfront,” Quinlan said. “Most schools won’t accept convicted felons and they’ll find out through the background check if you don’t tell them.”
Being convicted of a felony isn’t only debasing for students, it has disadvantageous consequences for practicing lawyers as well.
“If you’re a practicing lawyer and you get convicted of a felon, you’ll be disbarred,” Quinlan said.
In addition to providing academic advice, Quinlan also suggested to students to get hands-on experience in the legal field in order for them to aver that they want to be lawyers.
“It’s not required but I highly recommend working as a law clerk before committing to law school,” Quinlan said. “You can also do internships for credit through Cooperative Work Experience (CWE) 180 at Saddleback.”