To Volunteer or Not to Volunteer

posted Nov 1, 2011, 9:45 AM by Second Career Society   [ updated Nov 1, 2011, 9:45 AM ]
Did you volunteer while in law school to gain legal experience outside of the classroom? How did you fit it in your schedule? Would you recommend it to current students?
Yes...but I was only working very part-time until the second year. I took advantage of that fact and studied in Ireland for 3+ weeks right after finals (earning a bunch of credits and learning a ton) and then volunteered doing grandparent custody cases with Legal Aid.
- Laura Gilbert
No. I was unable to volunteer in any legal capacity while attending law school.  As a weekend student whose day job also required travel, I was unable to commit to the time requirement.  However, it is one of the things I would change if I could go back and do it again.  There's far more to learn outside the classroom than in one and I wish I had made this a higher priority.
- Christopher Kosel
Yes, I most definitely volunteered while in law school!  I volunteered through MN Justice Foundation (highly recommended) and taught Street Law at the Hubert H. Humphrey Job Corps once/week during my 1st and 2nd years of law school.  I had to learn about many different areas of the law so that I could teach some basic principles of landlord-tenant law, consumer transactions, criminal law, constitutional law, credit card laws, banking, family law, and more.  I also volunteered with Chrysalis (now called Harriet Tubman) in the two weeks before I started law school.  My most valuable experience, however, was mediating through the Dispute Resolution Center (DRC) where I was able to mediate cases in Ramsey County Housing and Conciliation court.  I am still a volunteer for DRC and have met many intelligent, experienced, and kind people practicing in mediation and in the law.  With the skills and knowledge you gain in law school, how could you not volunteer?  The need is so great and the service so valuable - your time and knowledge can really help someone in need.How did I fit it into my schedule?  You just do.
- Patty Stotzheim
I volunteered through law school for Hennepin County at the Family Law Self-Help Center.  My employer was kind enough to work with me to help facilitate my ability to gain experience in the law field.  I volunteered one morning a month.  I made up the time with my employer by working late.  I would recommend it to current students as nothing is more valuable than “real world” experience.   
- Nathan Nelson
Yes, I did a little over 50 hours of volunteer work. Some of it was arranged through MJF - I looked for local opportunities that could be done after work. The rest was done by making an appointment with a local judge and pitching the idea of volunteer work over lunch. My basic pitch was that I was a 2nd career law student and I am planning a 2 week vacation from my job, could he/she use 80 hours of volunteer labor. I would certainly recommend it to current students - its a good way to get real world experience and to start building that professional network
- Bruce Cameron