Is Law School in Your Future?

hammer-802301_1920If you’re thinking about law school, there are a lot of resources available to help you decide whether or not to apply.  The Department of English Alumni Mentoring Network has, at last count, 19 potential mentors working in law and eager to talk to students about that career path. The University of Illinois Pre-Law Advising Services has many resources to help you with the decision to apply and the application process. Check out the events below.

There’s also a Pre-Law Compass page with a new video series, free LSAT preparation tips and resources, suggestions on how to write a personal statement, and detailed data about where Illinois students attend law school (along with successful applicant profiles). Students who are designated pre-law are automatically granted access to our Compass page, and other students can easily add themselves by following these simple steps.   http://prelaw.illinois.edu/compass

 

Interacting with Law School Admissions: Interviews, Visits, & Law Fairs. September 7, 5-6 pm in 514 Illini Union Bookstore Building.

Law school applicants will have several opportunities throughout the application cycle to engage with law school admissions professionals. Whether it is through an interview, at a law fair, or during a law school visit, these interactions can make or break a candidate’s application. What should applicants wear, say, and do during these interactions? What impresses an admissions dean–and what leaves a terrible impression? Learn from a veteran law school dean, Ms. Ann Perry, Associate Dean for Admissions at the University of Chicago Law School, all about how to maximize admission and aid through successful interactions with admissions professionals. No registration necessary.

 

Practice LSAT. September 9, 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Register online for additional details.

This proctored practice LSAT provides the opportunity to take an actual Law School Admission Test in a real classroom environment. Whether students are prepping for the September 24 LSAT or have never taken a practice LSAT before and just want to get a baseline score, this is a great opportunity. This exam will be set up much like the real LSAT: Please bring pencils, personal items, and a snack in a clear plastic baggie.  Location and follow up details will be sent to all registrants within a week of the exam. Click here to register.

 

Pre-Law 101. September 12, 4-5 pm in 514 Illini Union Bookstore Building.

This workshop is designed for incoming students who are new to pre-law or are interested in learning more about it. This workshop covers: What it means to be pre-law at Illinois, course selection, majors, and extracurriculars, building a pre-law resume, and what law schools are really looking for. We will outline a four year plan to maximize your undergraduate experiences in order to make a great law school candidate. We’ll also take any questions about law school and legal careers. Please click here to register to ensure enough seating and materials for everyone. Each Pre-Law 101 session is the same. Incoming students attend a Pre-Law 101 session prior to setting up an individual pre-law advising appointment.

 

Perfecting Your Personal Statement & Resume for Law School. September 19, 4-5 pm in 514 Illini Union Bookstore Building.

The personal statement is one of the most difficult yet powerful elements of the law school application. This workshop will cover: What the personal statement is, how to prepare for writing it, and some tips and suggestions for making it reflect an applicant’s strengths. We will also discuss how the personal statement and resume can complement each other to create a stronger law school application. Please click here to register so that we can ensure enough seating and materials for everyone.

 

SAVE THE DATE for the Law School Fair! October 4, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. in the Illini Union A,B,C, Rooms.

It’s the biggest pre-law event of the year! Over 100 law school representatives will visit campus to meet prospective students and share information about their law schools, scholarships, and people. Meet admissions professionals, learn about law schools, get some freebies and application fee waivers! Dress code is business casual. All students, alumni, and community members interested in law school are welcome! This event is free and open to the public. For additional details visit http://prelaw.illinois.edu/law-school-fair

Quad Day and YOU

Bradley Leeb/The News-Gazette Students and organizations fill the Quad during Quad Day on the University of Illinois campus. Sunday, August 25, 2013.

Sunday will be Quad Day, when the English Building gazes out serenely over a bustling quad packed from walkway to walkway with student organizations vying for your attention and membership. Go: it’s a good thing. Enjoy the swag, the mingling, the spectacle.

And keep in mind the big picture. Everything you do in college on top of your courses offers you data points about what you’re good at, what you enjoy, what you value. Don’t think of it as resume-building. No one will care particularly that you attended meetings for six different RSO’s and were the treasurer for one of them. They WILL care about the skills you develop and the stories you can tell in your interview. Did you manage a budget? Raise funds? Recruit new members? Create something that didn’t exist before? Solve a problem that had bedeviled the previous leadership? Get people to do something? How? What did you screw up? What did you get right? What did you learn about workign with other people?

The way to have good answers to those kinds of questions is to do stuff that matters to you. To that end, it helps to approach Quad Day with a strategy. Find an organization in each of these four categories

  • something you’ve done before and loved
  • something that’s completely new to you but sounds fun
  • something that will help to advance your career goals (whatever they might be at this point)
  • something that will help you make changes or solve problems that matter to you.

It’s fine if one organization fulfills two or more of those categories. Then go to some meetings. See where you feel like you can make a contribution. Make note of what attracts you or repels you. It’s good to push yourself beyond what’s comfortable, but there’s no point in doing things that make you actively unhappy. Then, as you learn more, decide where to commit your energy and time.

Recognize the value of what you’re doing! The more you can learn while you’re in college about your strengths, the more opportunities you can find to make things happen, the better off you will be in making the transition from college to whatever comes next.

Experience Matters–and is Within Reach

“I am currently reviewing resumes for an associate editor position and it’s depressing how few applicants have any experience outside of just their college classes. I know U of I is rich with opportunities, too! People just need that “push” to actually go for it. It will absolutely help them when it comes time to find a job. Not only does it help hone their writing and editing skills, but it demonstrates their interest in the field and their ability to juggle responsibilities beyond coursework.”

face-66317_1920So writes one of our alumni who works in the editing field (we’re currently updated our Alumni Mentoring Directory)

A Big-10 research university offers no shortage of opportunities to get professional experience–whether your career goal is editing, writing, marketing, PR, the tech field, media, communications… Internships are a great place to start, but they’re not the only option. Consider a part-time job, or any number of volunteer or RSO opportunities on campus that will give you scope to build your skills.

Guest Post: Gaining Valuable Experience in Legal Writing

By Michael Chan (English ’14)

I began my undergraduate career as an Architectural Studies major before making the switch to English about halfway into my sophomore year. It wasn’t an easy decision for me to make, but after extensively consulting with family, friends, and several trusted mentors, I was prepared to commit myself to the new program (and to the condensed course load that came with it). What I wasn’t prepared for, however, was UIUC_Chandeciding upon a definitive career path within the next two years.

Throughout my junior year, I met with several professors, advisors, and grad students to discuss the possibility of grad school and to get a better understanding of what an academic career would entail. I also frequented the Career Center to explore alternative career paths outside of academia. I knew that I thoroughly enjoyed research and writing, but I also didn’t want to limit my options—especially since I had only taken a handful of English courses at the time and wasn’t sure if I wanted to dedicate another 6-8 years in pursuit of a Ph.D.

As senior year approached, I decided to look for a job after graduation so that I could gain some practical work experience; this would allow me to spend some time away from academia and to develop my skills as a working professional. After sending out numerous applications, I finally received an offer to work for an immigration law firm as a legal writer. I didn’t have any experience in legal writing, but I viewed this as an opportunity to expand my writing capability. Therefore, I accepted the offer and began my first day of work on November 11, 2014.

As a legal writer, I was responsible for drafting a variety of legal documents that communicated complex and technical information in plain and accessible language (all of these documents followed a customary form and structure that were taught during the training process). I also had to present that information in a compelling light in order to support the rest of the arguments being made for a client’s case. While I’m unable to provide any further details (due to the confidential nature of my work and also at the firm’s request), it’s clear to see that the type of writing I discussed above combines several key aspects of persuasive and argumentative writing (i.e. making a claim, citing supporting evidence to substantiate that claim and to make it more convincing) with technical writing (i.e. translating complex and technical information into more relatable terms for a more general audience). It’s important to note here that legal writing is just a type of technical writing that incorporates certain elements from both of these writing styles to serve a wide range of legal services/areas—immigration law being one of them.

Being an effective communicator is central to any genre, form, or style of writing; the ability to communicate your thoughts, as well as the thoughts of others, in a clear, concise, and effective manner is critical to your overall success as a writer and it is also one of the many skills you develop as an English major. Learning a new type or style of writing can seem daunting – and it will undoubtedly take some time and practice to achieve any sort of proficiency in it – but having a solid foundation of writing experience to draw from will take you much farther along the process. The countless papers that you wrote as an undergrad, the feedback you received on those papers, what you did to improve your writing based on that feedback, the range of elective courses that you took in Creative Writing, Business and Technical Writing, Rhetoric—these all make up your collective writing experience. These are all experiences that can be taken for granted as a student, but they are all imperative to the development of your writing capability.

Working as a legal writer has added significant value to my own writing experience and it has also added a new dimension of practicality to my writing. For any English majors who are interested in obtaining valuable work experience outside of academia (or for those who just need some time away from the books before reconsidering grad school), legal writing is just one of many options for you to consider and explore.

If you would like to reach out to Michael with any additional questions, you can email him directly at chan.michael.08@gmail.com.