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.


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

Guest Post: How to Get Recommendation Letters for Grad School

Last week we offered a post on the vexed irycebaronissue of getting recommendation letters for jobs. Recommendation letters for grad school are a little less complicated: YES, you’ll need them and YES, you should ask your professors for them. But who should you ask? How? When? What steps can you take to make sure your letters reflect your strengths?

Iryce Baron kindly took some time out from prepping her fall courses on the Literature of Fantasy and British Feminist Fiction to write down some advice for students seeking recommendations. 


by Iryce Baron

It happens when I least expect it. The semester is rapidly coming to a close and I’m woefully behind on my work. My office is crammed full of students every day, I’m up to my ears in grading, I’m staying up till 2 a.m. prepping for classes while living on Cheetos and Coke Zero and I haven’t even written the final exam yet. Suddenly I get a notice that I have new email and there’s a note from a former student I haven’t heard from in ages or a student who rarely talks in class. It means only one thing—said student needs a recommendation and I can only hope that it wasn’t due the day before yesterday.

It’s part of our job as academics to write recommendations. It can be a really formative experience between faculty and students or it can be an exercise in frustration for everyone. If you’re planning on attending graduate school or going to law school here’s what you can to do to maximize the experience for yourself and your instructor.

It’s always best to give your professor a heads up with at least a month’s notice. 

Sure we’ve all produced recommendations at the eleventh hour—sometimes it’s unavoidable—a student decides to apply to a program at the last minute and we do our best to help them out, another faculty member gets sick and can’t deliver. But to optimize your chances of getting the most thorough and positive evaluation of your work, ask in advance.Some students give far more time than one month and that can be problematic as well because that means faculty can forget when it’s due with other work always looming over their heads. If you send in your request very early, make sure you also send follow-ups.

If you’re going to ask your professor for a recommendation, try to meet with them at least once during office hours and clearly establish what your academic goals are.

Whether you’re going to graduate school in an area of literary studies that syncs up neatly with your professor’s interests or you’re changing directions and applying to a program in physical therapy, let them know precisely what your educational and professional aspirations are. You want to be a human rights lawyer or work with a large firm doing corporate law—that’s fine too. Just share any relevant information so they can focus on your strengths and personalize the letter.

If at all possible, ask faculty members for letters who know you well and know your work well.  

Graduate and professional programs often require three academic references. If you think you’d like a letter from a faculty member try to be vocal in class and try to meet with them outside of class so that they can get to know you better.Be prepared to share papers that you handed in for the course. The most effective recommendations contain direct references to the work students produced in class.

Try to request letters from faculty members whose classes you’ve done especially well in. 

You might have loved your class on theory or you might have a had a professor who is a superstar, but if you didn’t get an A in the course, it’s preferable to forgo that person and to approach someone who can be as enthusiastic about your work as possible.If you’re a late bloomer though, don’t be discouraged. We’ve all written letters for students who are just beginning to show promise. It’s okay to ask someone for a letter who gave you B. Just try to gauge how supportive the instructor can be about your work. I always encourage students who didn’t receive an A in my course to see if anyone else is available, but if not, I focus only on the positive elements of their work.

And don’t forget these two things because they’re really important.

  1. Almost any program that you apply to will ask if you are willing to waive your right to access your letters of reference.  It is imperative that you do this. I once had a student who initially did not waive her rights to access her letters and I told her she needed to throw out all her paperwork and begin anew. Her response, “If this is what they want, then why do even give you an option?” In an age of social media when everyone seemingly has access to anything you post online, it seems a particularly dated request. My answer was, it’s the academic equivalent of a trick question and you must do it. She just finished her PhD at Harvard and I know I gave her the right advice.
  2. Make sure that whether you send faculty emails with links that store your references for future use or that go directly to the universities you’re applying to, you clarify when the letter is due and that you provide the correct materials to be filled out and include pre-addressed envelopes that are stamped if you prefer hard copies.

And finally, let your referees know which schools you got admitted to and where you’ve decided to go and send a letter of thanks. It’s very much appreciated.