This year the Pre-Law Advising Office will be featuring law students, admission deans, and attorneys as guest bloggers to help provide unique and valuable perspectives on law school, the application process, and the legal profession. Stay tuned throughout the year for our Guest Blogger Spotlights!
Guest Blogger: Courtney Koenig
This week’s guest blogger is Pre-Law Advising’s very own, Courtney Koenig! Courtney is the Pre-Law Advising Services Graduate Assistant and a current 2L student at the University of Illinois College of Law.
- Law School: University of Illinois College of Law
- Class Year: 2L
- Undergraduate Institution: Southern Illinois University Edwardsville
- Hometown: Lebanon, Illinois
- Undergraduate Major/Minor: I have a Political Science major and a History minor.
Why did you decide to attend law school and pursue a legal career?
When I was narrowing down my career goals, I focused in on what I enjoyed doing. I love to read, write, analyze, and critically think. These are all things that lawyers do every day. I wanted a challenging career with the possibility of great success and that led me to pursuing a legal career.
Do you know what type of law you will practice?
I am not sure which type of law I want to practice. I am interested in being a litigator and working in a firm. Currently, I am interested in health law, tort law, and commercial litigation, but am open to exploring other legal fields.
What were the most important goals in choosing a law school?
One important goal for me was to obtain a respectable scholarship. I did not want to be constantly thinking about financial stressors on top of all the stress of being in law school. I mostly applied to schools that my GPA and LSAT score fit neatly into, but I wish I applied to more aspirational schools.
Why did you choose the University of Illinois College of Law?
I choose the University of Illinois College of Law because of the environment. I narrowed my top three schools down and personally visited each one. It was not an automatic decision for me. I ended up visiting the College of Law twice and it was not until my second visit that it clicked for me. I received a good scholarship, the school has a great reputation, and I loved the environment and the people when I visited.
What surprised you the most about law school?
I was really surprised with the people throughout the law school. I have become super close with many of my classmates and we have been able to support and help each other as much as possible. The professors are phenomenal, always willing to help. The administration also does everything they can to help you succeed and learn the ropes.
What has been your favorite class in law school?
My favorite class so far has been criminal law. My teacher was amazing, and I enjoyed learning about the different aspects of the crimes. It was interesting to learn about the different mental states that certain crimes require for a conviction.
What type of experiential opportunities have you had in law school?
I have participated in an expungement clinic where we helped people get rid of some charges on their records to help them obtain jobs and housing. I traveled to New Orleans, Louisiana with the Student Legal Relief organization and worked with the Justice and Accountability Center. I did research and participated in their expungement clinic.
What type of activities, programs, internships, or extracurricular activities did you participate in prior to law school?
Before law school, I was involved in the Pre-Law Society and the Political Science Association. I volunteered at my local food pantry and was a volunteer volleyball coach.
What is the most unique thing you have done during law school?
My criminal law professor took us on a tour of a prison a few towns over. He wanted us to see the lives that prisoners live. It was important to him because he wanted to illustrate that our actions as lawyers have real consequences on people. Our jobs truly impact people’s lives.
What do you like best about being a law student?
I like being challenged when it comes to the material. It is different from undergrad, there are no tests and no written assignments throughout the semester besides your final exam. You do the reading and you have to analyze it and figure out how it applies. Each class is like a puzzle. Every new concept is a piece to the puzzle and you have to put all the pieces together for the final exam.
How did you prepare for the LSAT?
I strongly relied on free prep for the LSAT. I used LSAC for practice problems and tests. I bought Kaplan LSAT prep books to guide me through the questions and problems. I was recommended by my Pre-Law advisor to use varsity tutors which is another free prep resource that was useful.
How did you manage your time and tasks during the application process?
I took the LSAT over the summer to give myself plenty of time to focus on the other aspects of the application. I typically use check lists and to do lists to keep myself organized and I found that to be extremely useful during the process. It was also important to make sure I was paying attention to my school schedule to avoid being in a position where I had many assignments due for school while also approaching application deadlines.
Is there anything you wish you would have done differently during the application process?
I wish that I had taken the LSAT a second time. The first time I took it, the fire alarm went off at the location and I managed to mess up my scantron. I wanted to wait to see how I did on my first LSAT before I scheduled a second test, but by the time I got my results back, they had closed the registration for the next LSAT. I also wish I would have asked the people who wrote my letters of recommendation to do so earlier. I ended up in a position where the letters were the only thing that needed to be done, and I found myself waiting for those to be completed before I could be completely done.
What is the best piece of advice you would offer someone applying to law school?
Pick the law school that is right for you. It is such a personal decision and it is important to identify what is important to you. Take the time now to determine what you want in a law school.