What to do over Fall Break

Fall Break is here — now what?

Aside from relaxing, eating and watching football (and maybe getting ready for finals?!), what else could/should you be doing?

If You Are Currently Applying to Law School

  1. If you are done with the LSAT, finish your applications!  If you have everything you need to apply there is no reason to procrastinate. This is a rolling admissions process — file your applications ASAP!
  2. If you are taking the December LSAT — keep studying!  A strong LSAT score helps both with admissions and scholarships! Set some goals for how many practice LSATs you can take over break and stick to it.
  3. If you are waiting on Letters of Recommendation, gently remind your recommenders (either via a phone call or email) that you want to submit your applications ASAP but cannot do so until LSAC/CAS receives all required letters of recommendation.
  4. Attend an Open House, or schedule a visit with law schools. (If you’re scheduling a visit, make sure the school is open and staffed during Thanksgiving week!)
    1. DePaul Law is hosting an Open House on Saturday, November 18. Click here for more details.
    2. For those of you applying to the University of Chicago, they will be holding an open house on Monday, November 20.  Click here to register for this event.
  5. Check deadlines for Early Decision!  While many schools list November 15 as their early decision deadline, several others allow early decision applications until December 1 or even Dec. 15.  Not sure about early decision? Click here for a PLAS blog post on the pros and cons of applying early decision.
  6. Complete your FAFSA.
  7. Did you know that you can already apply for scholarships sponsored by non-university sources? Take a look at the scholarship spreadsheet with over 250 options over on our Compass page–these have a variety of due dates and many are due by the end of the calendar year, so now is a great time to apply!

If You Are Not Yet Applying to Law School

  1. Study for finals and write those papers!  Your GPA is a very important part of the law school admissions and scholarship process!
  2. LSAT Prep. In general, we advise those planning to apply to law school next fall to take the June 2018 LSAT (unless study abroad prevents you from doing so). You should plan to spend approximately 4-6 months studying for the LSAT–so now is the time to prepare for that process. As you plan your schedule for Spring 2018, consider not overloading on courses since the time necessary for effective preparation equates to the time invested in a rigorous 3 credit class. Remember: the LSAT is NOT like the ACT or the SAT.  It does not test you on what you know.  Rather, it tests how you think.  It is important to determine how you plan to study for the LSAT (on your own, through a commercial prep company, etc.), and decide where you want to take the LSAT. To begin your research, go to the LSAC’s website for info on the LSAT, how to register and select a test site, and how to be successful on the test.
  3. Apply for Internships — Have you thought about what you will be doing next summer?  Are you looking into internships? Internships can be a great way to learn more about the legal system and the practice of law.  Do you need some suggestions on how and where to find an internship?  Check out this 2018 Internship Plan from our blog. We also recently posted several internships to our Facebook page. And remember: the PLAS Annual Internship Newsletter will be out and published on Compass the week of December 18!
  4. Network and conduct informational interviews. A great way to start to build your professional network and get to know various legal practice areas is to meet with lawyers! Do you or your parents know any lawyers? Are any of your friends’ parents lawyers? You can also use the alumni association directory to identify Illinois alumni who are lawyers. Ask a lawyer to spend 30 minutes doing an informational interview with you. Don’t be intimidated; this is an opportunity for you to buy him/her coffee and ask about their professional life. Here’s a resource for planning your informational interview. 
  5. Complete your FAFSA
  6. Apply for scholarships! We’ve included lots of scholarships for continuing undergraduate students. Take a look at the scholarship spreadsheet with over 250 options over on our Compass page–these have a variety of due dates and many are due by the end of the calendar year, so now is a great time to apply! Here are a few great undergrad scholarships with upcoming deadlines. Find these and over 200 more on our Scholarship Spreadsheet!
    1.  Ai Engstrom National Scholarship application is due December 1. 
    2. Bankruptcy Law Center Scholarship Contest application is due December 20.
    3. A Better America Scholarship Program application is due December 31.

Have a great break!

Twitter Linkedin Digg Delicious Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Posterous Email

Mark Your Calendars: Week of November 13

Pre-Law Events

Patent Bar Exam Session Nov 15, 2017   5:00 – 6:00 pm UPDATED LOCATION: ENGINEERING HALL 106B1

The patent bar exam is the required first step to becoming either a patent agent for the United States Patent & Trademark Office or a patent prosecutor/litigator as a practicing attorney. Students with a background in engineering and the sciences (such as biology, biochemistry, physics, chemistry, computer science) are eligible to sit for this exam. (To see all exam requirements, visit the link below).  Join us for this Patent Bar session to learn about the exam from an expert. Mark Dighton, Director of the Practicing Law Institute Patent Office Exam Course, will be here to answer all of your questions about the patent bar, including:

  • What exactly does the patent bar cover?
  • When and how often can you take it?
  • How do people prepare for the exam?
  • What is the format of the exam, and how are results received?
  • What is a passing score for the exam?

He’ll also answer any other questions you have about the patent bar exam. This session is specifically designed for those undergrad and graduate students in engineering, science, or technology disciplines who are eligible to sit for the patent bar. For a list of eligible majors or backgrounds visit  https://www.uspto.gov/sites/default/files/OED_GRB.pdf This is a free event.

Today’s Personal Statement workshop is cancelled due to low enrollment. Explore our personal statement resources, including our video and handout, on the Pre-Law Compass page, and make an individual appointment for a personal statement review when you are ready.

College of Law Events–Pre-law students are invited!

From White House to City Hall: Thoughts on Lawyering in the Executive Branch will be presented by Edward N. Siskel, City of Chicago’s Corporation Counsel, on Nov. 14 from 12-1 pm. Mr. Siskel will share his thoughts on some of the challenges, rewards, and responsibilities that come with providing legal counsel to Executive Branch leadership on the federal and municipal levels. He offers a unique perspective on issues ranging from managing investigations into senior executive branch officials, preserving the independence of the Department of Justice, and defending sanctuary cities against the Trump Administration’s efforts to withhold federal grant funds. The lecture is free and open to the public. Lunch will be provided to lecture attendees.

Other Campus Events

Career Center events of interest to pre-law students include the following list; check www.careercenter.illinois.edu for location & other details and to register.

  • Creating your powerful resume–Nov. 13 at 4:00 & Nov. 14 at 4:00
  • Professional branding & etiquette–Nov. 15 at 5:00
  • Resume, cover letter, LinkedIn reviews
    • Nov. 13 from 7-9 pm in Undergrad Library
    • Nov. 14 from 2-4:30 at Career Center
    • Nov. 14 from 5:30-7:30 at the Ike Room 1010A
    • Nov. 15 from 2-4:30 at Career Center
    • Nov. 15 from 7-9 in Undergrad Library
    • Nov. 16 from 2-4:30 at Career Center
    • Nov. 17 from 2-4:30 pm at Career Center
  Writer’s Workshop presents the following workshops. Click here for more information. 
  • Integrating sources: Paraphrasing, summarizing and quoting, Nov. 14 at 3:00
  • Writing personal statement, Nov. 16 at 3:00

Social Justice Education Paraprofessional Program is taking applicants!

The Department of Diversity and Social Justice Education (Diversity ED) is now taking applications for the Social Justice Education Paraprofessional (SJEP) program.  SJEP is designed to promote diversity and student leadership by providing intensive training for students in areas of knowledge, awareness, and skills related to issues of diversity and social justice. Social Justice Education Paraprofessionals serve as peer educators through facilitating workshops, class facilitation, allyship, and program development.  Students who are junior and seniors in the humanities and social sciences are encouraged to apple.  Click here to apply, or for more information: https://illinois.edu/fb/sec/9768586?referrer=



Internships, Scholarships, & Opportunities

Sidley Scholars Program–Juniors and Seniors planning on attending law school in the Fall of 2019: consider applying for the Sidley Austin LLP Summer Pre-Law Scholars Program. This program helps to subsidize the cost of LSAT Prep and offers possible additional scholarships.

Scholars will receive up to $2,500 in benefits to fund the LSAT, CAS credentialing, pay tuition in a commercial LSAT preparation course, as well as reimbursement for application and CAS fees for up to seven law schools.

Scholars further may be eligible to receive an additional $2,500 scholarship award, in two installments. Scholars will receive $1,250 when they have (1) successfully completed an approved LSAT preparatory course, (2) taken the LSAT, and (3) applied to at least five accredited law schools. Finally, each Scholar will receive a final $1,250 scholarship distribution once the Scholar has informed Sidley that he or she has been accepted to, and is committed to start law school at, an accredited law school and has attended the entire Sidley Scholars Summer Seminar in the summer immediately preceding the Scholar’s matriculation at that law school.

Click here for more information. Application materials are due Friday January 12!

Twitter Linkedin Digg Delicious Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Posterous Email

Best of the Pre-Law Blog

Whether you’re looking for scholarships, internships, recommendations, LSAT tips or spring courses, we’ve posted about it on the blog! Here is a handy roundup of the Best of the Pre-Law Blog in case you’ve missed some of our most helpful posts.

Did you know…that you can search the blog using the search box in the upper right?

Planning your Spring 2018 schedule? Visit this blog post for course suggestions, then visit this blog post for other considerations in planning your schedule.

Looking for scholarships? Check out this post with details about our Scholarship Spreadsheet listing over 250 scholarship opportunities.

Trying to find an internship? Explore this post and GET GOING! A Spring/Summer 2018 Internship Plan–Starting NOW! You should also join our Facebook page, where we post internship and job opportunities for pre-law students.

Currently applying to law school? Whether you’re taking the December LSAT or you’re done with the LSAT and wondering what to do now  or you’re looking for letters of recommendation (see Tips on getting recommendations from someone who writes them), we have those and many other posts to help you through the application process.

Planning ahead for taking the LSAT in 2018? Great! Go immediately to this post on Big LSAT changes: What should you know?  Also take a look at Timelines for 2018 LSAT Takers.

Thinking about summer 2018 plans? Planning ahead is smart. Explore this Summer Pre-Law Programs post, and head over to our Compass page to see the Summer Pre-Law Programs tab, containing a spreadsheet with 46 pre-law summer programs. Also consult our internship resources mentioned above.

Twitter Linkedin Digg Delicious Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Posterous Email

Mark Your Calendars: Week of October 30

Pre-Law Events

Pre-Law 101: TODAY at 4:00 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. We will cover: 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. Incoming students should attend a Pre-Law 101 prior to setting up an individual pre-law advising appointment. NOTE: THE FINAL PRE-LAW 101 OF THE SEMESTER WILL BE HELD NEXT MONDAY, NOV. 7 REGISTER HERE FOR THAT SESSION.

Interested in Patent Law and the Patent Bar? Do not miss this great event!

Patent Bar Exam Session Nov 15, 2017   5:00 – 6:00 pm  335 Grainger Engineering Library

The patent bar exam is the required first step to becoming either a patent agent for the United States Patent & Trademark Office or a patent prosecutor/litigator as a practicing attorney. Students with a background in engineering and the sciences (such as biology, biochemistry, physics, chemistry, computer science) are eligible to sit for this exam. (To see all exam requirements, visit the link below).  Join us for this Patent Bar session to learn about the exam from an expert. Mark Dighton, Director of the Practicing Law Institute Patent Office Exam Course, will be here to answer all of your questions about the patent bar, including:

  • What exactly does the patent bar cover?
  • When and how often can you take it?
  • How do people prepare for the exam?
  • What is the format of the exam, and how are results received?
  • What is a passing score for the exam?

He’ll also answer any other questions you have about the patent bar exam. This session is specifically designed for those undergrad and graduate students in engineering, science, or technology disciplines who are eligible to sit for the patent bar.

For a list of eligible majors or backgrounds visit  https://www.uspto.gov/sites/default/files/OED_GRB.pdf This is a free event. Please register at the link here so that we can ensure enough seating and materials for everyone.

 Register Now to attend the FREE Midwest Law School Virtual Fair on Nov. 7th
Meet Admissions Representatives & Faculty from Law Schools in the Midwestern U.S. Live Online!

Chat with admissions pros from over 30 midwestern law schools including Illinois, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Michigan State, DePaul, Valparaiso, and more! This is a free and easy way to learn about programs and to interact with law school representatives with no travel necessary. For more information and to register, click here.

Other Campus Events

Political Science hosts Careers in Political Science on Friday, Nov. 3 from 1:00-4:30 in the Illini Union Room 314B. They’ll have a panel followed by breakout sessions with political science alumni with work experience in law, business, government, insurance, data science, and journalism! For more details visit their website here.

Writer’s Workshop will host Writing Effective Thesis Statements & Essay Organization Workshop on 11/2/17 4:00pm-5:00pm, Gregory Hall, room 207
Are you writing an argumentative or analytical essay? This presentation will review the basic principles for creating effective thesis statements. It will also help students review common essay structures and strategies. You will have the opportunity to put this principles into practice, so bring a current assignment to work on. This workshop will be most useful to undergraduate students.

Writer’s Workshop–Interpreting & Using Critical Feedback Workshop on 11/7/17 4:00pm-5:00pm, Lincoln Hall, room 1024. Feeling overwhelmed by the critical feedback you’re receiving from your professors, advisers, and/or collaborators? This workshop will help you assess, integrate, and respond to critical feedback in the revision process. The workshop will be most helpful to graduate students or undergraduates working on senior theses or capstone projects.

Twitter Linkedin Digg Delicious Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Posterous Email

Course Selection for Pre-Law Students: Part 2

We previously shared a list of possible Spring 2018 courses of interest to pre-law students (click here to see that post). What else should you know about building your semester schedule? Here are several tips and suggestions to help pre-law students make the most of your upcoming semesters.

Students really can major in ANYTHING and be successful in law school, but you must be a strong student in whatever you choose. 

What academic skills should you build? Pre-law students must demonstrate strong research, writing, reading, and speaking skills, which can be accomplished both in and out of the classroom. These are the core skills that law schools truly care about, so take a look at your DARS and ask yourself: How many courses have you taken that develop and reflect these skills? Take courses that demonstrate those skills–they can be in any discipline. Popular options include English, History, Political Science, Philosophy, or Communication courses, but don’t feel limited to only those.

Balance academic challenge with success. Law schools want to see students who demonstrate academic success while taking a challenging courseload. Ideally, pre-law students would take an academic course load that is challenging both in terms of rigor and credits while still doing performing well. What does this mean, and how can you achieve it?

  • A challenging but not overwhelming course load suggestion is 15-17 credit hours. (This can vary due to individual factors, and is only a general guideline, not a mandate. Think carefully about the right course load for you.)
  • Be strategic in your course selection. Don’t take your 5 hardest classes in the same semester to get them out of the way. Work with your major advisor to determine how you can distribute those courses throughout your remaining semesters. Likewise, don’t take your 5 easiest classes at the same time–use those to give you some relief from the harder classes each semester.
  • For juniors and seniors–Move up from 1 and 200 level courses to 3 and 400 levels in order to demonstrate an appropriate level of challenge. A good general rule is no more than one 1 or 200 level course per semester for juniors and seniors (unless you must do so to graduate on time). Taking easy classes to pad a GPA is obvious to law school admissions, who know what a challenging semester looks like.

Use your major(s) and minor(s) to complement each other. If you have a major that does not necessarily demonstrate lots of writing or research skills, then selecting a minor or secondary major that does is a smart balance. Unusual combinations of majors/minors can also show a law school someone who is intellectually curious and able to succeed in a wide variety of coursework.

Consider changing majors, especially if you are not able to achieve mostly As and some Bs in your coursework.

Do not make course selections for these reasons:

  • A friend/roommate/sibling/parent said the class was easy;
  • I only wanted classes on Tues/Thurs so I just picked what I could get into on those days;
  • I only wanted afternoon classes so I didn’t even consider anything in the morning;
  • I wanted to hurry up and graduate so I took a very demanding overload each semester.

What, then, are good reasons to take a course?

  • It demonstrates the skills that law schools prefer to see;
  • I like the topic and find it interesting or it is required for my major/minor;
  • It fits in well with my remaining coursework in terms of balancing rigor and the ability to do well; and
  • I talked with my academic advisor who agreed it is a good fit for me.

You must prioritize academics if law school is your goal. Don’t get distracted from your goal of law school admission. If being president of a social organization or volunteering too much affects your grades, it’s time to dial back your extracurriculars and rededicate yourself to your role as a student. Law schools will not care that the reason your grades suffered is because you were planning a big fundraiser…that shows them a lack of prioritizing and time management skills.

Build important academic skills. Right now you are building academic skills and habits which you will rely on when you transition to law school, where the work is much harder and infinitely more time consuming than your undergraduate studies. Now is the time to master discipline (not procrastinating), effective note taking, reading comprehension and speed, attention to detail in your writing, citing your work appropriately, giving an effective speech, and managing your time. All of these are skills that you will be expected to bring with you into your law school classroom.

Remember that grade replacement will not help for law school (click here for a refresher), so take the time to carefully consider your best course options and seek help when you need it.


Twitter Linkedin Digg Delicious Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Posterous Email

December LSAT Update: What to know and do for December takers

The December 2 LSAT is only 6 weeks away, and the deadline to register is tomorrow! Based on the increase in September LSAT takers and last year’s December LSAT data, we predict that there will be a lot of December takers, so register now to get your preferred location. Register here: https://www.lsac.org/jd/lsat/test-dates-deadlines/2017-2018/us-canada-dec

Are you still trying to decide whether to retake? You’ll want to ask yourself some careful questions. Revisit this blog post for data on retakers, advice on deciding to retake, and next steps: http://publish.illinois.edu/…/what-to-do-now-that-the-lsat…/.

The timing of the December LSAT is challenging for current students, since it is so close to finals. How can you maximize your performance?

  • Clear your schedule as much as possible. With upcoming papers, projects, and assignments, November is going to be busy. You want to devote at least 10-15 hours per week to LSAT prep. (It’s only temporary.)
  • Make sure that you are taking TIMED, FULL LENGTH exams as part of your prep. Timing is a key issue for most LSAT takers.
  • Follow up with your recommendation writers and order your transcripts (click on “hold for fall grades” when ordering) so that your applications can be complete as soon as December LSAT scores are reported in January.
  • Take advantage of fall break to really crank up your LSAT prep.
  • If you are retaking:
    • Be realistic about how much improvement and progress you can make in 6 weeks. The average retaker scores within 2.5 points of where they scored last–which can be significant, in LSAT terms, but does not suggest that a jump of 10 points is likely.
    • Use your score report to carefully assess what questions you missed. Was what you missed consistent with your LSAT prep? Or did you find some surprises?
    • Consider: What can you do differently to prepare this time? Using a different book, teacher, or resource can help you progress. (You can use our LSAT Resources handout on our Compass page to find new study tools.)


Twitter Linkedin Digg Delicious Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Posterous Email

Spring 2018 Course Options for Pre-Law Students: Part 1

This is Part 1 of a 2 part series on course selections for pre-law students. This post will present many different course options to consider. 

As you know, students in ANY major can attend law school, and there are NO specifically required courses for pre-law undergrads. Law schools do not require any particular major or coursework. However, given an interest in law, here are some spring courses that pre-law students may find particularly helpful and interesting. These courses are only suggestions and are not requirements. 

Some of these courses have prerequisites;  check Course Explorer and speak to your academic advisor about the best courses for you.

ACE 240: Personal Financial Planning. Understanding financial instruments, records, and tax implications is critical for nearly all lawyers.

BTW 263: Writing in the Disciplines teaches very practical writing skills for aspiring professionals.

Community Health 101: Introduction to Public Health is a good option for those interested in pursuing healthcare law. (See posted restrictions.)

Communication courses are helpful, as all lawyers must demonstrate strong oral and written communication skills. Here are some examples of helpful courses:

  • CMN 101: Public Speaking (this is a prereq for most upper level CMN courses)
  • CMN 211: Business Communication
  • CMN 220: Communicating Public Policy
  • CMN 321: Strategies of Persuasion
  • CMN 323: Argumentation

ENGL 310: Unprotected Speech. Description from the instructor:

This semester, we will study the workings of our language through the lens of protected and unprotected speech and writing: what we can say without fear of legal consequences, and what we can’t. Starting with the murderous attacks on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, and the recent clash between the First and Second Amendments in Charlottesville, and free-speech issues at Yale, Berkeley, Missouri, and the U of I, as well as other campuses, we’ll look at the history of censorship, speech bans, and government surveillance of speech. We’ll see how the boundaries between permitted and banned speech shift over time and with context; how advances in technology change the border between public speech and private speech; whether speech codes are desirable or indefensible; and how the concept of intellectual property informs and limits what we can do with our words, and with the words of others.

All readings will be available on line. Students will be asked to write several short papers on the topics covered, and to participate in a moot court on a current free-speech court case.

ENGL 360: Environmental Writing for students interested in environmental law.

HDFS 120: Intro to Family Studies and SW 200: Intro to Social Work. Both of these courses may be of interest to students who want to be advocates for families and juveniles.

INFO 303: Writing Across Media, a skill that all legal careers integrate and value.

LAW 199:The Judicial System. Enrollment in this class, which meets on Fridays from   1-4 pm, is limited to 12 students. Here are course details and application procedures directly from the course instructor:

The purpose of the class is to take a deep dive into the criminal justice system.  Every other week we go off campus to visit state and federal judges, prosecutors, public defenders, legal aid lawyers, and other legal professionals.   We learn what they do, how they do it, and what is both challenging and rewarding about their jobs.  We also observe court proceedings, and see what happens in state and federal courts.

On the alternate weeks, we gather in the College of Law classroom to review the textbook content, take short quizzes, discuss prior visits, and prepare for upcoming visits.  We also ponder the social and legal inequalities that pervade the justice system through movie clips describing cases of particular noteworthiness.  In short, we work to become familiar with the justice system and the people who support it, and we think about the many challenges it must address.

If you are interested in applying, please prepare a document with the following information:

1) Your name and email address;
2) Why this course interests you;
3) What you hope to learn during the semester; and
4) How you will manage your schedule so that you will be available Friday afternoons for our class meetings and field trips.

Please bring a paper copy of your application document–by October 27–to the College of Law, Room 338  (for our Undergraduate Studies Coordinator, Ellen Rund).  If no one is in the office, you may slip the application under the door.  (Documents often come to us that way.) Students will be contacted the following week with offers of admission. 

NRES 102: Intro to Natural Resources and Environmental Science would be a helpful course for students interested in pursuing environmental law.

Philosophy options include:

  • PHIL 102: Logic & Reasoning. Especially helpful for students who have yet to take the LSAT, as two sections of the LSAT are based on Logical Reasoning.
  • PHIL 104/105: Intro to Ethics.  Basic exploration of ethics, including the relationship between social morality and the law.
  • PHIL 436: Philosophy of Law and the State. Explores broad philosophical legal issues.

Political Science options to gain a foundational understanding of our legal system and its role within broader political structures include:

  • PS 220/321: Intro to Public Policy/Principles of Public Policy
  • PS 301/302: US Constitution I &II are both helpful primers for law school
  • PS 303/313: The US Congress/Congress and Foreign Policy
  • PS 280: Intro to International Relations

PSYC 341: Advanced Community Projects. Gaining experience with clients in a human services context can build client-related skills as well as introducing students to the legal needs of a community or a specific population.

Sociology has introduced its Criminology, Law and Society minor. These courses may be helpful for students exploring criminal legal issues and crime in society, such as:

  • SOC 226: Political Sociology
  • SOC 275: Criminology
  • SOC 378: Law and Society

Other courses to explore different areas of law include the following. Some have restrictions; check Course Explorer.

  • ACE 403: Agricultural Law
  • JOUR 311: Media Law
  • RST 354: Legal Aspects of Sport
  • SE 400 Engineering Law
  • GEOG 210: Social & Environmental Issues
  • UP 211: Local Planning, Government and Law

Business classes can provide a helpful foundation for those interested in corporate careers, however, most are restricted to College of Business majors or minors. Some courses will release any leftover seats after a restricted period; check Course Explorer for more details.

  • BADM 300 Legal Environment of Business
  • BADM 303 Principles of Public Policy–also cross-listed as PS 321.
  • BADM 314 Leading Negotiations

Remember that these are only suggestions.  Further, this is not intended to be an exhaustive list. There are many other great courses described in the Course Explorer, some of which have prerequisites but are still open to undergrads. Do your own research and talk with your academic advisor to identify other good options.

Twitter Linkedin Digg Delicious Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Posterous Email

Grade Replacement and Law School

It can be confusing how grade replacement works in light of law school applications. This Q&A guide will help to clarify how grade replacement impacts law school applicants. It is critical that pre-law students understand how grade replacement will be viewed by a law school admissions team.

Students: Discuss your particular situation carefully with your academic advisor before making any decisions about re-taking a course!

Q. What is the campus Grade Replacement Policy?

A. You can find the Grade Replacement Policy in the Student Code, §3-309.

Students who meet the qualifications set forth in the Policy may now re-take up to 10 hours of UIUC courses and replace a grade of “C–” or below with the grade received the second time the course was taken. The original grade will no longer be factored in to the UIUC GPA. However, the original grade will still appear on your transcript, and it WILL impact law school applications (more about that below.)

An example to illustrate:

Taylor took Math 220 at UIUC in Fall 2015 and earned a D+. Taylor decides to re-take the course, gets departmental approval for grade replacement, and re-takes Math 220 in Spring 2016. Taylor earns a C in the course this time.

In Taylor’s UIUC GPA, only the C from the Spring 2016 Math 220 will be calculated. However, both grades will appear on the transcript.

Q: How does this impact a law school application?

A: Both Math 220 grades will be factored into the GPA when applying to law schools.

When students apply to law school, the Law School Admission Council (LSAC) re-calculates the GPA and submits this calculation to law schools. (You can find more information about how the LSAC re-calculates a GPA here: http://www.lsac.org/aboutlsac/policies/transcript-summarization). Basically, applicants will have two GPAs: A UIUC GPA and an LSAC GPA.

This means that law schools will receive both your UIUC GPA and your re-calculated LSAC GPA. Our office has confirmed with the LSAC that they will continue to factor both the original and the second grade for a repeated course into your LSAC GPA, even if you qualified for Grade Replacement, and even if your UIUC GPA does not include the original grade.

In short: Both Math 220 grades will appear on Taylor’s transcript AND both grades will be factored into Taylor’s law school application GPA.

Takeaway: Law school applicants cannot “hide” or remove the original grade from law school admissions, or from their GPA for law school applications.

An example to illustrate: When Taylor applies to law school, the LSAC GPA will factor in both the original D+ AND the C for both of the Math 220 courses. This GPA will be included in the reports sent to each law school to which Taylor applies. The law school will also receive an official UIUC transcript with UIUC GPA.

Q: Should pre-law students ever consider grade replacement?

A: Maybe. Don’t do grade replacement just to improve your GPA for law school application purposes. If your goal is to improve your GPA, you’d be better off taking a class that suits your strengths that is at least the same number of credits as the class you want to replace. You’d have a better chance of doing well and balancing out that low grade.

However, there may be other reasons to go for grade replacement. Two examples: (1) You need to master the material in that course in order to do well in subsequent courses; or (2) you need credit for that specific course to graduate. Talk to the academic advisor in your major to explore if there are other reasons why you should consider retaking.

Questions to consider before making a decision about re-taking a course:

• Do you need the course? Is it required or necessary to master the material for a required sequence?

• Realistically, how much better will you perform in the course a second time?

• Since you cannot “hide” the low grade from law school admissions, might you be better off taking a different course that interests you and suits your strengths?

If you decide to retake the course, carefully and realistically assess what you can do differently this time. What really caused your performance to suffer? What resources can you use this time to improve your grade? Do not assume that exposure to the material a second time will automatically improve your grade–many students get the same grade or only see slight improvement when retaking.


Twitter Linkedin Digg Delicious Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Posterous Email

All About Law School Interviews

Many law schools now incorporate some kind of interview process. Here’s what to know and do to prepare.

Know what kind of interviews your law schools offer

  • Research your law schools’ websites to see whether and what kind of interview is offered. We posted a list of known interview types by school over on our Compass page.
  • By invitation only–some law schools like University of Chicago choose to interview applicants by invitation only.
  • Open interviews–Other law schools like Northwestern offer interview slots to all applicants on a first-come, first-served basis. (To schedule an interview visit their interview calendar here. Hurry, because they will fill fast.)
  • Group interviews–Some schools like Georgetown will offer group interviews in selected cities; at this time Georgetown’s interview is also by invitation only.

Preparing for the interview

  • Do your research. You should expect them to ask you “why this law school?” and they will want to hear specific answers. Take a careful look at the school’s website, employment data, and any marketing materials like pamphlets.
    • Do be prepared with specific bullet points about the school that interest you: A particular journal, clinic, externship, or certificate program is a good example.
    • Don’t say general things like “you have a national reputation” or “you’re the best ranked school I can get into.” They want to see that your interest goes beyond their ranking.
  • Carefully review your resume and be prepared to discuss anything on it. Many schools will also ask something like “Where do you see yourself in 5/10 years?,” so be prepared to discuss your career interests.
  • Practice. Sign up for a mock interview with Career Services, or have a lawyer/professor/trusted person sit down with you and ask you questions. Think carefully about what you want to say, and how you can best convey it.

At the interview

  • Make eye contact, introduce yourself, and shake hands. (You would be surprised how many people skip this. Seriously.)
  • DO NOT BE LATE under any circumstances. The biggest sign of disrespect to lawyers is wasting their time. Allow yourself plenty of time for parking/traffic/restroom. If you absolutely cannot avoid being late, call the office to let them know.
  • Dress up. This is not a business-casual situation; business formal is best.
  • Engage in small talk. How’s the weather, what a lovely office/view, how is your semester going, etc., is not only socially necessary but also gives the interviewer an idea of how good you are at making people feel comfortable talking with you–a critical skill to be a successful lawyer. This might even be part of the interview itself.
  • Bring questions for the interviewer.  Most interviewers will ask if you have any questions for them. Use the opportunity. Some examples might include:
    • What are the most important qualities in a Law School X student?
    • How would you describe the student body/atmosphere here?
    • What challenges do you see current law students facing?
    • What’s the best advice you have for an aspiring law student?
  • Thank the interviewer for their time. Reiterate your interest.

After the interview

  • Follow up with an email thanking the interviewer for their time.
  • Include something specific that you learned or enjoyed about the interview. Examples:
    • Thank you for your advice about _______________; I found that very insightful.
    • It was reassuring to hear your thoughts on the atmosphere at this school.
    • I appreciate your honesty in addressing the challenges faced by current students.
  • Take the opportunity–again–to reiterate your interest in the school.
Twitter Linkedin Digg Delicious Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Posterous Email

Mark Your Calendars: Week of October 2

Pre-Law Events

Applying to Law School Workshop–Monday, Oct. 16 at 4:00 in 514 Illini Union Bookstore Building. Designed for students who are currently in the application process, this workshop will provide an in-depth overview, including: Using the Credential Assembly Service, understanding each element of the application, making a timeline for perfecting the application, researching law schools, and creating a strategy for maximizing admissions and aid through the application process. Participants will leave with a detailed application plan, along with tips and suggestions on best application practices. The last 15 minutes will be set aside for Q&A so that individual questions can be addressed.

College of Law Events–Pre-Law students are invited to attend!

Fourth District Appellate Court Oral Arguments–Tuesday, Oct. 10, 10:30-12:30 in the Max L. Rowe Auditorium in the College of Law (504 E Pennsylvania Ave). This is your opportunity to see our Appellate Court in action as they hold oral arguments on two cases: 4-15-0650 People v. Christina Atkins, at 10:30 a.m. and 4-17-0028 Ivancicts v. Griffith, at 11:30 a.m.

The State of Civil Rights Today & The Modern Day Resistance Movement–Thursday, Oct. 17 at 12:00 pm in the Max L. Rowe Auditorium at the College of Law (504 E Pennsylvania Ave). The University of Illinois College of Law presents the 2017 Paul M. Van Arsdell, Jr. Memorial Lecture on Litigation and the Legal Profession, featuring Kristen Clarke, President and Executive Director of the national Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.The event is free and open to the public. Lunch will be provided to lecture attendees. Description: Civil rights are under grave attack at the federal, state and local levels. Fragile gains have been lost as a new Administration works to roll back progress. In this lecture, Clarke will provide an overview of some of the unprecedented challenges faced by minority communities and discuss efforts being made to safeguard civil rights in this new environment. The centrality of the courts as a vehicle for protecting rights will be discussed.

Other Campus Events

Embodying Your Authentic Self: Your Key to Success, Monday, Oct. 2 at 12:00 pm at the Women’s Resources Center, 616 E Green St, Suite 202. Join us for a presentation by LaTonya Wilkins, “Embodying Your Authentic Self: Your Key to Success”, presented as a part of the Your Story Matters series. Lunch will be provided.

We’ll see you at the Majors & Minors Fair! Come out to explore majors (or a secondary major), minors, and more–including Pre-Law Advising–on Wednesday, Oct. 4 from 2-4 in Illini Union Rooms A,B,C. 

The Technology and Entrepreneur Center Information Session–Oct. 4 at 4:00 pm in Room 106B1 Engineering Hall to promote certificate programs and their new Innovation, Leadership, & Engineering Entrepreneurship, or ILEE dual degree (offered to Engineering Majors). The Technology and Entrepreneur Center or TEC is a great place for students across campus to gain additional knowledge and expertise to add to their current major. Students do not have to be in an Engineering major to participate in our courses or certificate programs. Students that are innovative, creative, problem solvers, entrepreneurial, collaborative, or passionate about making an impact on the world will find a host of opportunities in TEC. TEC is a great place to begin to team up or collaborate with students, and people from various parts of campus and the community.  Check out the TEC website, and attend one of the three info sessions listed on the attached flyer.

Save the date for the Illini Career & Internship Fair on Thursday, October 19 from 12:00 noon-4pm in Illini Union A,B,C Rooms! Log into Handshake and click this link for more details. 


Twitter Linkedin Digg Delicious Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Posterous Email