Application tips from the University of Chicago Law School: A guest post

This week we are kicking off a new series of guest posts from law school colleagues. These posts will give you a peek into what’s new at their schools, share tips on the application process, and let you get to know the people reading your application.

Today we are happy to present this post from fellow Illini Dean Ann Perry from the University of Chicago Law School. You can also visit UChicago Law’s table at the Law School Fair here on campus next Tuesday, October 4 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Illini Union A, B, C Rooms.

Dear Fellow Illini—-

My name is Ann K. Perry, and I am the Associate Dean for Admissions and Financial Aid at the University of Chicago Law School. Though I have been in this position for over 14 years, as a double alum of the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign my blood is still orange and blue. I enjoy getting back to campus and meeting with prospective law students. I already met with some students a couple of weeks ago when I was in town for an athletic board meeting. I wanted to reach more students so your great pre–law advisors invited me to write a blog post. You can find out a lot about the University of Chicago Law School on our website, so I won’t bore you with all of those details but do check out our website here. UChicago Law is a wonderful place to study law with a very engaged and active learning community where interaction with your professors happens daily both inside and outside the classroom! If this sounds like a place you would like to study……APPLY!!

I want to give you some just-released information about the Class of 2019. They have recently arrived on campus and classes start September 26 (we are on the quarter system). There are 186 students and University of Illinois is represented! Their median LSAT is a 170 and median GPA is 3.9, BUT it is always more helpful to look at the ranges—our LSAT range is 154-180 and our GPA range is 3.21-4.20. As you can see, these ranges are wide, which shows that we have a holistic review of all of our applications. The personal statement, resume, LORs, and transcripts are as important as the numbers. So as you are putting your application together, don’t take any short cuts and make each part as strong as you can.

And as you prepare to apply, I wanted to give you some tips regarding Letters of Recommendations (LORs), which might seem difficult to get on a campus as large as UIUC. As an alum, I am familiar with the size of some of your classes—I had over 1000 classmates in my Econ101 class many moons ago! You should think about the professor or teaching assistant who knows you the best, perhaps someone who taught you in two or more classes. Those are the people who can write strong letters about how they have seen you develop academically. Make sure to give them plenty of time to write the letter. When you ask them, it is helpful to bring them a copy of your resume so they learn all the other things you do on campus or the kinds of part time work you are doing while in school. Finally, don’t hesitate to clearly ask if they are able to write you a strong letter… want to give them an out if they just are too busy at the time to write the letter.

I hope you have found this information and tips helpful. We look forward to reviewing your application, and don’t hesitate to reach out to me with any questions.

Go Illini!!
Ann Killian Perry
Associate Dean for Admissions & Financial Aid
The University of Chicago Law School

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5 Things to do after the December LSAT

December is here and the LSAT is over, which means it is time to focus on the remaining elements of your application so that you can get those applications out as soon as your LSAT score is available in the first week of JanuaryWhat should you be doing now?

Check on your letters of recommendation…NOW!! Your recommendations should already be in your LSAC account. Check your account and follow up with your recommenders ASAP if they aren’t, so that you know when they will be in. Remember that your application is not complete and will not be considered without them.  This should be your top priority because the closer we get to break, the busier professors get (or they begin to travel and be unreachable).

Draft your personal statement. It’s time to take that energy and time you were focusing on the LSAT and devote it to your personal statement. Although our personal statement workshops are over, we have some tips and suggestions for the personal statement on our website and a helpful video and handout on our Compass page.  You can also get help through the Writer’s Workshop, which is a great place to start. Spend some time thinking about your values, your career goals, and what makes you stand out from the crowd. Then write a draft, set it aside for a few days, and revisit it. Don’t worry if you don’t love the first draft–no one does. Start now so that you can spend at least a few weeks thinking, writing, and editing.

Schedule an appointment now. When you are ready for some feedback, you can make an appointment for a Pre-Law Advisor to review your personal statement and discuss it with you in addition to answering any questions about the application process.

  • December appointments: Both Pre-Law Advisors will be available for appointments through December 22, and we expect to be very busy with appointments during this time given that applications are up this year. It is a good idea to schedule your appointment now by calling 333-9669. Please email us your statement and resume two business days prior to your appointment so that we have time to review them.
  • Winter break appointments: The office will be closed Dec. 25 through January 1. Appointments will be available again starting January 2. If you are not in the Champaign-Urbana area, you can make a phone appointment–just let the receptionist know when you schedule that it will be a phone appointment.

Order your transcripts. You’ll need to order a transcript from each undergraduate institution you attended. At Illinois, you can check the “hold for fall grades” box to have your Fall 2017 grades included. Visit the LSAC here,, for more information on the transcript ordering process. You can order your Illinois transcript through the Registrar’s website here.

Schedule law school visits.  Many law schools offer open houses. Check your top 3-5 law schools’ websites and social media. Individual law school visits are a good alternative. Call the law school and ask for a tour and to sit it on a class. Visiting a law school is very important to your overall law school choice, and is a MUST for schools that you are seriously considering. Plus, law schools will note your visit and you may even get to meet the person reading your application, so be sure to make a good impression.

Take a look at our earlier post called “The Application Process: LSAC Tips” for even more application details.

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Mark Your Calendars — End of Semester Edition — Farewell Seniors!

Information for Graduating Seniors and Alumni

First — congratulations and best wishes to our UIUC graduating Seniors!  We would love to hear from you so please keep in touch.  In fact, we have created a Linked In Group, entitled “Illini Pre-Law Alumni.”  This is an opportunity for PLAS to stay in touch with all of you and for you to stay in touch with your classmates and other UIUC alums. You never know when you might end up in a new city and need to network to find a new job or information on law school. Please go to LinkedIn to join our group.

Information for Fall Law School Applicants

Our events have concluded for this semester but we do have a public service announcement.  Fall law school applicants — do not forget to identify and meet with people whom you would like to write letters of recommendation on your behalf BEFORE you leave campus!  If you wait until the fall to make the request(s), you will likely find yourself waiting in line behind others who asked first!  For information on how to solicit letters of recommendation, go to our April 20 blog post. If you would like a helpful overview on letters of recommendation that you can share with letter writers, then go to the PLAS Compass Page and check out our “Guide to Letters of Recommendation” in the “Application Pointers” section.

Information for June LSAT Test Takers — Reminder about day of exam!

As we discussed in an earlier blog post, the June 2016 LSAT is the first test with new photo ID requirements.  Further, LSAC provides a list of day of test reminders here. It is absolutely critical that you look at this list well in advance of June 6 so that you follow the LSAC’s instructions to the letter.  Any violation of LSAC rules constitutes grounds for you to be dismissed from the test.  

PLAS Summer Activities and Office Hours 

Although we will not be regularly posting to our blog, we will occasionally post information of interest on Facebook (Pre-Law Advising at U of IL) and Twitter (@UIUCPreLaw).   If you need to schedule an appointment with a pre-law advisor over the summer, remember that PLAS Summer Hours are in effect and appointments are available in advance.  Just call the PLAS office at (217) 333-9669 to make an appointment.  Enjoy your break and look for announcements about our fall calendar when you return in August.

Have a great summer!

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Fall Applicants — Now is the Time to Request Letters of Recommendation

Hopefully, you were able to attend Monday’s “Applying to Law School Workshop.”  If not, one of the items you missed concerned how to request a letter of recommendation.  Here is a quick recap.

  1. What is a Letter of Recommendation (LOR)? A very important part of the application process, LORs should highlight your academic strengths and your personal qualities that will contribute to your success as a law student and as a lawyer.
  2. Who should you ask to submit an LOR on your behalf? Your letters should be written by professors or supervisors who are both in a position to evaluate your work and capable of expressing enthusiasm about your relevant talents and abilities.
  3. What is the best way to approach a possible letter writer? Make an appointment with your recommender to discuss your request. Explain your interest in law school and provide helpful information to assist the writer. This might include a copy of your transcript, a personal résumé that lists academic distinctions and accomplishments, and a copy of your personal statement or an explanation of why you want to attend law school. You may also wish to provide your grade point average and your LSAT score.  If you are unsure as to what the writer needs, ask him or her. 
  4. What constitutes a good LOR? The most effective LORs are those submitted by experienced professors or supervisors who know you well enough to describe your academic, personal, or professional achievements and potential with candor, detail, and objectivity. They will have a basis for comparison to other students/employees and will be able to describe your strengths and skills that are most important to the law schools — i.e., writing, research, communication, problem solving and exposure to the law, just to name a few identified by the American Bar Association in their Statement on Preparing for Law School, as key in preparation for law school. Contrary to (mistaken) popular belief, a famous faculty member, family friend or well-respected judge who cannot speak to relevant skills is not a good choice to submit an LOR. 
  5. When should I request the LOR? If you are applying this coming fall, you should make your request NOW If you wait until fall, other students will be ahead of you in line.  And what if your letter writer is supposed to be on sabbatical? By making your request now, you give your letter writer the opportunity to spend time crafting a strong LOR over the summer and having it ready to go when you start working on your applications early in the fall.  REMEMBER: law school admissions are rolling, which means the law schools can evaluate and make decisions on your completed applications upon receipt.  As such, it is better to be an early filer in a rolling admissions process. By asking early, you (hopefully) avoid the situation where you have completed all required application elements within your control but are waiting for an LOR before you can submit your applications. 
  6. What do I do if I am graduating and planning to apply to law school in a year or two? Stay in touch with people whom you think would be able to submit a strong LOR on your behalf.  Several of the law schools that require applicants to submit LORs prefer to have at least one of those letters come from faculty, even if you are not coming straight from undergrad to law school.  
  7. How does the recommender submit the LOR?  The process is handled through the applicant’s Credential Assembly Service (CAS) account which is set up via the Law School Admission Counsel (LSAC) website.  Every law school applicant is required to apply to law school through their CAS account.  Click on this link to learn more the LOR process.   You can also check out our Compass page for a very helpful handout on this topic. 

As always, if you have questions feel free to schedule an appointment with a pre-law advisor by calling the PLAS Office at 333-9669.




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It’s January — Get Your Applications In ASAP!!

If you are applying to law school this cycle and do not have your applications in, get them in ASAP!  Remember: this is a rolling admissions process! What is your hold up?

Personal Statement: If you are struggling with drafting your personal statement, get cracking!  Not sure how to get started?  Check out our “Perfecting Your Personal Statement” video on the PLAS Compass page You can also look at our tips both on Compass and the PLAS website.  Once you have a draft, you are welcome to contact the PLAS office at (217) 333-9669 to set up an appointment with an advisor to go over your personal statement.  REMEMBER: you need to submit your draft personal statement 2 business days prior to your appointment!

Addendum:  If you have to submit an addendum to explain something related to a character and fitness disclosure or to explain something else in your application, just sit down and write it!  No amount of hand wringing is going to change a law school’s requirement that you submit this.  Not sure how to begin? First —  Check out the PLAS website to help you get started. Next — Go to the PLAS Compass page for more specific advice.  Both the “Perfecting Your Personal Statement” and “Character and Fitness” videos (found within the “Application Pointers” section) provide information to help you decide how to craft this document.  Once you have a good draft, feel free to make an appointment with a pre-law advisor to discuss it.  We have the same policy for a written addendum as we do for the personal statement: submit your draft 2 business days prior to your appointment.

Letters of Recommendation: Have your letter writers turned in your letters?  If not, you should gently remind them that you need letters submitted to LSAC before the law schools that require LORs will review your applications.  If you haven’t yet asked for letters of recommendation ASK TODAY!

Transcripts:  You need to submit your request for your most recent UIUC transcript to be submitted to your LSAC-CAS account.  Here is a link to the UIUC Registrar’s Office and to LSAC’s explanation of transcripts.  Note: if you have already submitted your applications, you still are obligated to submit an updated transcript to LSAC as part of your continuing obligation to disclose new information and supply updates to your file.  Go here for information on this requirement.

Good Luck!

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Mark Your Calendars – Week of April 27

PLAS Announcement

Our events have concluded for this semester but we do have a public service announcementFall law school applicants — do not forget to identify and meet with people whom you would like to write letters of recommendation on your behalf BEFORE you leave campus!  If you wait until the fall to make the request(s), you will likely find yourself waiting in line behind others who asked first!  For information on how to solicit letters of recommendation, first go to our webpage, and then to the PLAS Compass Page and check out our “Guide to Letters of Recommendation” in the “Application Pointers” section.

Campus Events and Opportunities

Career Center Workshops – Unless otherwise indicated, all workshops are held at the Career Center, 715 S. Wright Street. For more information or to register, click here.

  • Creating Powerful Resumes and Cover Letters,Tuesday, April 28, 5-6pm
  • Careers in the Federal Government, Wednesday, April 29, 4-5pm


UK & Ireland Scholarships Info Session and Application Workshop

Fancy a fully-funded graduate degree at a top British or Irish university? Join us to learn about a group of scholarships that allow you to pursue your academic goals in the United Kingdom and Ireland!

This informational session and application workshop is targeted to juniors, seniors, and graduate or professional students, and will provide an overview of the Gates Cambridge, Marshall, Mitchell, and Rhodes scholarships.

When: Thursday, May 7, 3:30-5:00pm
Where: 514 Illini Union Bookstore Building (entrance near Coble Hall)

We will discuss the:
• basic eligibility requirements,
• selection criteria, and
• application processes for these awards.

The University of Illinois’ newest Marshall Scholar, Jacob Calvert, will be on hand to share his application experience!

The latter portion of the event will help participants begin to craft their applications for these scholarships. This is a great opportunity to strategize and get feedback on your ideas for your application essays. The priority deadline for the Marshall and Gates Cambridge scholarships is June 1, 2015, and the required campus deadline for many of the UK/Ireland scholarships is August 25, 2015, so now is the time to get started!

Questions? Send an email to  For more information, go to:


Other Opportunities

The law firm of Snell & Wilmer L.L.P. is currently accepting applications for its Fellowship for Advancement and Resources (“FAR”).  Snell & Wilmer names up to two FAR Fellows annually, and recipients receive the following benefits: (1) a fully paid commercial LSAT preparation course and a stipend covering the costs associated with sitting for the exam, (2) a 1L law school prep course, (3) money for books for all three years of law school, (4) a technology stipend (if needed), and (5) mentorship from a Snell & Wilmer attorney. This pipeline initiative will have a meaningful and lasting impact for FAR Fellows, and Snell & Wilmer are excited to continue the program this year.

A link to the application, which explains the FAR Fellowship in greater detail can be found here. Applications are due July 1, 2015. Any questions can be directed to Kara Blakely via e-mail at


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Be An “Early Bird” Fall Applicant — Tips for Getting Started Now!

You have decided to apply to law school in the fall.  You are prepping for either the June or October LSAT.  What else should you do this spring?

1. Attend PLAS Programs! Attending our upcoming “Early Bird” PLAS programs will help you get a jump start on your applications.  Remember — most law schools admit applicants on a rolling basis so the earlier you apply, the better!

  • Applying to Law School — A Webinar for Fall Applicants THIS Monday, April 13, 4-5:15 pm. Applying to law school early in the application cycle can result in more admission offers, more aid, and much less stress. This workshop is designed for students who will be applying to law school this fall and want to maximize their law school opportunities. We will provide an overview of the law school application process, including information about the Law School Admission Council (LSAC) and the LSAC’s Credential Assembly Service.  We will also share a timeline for an optimal application completion process.  Bring your questions about law school applications! We are piloting this workshop as a WEBINAR and we will be using Compass. Please register by clicking on this link and we will send login information prior to the workshop.
  • Personal Statement Workshop for Fall Applicants Monday, April 20, 4:00-5:00pm, Room 514 Illini Union Bookstore Building.  Law school applicants consistently say that the personal statement took much more time to write than they expected. This workshop will provide an overview of how to craft the personal statement and the resume for law school applications. Please register by clicking on this link and then click on “register.”  Registration is required so that we can provide enough seating and materials for everyone.

2. Request Letters of Recommendation. Consider whom you should ask to write your letters of recommendation and plan to request your LORs BEFORE you leave campus for the summer.  Applicants frequently make the mistake of waiting until fall to approach their professors and then find themselves waiting quite a while.  Your professors are busy so you need to plan ahead to give them enough time to write your letters… and the letters that others are requesting. Not sure how to request an LOR?  Check out our website for tips and suggestions.

3. Draft Your Personal Statement. If you are taking the LSAT on June 8, your primary focus now should be preparing for the test.  Once the test is over, begin working on your personal statement. October LSAT takers should be both studying and finding time to begin drafting the personal statement.  It may be the hardest 2 page writing assignment you have ever had.  A good personal statement isn’t written in 1 or 2 days.  It takes weeks of drafts and edits and re-writes to get you where you need to be.  We urge you to make time to attend our Personal Statement and Resume Workshop on Monday, April 20 (see above) to help get you started on drafting this very important document. We also have some helpful information about personal statements on our website.

4. Stay informed… about all of our PLAS Programs, information sessions, updates on law school admissions, the legal profession, etc.  How???

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Just Say Thank You!

The application process is winding down.  You are reviewing your offers and trying to make a decision.  You put in a lot of work and effort to get here so congratulations!

But what about those professors, bosses and mentors who helped you along the way?  Moreover, what about those same individuals that then agreed to write your letters of recommendation?  They typically have to set aside time outside of the office/classroom to write these letters.  And how long do you think it takes to craft a detailed, strong and persuasive letter?  Many hours, according to some letter writers I know.  So THANK THEM!  Let them know how the process has concluded and how much they contributed to your success.

Still not persuaded that good letters of recommendation are that important?  Click on this link to read what Asha Rangappa, Associate Dean for Admissions, Yale Law School has to say about letters of recommendation and why they are so impactful.  Then reach out to your letter writers and JUST SAY THANK YOU!

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Getting to Know Your Professors

Law school admissions officers frequently stress the importance of quality letters of recommendation in their decision whether to admit prospective students.  For that reason, you must carefully select a professor or supervisor (if choosing an employer).*  If a student chooses a recommender who does not know them well, the letter will fail to impress.  In fact, such a “general” letter of recommendation can negatively influence an application.  Prospective law students should begin acquainting themselves with their professors early to avoid this unenviable situation.

In order to achieve a personal connection with your professors, visit them during office hours.  Professors hold office hours so they can get to know their students and help them better understand the subject matter of the course.  Stop by early in the semester and explain to your professor that you would like to get to know them better.  Bring questions about material that was covered in a recent class or try to focus the conversation on a professor’s area of expertise.  Often times, professors focus their time on a specific area of interest within their field.  Employ your research skills and try to determine the professor’s area of interest.  Then, inquire about that topic.

Stay for ten or fifteen minutes and thank your professor for his or her time.  Now, your professor will recognize you and will know you personally each time you contribute in class.  Go back to office hours as needed.  Provided you do well in the course, you have established the necessary groundwork for requesting a letter of recommendation at a later date.


*Typically, students should choose professors to write their letters of recommendation.  For more information, see the University of Chicago’s thoughts on the topic.

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