Starting law school this fall? What to know, do, and buy this summer!

Congratulations to all Illini who are completing the law school application cycle! It feels like it’s over, but actually, a whole new stage is just beginning. What should you do now and throughout the summer to make sure you are ready to enter the legal profession?

First Things First: Final Application Tasks

  • Seat deposits. Now is the time for making those seat deposits to save your seat. While some people will submit multiple seat deposits, if you’ve done your research and completed your visits, you need to only place one seat deposit at your selected school. Remember that starting May 15, every law school can see each deposit that applicants have made–meaning that they will know if you’ve put down multiple deposits.
  • Follow up on wait lists. It is very common to be on one or more wait lists. Revisit this blog post for tips on what to do.
  • Withdraw your other applications. By this point, applicants have narrowed down their law school to one or two top choices. Contact the schools you know you won’t be attending to formally withdraw. This allows those law schools to offer your seat/scholarship to someone else. Some law schools will have a webform to do this, whereas at others, a simple email like this will do. Dear Dean of Admissions, Thank you very much for the opportunity to attend Your Law School. However, after careful consideration I have decided to attend X Law School (or, I’ve decided to attend law school in the midwest/east coast/elsewhere), so I will not be placing a deposit.  I very much appreciate your time and consideration of my application. Best wishes, Applicant.
  • Send a final transcript. After graduation, you must provide a final transcript to the law school you are attending.

Professional details–You are taking an important step toward beginning your professional life. Start off on the right foot.

  • Get online.
    • Clean up your social media presence like your Facebook and Twitter sites. Would you want an employer or law school representative to see every picture or post of yours? If not, take them down, and set privacy restrictions.
    • Set up a new, professional-sounding gmail account (not cubbies14 or hotty100). Learn how to use google calendar–if you haven’t been much of a planner until now, this is a good time to start getting in the habit of planning your days/weeks. Here’s a good video to learn some starter tips and tricks.
    • Create a Linked In profile or update your profile.
    • Update your resume.
    • Subscribe to online news and legal resources such as the New York Times and the National Law Journal to get into the practice of keeping up to date on legal issues.
  • Follow up with your professors/recommenders. You will continue to need recommendations for scholarships and for applying to jobs at the end of 1L year and beyond. Plus, it is simply good practice to begin developing long term connections.  At minimum you should:
    • Send a thank you note to your law school recommenders and let them know where you’ve decided to attend law school.
    • Provide your gmail or other non-Illinois email so that they can stay in touch with you after you graduate.
    • Ask if you can connect with them on LinkedIn.
    • Extra credit for delivering an inexpensive token gift such as a coffee gift card or chocolates. You don’t have to spend a lot of money–and shouldn’t–to express your appreciation.
  • Network. Ask lawyers you or your parents know if you can take them to coffee and learn about their practice area. You can use the Illinois Lawyer Finder here to locate lawyers near you by practice area. Use your networking skills and begin reaching out to any contacts in legal fields that interest you. Remember, everyone needs a lawyer eventually, and most people know or have hired a lawyer. Plus lawyers know lots of other lawyers and can introduce or recommend you. You can already start thinking about what kind of 1L summer job you’d like and build the network for that.
  • Create a Google Doc to help with your bar exam application. List every address you’ve ever had, every landlord you’ve ever had, and every speeding and parking ticket you’ve ever received. Get all the records you can for these and for any academic or disciplinary action against you during your undergraduate years. You’ll be applying during your 2L or 3L year to sit for the bar in your chosen state and you will not remember these old details! If you’d like to know what details you’ll be obligated to report on your Illinois Character & Fitness application, visit the Illinois Board of Admission to the Bar application here–be sure to click on the drop down menu to see all the questions in Sections A through J. Click here to explore other states’ bar application requirements.

Financial considerations

  • Follow up with the financial aid office of your law school to make sure they have all the documents they need, such as your FAFSA, and that you haven’t missed any opportunities to apply for school-specific scholarships.
  • Apply for scholarships this summer! We posted a Scholarships Spreadsheet over on Compass listing over 200 scholarships for incoming law students (and many which are available to undergrads also).
  • Most federal loans will not be disbursed until AFTER classes begin, so you will need to pay security deposits and the first month of rent as well as buy books and necessary items (below) all before getting your loans. Save up this summer!
  • Buy some important items.
    • You will need a suit and dress shoes the very first week of class.
    • You should also bring at least 2-3 business casual outfits that you can wear to networking events.
    • You may need a new or upgraded laptop–check with your law school to see what technology they recommend and what is compatible with their IT systems. Your law school may also offer discounts. A printer is very helpful but you could speak to your roommate(s) to see if they have one before purchasing.
  • Make a budget. Each law school is required to provide a budget in your financial aid package, or you can find it online. You are not required to take the full loan amount; remember that your loans start accruing interest from Day 1 so any amount you do not borrow will save you the interest too. Sit down and carefully consider your living expenses so you can budget accordingly. Remember that your loan disbursement is only designed to pay for tuition/fees and 9 months of living expenses, and it is not designed to cover costs like car payment/insurance, credit card debt, or travel (for example, if you need to fly to your new law school or ship your belongings there).

Personal details

  • Make living arrangements. Whether you are living in an apartment, with parents, or staying in on-campus housing, you should be figuring out where you will live as soon as possible. Additionally, you should be trying to locate a roommate if you plan on renting an apartment with someone else. Join social media groups for your law school class or speak directly with your school to see if they have a roommate matching system.
  • Take care of anything and everything in your personal life that you can. Get your car serviced, change your cell phone plan, go to the dentist, book necessary travel arrangements, open a bank account in your new city…do anything that you can take care of now. You will not want to spend precious free time on these things later.
  • Go to the doctor and update your vaccinations–law schools will require it. Start or maintain good exercise and eating habits–it’s easier to maintain these than to start them during the semester!
  • Embrace starting over. You have been given a clean slate, so use it wisely. Don’t start law school by being the person who brags about their big scholarship/LSAT score/undergrad accomplishments. Conversely, don’t be intimidated by people in your class with a higher LSAT score/scholarship–frequently the people who will end up at the top of the law school class are not who you would have predicted. You have made it here, you deserve to be here, now embrace the opportunity to start with a clean slate!
  • Finally, WORK HARD from Day 1! 1L grades and class rank are VERY important and will determine things like: whether you can write for a law journal, whether you can participate in moot court, and whether you can interview with law firms before your 2L year in On Campus Interviews (OCI). Start developing a consistent study schedule and the discipline to stick to it. 1L year is not the time to sit back and coast while you adjust to a new life. Remember that law school classes are curved, so by design, everyone will NOT get an A. It is critical not to fall behind on your coursework during the first semester.

 

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Mark Your Calendars – Week of April 16

Although we have less than a month to go in the semester, Pre-Law Advising Services has two important workshops — TODAY and next Monday — for those of you planning on applying to law school this fall.  Scroll down for information about these programs, study groups for the September LSAT, Fulbright Scholarships and more, including a campus visit by noted attorney and civil rights advocate Alan Dershowitz!

Pre-Law Advising Services

Applying to Law School Workshop – TODAY, Monday April 16, 4-5:15pm, 514 IUB

This workshop is designed for Illini planning to apply to law school this fall (2018) or who are graduating and plan to apply to law school in the next few years.  The workshop will cover:

  • LSAT options–these recently changed!
  • Using the LSAC/Credential Assembly Service
  • How to use the summer to get ahead on law school applications
  • Developing a law school application strategy
  • Sending in transcripts
  • Getting letters of recommendation

And we will allocate time for Q&A. Join us to get a head start on fall applications or to find out what you can do to maximize your applications during a gap year. All students and alumni are welcome!

Personal Statement and Resume Workshop – NEXT Monday, April 23, 4-5pm, 514 IUB

If you’re planning to apply to law school this fall OR if you’re graduating and planning to apply to law school in the next couple of years, then this is a great opportunity to learn about writing a personal statement and resume for law school. The personal statement is a critical part of the law school application in which applicants must show personality, highlight strengths, identify career goals, and address why law school is their next step: a tall order for a 2 page document! Join us as we cover:

  • What the personal statement is (and isn’t) to law schools
  • Creating a realistic timeline 
  • Outlining a plan for how to write the statement
  • How the personal statement and resume work together in the application
  • What is an addendum?
  • Knowing the right resources to help you along the way

We’ll have time for Q&A, so bring your questions!

PLAS also has a couple of additional opportunities for you to consider:

  1. LSAT Study Group – The September LSAT is only a few months away! Pre-Law Advising Services is organizing LSAT study groups for those people taking the September 8, 2018 exam. We will organize groups based on the availability you specify in the google form. Sign-ups for the LSAT study groups will close by next Thursday April 19 at noon. To sign up, use the google form provided here: https://goo.gl/forms/nNpDBqrvBI510pg12

2. Pre-Law Club – Pre-Law Advising Services is measuring interest for a possible pre-law registered student organization here at the University of Illinois. The RSO would be for the 2018-2019 school year. Please answer our survey to let us know about your interest in this RSO and possibly joining the Pre-Law RSO! The form can be found here: https://goo.gl/forms/MvL1xYyR2cY8Tvss2

Campus Events

Career Center

Resume, Cover Letter, Linked In Reviews – Monday, April 16, 2-4:30pm, Resource Center; 7-9pm, Undergraduate Library, Consultation Corner.  This workshop is offered several other times during the week.  Go here for more information.

Creating Your Powerful Resume – Monday, April 16, 4-5pm, The Career Center Conference Room 143

International Student Career Meet Up – Friday, April 20, 4-5:30pm, The Career Center Interview Suite Room 213.  Join us for an information gathering where international students can talk with alumni, recruiters, or current international students who have successful job search stories. Information on invited speakers will be posted on Handshake. Open to all international students, but RSVP on Handshake is required due to a space limitation.

For more information on these and other Career Center events, check out their website.

National & International Scholarship Program – Fulbright Scholarship Workshops

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program provides grants for individually designed study/research projects or for English Teaching Assistant Programs.  A candidate will submit a Statement of Grant Purpose defining activities to take place during one academic year in a participating country outside the U.S.

During their grants, Fulbrighters will meet, work, live with and learn from the people of the host country, sharing daily experiences.  The program facilitates cultural exchange through direct interaction on an individual basis in the classroom, field, home, and in routine tasks, allowing the grantee to gain an appreciation of others’ viewpoints and beliefs, the way they do things, and the way they think. Through engagement in the community, the individual will interact with their hosts on a one-to-one basis in an atmosphere of openness, academic integrity, and intellectual freedom, thereby promoting mutual understanding.

Sound interesting?  The National & International Scholarships Program has several workshops scheduled to help you prepare a strong application.

Friday, April 20: Personal Statement Workshop – 3:30-5:00 pm, 514 Illini Union Bookstore. A key part of the Fulbright Application is the Personal Statement, a one-page essay. Come learn how to create this document and tell your unique story.

       Webinars for those off campus:

If you are not currently on campus to take advantage of our Fulbright Information        Session, join us remotely for these webinars!  The same detailed overview will be provided for the Fulbright U.S. Student Program, including: eligibility, grant types, and application advice.  There will also be plenty of time for questions and answers.

 Wednesday, April 25: Informational Webinar for Illinois Alumni and Students Abroad – 8:30-9:30 am CST; https://us.bbcollab.com/guest/96a0120ef64d43dc9f7b43d6e77ce197

Thursday, April 26: Informational Webinar for Illinois Alumni and Students Abroad – 12:00-1:00 pm CST; https://us.bbcollab.com/guest/ed88abfed96540c7a4e96da034f46819

Friday, April 27: English Teaching Assistant (ETA) Application Workshop – 2:00-3:00 pm, 514 Illini Union Bookstore. The Fulbright ETA application includes a one-page essay on your case for Why the Fulbright program should fund You to Teach English to students in ____________ (insert your host country).  We will discuss how to approach this essay and more during this workshop.

Friday, April 27: Designing a Fulbright Research Proposal Workshop – 3:30-5:00 pm, 514 Illini Union Bookstore. If you are interested in applying for a Fulbright research grant, join us for this workshop to learn how to craft this important two-page grant request, how to secure a letter of affiliation, and how to select your reference letter writers.

The US Student Fulbright website is:  https://us.fulbrightonline.org

Facebook UIUC Fulbright Events page is here.

Alan Dershowitz to Give Public Lecture at University of Illinois

Alan Dershowitz, noted attorney and advocate for civil rights and civil liberties, will be on the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign campus next Thursday, April 26, 2018, for a series of events. The day will culminate in a public lecture held in Foelinger Auditorium, at 7:30pm.  This even is FREE and open to the public! This visit is sponsored by Gies College of Business; The Program in Constitutional Theory, History and Law at the College of Law; and the Chabad Center for Jewish Life at the University of Illinois.dershowitz

 

 

 

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All About Seat Deposits: Advice and Next Steps

The deadlines for seat deposits at law schools are rapidly approaching.  It’s time to decide where to attend law school! In many cases, these decisions prove difficult.  Scholarships, living expenses, geographic locations and other considerations all play a part in the decision process.  Here are some tips and suggestions to help applicants through the seat deposit process.

Reconsider the Right School/Wrong School Mentality. Many applicants see their choice of law school as a Right/Wrong dichotomy. They feel pressure to pick the Right law school so that everything will be wonderful and life will be perfect. They worry that if they pick the Wrong law school, life will be miserable and they will spend their days regretting it. It is more accurate and helpful to approach this decision by acknowledging that there is no one perfect law school for everyone. A better question is: What is the best school to help YOU achieve YOUR PRIORITIES? Every law school will have strengths and weaknesses. Your job should be to consider what your priorities are in a legal education, and to choose a school that matches those priorities. Note that here is where it is important to focus on YOU and not what Mom/Dad, significant others, family, friends, etc. think. You are the only person who can decide which law school is right for YOU.

Note deadlines and follow the directions. If you’re this far into the law school application process then you already know that following directions is critical! Make sure that you are clear on all of the seat deposit deadlines for schools you are considering, and that you understand how they want you to submit your deposit–and what happens if you don’t do so on time.

Reconsider your priorities. When considering schools to apply to, we asked: What are your priorities in a legal education? Think back on that pre-application priority or ranking. Some priorities to consider or reconsider include: Where do you want to live and practice after law school? What specialty programs does this school offer? What observations did you make about the law school when you visited? What would your overall investment be (see more on that below) to attend this school?

Carefully consider scholarships. It is critical that law students know and understand exactly how much of an investment their legal education will be. Make sure that when you consider scholarships:

  • You have carefully calculated the cost of attendance (your actual, out of pocket costs to attend after the scholarship) and not just compared two scholarship amounts;
  • IF considering a state school, you know whether you can become an in-state resident for tuition purposes during your 2L and 3L years;
  • Cost of living in the law school’s city is factored in; and
  • Does the law school freeze tuition? If not, factor in a 3-5% increase in tuition each year.

Having trouble deciding? Get back to basics. If you’re truly feeling stuck and can’t decide between two schools, getting back to basics can be surprisingly helpful. Ask yourself:

  • What would make me feel confident with my decision? What would tip the scales in one direction or another?
  • Looking again at the actual data–your cost of attendance, employment reports, bar passage rates, etc.–is helpful if you want to remove some of the uncertainty or emotional overwhelm. Review this blog post for a helpful resource.
  • What were my observations/thoughts/feelings when I visited each school?
  • What is holding me back from choosing X School over Y School? (Have you asked the law school if they can address that concern? If not, do so!)
  • How would you describe each law school in one sentence? (This can help to clarify what your primary observations are of each one.)
  • What is your gut telling you?

In extenuating circumstances, ask for an extension. Did you just get another admission or scholarship offer and need time to consider it in light of other options? You can request a seat deposit extension. Contact the law school and formally (politely) request a seat deposit extension of a few days to a week. Use this judiciously! It’s important to actually use the extended time to make a decision–what is realistically going to change your mind in 3 days or a week? Ask yourself: What can I do with this time to help me feel confident in my decision?

If you’re waitlisted–deposit somewhere or decide to reapply next year. If you are waitlisted at Dream School and hoping that comes through, you must make a careful decision about where else you will deposit. OR you can decide to take your chances with Dream School and reapply to law school next year if you don’t get in from the wait list. However, don’t decide to put no deposits down and expect to attend law school this fall–being wait listed is no guarantee of admission and once the seat deposit deadlines have passed you have forfeited your seat even where you were admitted. If you are still undecided, it’s better to put down a seat deposit and lose that money (if you decide not to attend or get into Dream Law School off the wait list) than have no seat in any law school class this fall.

Be very careful with multiple deposits. Sometimes applicants will decide to put down multiple seat deposits if they still aren’t sure where to attend law school. Here’s what the LSAC has to say about this:

“Applicants should be aware that a law school is not required to maintain an offer of admission if it discovers that the applicant has accepted an offer at another institution. Beginning on May 15 of each year, law schools may be provided with information concerning all enrollment commitments to any law school made by those applicants who have indicated an intention to enroll in that school’s entering class. Applicants should be sure that they understand policies on multiple commitment deposits set by schools to which they have applied.” (http://www.lsac.org/jd/lsat/misconduct-and-irregularities/what-to-expect?sfvrsn=2).

Submitting multiple seat deposits is a tricky business.  Law schools will see all of your seat deposits as of May 15, some schools can retract your offer of admission, the practice is costly and borderline unethical, and it only prolongs the decision process.  You have done all the hard work to receive these offers so take the last step and make your choice.

Withdraw from other law schools. Once you’ve decided where to deposit and followed the directions to do so, you can withdraw from the other law schools where you were accepted. Usually they have a link or webform for this. If not, it’s perfectly acceptable to send a brief, polite email: Dear Law School, Thank you very much for your offer of admission. However, I have decided to attend X Law School and I have submitted a seat deposit there. Sincerely, Applicant

Embrace your choice. You visited, you calculated all the data, you weighed all of your priorities, you thought it over, you talked to law school professionals and students. You made the decision that you decided best suits your priorities. Once you have made that decision, it is time to embrace it and to let go of the “what ifs” to focus on your next steps. You’ll want to take advantage of every opportunity, program, and connection your law school offers to maximize your law school experience. Enter law school with an open mind and embrace all of the opportunities wherever you decide to attend.

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Your Law School Short List: Using Standard 509 Information to Narrow Your Choices for Fall 2018

Are you narrowing your list of law schools that you plan on attending for Fall 2018? Unsure of how to tell the difference between some schools? Making a final decision can be stressful. If you feel like you need more information about a law school, consider looking at their Standard 509.

What is a Standard 509? The American Bar Association requires that law schools disclose certain information about their schools. Standard 509 information includes: LSAT/GPA data, tuition and living expenses, diversity of enrollment, grants and scholarships, and more. Most law schools provide a link to the Standard 509 document at the bottom of their law school websites. However, the ABA provides an easy way for you access the documents and compare schools. The website is: http://www.abarequireddisclosures.org/

We also more information about how to access Standard 509 reports on our Compass page. 

Using all the Illinois Law Schools Standard 509 documents, here are some ways you can utilize this resource and narrow your choices! The three topics we looked at included: on campus cost of living, conditional versus non-conditional scholarships, and transfer rates.

 

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Make the most of your spring/spring break!

Here are suggestions for pre-law students and alumni to maximize your spring and/or your spring break.

For all current pre-law students or those entering law school this fall:

  • Complete your FAFSA if you haven’t already. This is how financial aid for federal loans for summer/fall will be determined, whether you are an undergrad or an incoming law student.

Freshmen and Sophomores:

  • Apply for Summer Jobs and Internships. Do you have summer plans locked down? If not, apply for jobs and internships. Check out our internship newsletter over on our Compass page. We’ve also listed LOTS of  internships on our Facebook page and on our blog!  Use the search box on either of these to find internships. You should also be checking Handshake regularly (or set it to email you when new listings appear).
  • Apply to Summer Pre-Law Programs. These are typically 4 week residential programs to teach basics of law and how to prepare for law school, and most are free and come with a stipend for selected students. We have been posting these all spring on our blog and Facebook page. Take a look at the Summer Pre-Law Programs spreadsheet on our Compass page, listing over 40 summer programs, for even more opportunities. Note: Some deadlines have passed and others are April 1, so apply SOON.
  • Take a practice LSAT. Not ready to take the real LSAT yet but wondering what it’s all about? Go to this website to download a free practice test. When you’re done, you can score it and watch videos there with explanations of the answers. Want to take more practice LSATs? You can purchase books of 10 previously administered LSATs like this one at Amazon or another bookseller, or used on ebay.
  • Job shadow, or 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. 
  • Get caught up. Use this time to catch up on studying and prepare for finals–those grades are very important to law schools!

Pre-Law Students and Alumni Applying This Fall:

  • Make your LSAT plans. 
    • Taking the June LSAT? You should already have selected your prep option and started studying. Spring break is a great time to crank up your LSAT studying.Tip: REGISTER FOR THE JUNE LSAT NOW, because the popular test sites fill up around spring break each year.
    • Taking the September LSAT? Now is the time to research LSAT prep options. Check out the LSAT Preparation folder over on our Compass page for information on free LSAT resources as well as listings of popular LSAT prep companies, including discounts they are offering to Illinois students.
  • Decide who will be your recommendation writers. You will want to approach them by this May/June (at the end of THIS semester) so that they have plenty of time to write the letter and your performance is still fresh in their mind. If you are an alum, reach out ASAP because the longer you wait the more difficult it is to track people down and for them to remember you.
  • Register for the Credential Assembly Service. This is the account you will need to open in order to have your recommendation letters processed. Once you set it up, your account is good for five years. You can read all about it here.
  • Mark your calendars. We have upcoming workshops just for you that you should plan to attend. Find them all on our Event Calendar.

Seniors taking a gap year (or two) prior to law school:

  • It’s still a good idea to decide who on campus can write your recommendations, and approach them by the end of this semester. If you wait a year or more the professor is sometimes gone, on sabbatical, retired, etc., so it’s better to get them now. Register for the Credential Assembly Service as listed above so that you can send the letters in to your account.
  • We will have a special workshop about Taking a Gap Year Before Law School on March 29 at 5 pm in 514 Illini Union Bookstore Building.  This workshop will cover how you can maximize your postgraduate time to make yourself an even better law school candidate, and we will share a timeline and game plan for applying to law school as a working professional. Attendees will also have the opportunity to hear from current law students who worked prior to law school.

Seniors and alumni headed to law school this fall:

  • Complete your FAFSA! Your federal loans will not be disbursed without it.
  • Make final visits to law schools/attend admitted student days. If you’ve decided where to attend, then withdraw from the other schools that have admitted you so that they can offer that seat/scholarship to someone else.
  • Apply for scholarships. We’ve posted lots of scholarships in our blog and over on our Compass page! When you know which law school you are attending, ask your law school financial aid office about scholarship opportunities.
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Waitlisted, or just waiting? What to do now!

We’re hearing from a lot of law school applicants who have submitted their applications and now find themselves either waitlisted or still waiting to hear back. Here are some helpful tips and pointers to help you position yourself in the best manner for admission and aid!

If you’re still waiting for an admission decision…
You are NOT alone!
Many applicants tell us they have been waiting weeks or months. What is going on? It could mean:

  • The school is essentially “wait listing” you, but not calling it that, by waiting to respond to you until they see the rest of the applicant pool.
  • The admissions office is understaffed or inundated with applications. (Many schools are reporting an increase of applications this year, with nationwide applications up about 14% over last year.)
  • You applied later in the cycle and a backlog of applications must be reviewed before yours.

What can you do if you are still waiting on an answer?

  • IF it has been at least 4-6 weeks or whatever time frame the school has indicated for your file to be reviewed, reach out and politely inquire about anticipated time frames for a decision. Reiterate your interest in the school.
  • Review your status checker
  • Follow the law school on Twitter; many deans have taken to updating applicants about expected decisions there.
  • Don’t: Complain about their slowness or criticize the school’s process; tell them you’ve already heard back from everywhere else or from “better” schools; give the school a deadline. Sometimes patience is key.

If you’ve been waitlisted…Understand what this means: that you are an admissible candidate but the school needs to hit its institutional goals before they can admit you. Institutional goals could be LSAT/GPA related but could also be related to balancing the class with regard to gender, diversity, in state/out of state, age, etc. Very few schools can accurately predict how many applicants–and with what qualities–they will be pulling from a wait list. When the school tells you they don’t know your odds, it is very likely true.

What can you do if you are waitlisted?

  • Follow the school’s directions carefully. Do not email to ask them what to do after the school sends very specific instructions. Some law schools will ask you to confirm that you want to be on their wait list–if you don’t do so, you will not be considered. Pay attention to these details and instructions and follow them carefully.
  • Visit the school if you haven’t already. Making a strong impression on an admissions professional can go a long way toward being selected when it’s time for them to pull from the wait list.
  • Update your application by sending an updated resume, a new recommendation, or a letter or email expressing continued interest in that school (sometimes called a LOCI, or letter of continued interest).
  • Stay in touch–no more than once every couple of weeks–to demonstrate your interest in the school. Keep them updated on your plans. IF the school is your top choice, then say so.
  • Continue to make other plans. No one should proceed by “expecting” to be pulled from a wait list…even if this does happen, it can be anytime up to the day classes begin. You need to start making concrete plans in early April. Decide which law school you will attend out of those who accepted you. Make plans for putting down your deposit(s).
  • Don’t demand a decision right now…you may get one but it will not be the one you want.

Be “pleasantly persistent” as we move into April and May, which are prime decision-making times for schools as their deposit deadlines pass. And always remember that professionalism and good manners go a long way in this business!

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Planning to take the LSAT in 2018? You need to read this.

If you are planning to take the LSAT in 2018 then you likely already know that we’ve seen some MAJOR changes recently! Here come some more. Here’s what you should know if you are planning on taking the LSAT in 2018.

  1. Your LSAT options have changed. The LSAC is moving from a 4x/year LSAT schedule to 6x/year starting this year. The 2018 LSAT options are:
  • February (which already took place)
  • Monday, June 11
  • Monday, July 23 (JUST ADDED)
  • Saturday, September 8
  • Saturday, November 17

2. June or July? The LSAC very recently decided to add the July exam to the schedule and currently both the June and July registrations are open. So if you are planning to take the LSAT this summer, theoretically you now have the option of July instead of June. Note: the July LSAT is NONDISCLOSED, meaning that test takers will only receive a score and not a full score report showing answers. Although July test locations have not yet been posted to their website, we have received confirmation from the LSAC that there WILL be a July LSAT on our campus.

3. June AND July? Probably not. If you are considering taking the LSAT twice, June and July are not going to be easy to accomplish. Why? 1) You will not get your June LSAT score until after the July registration deadline has passed; 2) June LSAT takers will not have enough time after getting their June LSAT score (typically around the 4th of July) to re-prepare and be fully ready for the July exam. For a better strategy, see #5 below.

4. June and/or July LSAT takersIt’s time to register and start studying! Registration is open for both exams here, and we encourage you to register early. Typically the June exam fills by spring break, and with the increase in LSAT takers we expect this one to fill even sooner. July is brand new so we don’t know when it will fill, as locations have not yet been announced. When should you start studying? NOW. We recommend 4-6 months to fully prepare for the LSAT, so now is the time! Most LSAT prep courses for the June exam will begin in early March, so research your options and sign up for the class that suits you best. Not sure which LSAT prep course to take? We recently hosted the LSAT Prep Fair for this, and you can find links to participating LSAT prep companies here as well as a list of LSAT prep options and resources over on our Compass page in the LSAT Preparation folder.

5. Plan ahead for retake options. Basically the new LSAT schedule offers an LSAT every other month. These LSATs are not designed to be taken back-to-back, and it is unlikely that any LSAT taker would have enough time to prep for a retake by taking the very next LSAT. (For example: June and July, or July and September). Remember that every LSAT score gets sent to every law school you apply to, so it’s important that you are very prepared for each LSAT sitting. If you are considering retake options, it’s best to plan for two nonconsecutive tests: For example, June and September, or July and November.

6. What’s the latest LSAT you should take? Note that November is the latest LSAT we suggest if you plan to apply to law school in the Fall of 2018 (for entrance the fall of 2019) because your score will be released in December, which is the earliest you’ll be able to apply with that score. Law schools use rolling admission so they will begin accepting applicants in September and keep accepting people until the class is full. So you want to be in the early applicant pool.

7. If you are planning to apply to any law school this fall Early Decision, then the latest LSAT you should plan to take is September. Your November score will not be released early enough for some law schools’ Early Decision deadlines.

 

 

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Application Cycle: The Countdown Is On!

Well folks – with deadlines looming, this application cycle is coming to a close.  If you still haven’t filed your applications, here are some things to know!

  1. Get your applications in ASAP! As you know, this is a rolling application process which opened in September. Now the final/priority deadlines for many schools — March 1, March 15, and April 1 — are fast approaching!
  2. It’s important to understand what’s happening on the law school’s end as you complete your side of the application. Applying at this point in the cycle means that many seats in the class are already spoken for– one school described it as very similar to playing the lottery. As a result, it is difficult to predict admission results at this point.
  3. Financial aid may also be more restricted at this point in the cycle, depending on the school. If you haven’t already done so, submit your Free Application for Federal Student Aid/FAFSA ASAP! Even though the federal deadline is in June, both the law schools and the individual states have varying deadlines.  Go here for more information: https://fafsa.ed.gov/deadlines.htm#Also – check out last week’s blog post for info on the FAFSA and other issues related to law school financial aid.
  4. Plan your VISITS to law schools if you haven’t already. Many law schools have finished their Open Houses, but you can still arrange a one-on-one visit…just call ahead to make sure that an admissions staff person can meet with you and to make sure the school isn’t closed for spring break.
  5. Are you thinking that maybe you are too late this cycle to get the kind of admissions and scholarship results you want?  Are you possibly considering taking a gap year?  Then mark your calendars for the next PLAS event, “Taking a Gap Year (Or More) Before Law School”, Thursday, March 29, 5pm, 514 IUB.  Go here for more information.
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Mark Your Calendars – February 26

Hello Pre-Law Students!  Don’t forget tonight’s PLAS “Negotiating Scholarships Workshop!”  Also — at least two summer pre-law programs have application deadlines of THIS THURSDAY, MARCH 1.  Scroll down for info on these items as well as other opportunities!

Our next event, “Negotiating Scholarships Workshop” is TODAY, Monday February 26!  The event will be held at 1090 Lincoln Hall from 5PM – 6:15PM.

Now is the time to assess aid offers and discuss options for additional scholarships with your law schools. How can applicants have a respectful yet productive conversation that potentially results in more scholarship dollars being awarded? Join us as we examine exactly how to go about negotiating law school scholarships with the expertise of a panel of law school admissions professionals with a wealth of experience! This session is a must-see for anyone applying to law school, and the information applies to any law school. Panelists include:

  • Amanda Noascono, Assistant Dean and Director of Admissions, DePaul University College of Law
  • Rebecca Ray, Assistant Dean for Admissions and Financial Aid at the University of Illinois College of Law
  • Nicole Vilches, Assistant Dean for Admissions, Chicago-Kent College of Law

 

Indiana University McKinney School of Law in Indianapolis is now accepting applications on a rolling basis for its new Pathway to the Law program, featuring online for-credit courses, LSAT assistance, a $2000 scholarship, mentoring, and more for selected applicants. They anticipate that all spots will be filled by the end of March so submit your application now! https://mckinneylaw.iu.edu/admissions/jd/diversity/pathway-to-the-law.html

A preview to our March event . . . the “Taking a Gap Year Before Law School” Workshop will be on Thursday March 29th in Room 514 of the Illini Union Bookstore from 5:00 – 6:00PM.

Are you considering working or taking a gap year before law school? Do you want to know more about going straight through to law school after undergrad? Pre-Law Advising Services is hosting an event for students to learn more about different paths to law school. The panel will feature three current law students–two with work experience and one who went directly from undergrad to law school–to answer your questions and discuss the pros and cons of going straight to law school versus taking time off and working.

SUMMER PLANS–Still looking for opportunities? Check these out.

Career Fairs. Mark your calendars for spring career fairs, which are open to all Illinois students and present both job and internship opportunities. Find these and other fair opportunities in Handshake.

Summer PLUS programs. We posted a spreadsheet full of pre-law undergraduate summer programs over on our Compass page! For example:

June LSAT Registration–Planning to take the June LSAT? Registration is now open here! We recommend registering early because this one typically fills early AND LSAT takers were up nearly 30% last year! Now is also a good time to apply for a fee waiver. For more on LSAC fee waivers revisit this blog post.

Did you know that you can get a scholarship for working at an unpaid internship this summer? Apply for the Fred S. Bailey scholarship here, which provides a $1000 stipend for part-time internships and a $2500 stipend for full-time summer internships. Applications due April 12.

And check out the PLAS Facebook page for NEW internship opportunities, summer programs and more!

University of Illinois’ Office for Student Conflict and Resolution Subcommittee Applications Now Open!

The University of Illinois’ Office for Student Conflict and Resolution has opened up their applications for their two subcommittees: the Subcommittee on Student Conduct and the Subcommittee on Sexual Misconduct. Student applicants must be:

  1. Enrolled full-time at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign;
  2. At least two full semesters from graduation; and
  3. In good academic standing with at least a 2.5 grade point average.

It is encouraged that students have Friday afternoon availability for the Fall 2018 and Spring 2019 semesters. For more information and to apply, visit their website here.

Campus Events

OIIR’s Lunch on Us Program – Free Lunch Every Weekday!

The Office of Inclusion and Intercultural Relations is offering their “Lunch on Us” program this semester. Programs take place every weekday from noon to 1pm every day and offer a free lunch for attending. To see their schedule, click here.

“Acing Your Interview” at the Career Center – Wednesday, February 28, 4:00-5:00pm at the Career Center Conference Room 143

During an interview, you only have a short time to convey you are a great fit for a position or organization. Learn the most common types of interviews, how to prepare for an interview, how to structure answers to interview questions, and tips for following up after an interview.

“Creating Your Powerful Cover Letter” at the Career Center – Wednesday February 28 from 5:00 – 6:00 pm at the Career Center Conference Room 143

Cover letters are challenging to write, and yet, are often a critical aspect of an internship or job application. Learn how to write an effective cover letter that showcases your skills and experiences for a specific position.

“Linked In and Job Search Resources for International Students” at the Career Center – Thursday, March 1, 4:00-5:30pm, Career Center Interview Suite, Room 213, 616 E. Green Street

This exciting workshop will teach you how to use helpful job search resources such as LinkedIn, Handshake, and Myvisajobs.com. Learn to create an appealing profile on LinkedIn and use it for career exploration, networking, and information interviews. You will also learn to identify international-friendly companies. Please bring your laptop.

Interested in other Career Center workshops concerning resume reviews, Peace Corps information and more?  Go to the Career Center website to find other programs!

 

 

 

 

 

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Show me the $$$

At this point in the law school admissions cycle most people have been accepted to multiple places and are waiting on a few more. What financial steps should you be taking now?

  • Complete your FAFSA. Most people will be utilizing federal loans for some portion of their law school expenses, and completing the FAFSA is the first step in that process. Many law schools will also ask you to complete the FAFSA to consider you for need-based aid. Speaking of…
  • Read your admission offers/aid packages carefully. Many schools will invite admitted applicants to apply for specific school-based scholarships after admission, so make sure that you are paying attention to those applications and deadlines. Now is a good time to work on those “invited” scholarship applications. In addition…
  • Educate yourself about how law school financial aid works and what you should know about it. AccessLex, a nonprofit, offers excellent free online resources to help you calculate your student loan costs, understand the types of aid offered, and plan your law school budgets. Check out their excellent guide Financing Your Legal Education here. We also have paper versions of this guide in the office if you’d like to stop by and pick one up. They are also offering a free Financing Your Legal Education webinar; click the link to register .
  • Crunch the numbers. Do not compare two scholarships and assume that the bigger scholarship is a better deal! When comparing scholarship offers, you must consider the following
    • Add up tuition over 3 years, and assume a 3-5% increase in tuition each year unless the law school guarantees or “freezes” tuition. (Is this included in your offer?)
    • Subtract the scholarship amount from this tuition estimate.
    • Now look at the living expenses budget provided by the school and add this in, assuming a 3-5% increase each year.
    • What is your actual OUT OF POCKET expense for attending each school to which you’ve been accepted? Add your final tuition costs together with your living expenses to estimate this.
    • These are the numbers you should be considering and presenting to law schools when asking for reconsideration of your scholarship package. Show that you’ve done your research.
  • Apply for other scholarships. In addition to scholarships from the law school, there are many other scholarship opportunities for which incoming law students are eligible. Check out our database of 286 scholarships (many for law students and some for continuing undergrads) over on our Compass page!
  • Learn how to effectively and respectfully negotiate your scholarship offers. Join us for a Negotiating Law School Scholarships workshop in which a panel of law school deans share their expertise on February 26 at 5:00 pm in 1090 Lincoln Hall. What should you ask? What should you avoid saying? What are effective reasons for increasing aid, and what is a nonstarter? Find out from the deans of the University of Illinois College of Law, DePaul University College of Law, and Chicago-Kent Illinois Institute of Technology College of Law. Click here for more details.
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