Law School Admissions Online Chat

The Midwest Alliance for Law School Admissions and the Midwest Association of Pre-Law Advisors have partnered to bring pre-law students an opportunity to ask admissions questions to representatives from a variety of midwestern law schools. Students are invited to participate in this free Admissions Online Chat on Wednesday, November 7 from 6-7 pm (Central).

Admissions representatives from the following law schools will be online to answer your questions:
Capital University
Indiana University
University of Kansas
Loyola University Chicago
Michigan State University
University of Missouri–Kansas City
Valparaiso University
Washburn University

Pre-law advisors will also be there to offer advice. This is a great opportunity to ask any questions you have about the application process generally, or to inquire about how/when the schools go about awarding financial aid, or to ask the representatives any questions you have about their schools specifically. You can chat for a few minutes or stay for the whole hour.

Register at http://www.law.msu.edu/admissions/midwest-alliance.php

 

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Character and fitness disclosures

The character and fitness questions have begun. This time of year is when I start getting many questions from students about the character and fitness questions on law school applications. You know the ones–they ask whether you’ve ever been charged with a crime, or whether you’ve been accused of academic dishonesty, or whether you’ve ever been on academic probation. Some schools will even ask about your traffic or parking tickets–hey, lawyers are nothing if not thorough. Please, please, take a moment to review this post about these questions.

Why do they care? Consider this from a law school’s perspective. The pressure is on law schools not only to admit a class of quality students, but to help their graduates find jobs at the end. They want to admit students who will be admitted to the bar. A history of criminal charges, multiple issues involving substance abuse, academic dishonesty, or a tendency towards violence suggest impaired or poor judgment at best and potential problems passing the character and fitness investigation to be admitted to any state’s bar. Law students are certainly making a huge investment in their future by attending law school–but the law school itself is also highly invested in making sure its students and graduates succeed. Each party’s future depends on graduates’ success.

How should you answer these questions? Before even looking at the questions on the application, you should know that your law school application will be reviewed when you later apply to any state’s Board of Admission to the Bar. If the Board of Admission to the Bar finds discrepancies or omissions, you will have to answer to the character and fitness committee and to their satisfaction–or they will not allow you to sit for their state’s bar exam. You should also know that the Board of Admissions to the Bar defines an “omission” as a lie.

Read the application’s questions carefully. 90% of the questions I receive are clearly answered in the law school’s question or instructions. Carefully review the question. Most of the time, the issue is not that the question is unclear; it’s that the applicant just doesn’t want to answer it. However, if you are still uncertain, then…

Ask for clarification. If you have questions or you don’t understand whether the question encompasses your situation, call the admissions office of the school. Ask them for clarification–they are the ones who wrote the question, so they should be able to explain what they are looking for. Believe me when I say that they have seen it all. Your situation will not shock them.

This may sound surprising, but I do not believe that students should be seeking legal advice with regard to these questions. First of all, you’ll note that many law school applications will clearly state that it is the applicant’s responsibility to provide full answers, even if advised against doing so by a lawyer or other party. The Board of Admissions to the Bar will say the same thing–it is YOUR responsibility to fully answer the questions. Secondly (in my opinion), if the situation is serious enough that you sought legal counsel, then it’s serious enough that a law school should know about it, as should the Board of Admissions to the Bar.

When in doubt, disclose. Law schools have seen it all, from underage drinking tickets to public urination (which is more common than you’d think, apparently), to felonies. Your situation is not as shocking to them as you think. Disclosing now will prevent problems passing the bar in the future…so when in doubt, just do it. Or would you rather discover at the end of law school that your history prevents you from sitting for the bar in your preferred state?

And…it doesn’t stop with your bar admission! Law is a highly regulated field. As lawyers we have access to extremely sensitive confidential information and we serve as fiduciaries for our clients. Practicing law is a privilege, not a right, and it is appropriate that the judgment and integrity of lawyers (as well as lawyers-to-be) are considered.

 

 

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LSAT Study Groups

Do you work better in a group setting? Would the accountability of a study group help you in your LSAT preparation? The Pre-Law office would like to facilitate the creation of LSAT study groups. Utilize this sign-up to find other LSAT students with whom you can work:

http://www.signupgenius.com/go/508094DABA72DA57-lsat

1) Choose whether you prefer an afternoon, early evening, or evening time slot and which day of the week works best for you.

2) In the comment section, please note your preferred email address for group use.

3) We will send an email to students interested in the same times and let you take over planning where you will meet and whether or not you’d like to meet more than once a week!

Once you are in law school, study groups begin forming as soon as orientation is under way. Students in the same section of classes will create small groups to discuss, review, and study together, usually at established times each week either in the evenings or between classes. Many students are able to generate new arguments beyond their own because they have so frequently heard a variety of perspectives in depth in their study groups – and this skill is one that should be fostered long before exam preparation towards the end of the semester.

Make the most of your group – and get a head start on a study habit that will lend to your success in law school!  There will be e a new sign-up at the beginning of next semester to accommodate new schedules!

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Law Fair Is Tomorrow — You Don’t Want to Miss It!!

Our biggest Law Fair ever is tomorrow! Over 120 law schools will be here for the Law Fair on Tuesday, October 23 from 11am-3pm at the ARC. Click on our LawSchoolFairNewsletter2012to access our special edition Newsletter for the list of attendees, as well as tips and suggestions for getting the most out of this great opportunity!  This newsletter contains information on what to wear, what questions to ask (page 2), and which schools are coming (pages 5 and 6).  And to help you focus your approach, check out pages 3 and 4 for some possible “target” schools lists.  This newsletter has ALL the details on the fair. 

We look forward to seeing you tomorrow at the ARC, 11am-3pm!


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Yale Law School Webinar Announced

We have collaborated with Yale Law School to host the Yale Law Admissions Webinar on Wednesday, October 24 from 12:00-1 pm online. This session is intended to be interactive, providing an opportunity for students to talk directly with a Yale Law admissions staffer who can outline the Yale admissions process and provide more details about specifically what Yale is looking for in candidates. Interested students will want to visit Yale’s admission website and blog here prior to the session.

Registration for this event is required. PLEASE CLICK HERE TO REGISTER.  Note that those who register will also have access to a recording of the session afterward.

We also posted helpful Yale Law admissions information on our blog here, in case you missed it!

 

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Law Fair — Special Edition!

Our biggest Law Fair ever is almost here! Over 120 (125 and counting!) law schools will be here for the Law Fair on Tuesday, October 23 from 11-3 at the ARC. Click on our LawSchoolFairNewsletter2012 to access our special edition Newsletter for the list of attendees, as well as tips and suggestions for getting the most out of this great opportunity! This newsletter contains information on what to wear, how to target specific schools, what to ask, and which schools are coming! Check it out for ALL the details on the fair.

Why should you attend the fair? Good question; read on.

If you are not yet applying to law school, you may be wondering how it will benefit you to attend. It’s a great opportunity to practice your networking skills. It’s also a good idea to begin building professional contacts of deans and directors who can provide helpful advice about their school’s application process and ultimately accept you into their schools. You can also find out helpful information now, while you are still in a position to build your resume or GPA, rather than finding out the day before you want to apply that they really would have preferred some work experience.

If you ARE currently applying to law school, why should you attend? It’s a great opportunity to meet the deans and directors who will be reading your applications. (I am consistently impressed with their ability to remember prospective students, right down to specific details about what they wore or what their personal statement was about.) It never hurts to make a great impression. You can also find out more about what specific schools are looking for, and even discover a school that you may not have considered but is actually a great fit for you. Finally, this is a great chance to collect some application fee waivers. It is definitely worth your time to attend, even for an hour or two.

Do you have to stay the entire time? No. Even an hour is enough time to target 4-5 of your top choice schools. Think about the schools you want to speak to, and make the most of however long you can attend. Check out the newsletter for lists of specific schools you may want to target based on geography, cost, specific program offerings, etc.

What should I say? We have specific examples of questions for the reps in the newsletter too. Good questions are ones that go beyond the basic “What are your medians?” question. How about asking what their favorite thing is about their school? Or asking the reps to name one thing about their school that can’t be found on their website or viewbook? If you know what area of law you want to specialize in, ask about that. Example: “I”m interested in environmental law and I see you have a clinic about that–can you tell me more about how students are selected for the clinic, and what types of cases they work on?”

Check out our LawSchoolFairNewsletter2012 for much more about the fair, and how you can get the most out of the experience. We’ve also included a list of attending schools and other details on our website here. See you at the fair!

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Grammar Police: Top Errors in Personal Statements

Grammar can be tricky.  Just the other day, a friend and I consulted Grammar Girl after debating whether it is correct to say “myriad choices” or “myriad of choices.” (It turns out that either has become acceptable, although traditionalists still say that “myriad choices” would be more formally correct.)

Grammar matters a lot. The abilities to speak and write well are at the core of being an effective advocate, regardless of the area of law in which an attorney practices. Clients–as well as judges–judge how smart lawyers are by how well they speak and write.  Would you want to pay a lawyer $200+ an hour to produce sloppy letters and briefs full of typos and grammatical errors? Of course not. Clients pay lawyers for their excellent speaking and writing skills, as well as their attention to detail. Sloppy speaking and writing skills = no repeat clients.

In the context of a personal statement, law schools will be judging your ability to convey your message not only through the substance of your essay (which is important), but by the quality of your writing. We are seeing a lot of personal statements this time of year, which reminds me just how common grammar mistakes are in them. I’ve noticed that there are certain errors I consistently see. If I am seeing them, you know that deans and directors of admission at law schools are noticing them too. What are some grammar dangers to avoid?

  • Spell check is not enough. Say it with me. Spell check IS NOT enough. Spell check does not catch some of my favorite mistakes, like writing “statue” when you mean “statute” or “the” when “them” is what you meant. (One little letter makes a world of difference.) It won’t catch that you have written “perspective student” when you mean “prospective student.”  Spell check definitely won’t notice that you incorrectly left one reference to Stanford when the rest of your essay is about Northwestern. Tip: Use “Find and Replace” for that.
  • Possessive apostrophes. Hands down, the single biggest mistake I consistently see in students’ writing is incorrect usage of apostrophes, especially when indicating possession. Usually this involves adding apostrophes where they do not belong (like in “its mistakes”, which does not use an apostrophe for possessive) as well as missing an apostrophe where one does belong (in “students’ work”, for example).
  • Me, myself, and I. Are you the subject of the sentence? If so, “me” and “myself” don’t fit. You wouldn’t say “me walks into the room” or “myself prefers yellow.” Therefore, you also should not say “my friend and me walk into the room” or “my mom and myself prefer yellow.” (You should use “I” in both of those examples.) An especially egregious mistake is the dreaded incorrect plural possessive: “My brother and I’s apartment.” Yikes! Correct options would be to say “my apartment”, “our apartment”, or even “the apartment my brother and I share.”

Here is my number one grammar tip: READ IT OUT LOUD.  That’s right, read your essay out loud and listen. Does it sound right to you? Most of us know when something sounds “off”..even if we can’t articulate exactly why it is wrong. Circle the areas of the paper that sound odd to you, and give them some extra grammar attention.

Where can you turn for some grammar guidance?

Grammar Girl is a good online resource: http://grammar.quickanddirtytips.com/

Our Writer’s Workshop wrote a helpful grammar guide:
http://www.cws.illinois.edu/workshop/writers/

For a compilation of several helpful grammar sites, visit
http://writing-program.uchicago.edu/resources/grammar.htm

I also really like Grammarly.com’s Facebook page, which posts fun examples of grammar gone awry. (That’s right, grammar can be fun.)

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After the LSAT: What now?

You did it! The LSAT is over! Take a deep breath.

Right about now, most people want to take the next few weeks off before thinking about their applications. Smart applicants will really maximize these next few weeks by focusing on the remaining elements of their application so that they can get those applications out early, qualifying them for the most aid.

Now it’s time to dive in to the rest of your applications. What’s your time frame for completing them? A good time frame to submit your applications is anytime between Halloween and Thanksgiving. But you will need to consider some of these elements:

Deciding whether and where you’re going to apply early decision. You can only apply to one school through a binding early decision program. It’s time to consider whether you want to choose this option, in which case your early decision application will be due (depending on the school) on November 1, November 15, or December 1–in any case, a deadline you need to know. Applicants should carefully consider this option. In the case of binding early decision programs, you need to decide: how committed are you to this school? How important is aid to you? Would you go there even if you had to pay full price? Would you be willing to withdraw all of your other applications if X school admitted you? That is the level of commitment that binding early decision requires. Take some time to research and consider this big decision.

Letters of recommendation. We’ve been talking about these for ages. Hopefully, you’ve already got your letter writers lined up. If not, RUN, don’t walk, to your recommenders and get them lined up. You should expect at least 6-8 weeks for your recommender to write the letter, submit it, and for the LSAC to process it. That means if you want to apply by November 15, you need to get your recommendations lined up NOW!

Personal statement. Yep, it’s time to take that energy and time you were focusing on the LSAT and devote it to your personal statement. In addition to our personal statement workshops (which you can find on our event calendar here), we also have some tips and suggestions for the personal statement on our website. Spend some time thinking about your values, your 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 3-4 weeks thinking, writing, and editing. 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. (Call 333-9669 to set up a personal statement review appointment. Please email us your statement and resume two business days prior to your appointment so that we have time to review it.)

Transcripts. You’ll want to order a transcript from each undergraduate institution you attended. Visit the LSAC’s page for more information on the transcript ordering process.

Take a look at our earlier post called “What should I be doing now?” for even more application details.

 

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Good Luck and LSAT Day Tips

It’s almost here! This Saturday is the LSAT for many of you. We wish all of you LSAT takers good luck!

Here are some final test day reminders/suggestions:

1. Make sure you eat breakfast (and pack a snack).

2. Give yourself plenty of time to drive to the test site, find parking, and check in.

3. Figure out what you’re going to do with your cell phone because you cannot bring it in with you. The LSAC has adopted a no tolerance policy towards electronics.

4.  Review the LSAC’s Test Day instructions one last time. http://www.lsac.org/jd/lsat/day-of-test.asp

5. Don’t pay attention to what the people around you are doing. Bring your focus back to you and giving your best performance.

For some perspective, remember that the LSAT does not define you forever. The LSAT is not a predictor of bar passage, employment, or effectiveness as a lawyer. I don’t remember ever having even one conversation about the LSAT once I started law school, and no employer has ever asked me about it. (They did, however, care a lot about law school grades and class rank.)

Good luck! Let us know how it goes!

We posted a fun LSAT video on our Facebook page for you to check out too! http://www.facebook.com/groups/38102688195/

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Free LSAT practice tests

Sophomores and juniors, this post is for you! A great way to get an idea of your “baseline” LSAT score or simply begin the LSAT prep process is to take a full-length practice LSAT. Here are some upcoming opportunities to take a free practice test.

Note: We are not affiliated with any LSAT prep company. We do not receive any compensation from them. We simply provide information to students about upcoming opportunities that you may find beneficial. Students are under no obligation to use any company’s services just by taking a free test.

Princeton Review is offering a free practice LSAT under test conditions on Saturday, October 6 from 1-4 pm at the College of Law (504 W Pennsylvania Ave). Participants can then attend a “Scores Back” session to receive their scores and specific feedback on their performance on Sunday, October 14 from 3-5 pm at the College of Law. Register for these sessions online at www.princetonreview.com/testfest or call 800-273-8439.

Kaplan is hosting upcoming LSAT practice tests on October 6 from 12:00-4:00 pm and on October 7 from 2:00 to 6:30 pm. Register online at http://www.kaptest.com/enroll/LSAT/61820 or call 1-800-KAP-TEST.

The Law School Admission Council (LSAC) offers a free LSAT online that you can download, print, and take under your own conditions. (Make sure that you time yourself carefully to get a realistic idea of how you perform.) Find it at http://www.lsac.org/jd/lsat/lsat-prep-materials.asp

PowerScore offers the same free practice LSAT as the LSAC website, along with a “virtual proctor” to keep yourself on track.http://www.powerscore.com/lsat/help/content_index.cfm Their website also has some sample “lessons” about test sections.

These would be great opportunities for sophomores and juniors to get an idea of what the LSAT is all about, or even for students taking the December LSAT to gain more experience taking the test under “testlike” conditions.

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