What to do over Fall Break

Fall Break is here — now what?

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

If You Are Currently Applying to Law School

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

If You Are Not Yet Applying to Law School

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

Have a great break!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ENGL 310: Unprotected Speech. Description from the instructor:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Philosophy options include:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Grade Replacement and Law School

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

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

Q. What is the campus Grade Replacement Policy?

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

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

An example to illustrate:

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

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

Q: How does this impact a law school application?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Top 6 Ways to Get Law School Application Fee Waivers!

Law school applications are now open, which means that application season has officially begun! Those of you who are applying to law school now are finding out how expensive law school applications can be. Each school has an application fee and each school must receive a Law School Report ($35 each), which adds up fast.

Here are our Top 6 tips for getting application fee waivers.

  1. Apply for an LSAC fee waiver. The best fee waiver is directly through the Law School Admission Council. This fee waiver will waive the fees for two LSAT exams, your Credential Assembly Service fee, and four Law School Reports. In addition, most law schools will waive your application fee too if you received an LSAC fee waiver. You can apply for an LSAC fee waiver and find out more information here.
  2. Attend the Law Fair. If you are not eligible for an LSAC waiver, there are other ways to reduce your costs. First, come to the Law Fair on September 27 from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at the Illini Union. Over 100 law schools will be sending representatives to talk with interested students about their programs and their application process. Many schools at the fair will be giving out fee waivers! (Tip: Make sure you sign in at the law school tables. Many schools will email you a fee waiver afterward.) Click here for more details about the Law Fair, like which law schools are attending.
  3. Register for the Candidate Referral Service (CRS) in your LSAC account. This is basically a survey that asks you lots of questions about yourself–your background, interests, grades, etc.–and then “matches” you with law schools that are looking for students like you. Many law schools use the CRS to offer fee waivers, so it is worth your time to complete the CRS survey here.
  4. Directly inquire with your preferred law schools. Send a polite email to their admissions office asking whether they have a fee waiver program, and how you can apply. Some schools will simply respond with a waiver; other schools will have certain parameters (like GPA or financial need) to meet before waiving your fee. Take 10 minutes to craft a friendly form email and send it to all of the schools you’re applying to–it’s an easy way to collect a few fee waivers. It’s well worth your time.
  5. Attend law school visit or open house days. Sometimes when a school sees that you’ve made the effort to visit, they will reward you with a fee waiver.
  6. Join the Pre-Law Facebook Group. Sometimes law schools send our office fee waivers, and we always post them to our FB group on a first-come, first-served basis. Click here to join!

 

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Welcome Back, Part 2: Top 3 Things That Happened Over the Summer and Mark Your Calendars!

We hope you had a great summer and that your semester is off to a good start. Beginning next week, PLAS will resume our Monday “Mark Your Calendars” edition, followed by a midweek blog post addressing a host of topical issues.  But since you’ve been away, some important pre-law related events and updates have occurred.  Here are the Top 3:

  1. If you haven’t heard yet, the Law School Admission Council has announced some big changes to the LSAT. Want to learn more?  Check out this July PLAS blog post.
  2. PLAS has updated its list of available scholarships for undergrad and law school students.  The tally is now 275!  Go to the PLAS Compass page to learn more!
  3. PLAS recently published a blog about the best way to get an internship for Spring and Summer 2018.  Click here for more information.

And have you heard? Three more law schools have announced that they will begin allowing applicants to use either LSAT or GRE test scores for admission to their schools!  Want to learn more?  Check out our midweek blog post, coming this Wednesday, August 30.

Also — last week our blog featured a list of upcoming PLAS events, including our FREE PRACTICE LSAT, set for Friday, September 8 and the Law School Fair on Wednesday, September 27, Illini Union A, B, C, 10am-2pm. Check out last week’s blog for information on other upcoming PLAS events.  If you are interested in taking the FREE practice LSAT, note that space is limited so interested students should  go to our PLAS Events Calendar and register ASAP!

Campus Events and Activities

University Counsel’s Office — PAID Internship!

As we announced on Friday on the PLAS Facebook page, University Counsel’s Office is hiring 1-2 undergrad pre-law students as PAID interns for 2017-18! Required: At least sophomore standing, minimum 3.0 GPA, and consistent weekly availability. This is a GREAT opportunity to meet a variety of attorneys, see the practice of law, and contribute to the success of a legal team! Applications due Sept. 8. See attached position description for more details.

 

Provosts’ Undergraduate Student Advisory Board – Call for Applications

Provost’s Undergraduate Student Advisory Board is looking for students who:

  • Are undergraduates for the current year who will be on campus—not studying abroad or graduating early—both this fall and in Spring, 2018;
  • Have a strong record of academic achievement as evidenced by a 3.0 GPA or above in their college courses or, for first-time new freshmen or transfer students, as evidenced by what you would consider a “very strong” high school or prior institution record;
  • Are interested in academic affairs initiatives and activities on campus;
  • Are involved in both academic and extracurricular activities here or, for first-time new freshmen or transfer students, were involved at their previous institution.

Please be aware that a primary requirement for participation is availability during the set meeting times for the fall, no class or work conflicts. Though we certainly don’t expect you to vet this in the nominees, know that this will be the first question we ask any of them. Fall meeting dates are Wednesday, October 4; Friday, November 10; and Friday, December 8, all from noon to 1 p.m. with lunch provided.

Applications can be completed here and are due by Friday, September 8th at 5p.m. Questions can be directed to mschaefr@illinois.edu or students can call (217)333-6677.

Career Center

One big change that occurred over the summer at the Career Center is the transition away from I-Link to the new job and internship portal called Handshake.  Click on this  link to learn more about this new search engine and to register to set up your own Handshake page!

Information Night for International Students — Friday, September 1, 6-7pm, Room 143 at the Career Center International students will be introduced to services, programs and resources of The Career Center. A short tour of The Career Center will follow.

National and International Scholarships Program – Luce Scholars Program: Information Sessions

The Luce is for U.S. citizens under the age of 30 who are young professionals, seniors and graduate/professional students. The Luce fully funds a one year internship in East or Southeast Asia for those with little significant academic or personal experience with Asia.

Thursday, August 31, 2017: 3:30 to 4:30 p.m.—Information session and discussion with a former Luce Scholar
Friday, September 1, 2017: 3:30 to 4:30 p.m.—Workshop on how to craft a Luce Application

All sessions are held in the Illini Union Bookstore, 5th Floor, Room 514. If you would like to discuss the Luce before the next information session please contact the NIS Program to schedule an appointment. For more information about the Luce Scholars Program, go here.

College of Law Opportunities for Pre-Law Students

Prospective Client Volunteers Needed–Please consider volunteering to play the role of a prospective client with a possible legal issue for students in CFI: Interviewing, Counseling & Fact InvestigationVolunteers are needed on September 13, 14, 27, and 28 at varying times.  You will meet with and be interviewed by your lawyer for approximately 15-20 minutes.  You will be given the fact pattern for the role you volunteer to play.  Please consider signing up for multiple sessions.  To volunteer or for additional details, contact Angela Martin (aymartin@illinois.edu).  Feel free to refer any non-law, or undergraduate friends.  Your time is greatly appreciated!

PAID Video Operators Needed– The Trial Advocacy Program needs video operators for the fall semester on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings from approximately 5:30/6:00 p.m. – 8:30/9:00 p.m. at the Champaign County Courthouse, Urbana.  You can choose to do one evening a week or both evenings.  The pay is $8.25/hour.  For full job details and requirements, please contact Angela Martin (aymartin@illinois.edu).  Feel free to refer any non-law or undergraduate friends.

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A Spring/Summer 2018 Internship Plan–starting NOW!

We haven’t even kicked off fall semester and it’s time to look for 2018 summer internships? In a word…yes.

The number one mistake we see time and time again is this: Students waiting until spring break to look for summer internships. They can’t find any, or deadlines have passed on the ones they have found.

Certainly there are some companies and programs that will do their summer hiring in late spring. BUT if you wait until spring, you will be giving up MANY opportunities to participate in great internships. Some companies and government agencies plan far in advance and already have a summer hiring plan. For example, the State Department and the White House have already posted their internships for Spring 2018 and will post their Summer 2018 internships by November. A quick search on USAJobs shows about 68 federal internships currently accepting applications for 2018 positions. The kicker? Many federal internships will only accept the first 100 applications–so you’d better be ready to apply ASAP when it opens! What is a good plan?

Spring/Summer 2018 Internship plan

  1. Subscribe to internship websites. You can set them to email you a weekly digest, or just email you when the kinds of internships that you designate become available. Some suggested sites are listed below.
  2. Use Handshake. The Career Center switched from I-Link to Handshake this summer. Click on the link below, log in, set up your profile, explore, and set it to contact you when internships you qualify for become available. Check back regularly.
  3. Attend Career Fairs. Did you know that most campus career fairs, like the Business Career Fair and the ACES Career Fair, are open to all students? And, many of those employers will have both job and internships available. Mark your calendars for the Fall Illini Career & Internship Fair on October 19 too. You can find a list of all campus career fairs on Handshake.
  4. Create or perfect your resume. The Career Center has numerous opportunities to have your resume reviewed–or attend a resume basics workshop–every week. Click here to see their events. You’ll need a resume for the rest of your life, so the sooner you start building these skills, the better! Aim to have a good quality resume by mid-September to avoid delay applying for the scholarships you find.
  5. Gcal or Ical it. NOW–right now–go to your Gcal, ical, or good old fashioned planner, and schedule an hour every other week (or every week, if you’re very ambitious) for Internships.(Use this time to check internship listings and prepare your applications.) When you find an internship listing, add that due date to your Gcal/ical/planner too. Finding and applying for internships and jobs is not done in an afternoon–it really helps to be organized and persistent.

What internship websites should you use? Here are the Top 5 Internship Sites that we have found to be helpful.

Handshake–Here is where companies post their opportunities for Illinois students. You can also find out about upcoming company info sessions and career/internship fairs.

Internships.com–Continuously updated nationwide internship listings

Idealist.com–Nonprofit internship offerings

Fastweb–Extensive internship listings (click on “Career Planning”)

USAJobs.gov–for federal government jobs and internships. Tip: The website gogovernment.org has a nice overview explaining how to get started and what to look for.

 

 

 

 

 

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Heading to law school this fall? Here’s the inside scoop on what to know, buy, and do

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 you’ve posted? If not, take them down, and set privacy restrictions for future posts.
    • Set up a new, professional-sounding gmail account (not lawguy14 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 tips and tricks.
    • Create a Linked In profile.
    • Update your resume.
    • Subscribe to free 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. Here’s the thing: You are going to 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. Use your networking skills and begin reaching out to any contacts in industries 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

  • 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 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 should 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 9 months of living expenses, and it is not designed to cover elements like car payments, credit card debt, or daycare. 

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 the gift of 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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Scholarships, scholarships! Over 200 scholarships for undergrads and incoming law students!

Whether you’re heading off to law school this fall or staying here to continue your pre-law education, you’ll want to see this: Scholarships! Could you use an additional $500, $1000, or even $40,000 towards your undergrad or legal education? Then take a look at this resource. We have compiled over 225 scholarships available for BOTH incoming law students and pre-law undergraduates.  Below are some examples. Head over to our Compass page to find the full listings–but hurry, because some have upcoming deadlines! The full spreadsheet with 200+ scholarships is the very first item posted on our Compass page.

All UIUC students can access our Compass page. Here’s how:

  • If you are an Illinois student who is designated pre-law: All students who are designated pre-law already have access to our Compass page. Log in to Compass and under “My Courses” look for OPEN LEARNING: Pre-Law Advising Services.
  • If you are an Illinois student who is not designated pre-law: Click here for instructions on how to add yourself to our Compass page.

Here are just a few examples of the scholarships available. Go to the Compass page for more details on how to apply.

The American Injury Attorney Group is sponsoring a $1250 scholarship for an undergrad or law student who submits a 500+ word essay on creative marketing strategies for personal injury lawyers. Deadline: April 30.

American Association for Justice’s Richard D. Hailey Scholarship provides $5,000 to an incoming or continuing minority law student. Applications due May 1.

The Baumgartner Law Firm Law Student Scholarship awards $3,000 to an incoming or continuing law student based on need and commitment to helping others. Due August 31.

Burke & Eisner offers two scholarships: One for single mothers who are pursuing undergraduate or graduate education, and a second scholarship for law students. Due July 30.

Coil Law, LLC offers a $500 scholarship for undergrads with a 3.0 GPA who plan to go on to law school. Applications due May 31.

Dwyer Williams Dretke is offering a $1,000 scholarship for an incoming law student. Deadline to apply is July 1.

McNeely Stephenson’s Legal Scholarship Award provides $1,000 to an incoming law student who has written an article that has been published in print or digital media. Deadline to apply is May 1.

Head over to our Compass page to explore over 200 more scholarship opportunities!

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Taking a Gap Year: Decisions, Timing, and General Advice

The decision to take a gap year is a personal one and the choice is up to you. There are many factors to consider when you are thinking about taking a gap year versus going straight through to law school. Here are some questions and answers commonly associated with taking a gap year.

First, what is a gap year?

A “gap year” is a year (or more) between finishing your undergraduate degree and beginning law school. Students take a gap year for many reasons, such as:

– financial considerations

– retaking the LSAT, and

– to determine whether law school is the correct choice.

Second, if you decide to take a gap year, where should you work?

University of Illinois students have chosen different jobs for their gap year(s). There is not a perfect job to take during your gap year, so do something you enjoy or a job that will provide you with transferable skills. These can include:

  • Project Assistant/Legal Assistant
  • Paralegal
  • Teach for America
  • Peace Corps
  • Accounting/Finance
  • Engineering
  • Campaign work/politics
  • Nonprofit work
  • Anything you want!

Third, if you decide to take a gap year, what should you do before your graduate?

– Find a professor that you are willing to keep in contact with for a letter of recommendation. Ideally, you want to have a recent letter, so keeping in contact with a professor during your time off is the best choice. When asking your professor for a letter of recommendation – provide information about how you did in their class, work from that class you completed, and give the recommender enough time to write a letter.

– Try to take the LSAT! It is much easier to take the LSAT while you are in school than when you are working. Your LSAT score is good for 5 years.

– Set up a CAS (Credential Assembly Service) account and make sure to submit your official transcripts from the University and have them on file with the LSAC.

– Start networking early! Don’t be afraid to reach out to lawyers/others in the legal sector early on, even as an undergrad. A diverse and broad network will help you later on in your legal career and can provide for opportunities for mentorship.

Fourth, what skills should you focus on during your time off that will be helpful in law school?

  • Attention to detail
    • proofreading, if possible
  • Setting professional and personal goals and deadlines
  • Maintaining a good work ethic
    • showing up on on time
    • being accountable for your work product
  • Working with different personalities and understanding your audience
  • Networking

Also, keep in contact with Pre-Law Advising Services. We happy to make appointments with alumni as well as current students. Call 217-333-9669 to schedule an appointment with us.

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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…..you 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
akperry@uchicago.edu
www.law.uchicago.edu

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