Suggestions for Fall 2020 Courses

Per the Office of the Registrar, the Fall 2020 time ticket release and registration schedule is as follows:

Summer/Fall 2020 registration has been delayed by two weeks. Time tickets will be available to be viewed on April 6. 

Priority registration begins April 20. Initial registration dates/times for fall will approximate what was previously in place in terms of spacing, with dates moved back by two weeks.

Registration is almost here, which means pre-law students are asking: What courses should I take?  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 fall courses that pre-law students may find particularly helpful and interesting. These courses are only suggestions and are NOT requirements. For some additional information about course planning, go here to check out an earlier blog post with some good tips about planning your schedule.

CHART FORMAT: Want to see these suggestions in a handy chart format? Click here: Fall 2020 Class Chart

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.

ACE 306: Food Law. Explores the legal and political dimensions of food law, policy and trad in the United States and major trading partners.

ACE 406: Environmental Law.  Examination of environmental law issues, including pollution control, the role of administrative agencies and courts, and federal and state power.

ADV 310: Intro to Public Relations  Introduces the student to the practice and profession of public relations. Course material covers topics such as the history of public relations, the role of law and ethics in public relations, and theories that guide public relations research and practice.

AIS 214/PS 214: American Indian Law and Politics. Examines the role of American Indians and Indian law in the US political system.

ANTH 246: Forensic Science. History and theory underlying methods used in forensic science.  Topics include the courtroom, the units of a crime laboratory and the analysis of evidence collected from a crime scene, such as blood, fibers, hair and fingerprints.

BTW 263: Writing in the Disciplines teaches very practical writing skills for aspiring professionals. This spring’s topic is Cross-Cultural Communication.

BTW 271: Persuasive Writing examines persuasive writing in a variety of contexts including ads, argumentative essays, proposals, and campaigns.

CHLH Community Health 101: Introduction to Public Health and 210: Community Health Organizations are both good options for those interested in pursuing healthcare law.

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 230: Intro to Interpersonal Communication
  • CMN 232: Intro to Intercultural Communication
  • CMN 260: Intro to Health Communication (for those interested in healthcare law)
  • CMN 323: Argumentation

ECON 484: Law and Economics Applications of economic theory to problems and issues in both civil and criminal law and the effect of legal rules on the allocation of resources; includes property rights, liability and negligence assignment, the use of administrative and common law to mitigate market failure, and the logic of private versus public law enforcement.

EDUC 202: Social Justice, School, and Society Examines the nature of justice and the dynamics of a pluralistic society to derive a conception of social justice.

ENGL 360: Environmental Writing for students interested in environmental law. Write about food, water, and energy resource systems. Students will also have the opportunity to meet working journalists and to practice professional skills like interviewing, conducting historical research, and drafting pitch letters.

ESE 210: Social & Environmental Issues for those interested in environmental law.  Same as GEOG 210.

FIN 241: Fundamentals of Real Estate. A survey of real estate finance, appraisal, investment, law, brokerage, management, development and economics. Special attention is given to the analysis of aggregate real estate and mortgage markets, to the individual transactions within these markets, and to the legal and institutional factors which affect these markets.

FSHN 101: Intro to Food Science & Human Nutrition for those interested in food regulation or public policy related to food or nutrition. Discusses the evolution of the food system to meet the needs and desires of a complex, heterogeneous society. Provides an overview of food in relation to nutrition and health, composition and chemistry, microbiology, safety, processing, preservation, laws and regulations, quality, and the consumer.

GEOG 101: Global Development & Environment and GEOG 210: Social & Environmental Issues for those interested in international or environmental law and public policy.

GLBL 260: Global Human Rights Examines how ideas about human rights are defined and how they are differentially deployed. Looks at human rights claims and crises, and examines how governmental and non-governmental individuals and organizations have sought to deal with human rights violations in order to address problems of justice, retribution, and reconciliation at personal, national, and international levels.

HDFS 120: Intro to Family Studies and SOCW 200: Intro to Social Work. Both of these courses may be of interest to students who want to be advocates for families, juveniles, the elderly, or other vulnerable populations.

HIST 281: Constructing Race in America. Interdisciplinary examination of the historical, cultural, and social dimensions of race and ethnicity in the United States. Explores the complex and intricate pursuit of multiracial and multicultural democracy.

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

JOUR 311: Media Law. Detailed analysis of the theories of freedom of expression, the legal doctrines of greatest concern to mass communicators, and contemporary issues related to free speech and press, including libel, copyright, and news-gathering in a digital age.

LER 100: Intro to Labor Studies for those interested in corporate or employment law. Looks at economic, political, and workplace issues facing working people, why and how workers join unions, how unions are structured and function, and how unions and management bargain a contract. Provides a historical overview of the American labor movement, and discusses the contemporary struggles workers and unions face in a rapidly changing global economy.

LER 120: Contemporary Labor Problems for those interested in corporate or employment law.  Focuses on problems and challenges facing American workers and the U.S. labor movement. Topics include the deterioration of the labor-management “social contract” in recent decades; a review of labor and employment law; the health care crisis; globalization and cross-border union alliances; and union democracy.

LER 320: Gender, Race, Class and Work. Provides a historical and contemporary overview of the impact and interplay of gender, race, class and other issues of identity in the workplace.  Topics include: pay gap, workplace harassment and employment discrimination laws.

LLS 468: Latinas/os & the Law. Examines the Latina/Latino experience in the U.S.  Students will come to understand that the law is a deeply contested social space that is central to U.S. hierarchies based upon race, ethnicity, sexuality, gender, class, immigration status, and religion.

NRES courses that can be helpful for students interested in pursuing environmental law include:

NRES 102: Intro to Natural Resources and Environmental Science 

NRES 224: Social Justice and Environment and Society

PHIL 102/103: Logic & Reasoning. Especially helpful for students who have yet to take the LSAT, as two sections of the LSAT are based on logical and analytical reasoning.

PHIL 104/105: Intro to Ethics.  Basic exploration of ethics, including the relationship between social morality and the law.

PHIL 107: Intro to Political Philosophy. Introduction to core ideas in political and legal philosophy, for example, rights, equality, political obligations, legitimacy of states, nationalism, and oppression.

PHIL 436: Philosophy of Law and of the State. Examination of issues in the philosophy of law, such as the nature of law, law and morality, justice, liberty and authority, punishment, and legal responsibility. Prerequisite: One course in philosophy.

Political Science options to gain a foundational understanding of our legal system and its role within broader political structures include the following. Review course restrictions for prerequisites.

  • PS 220: Intro to Public Policy
  • PS 280: Intro to International Relations
  • PS 301: US Constitution I
  • PS 313: Congress and Foreign Policy
  • PS 329: Immigration & Citizenship

PS 491: Internship with the Champaign County Public Defender’s Office. Note: Due to circumstances surrounding COVID-19 and the policy of social distancing, the plan is to go through the selection process for this internship in mid May, after students have completed their registration, in the event that the internship is not available next semester.

Are you interested in how criminal courts work?  Would you like to see an arraignment, a motion hearing, or a real criminal trial?  Want to meet with Public Defender clients and help an attorney prepare cases for court?  The Department of Political Science and the Champaign County Public Defender’s Office will offer an internship for academic credit in Spring, 2020.    In this internship, students will earn 3 hours of credit for their work in the Public Defender’s Office combined with a series of structured academic assignments requiring integration of internship experiences with readings on the political systems, the legal system and constitutional and human rights. This class requires one hour of class time per week, and about six hours per week of work at the internship site. Admission is competitive: We expect to have five openings for Fall of 2020.

To apply: No date has been set but will be after students have completed their Fall 2020 registration. Please keep checking back for information.  Students seeking to participate in the Public Defender Internship Program must submit an application online.  The online link to the application will be available in early May.  PLAS will update students with that info as it is made available. The application consists of a cover letter, informal transcript, resume and writing sample. All of those materials will be reviewed for a decision on acceptance into the program by the departmental internship committee. At a minimum, students seeking to participate in this program need (1) to have completed 45 credit hours by Fall, 2020 (2) with at least one year of residence on this campus and (3) to have earned a cumulative UIUC grade point average of 3.0 or higher.  They must (4) have completed PS 101: U.S. Government & Politics and (5) have no arrests or criminal convictions – as an adult or juvenile – or serious campus disciplinary violations involving campus or local law enforcement.

PSYCH 144: Stereotypes, Prejudice & Discrimination

Sociology has a Criminology, Law and Society minor. These courses may be helpful for students exploring criminal legal issues and the criminal justice system on a societal level, such as:

  • SOC 275: Criminology
  • SOC 378: Sociology of Law
  • SOC 479: Law and Society

UP 160: Race, Social Justice, and Cities. Explore everyday racial conflicts in selected cities as expressions of historical struggles for social and spatial justice, across multiple scales. Focus on the governance of routine social practices ranging from policing, to education, to gentrification and memorialization in public places.

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

  • ACE 403: Agricultural Law
  • GEOG 210: Social & Environmental Issues
  • RST 354: Legal Aspects of Sport
  • SE 400 Engineering Law (only pre-req is RHET 105 but preference is given to students in the College of Engineering with leftover seats released after a restricted period)

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 314 Leading Negotiations
  • BADM 340: Ethical Dilemmas of Business
  • BADM 380: International Business
  • BADM 403: Corporate & Commercial Law

Remember that these are only suggestions and that people come to law school from a variety of academic disciplines.  This is not intended to be an exhaustive list. Courses get added all the time, and many are added after we publish this list. Many other great courses can be found in Course Explorer, some of which have prerequisites. Do additional research and talk with your academic advisor to identify other good options for you.

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Job Search Guide for Pre-Law Students and Recent Grads

How do I find a job for my gap year(s)? This is a very common question. It has become the norm to work 1-3 years after graduating with a bachelor’s degree before attending law school, which means that most pre-law students will be job searching for a professional position during your gap year(s). This guide contains suggestions, tips, and ideas for pre-law students who are searching for gap year opportunities. 

NOTE: We have added more listings to our Jobs for December Grads over on Compass. (Need to add yourself to our Compass page? Scroll down and follow the simple instructions here.)

First: Is your resume ready? Review these resume tips from our earlier post.

Schedule time over a few months for your job search. Sit down and dedicate time in your GCal, iCal, or paper planner every week for job searching.  Job searching isn’t done in one afternoon…we suggest setting aside at least 2-3 hours each week to apply for jobs. (For example, every Sunday afternoon, or an hour a few days a week).

Cast a wide net. Apply to lots of jobs–many people will apply to 20+ jobs, especially as a new college graduate. THAT’S NORMAL. If you are applying to law-related jobs (which tend to be competitive) then you should expect to apply to even more.

Make sure you are connected to our Facebook group. We will continue to post internships and jobs as they become available. Join us here.

Identify attorneys and legal service providers in your area. Google county bar associations. For example: Cook County Bar Association or Orange County Bar Association.

    • Bar Association websites frequently have directories of attorneys, which can help you identify contacts to inquire about job opportunities, and you can then find attorney websites and monitor them for job listings.
    • Are you in Illinois? Use the Illinois Lawyer Finder to find any lawyer in any county or practice area in the state.
    • Live in another state? Whatever state you live in, you can use Martindale Hubbell to find lawyers by practice area, location, or law school affiliation. Google _____ State Bar Association to find statewide attorney directories too.
    • Many bar associations also post support staff job opportunities, so bookmark those sites and check back often.

Use effective search terms. Obviously any jobs labeled “lawyer” or “associate” or “partner” or the like are going to require a law degree. What are some legal jobs for which people with bachelor’s degrees are eligible?

    • Project Assistant
    • Case Assistant
    • Legal Assistant
    • Paralegal (as long as a paralegal certificate isn’t required)
    • Office Assistant
    • Office Support
    • Billing Support/Assistant

Apply if you meet 60% or more of the job criteria. Most applicants will not meet 100% of the job criteria, and that’s okay. Unless it says “required” you should assume it’s negotiable. Your options will be very limited if you only apply to jobs for which you meet every single preferred criteria.

Set up a professional non-University email account. Make it something simple and non-controversial…not hottiebae23 or cubsrule45. And make sure it isn’t political or religious!

Create–or update–your LinkedIn account. It’s an easy way to network, job search, and connect with people who are hiring (or people who know others who are hiring.) The Career Center offers LinkedIn reviews to help you create or improve your profile.

Clean up your social media. Many employers (and law schools too) will check your online presence, so comb through your Facebook/Insta/Twitter feeds. Check the privacy settings and remove anything that you wouldn’t want an employer or law school dean to see.

Be organized. How?

    • Bookmark sites and check them regularly. (More about job sites below).
    • Subscribe to weekly (or even daily) digests of job listings based on criteria (like location) that you set.
    • Create a spreadsheet that includes the job, website, closing date, when you applied, and contact information.
    • Download job descriptionsdon’t just save the links. Most job descriptions will be removed from websites after the application deadline. You’ll want to refer to the description to prepare for an interview or to follow up, so make sure you download or cut and paste a copy of it for your records.

Network. Now is the time to let it be known that you are job searching. Ask anyone you know if they know of any job opportunities–neighbors, cousins, classmates, parents, etc. Lots of hiring is done by word of mouth and personal recommendations.

Use the University’s resources. In addition to the Career Center (which you should definitely be utilizing), make the most of your department or college’s job search resources, such as:

    • Are you on Handshake? You should be. Do you actually check it? Did you know that you can set it to email you with opportunities? Employers are constantly coming to campus and holding info sessions, networking receptions, and interviews right here.
    • Attend the college/campus career fairs. You can find a list of them in Handshake. More fairs will be happening in the spring semester. (Click on Events and then Find Career Fairs).
    • Are you using your department’s career services, mentoring, or alumni connections? Many departments/majors bring in alums, offer mentors, or have lists of alumni available to you.
    • The Humanities Professional Resource Center is another great career resource.
    • The Life + Career Design Lab also offers career prep resources.

Which job search sites are helpful?

We post jobs and internships over on our Facebook page

Use Handshake!

Many law firms will post positions on Indeed or on Monster

lawjobs.com 

GoGovernment.org–Guides and helpful insight for finding and applying to entry level federal government jobs.

USAJOBS lists all federal government jobs and internships–use the helpful icons to find entry level or student opportunities.

Idealist–for public interest/nonprofit sector jobs

LinkedIn also has job listings

 

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Got pre-law questions? Start with the PLAS Pre-Law Handbook!

Although we love meeting students and alumni, we know that these meetings would be more useful and productive for all of you if potential applicants and aspiring lawyers would take the time to review the great information in our PLAS Pre-Law Handbook.  The user-friendly formatted Handbook covers a wide range of issues of interest to pre-law students.  You should take a look at all of them.  This post will highlight 5 really popular topics.

1. Exploring Your Interest in Law – This is for everyone new to pre-law, whether you are a freshman, sophomore, junior, senior or alum!  This section helps you evaluate your interest in the law and whether it might be a good fit.  Some of the areas covered/links provided include: What is a JD? What do lawyers do? What are some good online resources on the law? We have also included links to podcasts on these topics. Click here  and then select the “Exploring Your Interest in Law” tab for more info.  You should also check out our “Pre-Law Student/Applicant Checklist” tab for a list of “to-dos” that will help you get a general picture of what being pre-law entails. Note-the first suggestion in this section is that you attend a Pre-Law 101 session.

2. Preparing for Law School – So you’ve decided that you are interested in pursuing law school and a legal career.  This section helps you decide what you need to do now to prepare for law school. Some of the topics covered/links provided include: How do I select a major? What skills do the law schools value? What kind of extracurricular activities should you consider? How do law schools consider grade replacement, credit/no credit, or withdrawals?  Click here  and then select the “Preparing for Law School” tab for more info.

3. Financing Law School – Law school is expensive!  In fact, the cost of attendance/COA (tuition plus other expenses) at three well-known law schools recently topped $100,000 per year!  How do you plan to pay for it?  How do you put yourself in the best position to receive scholarships from law schools?  Click here  and then select the “Financing Law School” tab for more info.

4. Understanding Admissions Criteria – So what exactly are law school admissions people looking for in a candidate?  To be sure, a strong GPA coupled with a good LSAT score is important.  But what about: volunteer experiences; internships that expose applicants to the practice of law; letters of recommendation? These are just some of the topics covered in this section of the handbook.  Click here  and then select the “Understanding Admissions Criteria” tab for more info.

5. Applying to Law School – This section covers all topics related to the process of and requirements for applying to law school.  Some of the topics covered/links provided include: What is “rolling admissions”? What is the LSAT and how do I study for it?  What do the law schools require that applicants submit with their applications? How do I put together a law school resume? Click here  and then select the “Applying to Law School” tab for more info. Note: this particular section of the handbook has a LOT of “sub” tabs within the section addressing all aspects of the application process.  Aspiring law school applicants should review all of them!

The point is – the PLAS Pre-Law Handbook is an excellent resource.  It is intended to be a comprehensive overview of what it means to be “pre-law.”  It is also interactive, easy to use, and constantly updated.  As such, it is always a very good place to begin to find answers to your pre-law questions.

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All About Law School Interviews

Here’s everything you need to know about law school interviews–what they are, how to prepare for them, and what to expect. Note: Registration is already open for many law school interviews!

What is the purpose of the interview? In addition to admission, law schools might use the interview to screen candidates for scholarships, research opportunities, or special programs such as law school ambassadors. It is definitely worth an applicant’s time and effort to take the interview seriously.

Know what kind of interviews your law schools offer

  • Research your law schools’ websites to see whether and what format of interview is offered. We posted a list of known interview types by school over on our Compass page.
  • First come, first served interviews–Some law schools like Northwestern offer interview slots to all applicants on a first-come, first-served basis. (To schedule an interview visit their interview calendar here. Hurry, because they will fill fast. Note that IF you are applying Early Decision then you must interview and it must be complete by the ED deadline.)
  • Group interviews–Some schools like Georgetown will offer group interviews in selected cities. Visit their website here for details and to register.
  • By invitation only–some law schools like University of Chicago choose to interview applicants after applications are submitted and by invitation only.
  • Recorded interviews. Some law schools are now offering applicants the opportunity to record an interview. Usually this is how it works: You are given a prompt, and then 2-3 minutes to think about that prompt. Then the webcam records you for a few minutes while you give your answer to the prompt.
    • TIP: Make sure that you look professional and are in a quiet place without interruptions. Also, take a picture with your webcam before the interview so that you can see what’s behind you…you may be surprised to see that pile of laundry or unmade bed in the background.

Preparing for the interview

  • Do your research. You should expect them to ask you “Why this law school?” and they will want to hear specific answers. Take a careful look at the school’s website, employment data, and social media.
    • Do be prepared with specific talking points about the school that interest you: A particular journal, clinic, moot court, externship, or certificate program is a good example.
    • Avoid general platitudes like “you have a national reputation” or “you’re the best ranked school I can get into.” They want to see that your interest goes beyond their ranking.
  • Carefully review your resume and be prepared to discuss anything on it.
  • Many schools will also ask something like “What are your career goals?” or “Where do you see yourself in 5/10 years?,” or even “Why do you want to be a lawyer?” and you should be prepared to discuss your career interests.
  • Decide how you will address the inevitable “What are your strengths and weaknesses” question.
  • Behavioral interviewing. This mode of interviewing will ask you to “Tell me about a time when…” For example, you’ll be asked to tell about a time when you resolved a conflict, managed a team project, made a mistake, or made a big decision.
  • Practice. Sign up for a mock interview with Career Services, or have a lawyer/professor/trusted person sit down with you and ask you mock questions. Think carefully about what you want to say, and how you can best convey it.

At the interview

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

After the interview

  • Follow up with an email thanking the interviewer for their time.
  • Include something specific that you learned or enjoyed about the interview. Examples:
    • Thank you for your advice about _______________; I found that very insightful.
    • It was so interesting to hear your perspective on the unique qualities of this school.
    • I appreciate your candid advice for prospective law students.
  • Take the opportunity–again–to reiterate your interest in the school.
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A Spring/Summer 2019 Internship Plan–starting NOW!

We’ve barely kicked off fall semester and it’s time to look for 2019 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 White House Internship Program has already finished taking applicants for Spring 2019.  Many federal internships will only accept the first 100 applications–so you need to be ready to apply ASAP when it opens! What is a good plan?

Spring/Summer 2019 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 uses Handshake to post jobs and internships for Illinois students and alumni. 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 + LAS Career Fair, are open to all students? And, many of those employers will have both job and internships available.  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 internships or scholarships that 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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Guide to selecting pre-law coursework for Illinois students

Each semester, we post a list of upcoming courses that will help pre-law students develop relevant skills for law school and get a taste of what studying law is like. What else should you know about building your pre-law schedule? This Guide provides several tips and suggestions to help pre-law students make the most of your upcoming semesters.

Pre-Law students really can major in ANYTHING and be successful in law school, but you must be a strong student in whatever you choose. Therefore, carefully consider what major(s) and minor(s) will challenge you but also allow you to demonstrate your academic strengths. Explore all majors and minors on campus here.

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

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

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

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

Consider changing majors, especially if you are not able to achieve mostly As and some Bs in your coursework. This is especially important if you struggle academically for more than one semester–it is very challenging to fix a low GPA once obtained.

We recommend that you avoid making course selections for these reasons:

  • A friend/roommate/sibling/parent said the class was easy;
  • I only wanted classes in the afternoons/on Tu/Th/to complement my work schedule so I just picked what I could get into on those days;
  • I just wanted to hurry up and graduate so I took a very demanding overload each semester.

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

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

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

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

Plan far in advance for study abroad, Illinois in Washington, and taking the LSAT. Most students try to lighten their academic load during the spring of Junior year or during the fall of Senior year while they prep for the LSAT. Studying for the LSAT will take about 10-15 hours per week for 4-6 months. Review upcoming LSAT dates and deadlines here. If you are planning to study abroad or do Illinois in Washington, talk to a pre-law advisor about planning your LSAT options around those.

Monitor your academic performance and seek help. Don’t wait until the last week of class to discover that you are actually not earning an A. Seek help when you need it–this University abounds with programs and services to support your academic endeavors! Start by talking to your TA/Professor and your academic advisor about academic support and tutoring options.

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

 

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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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Internships: Applications, Interviews, and Other Tips

March is an important time for summer internships. There are many deadlines that are for March 1 and March 15. Some of the internships in our Winter Break Internship Newsletter over on Compass are still available, and we’ve been posting LOTS of internships on our Facebook page! Here are some tips on applications, subsequent interviews, and other important things to do to make sure you land the perfect summer internship.

Applications

1.Apply early! If you wait until the last minute to apply, you might be at the bottom of the resume stack.

2.Make a checklist for the required application materials. Make sure you send the employer everything they ask for. Some employers will not even consider your application unless you provide the materials they ask for. Common internship application components include:

  • Resumes
  • Cover Letters
  • Transcripts
  • Writing Samples
  • References

3. Be formal. Dress up for your interview–even if it’s through Skype. Iron your dress suit. Treat this interview seriously. For cover letters or emails, make sure to address employers as Mr., Ms., and Mrs. Use appropriate email subject lines if communicating via email. Examples of appropriate subject lines for internship applications and correspondence:

  • John Doe Application Materials for Summer 2018 Internship at XYZ Company
  • John Doe Resume, Cover Letter, and Writing Sample for Summer 2018 Internship
  • Summer 2018 Internship for XYZ Company – John Doe

4. Send a thank you note after your internship interview! Even if you think the interview did not go that well, send a thank you email and a written thank you note. You would rather be the applicant who sent the thank you note instead of the only applicant who did not send the thank you note.

Interviews

  1. Do a mock interview before your real interview! The Career Center offers mock interviews. This is a great opportunity to practice with someone who can give you constructive feedback. For more information about the Career Center’s mock interviews, click here.
  2. Phone interviews and Skype interviews are very common for first round or preliminary interviews. Make sure you have a quiet environment to conduct your phone interview. If your dorm or apartment is going to be distracting or loud, book a study room for your phone or Skype interview. For information about reserving a study room through the University’s library system, click here.
    1. If you decide to do a Skype interview at your dorm or apartment, be careful of what is in the background of the video. Clean up your space and take a picture from your webcam to see what the interviewer will see. Do a practice interview over Skype with a friend to make sure you know how to use it and it works.
    2. Dress up for your Skype interview. Treat this interview as a formal interview. Wear a suit!
  3. Make copies of your application materials and bring the materials to your interview. Bring at least three paper copies of your resume, cover letter, and transcript to an in-person interview.

Other Tips- Utilize campus resources!

  1. The Career Center hosts great events for finding an internship. Their next “Finding an Internship” workshop is Tuesday March 13. For more information about that event, click here. 
  2. Make sure you are registered to use Handshake@Illinois. This resource helps connect you with employers looking for interns and other full time jobs. To register, click here. 
  3. Get resume tips and get your resume reviewed. The Career Center offers tips for writing a resume. The Career Center also offers resume reviews.

Featured Internships – These have March 15 deadlines, so apply soon!

  1. U.S. Department of Education–Washington, D.C. The Department of Education Intern Program seeks to provide students with an experience that exposes them to government and federal education policy while providing students with meaningful responsibilities. Applicants for the ED Intern program will be accepted throughout the year on a rolling application schedule. Applications need to be received at a minimum of a month before the proposed start date to be considered, however, it is highly recommended that applications
    are submitted much further in advance due to high demand for spots in the program (especially during the summer season). No application will be considered complete until three items are received by ED: a cover letter; an up to date resume; and a copy of the intern application (located on the website below). For more information and to obtain a copy of the application, go to: http://www.ed.gov/students/prep/job/intern/index.html. Application Deadline:
    March 15. Questions? Send an email to StudentInterns@ed.gov
  2. Internship with Senator Tammy Duckworth. A Congressional internship offers a unique opportunity to witness and experience first-hand the legislative process as well as assist in helping your representative or senator represent the citizens of Illinois. Click here for internship information about Senator Duckworth’s internships.  The application deadline is March 15.
  3. The Wolff Internship with the Institute of Government & Public Affairs is a PAID internship starting in the summer and going through the next academic year. Applications are due March 9. 

(Further Reading) Helpful Past Blogs About Internships

  1. Still making summer plans? Here’s what to do now 
  2. The 2017 Internship Newsletter is Live on Compass!

 

 

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LSAT Fee Waivers and How to Get Them

Pre-law students and alumni are starting to think about the Law School Admission Tests coming up in June and September. Note: We expect the June LSAT to fill early, based on the increased number of LSAT takers in 2017. Did you know that you can receive an LSAC fee waiver that will cover the cost of the Law School Admission Test? This blog post will share what it is, why it is important, and  how to get it–as well as why you need to apply for it NOW if you plan to take the June exam.

What is the LSAC fee waiver?

The Law School Admission Council oversees both the LSAT and the law school application process. Applicants can apply for a fee waiver which, if granted, will waive any fees for:

  • Two LSAT exam registrations (valued at $180 each)
  • Credential Assembly Service (required for applying to law schools; valued at $185)
  • Four Law School Reports (one required for each law school application; valued at $140); and
  • One copy of the Official LSAT SuperPrep book (valued at $16.25).

Why is it important?

The LSAC fee waiver is even more valuable than the amounts listed above. Why? Many law schools will waive their application fees (generally $75-100 per school) for applicants who have received an LSAC waiver. Some LSAT prep companies will also offer scholarships to students with an LSAC waiver.

How can you apply?

The application process is entirely online. The LSAC advises applicants to apply at least six weeks prior to the registration deadline of the LSAT you wish to take. For this June’s LSAT, the registration deadline is May 1, and six weeks before that is March 20–the application deadline for a June LSAT waiver. But why wait? Getting your application materials in early will help ensure that you get the waiver in time and it will help you get your preferred June LSAT site. The UIUC June LSAT typically fills around spring break–but we expect it to fill even earlier this year given the increase in LSAT takers–so you’ll want to register ASAP if this test site is your preferred location.

You will need tax documents, so make sure you collect those.

The entire application process is explained here: http://www.lsac.org/jd/lsat/fee-waivers and you can find a helpful checklist here: http://www.lsac.org/docs/default-source/jd-docs/usfeewaiverchecklist.pdf.

 

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Still making summer plans? Here’s what to do now!

What if you’re still searching for summer opportunities? You can still study abroad, get an internship/job, take the LSAT, do a pre-law summer program, participate in Illinois in Washington, or study abroad–if you get organized and apply quickly.

You may recall that we posted about looking for summer internships way back in August in this blog post. It may seem crazy to apply so early, but many jobs and internships require months of lead time. Here are some great resources and next steps to take if you are still looking for summer opportunities.

Illinois in Washington–summer applications are due Feb. 1, and you’ll need a resume review and 2 recommendations, so this deadline is pressing. Explore their website and find application details here.

Summer (or fall) study abroad February 15 is the application deadline for most Summer 2018, Fall 2018, and Academic Year 2018-19 programs. Check out Study Abroad’s First Steps info here to begin identifying programs and applying for summer opportunities.

Taking the June LSAT? Registration is open here! Register early to get your preferred test site. This one will fill! Now is also the time to register for an LSAC fee waiver. See this week’s other blog post for more fee waiver info.

Summer pre-law programs–many application deadlines are in March and April. We posted about these in our internship newsletter and also in recent blog posts like this one.

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, so you still have time to find an internship before applying.

How to find Summer 2018 jobs and internships

  1. Explore our Internship Newsletter (over on our Compass page) which we posted over winter break–many of those deadlines are coming up in February and March!
  2. 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.
  3. Use Handshake. The Career Center switched from I-Link to Handshake last 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.
  4. 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 upcoming Business Career Fair and the Just-In-Time All Illini Career Fair this spring. You can find a list of all campus career fairs on Handshake (link below). Check out the Career Center’s workshops on preparing for the fairs.
  5. 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 ASAP to avoid delay applying for the opportunities you find.
  6. Calendar it. NOW–right now–go to your Gcal, ical, or good old fashioned planner, and schedule a few hours each weekend 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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