Spring 2020 Pre-Law Class/Course Guide

Spring 2020 Registration Time Tickets – Available Starting Monday, October 21! 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 spring 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: Spring 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.

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. 

ANTH 160: Contemporary Social Issues considers how anthropological theory and methods enhance understanding of contemporary social and political issues, such as immigration, education, affirmative action, and welfare. Examines the relationship between social policy and social science.

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 321: Strategies of Persuasion
  • 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.

FIN 241: Fundamantals 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.

HDFS 420: Inequality, Public Policy, and U.S. Families for those interested in public policy and/or family law. Includes critical analysis of health care, employment, immigration, family leave, welfare and other social policy options that affect family life and well-being.

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.

HIST 312: Immigrant America for those interested in immigration law. History of immigration and immigrant groups in the United States from 1830 to 1980. Covers major waves of immigration and focuses on the diverse cultural heritage, social structure, and political activism of immigrants from Europe, the Americas, and Asia.

HIST 442: Roman Law and Legal Tradition. Examines Roman law and legal tradition in the context of historical, political, and social developments; origins of law in primitive and ancient classical societies; surveys development of precedent, codification, and preservation of Roman law, and the impact of Roman law on western legal traditions.

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.

LAW 303: Living the Law This course first applies the legal understanding developed in LAW 301 to situations in the real world, and then explores how the law is viewed through different social science lenses. Students interested in deepening their knowledge of how the law operates in today’s world, and how the law is studied in the social sciences, will benefit from this class. Prerequisite: Law 301.

LAW 305: Art and Cultural Property Law. This course concerns the emergence of “art” and “cultural property” law as a distinct field of legal inquiry and practice. Among the dozens of important relevant issues in this field are the successes and failures of law in policing cultural heritage crimes, the rise of artistic nationalism, cultural heritage as a casualty of war, censorship, and provenance studies.

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.

NRES courses that can be helpful for students interested in pursuing environmental law include:
NRES 102: Intro to Natural Resources and Environmental Science
NRES 105: Climate Change Impacts on Ecological Systems
NRES 287: 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.

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 220/322: Intro to Public Policy/Law & Public Policy
  • PS 271: Environment and Society
  • PS 280: Intro to International Relations
  • PS 301/302: US Constitution I & II are both helpful primers for law school
  • PS 313: Congress and Foreign Policy
  • PS 329: Immigration & Citizenship
  • PS 370: Justice in the Law
  • PS 396: International Conflict

PS 491: Internship with the Champaign County Public Defender’s Office. 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 Spring of 2020.

To apply: By Friday, October 25, students seeking to participate in the Public Defender Internship Program must submit an application online at https://forms.illinois.edu/sec/2536463. 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 Spring, 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 375: Criminal Justice System
  • 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)

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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Mark Your Calendars – Week of October 7, 2019

Pre-Law Advising Services Events

Pre-Law 101 – NEXT Monday, October 14, 4-5pm, Room 514 IUB

This workshop is designed for incoming students who are new to pre-law or are interested in learning more about it. All Illini are welcome.

We will cover: What it means to be pre-law at Illinois, course selection, majors, and extracurriculars, building a pre-law resume, and what law schools are really looking for. We will outline a four year plan to maximize your undergraduate experiences in order to make a great law school candidate. We’ll also take any questions about law school and legal careers.

Each Pre-Law 101 session is the same, so pick the one that best suits your schedule. Incoming freshmen should attend a Pre-Law 101 prior to setting up an individual pre-law advising appointment. Please register here so that we can ensure we have enough seating and materials.

Go here to check out other upcoming PLAS Events!

Law School/Legal Education Events

Harvard Law School Online Info Session

Interested in learning some tips about applying to Harvard Law School?  HLS has begun offering online information sessions.  Some concern the admissions process, others offer insight into campus life, student organizations, and clinical opportunities at HLS. Click here to register for these upcoming sessions, and to see the entire schedule. 

    • HLS Faculty Session — Oct. 8, 12:00-1:00 pm (EST)
    • LGBTQ+ at HLS — Oct. 10, 6:00-7:00 pm (EST)

NYU  Law School Online Info Session

The Office of JD Admissions is inviting all prospective applicants to attend their Online Information Sessions to learn more about the law school application process and about NYU Law’s offerings. The presentations will be a special broadcast of a live information session with an admissions representative. Participants will have an opportunity to submit questions about NYU’s curriculum, student life, and the admissions process via our online chat tool. Click here to register for an upcoming session and to see the entire schedule.

    • Wednesday, October 16 at 3:00pm EST

AccessLex, a nonprofit working to educate law students about the financial aspects of legal education, invites all who are interested to these free upcoming events. Click here to register and to view their full schedule.

    • Financing Your Legal Education–Oct. 7, 9:00 pm (EST)
    • Optimizing Your Law School Decisions — Oct. 8, 7:00 pm (EST)

Law School Open Houses/Information Days/Programs

Some schools schedule formal open houses and others require you to choose a date for a visit. Open houses are a great opportunity to visit the campus, sit in on a class, see what the students and professors are like, and a great opportunity to answer all of your questions.  Most law schools require you to register for these events.  We have listed below some upcoming open houses for law schools in Illinois.  If you want to research other law schools’ open house info, you can begin by checking out our list of the law schools that attended the Law School Fair last week.  Scroll down the page. When you click on the law school, the embedded link will take you to that school’s admissions page.

Chicago-Kent Law School Open House/Admissions Workshop – THIS Saturday, October 12, 10am-12:00pm

This will be an in-depth workshop on the admissions process and strategies for constructing a strong application. Click here to register!

University of Chicago Law School Open House – Friday, November 1, 9am-1pm

The programs for the Open House will give you a glimpse into life at the Law School: you will attend a class, meet with students, faculty, and staff, and take a tour of the school. Members of the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid will be available to answer any questions you have about applying for admission to the Law School or about the Law School in general. Click here for more information and to register!

Northwestern University School of Law – Super Saturday – November 9

After requesting an On-Campus Interview within your JD application (so you need to submit your application first), the Admissions Office will send you an invitation and you will be equipped to select from available slots for your interview.  Go here for more info. Note:  Early decision / ED applicants are required to complete an online video interview. Upon submitting your ED application to Northwestern Law, you will receive an invitation to our online video interview portal and guidance for completing this requirement. For additional information on the interview process, visiting the school and other questions you may have, check out the FAQs on Northwestern Law’s website here.

University of Illinois College of Law – Fourth District Appellate Court to Hear Oral Arguments at College of Law – Tuesday, October 8, 10:30am-12:30pm, Room D Law Building

Justice Lisa Holder White, Justice Thomas M. Harris, and Justice Craig DeArmond will hear oral arguments at the College of Law. The judges will hear arguments on a criminal case and a civil case:

10:30 a.m. — Guns Save Life, Inc. v. Kwame Raoul
11:30 a.m. — People of The State of Illinois v. Treshaun M. Jake

This event is FREE and open to the public.  For more information, go here.

Marquette University Law School – Open House Saturday, November 16, 9:00am-11:30am, Eckstein Hall, 1215 W. Michigan Street, Milwaukee, WI

Tours begin at 9am followed by an Information Session and Student Panel beginning at 10am.  RSVP online here or by calling 414.288.6767.

University of Toledo College of Law – Launch into Law Program – Applications due October 31, 2019!

Launch into Law is an immersive, 5-day experience at Toledo Law designed to prepare students from traditionally underserved groups for the law school application process. Learn test-taking strategies for the LSAT, enhance your legal writing skills, and connect with student and professional mentors to explore law school options and legal career paths. The program will be held at Toledo Law January 13-17, 2020.

Students who complete the program and later apply to Toledo Law are eligible for a $1,000 scholarship upon acceptance to The University of Toledo College of Law. Go here for more information and to apply.

This program is open to highly-qualified undergraduates at no cost. Space is limited. Students from traditionally underserved populations are strongly encouraged to apply. Selected students will be notified on or before Nov. 8.

Internships and Jobs

ATLAS Internships for all LAS majors. ATLAS internships help students in the College of LAS gain hands-on learning with technology and provide real tech experience. No specific GPA or tech experience required. To apply or for more details visit their website here.

2020 Census Takers Needed

Looking for a way to make some extra money this year?  The U.S. Census Bureau is looking to hire individuals all across the United States to help collect data for the 2020 Census.  Hourly rates vary by location, with pay starting at $15 per hour in Champaign County and ranging from $18-$22 per hour in Cook County.  Go here for more information and to apply!

Office of Undergraduate Research

Proposal Writing in Undergraduate Research–Oct. 10, 3:00-4:30 pm. This workshop will discuss the fundamentals of proposal writing, guiding students to formulate successful research projects and explain their research in a concise and compelling manner that is understandable to a general audience. Students will leave the workshop with (1) basic knowledge about research proposals and their structure, (2) tactics and tools to write successful research statements, and (3) a list of resources for assistance in the writing process.Visit the Office of Undergraduate Research website to register.

Career Center https://www.careercenter.illinois.edu/

Handshake–Looking for internships, jobs, career fairs, networking receptions, or other professional opportunities? Handshake is where it’s at! All students, not just seniors, should set up an account and start checking in on a consistent basis to see what opportunities interest you. Set up your account here.

ALL students should utilize the Career Center’s services! They offer a variety of programs to help you identify career paths through workshops, career fairs and individual meetings. Click on the link above to view all of their offerings.

Here are some of their upcoming events:

      • Finding Your Internship Workshop — Wednesday, Oct. 9, 5-6:00pm, Career Center Conference Room 143
      • Resume, Cover Letter, and Linked In Reviews are offered almost every day. Check the website for times and locations.

 

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New Downloadable Pre-Law Calendar!!

Download the New Pre-Law Calendar!

Staying organized with school work and applying to law school can be a difficult challenge for many students. That is why we have created a Pre-Law Calendar for students to download that will remind you when to work on applying to law school! We have taken the stress off your shoulder and have offered answers to questions such as “when should I start my personal statement?” “when is the next LSAT exam?” and “when should I get my letter of recommendations?” All these answers and more will be available to you on the Pre-law Calendar.

The Pre-Law Calendar is available for ICal, Outlook, and Google Calendar. For students interested in using the google calendar format must follow the additional downloading steps below.

How to Convert ICal to Google Calendar

      1. On the left side go to “Other Calendars” and click on the drop down.
      2. Choose “Import calendar“.
      3. Click on “Choose file” and locate the .ics file on your computer.  A copy of the .ics file is below.  (https://calendar.google.com/calendar/ical/uiucprelaw%40gmail.com/public/basic.ics)     
      4. Click on “Import” and wait for Google to import your events.

Check out some snap shoots of  how the calendar works!

 

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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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Planning on Taking the LSAT in October or November (or even January)? REGISTER NOW!

Fall 2019 Test Takers: As we discussed in our August 14 PLAS blog post, the new format and schedule for the LSAT have significantly reduced the number of available slots for test takers.  Consequently, the stated registration deadlines of September 10 for the October LSAT and October 10 for the November LSAT are almost meaningless. In fact, as of today THERE ARE WAIT LISTS FOR SEVERAL TEST LOCATIONS FOR BOTH THE OCTOBER AND NOVEMBER EXAMS! If you plan to take the LSAT either in October or November (or possibly even January – see below), you need to register ASAP – do NOT wait until the registration deadline!!  Here is a link to the test center search portal to allow you to determine where there are still open spots for the exam. https://tcs.lsac.org/SearchCenter.aspx. Remember: the next LSAT administration here at UIUC isn’t until February so you need to consider the best time and location for you with that in mind.

July 2019 Test Takers: Scores were released last week.  You have until next Wednesday, September 4, to cancel your score.  After that, it remains in your LSAC/CAS account and all law schools to which you apply will see it. If you opt to cancel your score, you should be able to schedule your free retake through your LSAC/CAS account. As noted above, you should plan to register for your retake ASAP! Registration is now open for all administrations of the exam through April of 2020.   https://www.lsac.org/lsat/lsat-dates-deadlines-score-release-dates. If you encounter any issues with scheduling the free retake, contact LSAC directly at (215) 968-1001.

Some final thoughts/reminders:

(1) Given what we are seeing with wait lists for fall registrations, those of you considering the January LSAT should also register as soon as possible to make sure you get a seat! Do not wait until the December 3 deadline!!

(2) Applicants who took the LSAT in either June or July (and all future test takers), do not forget to complete the writing portion of the LSAT.  Your law school applications cannot be processed until the writing section is submitted!

(3) For more information about the latest developments concerning the LSAT, go to the LSAC’s website.  You can also search our blog by using the search tool in the upper left corner of this page as we have covered these topics in several previous posts.

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Quad Day and Building Your Pre-Law Resume

Quad Day is coming! Sunday, August 25 from noon to 4 pm, the Quad will be hopping with hundreds of Registered Student Organizations (RSOs).

Pre-law students often ask: What is the best RSO for law school? Here are some considerations for how to use your free time in a productive, fun, and useful way with an eye toward law school in the future.

What are law schools looking for?

Law schools like applicants who are well-rounded (not one dimensional), productive (manage their time well), and interested in contributing to their communities or committed to certain issues (like the environment) or populations (like children or the elderly).

You can use your RSO experiences to highlight: transferable skills (like working with money or managing teams), time management skills, commitment to causes or populations in need, working with different kinds of people, and leadership experience.

  • How many? Think quality over quantity here. That’s why we recommend 2-3 meaningful activities. It’s just not possible to be president of 15 organizations and work and volunteer and carry a full course load and retain your health and sanity. Law schools do not expect that, and trying to achieve that much can lead to crashing and burning.
  • What is meaningful? By meaningful, we mean:
    • You actually find it interesting and productive (or fun) OR you’re working for the income or the skills
    • Ongoing engagement (over multiple semesters, not just one and done or one evening each semester)
    • It provides some benefit to you–learning a new skill, networking, improving academics, or even a health or social benefit

What kind of RSOs are “best” for pre-law students?

There is no one magical RSO that will guarantee your admission to law school. Think about how many different kinds of law there are–from environmental to corporate to healthcare. Those lawyers have different skills, interests, and backgrounds, and that’s okay. With that in mind, here are some considerations…and keep in mind that these are only suggestions.

A reasonable approach to student activities is: One professional, academic, or volunteering organization and one “fun” organization. (Add more if and when you have time and interest).

Professional/Academic organizations include: Professional, networking, or skills-based clubs and fraternities, clubs within your major, honor societies (if you’re actually involved and not just inducted and done).

Pre-law organizations can be a great way to meet other pre-law students (with whom you can prep for the LSAT and commiserate), network with the legal community, and explore the profession. There are many, from the Pre-Law Club, Pre-Law Honors Society, Minority Association of Future Attorneys, Illinois Trial Team, and many others. (Visit this website to explore all RSOs at Illinois.)

Social organizations can add fun and help you build community and look like a well-rounded student. Illinois has countless options including Greek life and clubs for all sorts of fun hobbies from music to skiing.

Volunteering is also a great way to network, build community, and explore a particular topic or population. It shows a law school that you are a concerned citizen willing to contribute your time to important causes. As lawyers we are expected to contribute pro bono (free) legal services to people or causes in need, so law schools like to see that you are already someone who understands the importance of helping.

Volunteering is especially helpful to prepare for a career in a particular legal area. For example, if you think you’re interested in environmental law, join an environmental organization. If you think you’re interested in family law, volunteer with children.

Do I have to be a member of any certain RSO in order to be a successful law school applicant? 

NO. Law schools are not looking for cookie cutter applicants who all have the same resume and experiences. Take advantage of this by pursuing RSOs that actually interest you! Whether you are interested in the environment, animals, immigration, or entrepreneurship, pursue your interests.

 

 

 

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July LSAT takers: A Guide to All of Your Free LSAT Retake Options

July test takers: As you know, this is the big “transition to digital” exam, and ONLY for this exam, takers will be able to see your score, cancel if you choose, and retake for free until April 2020. It’s smart to think through your retake options now, especially if you intend to apply to law school this cycle (to enter law school in Fall 2020).

Tip: Before reading this, you may want to read our earlier blog post on 5 Things to Know & Do For the July LSAT

Let’s talk about 2 important details for considering any LSAT retake options.

  1. July LSAT scores will be released on August 28, and takers will have until September 4 to cancel that score. Given that information, let’s consider all of your LSAT retake options.
  2. The July LSAT is nondisclosed, meaning that takers will not receive a full report of questions you got correct and incorrect. Takers will only receive a score, nothing more, to study from for a retake.

Let’s consider all of the free LSAT retake options for July takers. 

September 21, 2019 LSAT. Registration is currently open here and closes on August 1.

    • July scores will be released long after the September 2019 LSAT registration deadline (August 1), so this will not be a realistic free retake option. Also, takers would have less than 1 month after July score release to prep for a retake, and that’s not a realistic time frame to see improvement.
    • This LSAT is offered on our campus. It is also the last LSAT of 2019 to be offered on a Saturday.
    • IF you really want this option because pushing to a later LSAT won’t work, then you may want to go ahead and pay to register for the September LSAT prior to August 1. You won’t get the advantage of the FREE retake, but you will still have the advantage of cancelling your July score if you aren’t satisfied with it.
    • Those who take this route would be wise to keep up with the LSAT studying until your July score is released (so that you don’t lose ground if you decide to retake), knowing that if you like your July score, you can just cancel your Sept registration and be done.
    • This LSAT is disclosed, meaning that test takers will get a full report of questions answered correctly and incorrectly.

October 28, 2019 LSAT. Registration for this LSAT is currently open here and closes on September 10.

    • This is the most realistic next LSAT for July retakers. (Demand will probably be high for that reason.) July takers will have 2 full months after July scores roll to prepare for October, which is a more realistic time frame to see improvement.
    • Note that this exam is on a Monday, which may mean making arrangements to miss class or work.
    • This LSAT is not offered on our campus, so takers should plan to travel elsewhere. Registering as early as possible will help secure a seat at a strategic location near campus or near home, if you want to avoid hotel expenses.
    • IF you plan to apply Early Decision, then this may be the latest LSAT accepted. It depends on the law school. Check the application of the law school where you plan to apply Early Decision to see whether they will accept November scores…many will not.
    • This exam is nondisclosed, meaning that test takers will only receive a score and will not receive a report of questions answered correctly and incorrectly.

November 25, 2019. Registration is currently open here for this LSAT and closes on October 10.

    • IF you are planning to apply to law school this cycle (to enter in Fall 2020), then this is the latest LSAT we advise taking. (Why? The next LSAT isn’t until January 2020, which is getting late in the cycle due to rolling admissions.) This LSAT may also be too late to apply Early Decision–see the note above.
    • This exam is on a Monday, but it’s also during our Fall Break, so current students won’t have to miss class. It may be necessary to miss work.
    • This LSAT is not offered on our campus, so takers should plan to travel elsewhere. Registering as early as possible will help secure a seat at a strategic location near campus or near home, if you want to avoid hotel expenses.
    • For current students–This exam is very close to finals, and LSAT prep will need to be carefully balanced with academic performance throughout the fall semester.
    • This exam is disclosed, meaning that test takers will receive a full report of questions answered correctly and incorrectly.

January 13, 2020 LSAT. Registration is currently open here for this LSAT and closes on December 3.

    • This exam is possible for those who want to enter law school in fall of 2020, but it is getting late. Remember that in a rolling admission cycle, law schools begin accepting people–and awarding their scholarships–in September.
    • LSAT takers who are applying to law school this cycle would be wise to complete all other elements of the application as soon as this exam is over in order to apply ASAP once scores are released.
    • This exam is on a Monday, but it falls during our Winter Break, so current students will not have to miss class. It may be necessary to miss work.
    • This LSAT is not offered on our campus, so takers should plan to travel elsewhere. Registering as early as possible will help secure a seat at a strategic location near campus or near home, if you want to avoid hotel expenses.
    • This exam is nondisclosed, meaning that test takers will only receive a score and will not receive a report of questions answered correctly and incorrectly.

February 22, 2020 LSAT. Registration for this LSAT is currently open here and closes on January 7.

    • This exam is very late in the cycle for those who are applying to law school to enter in Fall 2020. Applicants may even miss some law school application deadlines by the time February scores are released; check the deadlines of law schools you’re applying to if considering this option.
    • This may be a great option for those who aren’t applying to law school this cycle. Current students will have all of winter break to focus on LSAT prep. And, you’d be done with the LSAT before midterms–always a plus. You can spend the rest of the semester focused on your classwork.
    • This exam is on a Saturday, so current students don’t need to miss class. Alumni may not need to miss work, either.
    • This exam IS offered on our campus. Current students and local alumni can avoid travel costs and logistics.
    • This exam is nondisclosed, meaning that test takers will only receive a score and will not receive a report of questions answered correctly and incorrectly.

March 30, 2020 LSAT. Registration for this LSAT is currently open here and closes on February 11.

  • This exam is not a realistic option for those who are applying to law school to enter in Fall 2020. Applicants will miss many law school  application deadlines, and many scholarships will already be awarded.
  • This may be a great option for those who aren’t applying to law school this cycle. Current students will have all of winter break AND spring break to study. And, you’d be done with the LSAT before finals. However, balancing of LSAT prep and classwork would be necessary throughout most of spring semester.
  • This exam is on a Monday (and does NOT fall during our spring break), so current students would need to miss class, and alumni may need to miss work.
  • This LSAT is not offered on our campus, so takers should plan to travel elsewhere. Registering as early as possible will help secure a seat at a strategic location near campus or near home, if you want to avoid hotel expenses.
  • This exam is nondisclosed, meaning that test takers will only receive a score and will not receive a report of questions answered correctly and incorrectly.

April 25, 2020. This is the final FREE LSAT retake option for July 2019 LSAT takers. Registration is currently open here and closes on March 10.

  • This exam is not an option for those who are applying to law school to enter in Fall 2020. It is well past most law school application deadlines.
  • This may be a great option for those who aren’t applying to law school this cycle. Current students will have all of winter break AND spring break to study. However, this LSAT is so late in the spring that it requires balancing LSAT prep and classwork essentially the entire semester. And it’s close to finals, which is not ideal.
  • This exam is on a Saturday, so current students don’t need to miss class. Alumni may not need to miss work, either.
  • This LSAT IS offered on our campus. Current students and local alumni can avoid travel costs and logistics.
  • This exam is nondisclosed, meaning that test takers will only receive a score and will not receive a report of questions answered correctly and incorrectly.
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How to select majors, minors, and classes: A Guide for Pre-Law Students

I don't know (Good Luck Charlie) | I DON'T EVEN KNOW | image tagged in i don't know good luck charlie | made w/ Imgflip meme maker 

The eternal question for both incoming and continuing pre-law students is: What major/minor/classes should I take? 

Students really can major in ANYTHING and be successful in law school, but you must be a strong student in whatever you choose. Law schools don’t require any particular undergraduate major, and the American Bar Association lists skills and values, rather than particular courses, that law schools are looking for in a candidate.

You really can major in anything–but you must create an academic record of success and you should build the skills recommended for law school. Read on for what that means.

BUILDING AN ACADEMIC RECORD OF SUCCESS

Law schools want to know that applicants have demonstrated success in the classroom so that they can predict your success as you transition to much harder work in law school. A record of academic success in general means that you’ve done well, taken challenging courses, are intellectually curious, and possess certain academic skills (more on that below).

Law schools vary considerably in what they consider a “strong” record of success. Check the median GPA of the law schools that interest you here…you’ll see that the median may be anywhere from a 3.3 to a 4.0 at any particular law school. To be a strong candidate for that school, ideally you would be at the GPA median or higher.

But a GPA isn’t the whole story. Law schools also want to see that you’ve challenged yourself by taking upper level classes when appropriate, taking a rigorous (but not crazy) courseload, and taking a variety of coursework.

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 easier 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. (Example: History and Chemistry represent two different skill sets. As long as the overall GPA is still strong.)

Consider changing majors, especially if you are not able to achieve mostly As and some Bs in your coursework. Getting Cs (or below) is a sign of concern that should make a pre-law student carefully consider their choices.

Do not make course selections for these reasons:

  • I heard from a friend/roommate/sibling/the internet that this class was easy;
  • I only wanted classes on Tues/Thurs so I just picked what I could get into on those days;
  • I only wanted afternoon classes so I didn’t even consider anything in the morning;
  • I 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. If you must work a lot to support your education, then do your absolute best to perfect your time management skills, which will set you up well for law school and practicing law! And definitely tell law schools how much you were working during undergrad in your application so that they appreciate your balancing skills.

BUILDING ACADEMIC AND PERSONAL SKILLS FOR LAW SCHOOL

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.

Build important personal and study skills. Right now you are building 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. Utilize campus resources like tutoring, the Writers Workshop, the Counseling Center, and the many workshops and programs about building these skills. Not sure where to look? Ask your academic advisor.

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

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

First Things First: Final Application Tasks

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

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

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

Financial considerations

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

Personal details

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

 

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Email Etiquette — “Hey” Doesn’t Cut It!

Note – we originally published a version of this blog in 2014.  Since we continue to experience and hear about email etiquette gaffes (from law school admissions deans – yikes!), we thought we would run an updated post on this topic.

Email etiquette is a critical skill whether you are communicating with law school admissions officers, potential employers, professors or your pre-law advisors! Remember: these contacts are formal and therefore VERY different from emails sent to friends or family members. A lack of professionalism and/or respect can create very negative impressions, which then likely lead to unhappy admissions or employment outcomes.  Want to avoid common email pitfalls? Read on for some practical and easy tips.

1. Salutation: DO NOT begin your email with “Hey” or “Joe”.  You should ALWAYS err on the side of being more formal: “Dear Dean Jones” or “Dear Ms. Smith.”  First names or casual openings are for friends and family only. NEVER address individuals you encounter in a professional setting by their first names until you have been invited to do so!

2. Subject Line:  Never leave this blank.  Instead write a brief but accurate description of the content of the email.  Examples: “Application Status Inquiry” or “Interview Follow Up.”

3. Organization:  Collect your thoughts (what are you trying to say?) and then organize your email into an introduction, body and closing.  The introduction states your reason for contacting the person.  The body details the information you are trying to convey.  The closing wraps up your email, including whether you will be contacting them in the future or if you would like them to contact you.

4. Proofread:  Nothing leaves a bad impression like a careless typo or typos.  Draft your email and reread it, checking it several times for any spelling or grammatical errors.

5. Manners:  Say “please,” “thank you,” and sign your emails with a courteous sign off, such as “sincerely” or “best.”  Remember: anything you put in writing is there forever.  Do you want to be remembered as the polite, interested candidate or the clueless jerk?!  And, by the way, if you receive a reply to your inquiry, always write a quick thank you for that response!

For more info on these suggestions and for other tips about composing professional emails, read “10 Professional Email Tips” by Elizabeth Hoyt, May 8, 2018, at fastweb.com.

https://www.fastweb.com/career-planning/articles/the-10-professional-email-tips

 

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