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


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Fall 2019 Course Suggestions

Still looking for some fall courses? As you know, students in ANY major can attend law school, and there are NO specifically required courses for pre-law undergrads. However, given an interest in law, here are some fall courses that pre-law students may find particularly helpful and interesting. CLICK ON THIS LINK for a handy chart version of Fall 2019 course options. These courses are only suggestions and are not requirements. Check out Course Explorer and speak to your academic advisor about the best courses for you.

NONE of these classes is REQUIRED for law school. How did we pick them? We’ve simply chosen courses that build skills law schools like to see and/or cover topics of interest to many pre-law studentsPlease be aware that some of these classes listed and other summer classes have prerequisites. Check Course Explorer for details.

For more info on selecting courses that build academic skills for law school, visit this blog post.

AAS 370/LLS 372: Immigration, Law, and Rights. Exploration of the histories, cultures and experiences of immigration to the US by examining cultural production (literary and visual narratives and texts) alongside legal discourses (legislation, federal court cases).

ACE 240: Personal Financial Planning–Understanding financial instruments and tax implications is critical for many lawyers

ACE 306: Food Law and ACE 406: Environmental Law

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 and the role of law and ethics in public relations.

Community Health courses are helpful for people interested in healthcare law, such as

  • CHLH 100: Contemporary Health
  • CHLH 101: Intro to Public Health

Communication courses are helpful, as all lawyers must demonstrate strong oral and written communication skills.

  • CMN 101: Public Speaking (this is a prereq for most upper level CMN courses)
  • CMN 211: Business Communication
  • CMN 310: The Rhetorical Tradition
  • 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.

EDUC 202: Social Justice, School & Society

English courses help develop writing, research, and analysis skills.

  • ENGL 199: Career Planning for Humanities Majors
  • ENGL 360: Environmental Writing (same as ESE 360)

ESE 210: Social & Environmental Issues and ESE 466: Environmental Policy for those interested in environmental law

FIN 241: Fundamentals of Real Estate A survey of real estate finance, appraisal, investment, law, brokerage, management, development and economics.

FSHN 101: Intro to Food Science & 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.

Geography courses may be particularly engaging for students interested in environmental issues, global politics, and/or international legal issues

  • GEOG 101: Global Development & Environment 
  • GEOG 210: Social & Environmental Issues

GLBL 100: Intro to Global Studies; GLBL 260: Global Human Rights; GLBL 340: Policy & Governance

GWS 387/HIST 387: History of Sexuality in the U.S. Explores a wide variety of sources to understand how notions of sexuality have emerged and been contested at key moments in U.S. history. Our guiding questions include: How have “official” or governing discourses of sexuality (in law, medicine, religions, science) been formulated? In turn, how have “ordinary” people understood and practiced their sexuality? How has the meaning of particular sexual practices changed over time?

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

LAW 301: Introduction to Law
Serves as a general foundation course for those interested in applying to law school.

Labor & Employment Relations offers multiple courses for undergraduates on labor law and employment law issues, including:

  • LER 100: Introduction to Labor Studies
  • LER 290: Introduction to Employment Law
  • LER 320: Gender, Race, Class, and Work

Philosophy options include:

  • PHIL 102: Logic & Reasoning This course is particularly helpful for students who have yet to take the LSAT, as two sections of the LSAT are based on Logical Reasoning.
  • PHIL 104/105: Intro to Ethics This course includes some basic exploration of ethics, including looking at the relationship between social morality and the law.
  • PHIL 436: Philosophy of Law and of the State

Political Science options to explore specific legal areas include:

  • PS 101: Intro to US Government & Politics
  • PS 199: Politics, Power and Protest
  • PS 220: Intro to Public Policy
  • PS 225: Environmental Politics & Policy
  • PS 280: Intro to International Relations
  • PS 301/302: US Constitution I &II are helpful primers for law school
  • PS 306: Judicial Politics
  • PS 313: Congress and Foreign Policy
  • PS 329: Immigration & Citizenship
  • PS 491: Internship with the Champaign County Public Defender’s Office Unlike other internships that require a substantial research project completed in conjunction with the internship itself for academic credit, credit in this program is based on class meetings and structured assignments that integrate readings on political systems, the legal system, and constitutional and human rights, with on-the-job experience summarizing case files, witnessing trials and colloquies, and interviewing witnesses and clients. Students are supervised by the Champaign County Public Defender or attorneys in the office. Applications are due Thursday, April 4, by Noon.  To apply, click on this link: .  For more information, go here:

PSYC 468: Psych and Law
Examines relationship of the administrative, civil, and criminal justice systems to educational and mental health institutions; individual rights, social issues, and psychological well being.

  • SOC 275: Criminology
  • SOC 373: Social Inequality
  • SOC 378: Sociology of Law

SOCW 200: Intro to Social Work studies systemic social issues and resources, working with vulnerable populations

Other courses to explore different areas of law include:

  • JOUR 199: Free Speech & the Right to Offend (2nd 8 weeks) What is the law of Hate Speech? Cross Burning? Flag burning? Can you say the F-word? The N-word? Can a judge or the government do anything about it? This course separates the law from the B.S. and informs you in clear terms what you do and do not have a Constitutional right to say and do in America.
  • 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.
  • REL 214: Introduction to Islam History of Islamic thought from the time of Muhammad to the present, including the prophethood of Muhammad, the Qur’an, theology and law, mysticism and philosophy, sectarian movements, modernism and legal reform, and contemporary resurgence.
  • RST 225: Environmental Politics & Policy (cross listed as PS 225) Examinations of the political, economic, ecological, and cultural trade-offs between the use and the preservation of the environment, with particular emphasis on the preservation of land and water resources in national parks, forests, and other reserved lands.
  • RST 354: Legal Aspects of Sport A study of legal principles and their impact on the sport industry; the course examines the application of different areas of law including tort, contract, constitutional, anti-trust, and intellectual property law to professional, amateur and recreational sport.
  • SE 400: Engineering Law – note – only prerequisite is Rhet 105. Course covers: nature and development of the legal system; legal rights and duties important to engineers in their professions; contracts, uniform commercial code and sales of goods, torts, agency, worker’s compensation, labor law, property, environmental law, intellectual property.
  • TE 450: Startups: Incorporate, Fund, Contracts, Intellectual Property Explore legal tools used in constructing and operating companies. Topics include: issues with business formation, intellectual property, NDA, contracts, and other corporate legal issues impacting startups.
  • UP 211: Local Planning, Government and Law Provides students with a basic understanding of the governmental structure, legal aspects, and practice of local municipal planning, with special emphasis on case law, constitutional principles, zoning, subdivision regulations and comprehensive planning. Gives an introduction for students interested in pursuing more advanced studies in land use law and local government planning.

Remember that these are only suggestions and that none of these courses is required for law school.  Further, this is not intended to be an exhaustive list. There are many other great courses described in the Course Explorer, some of which have prerequisites but are still open to undergrads. Do your own research and talk with your academic advisor to identify courses that are the best fit for you.

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Summer 2019 Course Options

Many summer classes are offered either in person or online through the University of Illinois. Take a look at Course Explorer (available here) and you’ll see lots of great options for pre-law students, like these that we’ve highlighted below. CLICK THIS LINK for a handy chart version of summer course options: Summer Classes for Pre-Law 2019.

NONE of these classes is REQUIRED for law school. How did we pick them? We’ve simply chosen courses that build skills law schools like to see and/or cover topics of interest to many pre-law studentsPlease be aware that some of these classes listed and other summer classes have prerequisites. Check Course Explorer for details.

Law 199:  The Best of American Case Law (in person)

This is a 10-day summer course designed to introduce undergrads to some of the most important and exciting law school cases. Students will come to understand how the law school classroom works, experience a broad range of different areas of the law, and engage with nationally renowned law faculty as they present some of the most important legal cases. Following class, students will have the opportunity to eat lunch with the professor and learn more about the class and/or law school. Afternoons will be spent engaged in a focused study and briefing of the next day’s cases, optional social outings, and informational sessions. All students will receive a certificate for successful completion of the course. Current University of Illinois students will also receive 3 credit hours.

SCHEDULE: July 23 – August 2, 2019; 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. daily.

PS 100: Introduction to Political Science (online)

Surveys the major concepts and approaches employed in the study of politics. Note: Credit is not given for both PS 100 and PS 200.

PS 224: Politics of the National Parks (both in person and online)

Credit: 2 or 3 hours. This class surveys the major concepts and approaches employed in the study of politics. Class meets online. Class meets June 11 to August 2. This course takes a two-week field trip to the Greater Yellowstone Area to study the politics of wildlife, wilderness, natural resources, and tourism, among other topics. Students will learn about sustainability in the region, the effect of stakeholders on national parks policies, and the legal and administrative environment of the National Park Service. There is a course fee of $800 to cover all transportation, lodging, and meals. For more information, see

Political Science 280: Intro to Intl Relations (online)

3 credit hours; Structure and processes of international relations, trends in international politics, and the future of the international system.

CMN 101: Public Speaking (in person)

Credit: 3 hours. Preparation and presentation of short informative and persuasive speeches; emphasis on the selection and organization of material, methods of securing interest and attention, and the elements of delivery.

CMN 210: Public Comm in Everyday Life (online)

Credit: 3 Hours. Introduces concepts useful for the critical analysis of public communication in everyday life. Drawing on communication theory and practice, especially theories of rhetoric, the course investigates techniques of persuasion, offers tools for critical analysis of public discourse, and considers the political and ethical implications of various forms of public communication.

CMN 340: Visual Politics (online)

Credit: 3 hours. Explores the role of visual images in U.S. culture, paying special attention to the ways that images function persuasively as political communication. Provides tools for analyzing historical and contemporary images and artifacts, such as photographs, prints, paintings, advertisements, and memorials. Emphasis on how visual images are used for remembering and memorializing; confronting and resisting; consuming and commodifying; governing and authorizing; and visualizing and informing.
BADM 300: The Legal Environment of Business (online)

Credit: 3 hours. Introduction to law and the legal system, litigation, contracts, business organizations, intellectual property, employment law and governmental regulation of business.

EPS 310/AAS 310/AFRO 310/LLS 310: Race and Cultural Diversity (online)

Credit: 4 hours. Note: This is an Advanced Comp. Study of race and cultural diversity from Colonial era to present; the evolution of racial ideology in an ethnically heterogeneous society; the impact of race on the structures and operations of fundamental social institutions; the role of race in contemporary politics and popular culture.

ESE 360/ENGL 360: Environmental Writing (online)

Credit: 3 hours. Note: This is an Advanced Comp that may be a good choice for students interested in environmental law. Equips students to write about the environment for various audiences, with a focus on specific current efforts to promote sustainability on the Urbana-Champaign campus. We will practice effective techniques for each stage of the writing process-from defining topics, to gathering information, to crafting active, engaging prose. Readings will include models of effective environmental writing and “how to” pieces by experts. Research will include visits to campus sites and student-conducted interviews with subjects.

GEOG 210/ESE 210: Social & Environmental Issues (online)

Credit: 3 hours. Introduction to the complex relationship between people and the natural environment from a social science perspective. Explores different approaches to environmental issues, and examines the role of population change, political economy, technologies, environmental policymaking, and social institutions in causing and resolving contemporary social and environmental global issues.

GWS 100/HDFS 140/SOC 130: Intro Gender & Women’s Studies (online)

Credit: 3 hours. Interdisciplinary introduction to the study of gender, women, and sexuality. Addresses issues such as social experience, representation and popular culture, femininities and masculinities, family structure, education, employment, economics, literature and the arts, religion, history, and technology. Explores interrelationships of race, ethnicity, sexuality, gender, ability, and age from a transnational perspective.

GLBL 100: Intro to Global Studies (online)

Credit: 3 hours. Foundation course for understanding a range of contemporary issues and learning to analyze them from multiple disciplinary perspectives. Students consider globalizing trends within themes of wealth and poverty; population, cultures, and human rights; environment and sustainability; and governance, conflict, and cooperation. Course objectives are to enhance knowledge of human cultures, their interactions and impacts on the world; develop skills for successfully negotiating realities of contemporary societies; and promote values for global learning, diversity, and sustainable futures.

HIST 100: Global History (in person)

Credit: 3 hours. Broad introduction to global history, by exploring the global structures and transnational forces that have shaped human history, from the emergence of agriculture and urban centers to our contemporary global village. Note: Summer Sessions 1 and 2 cover different topics and eras.

INFO 303: Writing Across Media (in person)

Credit: 3 hours. The ability to communicate effectively in multiple types of media is a crucial part of literacy in our society. In this course, students will explore the intersections of various media: print, film, images, sound, etc. Students will consider the ways in which writing–as an object and as a practice–is shaped by multimodal interactions. Also integrates practical activities with broader theoretical issues in order to provide effective strategies for designing multimedia presentations, projects, and texts that integrate photography, video, and sound.

Summer Institute for Languages in the Muslim World – SILMW is an annual intensive language institute at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign that focuses specifically on teaching critical languages spoken in the Muslim World. SILMW is 8 weeks long. It runs during Summer II Session. Students can earn anywhere from 3 to 10 credits for these courses.

SILMW offers the following languages:

  • Arabic
  • Persian
  • Swahili
  • Turkish
  • Wolof

Click here for course descriptions and additional details on the Summer Institute.


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Application Cycle: The Countdown Is On!

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

  1. Get your applications in ASAP! As you know, this is a rolling application process which opened in September. Now the final/priority deadlines for many schools — March 1, March 15, and April 1 — are fast approaching!
  2. It’s important to understand what’s happening on the law school’s end as you complete your side of the application. Applying at this point in the cycle means that many seats in the class are already spoken for– one school described it as very similar to playing the lottery. As a result, it is difficult to predict admission results at this point.
  3. Financial aid may also be more restricted at this point in the cycle, depending on the school. If you haven’t already done so, submit your Free Application for Federal Student Aid/FAFSA ASAP! Even though the federal deadline is in June, both the law schools and the individual states have varying deadlines.  Go here for more information:
  4. Plan your VISITS to law schools if you haven’t already. Many law schools have finished their Open Houses, but you can still arrange a one-on-one visit…just call ahead to make sure that an admissions staff person can meet with you and to make sure the school isn’t closed for spring break.
  5. Are you thinking that maybe you are too late this cycle to get the kind of admissions and scholarship results you want?  Are you possibly considering taking a gap year?  Then mark your calendars for the PLAS event, “Taking a Gap Year Before Law School”, Wednesday, April 10, 6pm, Room 319 Gregory Hall.  This panel will feature current law students who took a gap year or more before law school.  They will share the pros and cons of their decisions and be available to answer your questions.  Go here for more information.
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Midwest Pre-Law Summer Programs

Midwest Pre-Law Summer Programs

Summer pre-law programs are an excellent opportunity for undergrads to learn more about law school! Some are paid and other programs have fees and a cost for students to attend. These programs are a different way to explore being pre-law during the summer months. These programs are a great addition to a resume, but are in no way mandatory for a pre-law student.

Some universities offer pre-law programs on their campuses. This is a way for you to learn more about law school, visit a law school and campus, and learn more about law school in a structured setting. If you are considering attending law school at any of the schools below, these summer pre-law programs are an excellent way to get your foot in the door and experience what your life could be like there throughout law school.

Here is information about three pre-law summer programs; there are many other programs in many other locations in addition to these three, which are provided on our compass page. (Not a member of our Compass page? Follow these easy steps to add yourself.)

IIT Chicago-Kent

Program: Pre-Law Undergraduate Scholars (PLUS) Program

Dates: Sunday, June 4, to Friday, June 23, 2017

Cost: Free

Location: Chicago, IL

Application Deadline: March 1, 2017 — Click here to access

Program Information:  The PLUS program is a free, three-week summer program that will: provide participants with a deeper understanding of legal education via the program’s rigorous doctrinal and experiential skills-based curriculum; help participants develop essential core competencies needed to succeed in the law school application and admissions process, as well as insight into navigating the process; and expose students to a wide range of career paths within the legal profession.

Students must attend all classes and participate in all program activities in order to be accepted and to receive a stipend. This is a full-time commitment. Therefore, students must be available during the day and some evenings, and have no outside commitments that would prevent them from giving the program their full attention. Students must agree to provide PLUS administrators with education and career updates after completion of the program.

Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law

Program: Robert H. McKinney School of Law Summer Law and Leadership Academy

Dates:  June 16-22, 2019

Location: Indiana University

Application Deadline: April 5th, 2019 — Click here to access

Program Information: The Robert H. McKinney School of Law Summer Law and Leadership Academy is a one-week experience designed to introduce undergraduate students from historically underrepresented backgrounds to law school and various careers that they may pursue with a law degree. If you are selected for the Law and Leadership Academy, you will learn about hot topics in the law and strengthen your academic skills.

University of Minnesota Law School

Program: Minnesota Pre Law Scholars Program (MPLS)

Dates:  Early June – Mid August 2019

Location: University of Minnesota

Application Deadline: March 1st, 2019 — Click here to access

Program Information: College students considering law school, especially rising seniors and those from groups historically underrepresented in law school are encouraged to apply. The program is open to undergraduate students (and recent alums) from any undergraduate institution.

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Harvard Law School Junior Deferral Program Details

Now in its second year, Harvard Law School (HLS) offers a unique opportunity for JUNIORS to apply to Harvard Law and, if admitted, defer for 2 years after graduating with a bachelor’s degree and then start law school.

For this year’s applicants the timeline would look like this:

Apply Spring 2019
Graduate by Spring 2020
Work/go to graduate school/Fulbright, etc. until Fall 2022
Start Harvard Law School in Fall 2022
Graduate from law school in Spring 2025

Admitted applicants in this program must defer for 2 years after obtaining a bachelor’s degree. However, they can essentially do anything they wish during the 2 year deferral. For example, some will work in the private or public sector, some will secure academic fellowships such as Fulbright opportunities, and others will complete different graduate degree programs. (We’ve included some examples below of what Illini have done prior to entering law school–not necessarily Harvard, although we do have several students/alumni admitted there each year.)

Eligibility: Applicants must be currently enrolled at a college or university and set to graduate in Spring 2020 with a bachelor’s degree. Applicants must be committed to deferring law school for 2 years, as this is a requirement and this program does not allow starting law school sooner.

Application Process: Applications open March 1, 2019 and are due by May 1, 2019.

Steps to apply:

  1. Register for the Law School Admission Council’s Credential Assembly Service (CAS) account. Click here to learn more about the CAS.
  2. Applicants must submit EITHER a valid GRE or LSAT score.

    The LSAT
    is offered on March 30, 2019. Registration is open here until February 20, although some sites are already full.Applicants taking the GRE are strongly advised to take it prior to April 15 so that results can arrive by the May 1 deadline. The GRE is offered more often in specialized computer labs; find locations and registration here.
  3. Obtain 2-3 letters of recommendation. Have your recommenders upload their letters to your CAS account.
  4. Order a transcript and submit it to your CAS account.
  5. Draft a personal statement and resume. It’s a good idea to make an appointment with a pre-law advisor to get feedback on your statement and resume.
  6. Complete the application (uploading your personal statement and resume) online through your CAS account, and pay the $85 application fee.

Selected applicants will then be invited to interview. If accepted into this program, you would complete your senior year as usual. Then you would have your 2 years of deferral to work, etc. before starting law school.

Who is a good candidate for this program? According to HLS Admissions, applicants accepted through this program submitted applications demonstrating a clear sense of purpose with internships or other elements supporting their stated path. An example of an applicant admitted last year: An environmental science student with internships and research in that area who wants to practice environmental law.

HLS also says that good candidates answer an emphatic YES to the following 3 questions:

  1. Do I want to attend law school?
  2. Do I want to attend Harvard Law School?
  3. Do I want to do something else prior to law school?

We strongly advise interested applicants to participate in an online info session like the one listed below to learn more about what HLS seeks in its candidates.

Where can you find out more information?

What kinds of things have Illini done after undergrad and prior to entering law school? Almost everything. Some examples include:

  • Any and all kinds of work experience, including:
    • Sales
    • Work for a nonprofit or state or federal government
    • Financial consulting
    • Teach for America
    • Work as a Project Assistant at a law firm
    • Teach English abroad
    • Retail jobs
    • Nanny
    • Work as a bank teller
    • Restaurant or hotel jobs
    • Advertising or marketing
    • Journalism–tv, online, and print formats
  • Travel
  • Complete a fellowship such as a Fulbright or Rhodes scholarship. For more details visit the National & International Scholarships Program.
  • Complete another graduate program, such as an MSW, MFA, MBA, or MS/MA.
  • Make a 1-2 year commitment to AmeriCorps or Peace Corps.
  • Serve the state legislature through the Illinois Legislative Staff Intern Program
  • Serve the Illinois Governor through the Dunn Fellows program
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Our Favorite Pre-Law Things: Winter Break Edition

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens…wait, those are from the Sound of Music. Here are a few of our favorite pre-law things–just in time for you to explore them over winter break.

Taking a break
After a long semester, we all need a break! (Hamilton fans will remember Eliza begging Alexander to take a break…with disastrous results when he did not.) Note that Pre-Law Services will be closed from December 24 until January 2, when we will open again for appointments. We will be available for appointments over winter break again starting on January 2, so if you are working on your law school applications or personal statement over break, you can still schedule a phone appointment by calling 217-333-9669!  On January 14 we will be back to our regular semester schedule.

Reading for fun with Goodreads and NPR’s Book Concierge
Most lawyers enjoy reading, especially when it’s a great novel and not the Tax Code. (Side bonus: Reading widely and often is recommended by the writers of the LSAT to improve performance.) Goodreads makes reading even more fun by allowing its users to document and review the books you’ve read, get book recommendations, and set and track your personal reading goal with its yearly Reading Challenge. Looking for some interesting and recent book recommendations? Check out NPR’s Book Concierge, which lets users search by your favorite genres to find recently published recommendations. And speaking of recent books…

Becoming by Michelle Obama
Regardless of your political affiliation, this book contains a thoughtful and thorough reflection of Mrs. Obama’s entry into and ultimate exit out of the legal profession. A successful Princeton undergrad, upon reflection she concludes that applying to law school for her was more out of expectation than passion. She candidly writes about her legal career, including her lack of fulfillment at a law firm, and about how and why she ultimately left the practice of law. While she is certainly high profile, her experience is not uncommon in the legal world, and reading about her professional path provides excellent food for thought for those considering law school: What are you passionate about? How might law school lead to work in those areas? Is law truly your calling or just “the next logical step” for a smart and successful student? What steps can you take to find out more about the legal profession? What do other legal jobs look like beyond the traditional practice of law?

…And we recommend exploring the following websites

The Making the Most of Your Major Blog
We love the Department of English’s Making the Most of Your Major blog. Covering all kinds of topics, from how to reassure your family that you’ll be gainfully employed, to how to network with professors, to presenting professional paths you may have never considered, this is a great blog to read whether or not you are an English major. Winter break is a great time to catch up on previous entries. (And naturally we recommend catching up on this very Pre-Law blog…did you know that you can search for topics in the search box to the left and read about everything from internships to LSAT to course options?)

The Girl’s Guide to Law School
Many pre-law students are so focused on getting into law school that they don’t consider what it will actually be like once you’re there, or after you’re done. This website presents thoughtful, realistic perspectives on whether law is right for you (including their podcast, the article Should You Go to Law School?, and their series on Law School Myths), how to get through law school (with articles on law school pressures and exploring areas of law), and building a post-law school career (leaving litigation, non-traditional law careers). This is a great resource–not just for girls–for anyone considering law school.

Michigan Law’s Debt Wiz Calculator
While it may not exactly be FUN to calculate future law school debt, what we like about this debt wizard is that it allows future lawyers to consider what KIND of legal employment you’re seeking and in what METRO AREA for a nuanced view of what your debt repayment will look like. If nothing else, users can begin to see the distinctions between expected incomes and the impact of cost of living in a variety of cities (hint: the city where you live makes a huge difference).

Wherever you are and whatever you are doing over this winter break, we wish you a joyful holiday season and some fun and relaxing down time!




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Mark Your Calendars – Week of November 26

Welcome back students!  We hope you had a very relaxing break.  Scroll down for information about the last PLAS event of the semester, law school admissions webinars and more.

PLAS Event

Perfecting Your Personal Statement and Resume for Law School TOMORROW – Tuesday, November 27, 4-5pm, 514 Illini Bookstore Building

This workshop will discuss how to draft a personal statement and resume for a law school application. We will cover:

  • Ideas for personal statement topics
  • How to get started writing it
  • What to include and exclude
  • Length, structure, and formatting details
  • Law school resume tips
  • How to have the resume and personal statement coordinate; and
  • A 5 step plan for writing the personal statement and resume.

We still have room for workshop participants on a first come, first served basis. So if this is something in which you have an interest, please come by!

Career Center Events

Click here to visit the Career Center’s website for more information or to register for these sessions.

International Student Career Meetup – Nov. 29, 4-5:30pm, TCC Interview Suite 213, 616 East Green Street

Join us for an informal gathering where international students can talk with alumni, recruiters, or current international students who have successful job search stories. Information on invited speakers will be posted on Handshake. Open to all international students. Due to limited space, registration through Handshake is required.

Resume/Cover Letter/Linked In Reviews

  • Nov. 26 , 2-4:30 pm TCC Resource Center; 5-7:30pm Ikenberry Commons
  • Nov. 27, 2-4:30pm TCC Resource Center; 5-7:30pm BrewLab Coffee Shop
  • Nov. 28, 2-4:30pm TCC Resource Center, 5-7:30pm BrewLab Coffee Shop
  • Nov 29, 2-4:30pm TCC Resource Center
  • Nov. 30, 2-4:30pm TCC Resource Center

Social Justice Education Paraprofessionals – Applications Due December 12

Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis until December 12th for 2018-2019 Social Justice Education Paraprofessionals! Complete your application here.

The Social Justice Educator Paraprofessional Program is a 3-semester peer education program powered by students for students. The Social Justice Education Paraprofessional Program is designed to promote diversity and student leadership by providing intensive training for students in areas of knowledge, awareness, and skills related to issues of diversity and social justice. Through this program, paraprofessionals serve as a campus leaders in social justice by developing and facilitating educational programs for the campus. Social Justice Education Paraprofessionals receive 11 advanced credit hours in Psychology. For more information, click on this link.

NYU Law Admissions Office – Online Information Sessions

These 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 the online chat tool. The Online Information Sessions will be held at the following times (all times are Eastern Time):

  • Wednesday, December 5 at 3:00 pm
  • Thursday, January 10 at 12:00 pm

Please register for one of the Online Information Sessions. Registrants will receive access instructions the day before the online session. If you have any questions, please let us know at

Harvard and Yale Law School Online Webinars

Harvard and Yale Law School would like to invite to you to participate in their Online Information Sessions. Participants will have an opportunity to submit questions about the universities curriculum, student life, and the admissions process. Follow the link to register for these events.



Scholarships–Now is a great time to apply!

DUE DEC. 8–University of Illinois Latina/Latino Alumni Association Scholarship. Open to Latina/Latino undergraduate and graduate students enrolled full-time at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign during the 2018-2019 academic school year. In honor of our ten year anniversary and thanks to a generous donor, IllinoisLLAA is able to grant two $5,000 scholarships to either an undergraduate or graduate student, one of which is reserved for an undocumented student. Click here to apply.

DUE DEC.31–Health and Wellness $2,000 Scholarship. Available to students enrolled at an accredited college or university. You must have at least a 3.4 GPA and submit an essay of 800-1000 words, promoting a practical approach to healthy lifestyle during college years and how these habits can be sustained over a lifetime. Additionally, you must demonstrate detailed knowledge of health and wellness and discuss why healthy living is a lifetime endeavor. Click here to apply.  

DUE JAN. 19–Virginia M. Wagner Educational Award. Open to female students in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin who are attending college/university in pursuit of a bachelors, masters, or doctoral degree. Click here to apply.

DUE MARCH 19–Create-a-Greeting-Card $10,000 Scholarship. Open to currently enrolled high school and college students in the United States. To enter, you must design a holiday, get well, or birthday greeting card and submit your work to be judged. Your photo, art, or graphics submitted must be your own original work and you must be at least 14 years of age to be eligible for this award. Click here for more details.

Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship Campus Deadline: TODAY, November 26, 2018

The Goldwater is for juniors or exceptional sophomores who are current U.S. citizens, U.S. nationals, or resident aliens. The Goldwater awards one- or two-year $7,500 awards to students who demonstrate strong evidence of contributing to the technological advances of the U.S. Applicants should be committed to pursuing a Ph.D in the research fields of mathematics, sciences, or engineering. Go here for more information.

Interested in other scholarships? PLAS has collected information on over 150 scholarships–for both undergrads and incoming law students–on our Scholarships Spreadsheet over on our Pre-Law Compass page. It’s a wide variety of scholarships based on everything from being left-handed to making a video to tweeting, and deadlines vary, so check it out!

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Spring 2019 Course Options for Pre-Law Students

Spring 2019 Registration Time Tickets – Available to View Starting Monday, October 22!

Registration is almost here.  And every semester around this time, our office hears from students asking for course suggestions.  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.

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. 

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

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

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

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

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. 

ENGL 310: Introduction to the Study of the English Language

Topics include the study of the English language, with emphasis on one or more of the following: the social, political, historical, technological, legal, and economic aspects of language use.

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

GWS 475: Queering Legal Cultures  Exploration of the many forms of address that legal language can take, and how these legal forms affect subjects who are barely legible before the law. We will look at state laws, supreme-court decisions, policy publications, literature and social commentaries, fictional texts – as mobbed through social media platforms – to try to understand how queer (as verb, noun, adjective) emerges as a way in and out of legal spaces. Topics will include historical formations, current debates, and landmark cases in both national and transnational contexts. 

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 and juveniles.

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

LAW 199:The Justice System.  This class explores the operation of the United States Criminal Justice System.  In addition, this course reviews the history of the criminal justice system, the people who work in it, the citizens who are processed through it, and the legacy of good and bad outcomes it has delivered through the years. The learning is accomplished by reading an excellent textbook, and more importantly, by observing court and talking with judges, prosecutors, and defense attorneys.  Thus, students have the opportunity to learn from people who have served the justice system for many years.  Admission is by application only, as there are only twelve spots (this number is dictated by our transportation arrangements).

If you would like to apply, please send an email to Professor Pahre at by midnight on October 20th with the following information:

1. Your full name and address;

2. Why this course interests you;

3. What you hope to learn during the spring semester; and

4. How you will manage your schedule so that you will be available Tuesday afternoons for our class meetings and field trips.

Professor Pahre will make decisions by November 1st, and offer spots to twelve students. The remaining students will be on a wait-list.  Any student who accepts the offer of placement will be enrolled.  If any student declines, or later withdraws, she will offer the placement to the next student on the wait-list.

Law 302: Transitional Justice Wrongdoing is part of the history of many, if not most, political communities around the globe. This course examines the moral questions that dealing with past wrongdoing raise. Our focus is specifically on political wrongdoing, that is, wrongdoing inflicted on individuals by the state or groups contesting the state. Such wrongdoing has taken different forms, from slavery, to forced disappearances, to programs of torture and of land appropriation. We also focus on two specific political contexts: the United States and South Africa. In this course, we survey a range of legal measures including criminal punishment, truth commissions, reparations, and apology, that have been, and can be used, to deal with legacies of wrongdoing.

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.

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

Philosophy options include:

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

  • PS 220/321: Intro to Public Policy/Principles of Public Policy
  • PS 280: Intro to International Relations
  • PS 301: US Constitution I is a helpful primer for law school
  • PS 313: Congress and Foreign Policy
  • PS 386: International Law
  • PS 399: Politics of International Treaties

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 about their cases?  Would you like to help an attorney prepare cases for court?  The Department of Political Science and the Champaign County Public Defender’s Office plan to offer an internship for academic credit in Spring, 2019.   Jamie Thomas-Ward, the Director of Pre-Law Services, will provide academic supervision of these internships. Unlike other internships that require a substantial research project done in conjunction with the internship itself for an award of academic credit, in this internship, students will be awarded 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, 2019.

By Thursday, November 1, students seeking to participate in the Public Defender Internship Program must submit an application online at The application consists of a cover letter, informal transcript, resume and writing sample. The cover letter should address each of the following elements: 1) explain your interest in and motivation for undertaking this internship, 2) share your experience in working with only a modest level of direct supervision, and 3) discuss your plans for accommodating participation in the internship in your schedule (including how many other credit hours you plan to carry, whether you will be studying for the LSAT, whether you have other significant time commitments).  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, 2019 (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.  In addition to working in the courthouse, students will need to attend a class for one hour per week on Wednesday afternoons.  Submit all applications online at

Past students have really enjoyed this opportunity.  Questions on this internship?  Contact Jamie Thomas-Ward at

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

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

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

Other 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
  • JOUR 311: Media Law
  • LER 120: Contemporary Labor Problems
  • REL 480: Islamic Law
  • 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 303 Principles of Public Policy–also cross-listed as PS 321.
  • BADM 314 Leading Negotiations
  • BADM 447 Legal Strategies for Entrepreneurial Firms

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

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